Tokyo Stadium

Tokyo Olympic Stadium hosts final sporting event

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The 1964 Olympic Stadium held its final sporting event Sunday before it’s to be demolished in July, making way for a larger stadium for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics.

Japan beat Hong Kong 49-8 to qualify for its eighth straight Rugby World Cup in the final event in Tokyo’s 54,000-seat stadium that opened in 1958.

The Olympic Stadium was the stage for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and iconic track and field moments of the 1964 Games, including Bob Hayes winning the 100m eight years before he would win a Super Bowl as a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver.

Ethiopian Abebe Bikila completed his second straight Olympic marathon triumph inside the stadium, becoming the first man to win consecutive titles.

Later, in 1991, Carl Lewis and Mike Powell held one of the greatest head-to-head duels in track and field history at the World Championships in Tokyo, both breaking Bob Beamon‘s 23-year-old world record in the long jump.

Powell, who won Olympic silver behind Lewis twice, bettered his rival with a leap of 8.95 meters, a record that still stands.

The new 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, with a retractable roof work, is set to begin construction in October 2015. It’s plans have faced criticism after Tokyo won the vote to host the 2020 Olympics in September.

In response, builders agreed to downsize it in November by 25 percent, to 220,000 square meters, but not affecting the seating capacity. That cut the construction cost from $3 billion to reportedly between $1.3 billion and $1.8 billion, still more than initial estimates.

Other Japanese architects have been leading the uproar over the new stadium, so much so that they started a petition to keep the old stadium.

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WATCH LIVE: London Marathon

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Watch the world’s best distance runners chase world records at the London Marathon, live on NBCSN and commercial free on the NBC Sports Gold “Track and Field Pass” for subscribers on Sunday at 3:30 a.m. ET.

NBCSN coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon
NBCSN coverage — STREAM LINK
NBC Sports Gold commercial free — STREAM LINK

Sunday’s race start times (ET)
3:55 – Elite Wheelchair Races
4:00 – World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup ambulant races
4:15 – Elite Women’s Race
5:00 – Elite Men’s Race, Mass Race

The men’s field features arguably the two greatest distance runners of all time — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.

Kipchoge, the Rio Olympic marathon champ, ran the fastest marathon ever recorded — 2:00:25 in Nike’s sub-two-hour attempt last May in non-record-eligible conditions.

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history under legal conditions, having run six seconds shy of Kenyan Dennis Kimetto‘s world record of 2:02:57 from 2014.

In the women’s race, Kenyan Mary Keitany, already the world-record holder in a women’s-only race, looks to take down Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s world record with male pacers set in London 15 years ago. That time is 2:15:25.

Keitany is challenged by Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, the third-fastest female marathoner in history behind Keitany and Radcliffe.

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Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

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French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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