The Tokyo Olympics will take place without spectators in host city Tokyo, organisers said as a resurgent coronavirus forced Japan to declare a state of emergency in the capital that will run throughout the Games.
Sports ruling bodies expressed their disappointment at the decision of Olympics organisers to ban spectators from the July 23-August 8 Tokyo Games but understood Japan’s need to take drastic action to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Here are five hockey players to watch when the Games formally kick off on July 23:
MANPREET SINGH (INDIA)
Midfielder Singh was the first person from his country to win the international hockey federation’s player of the year award in 2019. India were a force to be reckoned with in men’s hockey but their last gold came in 1980 and Singh will be a key player in their bid to get back on top of the podium.
JORRIT CROON (NETHERLANDS)
The Dutch attacking midfielder will be taking part in his second Games. In June, he scored the decisive penalty in a thrilling shootout to beat Belgium in the European Championship semi-finals. He made his Olympic debut as a teenager at the 2016 Games in Rio when he was the surprise inclusion in the 16-member squad.
EVA DE GOEDE (NETHERLANDS)
The playmaker on the Dutch women’s team, she won gold on her Olympic debut at the 2008 Games in Beijing and followed that up with success at the 2012 London Olympics. After a dramatic shootout defeat to Britain in the final of the 2016 Games, she took time off from hockey to go to South Africa. The midfielder is excellent at moving past opponents one-on-one and accurately passing on the ball.
STACEY MICHELSEN (NEW ZEALAND)
The captain of the ‘Black Sticks’ started playing the sport when she was just four-years-old. The skilful midfielder, now 30, has been among nominees for world player of the year and is known for her attacking style and excellent ball skills. She will be playing in her third Olympics after appearing at the 2012 and 2016 Games.
THOMAS BRIELS (BELGIUM)
The 33-year-old forward will be looking to compete at his fourth Olympics. Known for his agility and speed, he will be looking to take Belgium’s ‘Red Lions’ to the final again after they reached the gold medal match in Rio, losing to Argentina.
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