LONDON — The sporting action kicked off with the opening matches of the women’s football tournament at venues across Britain on Wednesday, and on Thursday it was the men’s turn to take centre-stage.
While hosts Britain were frustrated by Senegal, it was Japan who provided the story of the day with a remarkable 1-0 win over a talented Spanish side aiming to add Olympic gold to their World Cup and Euro crowns.
Yuki Otsu was the hero for the Japanese, prodding home on 34 minutes to secure a victory which evoked memories of Japan’s famous 1-0 win over Brazil in the Olympic tournament in 1996.
In Cardiff, Moussa Konate’s late leveller cancelled out Craig Bellamy’s strike and prevented Britain from making a winning start to their first appearance in an Olympic football tournament for 52 years.
Neymar-inspired Brazil cruised to a three-goal half-time lead against Egypt but the five-time world champions then had to fend off a second-half fightback before the match ended 3-2.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge meanwhile sought to draw a line under the gaffe which prompted North Korea’s protest ahead of their game with Colombia on Wednesday.
The North Koreans were furious after their players were introduced on an electronic screen alongside an image of the South Korean flag.
“This was an honest mistake, honestly made,” Cameron said. “An apology’s been made and I’m sure every step will be taken to make sure these things don’t happen again.”
Rogge said the incident was “most unfortunate” but was confident there would be no repeat.