Start of BMX semi-finals delayed by heavy rain in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Heavy rain and thunder across Tokyo forced organisers to delay the start of the BMX racing semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday morning, as they scrambled to remove water from the course.

Although Tokyo avoided a direct hit from tropical storm Nepartak earlier this week, the capital has seen intermittent rains and on Friday the city was lashed with rain.

Organisers delayed the start of the BMX event, originally scheduled for 10:45 a.m. (0145 GMT) by 45 minutes. Workers at the Ariake Urban Park used what looked like leaf blowers and giant brushes to scrape the racing course of water.

Other competitions appeared to be going ahead as scheduled.

BMX racing made its debut at the Beijing 2008 Games. The freestyle event is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, part of the International Olympic Committee's latest bid to attract a younger demographic through extreme sports.

Separately, organisers reported 27 new Games-related related COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number to more than 200.

On Thursday, America's dominance of women's gymnastics continued with a gold in the individual all-around competition for the fifth Olympics in a row.

(Reporting by David Dolan and Mari Saito; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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