United Kingdom

Friday evening UK news briefing: Tokyo Olympic Games open in bizarre and beautiful ceremony

On a truly bizarre and ultimately rather poignant evening in Japan's capital, the Tokyo Olympics officially got underway in an opening ceremony that was as strange as it was beautiful. 

It did not try to match the power or scale of Beijing 2008, the charm or originality of London 2012 or the carnival of colour and samba beats of Rio de Janeiro five years ago. 

As Tom Cary reports from Tokyo, instead it was a simple reflection of the times we live in, with constant reminders of challenges these Games face, such as the meagre delegations attending the athletes' parade in front of the deserted stands of the 60,000 seat National stadium. 

View a picture gallery of the ceremony, while Tim Wallace analyses how Japan's Olympics turned into an economic disaster.

Brian May endured a cancelled tour, heart surgery and then a flood. But he’s found solace in old music, he tells Neil McCormick

Read the full interview

Comment and analysis

Editor's choice

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  3. John Stonehouse | How devious Labour MP faked his own death – twice

Business and money briefing

Accounting concerns | KPMG has been singled out by regulators over an "unacceptable" failure to meet required standards in its banking audits for a third consecutive year. Read on for details of its criticism.

Sport briefing

Harry Kane | Manchester City remain determined to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham this summer but have no intention of paying £160 million for the England striker. Read the latest in the transfer saga.

Three things for tonight

And finally... for this evening's downtime

The Hollywood shark whisperer | Beautiful, fearless and handy with a spear-gun – Valerie Taylor grew up with a love for sharks. Tom Fordy reveals how she went nose-to-nose with Jaws.

If you want to receive twice-daily briefings like this by email, sign up to the Front Page newsletter here . For two-minute audio updates, try The Briefing - on podcasts, smart speakers and WhatsApp.   

The first day of official competition at the Games begins overnight tonight. Here is the full schedule and key events to watch.

The men's road race, which starts at 3am, takes place on a course that "could have been designed for the British team", according to their head coach. 

The tennis competition also starts tomorrow, with Andy Murray and Heather Watson both due on court. 

Judy Murray writes today that tennis does deserve its Olympic status but could be improved in one simple way. 

Meanwhile, James Cracknell reflects on the tension that fuelled his Sydney Olympic rowing glory - and why he snubbed Tony Blair.

Big getaway: UK airports face busiest weekend of year

Airports and airlines are set for the busiest weekend of the year so far, as the start of the school summer holidays signals a mass departure to Europe's holiday hotspots. Heathrow Airport is expecting to welcome 128,289 passengers over the weekend, with more than 66,000 expected in its terminals on Saturday alone. It comes as the number of people with Covid-19 across the UK continues to rise, with an estimated three quarters of a million people in England having the virus last week. Here is how to navigate this weekend's holiday rush and read this Q&A on what happens if you get track-and-traced before your holiday. Meanwhile, a former minister has called for the quarantine exemption from August 16 to be brought forward amid the "pingdemic".

TV reporter caught smearing mud on herself at flood

Roving reporters love to get stuck into the stories they cover on the ground - but one German presenter may have taken things a step too far. Susanna Ohlen, a 39-year-old reporter for RTL, has been suspended after she smeared mud on her face and clothes while covering the country's dire floods, in an attempt to give viewers the impression she had joined the rescue effort. After smearing mud on herself, Ms Ohlen then presented a news package at the scene of floods in North Rhine-Westphalia under the heading, "RTL presenter Susanna Ohlen lends a hand in Bad Münstereifel". Watch her being caught out on video.

The end of lockdown: What Front Page readers think

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on how you will be approaching life after 'Freedom Day'. Your responses have been cheerful in many cases - and in others they have been thought-provoking. We hope you enjoyed reading them and we have published dozens more here.

"Nothing changes. My family feel unable to visit restaurants, theatres, and shops because our fifteen-year-old daughter has severe asthma and allergies triggered by viruses and is unvaccinated. I am grateful for my vaccination and the fact my husband and elderly relatives have all been jabbed. However, freedom is our daughter vaccinated and Covid safe."


Rachel Whitehouse, 50, St Albans

News briefing: Today's essential headlines

Giggs in court | Former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs allegedly kicked his ex-girlfriend in the back and threw her naked out of their hotel bedroom, a court heard. The claim forms part of what is said to be a pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour against Kate Greville, 36, between Aug 2017 and Nov 2020. Read the accusations against him.

Around the world: Asia turns away from Chinese jabs

Southeast Asia is reducing its reliance on Chinese Covid-19 vaccines, with some countries pivoting towards rival shots amid concerns about vaccine efficacy as the delta variant rips through their populations. Public doubts about the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines against the highly contagious mutation could deal a blow to China's vaccine diplomacy efforts in its own regional backyard. Read on for details.

Friday interview

'There are days when I don't want to get out of bed'

Football news:

Pele was again admitted to the intensive care unit, he has acid reflux
La Liga on the position of Real Madrid, Barca and Athletic on the deal with CVC: They will only benefit from the growth of the league
Ex-Barca coach Moreno on Messi: It's a pity that the best player in history can't finish his career at his favorite club
Loco and Marseille played on the symbols of the cities : in Cherkizovo they put a car out of a Taxi, the French showed the St. Basil's Cathedral
Arsenal did not make offers to Lacazette for a new contract. He can leave for free in the summer of 2022
Nagelsmann on technology: Football needs revolutionary changes, stop hiding behind traditions. We are lagging behind American football
Diego Simeone: Griezmann and Felix can play together. Atletico has an excellent squad