Monday briefing: Team GB’s first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo |


Top story: First UK swimmer to defend Games title

Hello, Warren Murray bringing you the news from Tokyo to Britain and points in between.

Adam Peaty has won Team GB’s first gold medal of these Olympic Games in the 100m breaststroke at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. It makes him the first British swimmer ever to defend an Olympic title – another extraordinary achievement in a list of records, deeds and titles: five-time world record breaker, three-time world champion, two-time Olympic champion, and the greatest breaststroke swimmer in history. Peaty’s British teammate Duncan Scott and Tom Dean have both made it through to the final of the men’s 200m freestyle on Tuesday. Scott was the fastest qualifier too, after he won his semi-final in 1min 44.6sec.

Among other results today, Alex Yee has summoned the performance of his young life to win a triathlon silver medal for Britain. An enthralling race appeared to be in the balance after the 1500m swim, 40km bike and three-quarters of the 10km run, but a stunning final lap surge secured gold for Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway. There’s more Olympic news from the Briefing in the sport section further down, up-to-the-minute action at our live blog, and yet more in-depth coverage on our Tokyo 2020 homepage. Be sure that you are getting the daily Olympic newsletter from Guardian sport as well.

President sacks Tunisia government – Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, has suspended parliament and dismissed the prime minister, Hichem Mechichi, after a day of protests against the ruling party brought the country’s political crisis to a head. Cheering crowds flooded the streets of the capital, Tunis, after Saied’s announcement. “This is the happiest moment since the revolution,” said one person, referring to the Arab spring protests of 2011. Earlier, thousands of Tunisians had protested in several cities, accusing the ruling party of economic mismanagement, corruption and failure to prevent crippling rates of coronavirus infections.

Virtual contact making grandparents sadder – Zoom choirs, online book clubs and virtual bedtime stories with grandchildren have helped many stave off isolation but a study has found many older people experienced an increase in loneliness and long-term mental health disorders as a result of the switch to online socialising. “We were surprised by the finding that an older person who had only virtual contact during lockdown experienced greater loneliness and negative mental health impacts than an older person who had no contact with other people at all,” said Dr Yang Hu of Lancaster University, who co-wrote the report. More than 450 key workers have told a cross-party parliamentary inquiry of their experiences with long Covid. One in five said they had been off work for a year or more as a result, 30% for between six months and a year, and 25% for between three and six months.

Afghan civilian death toll surges – Record numbers of civilians have been killed and injured in Afghanistan since 1 May when international forces began their final departure and the Taliban launched a major offensive. In that period 783 civilians were killed and 1,609 injured – almost equivalent to the toll during the first four months of the year, and most likely the worst figures since the Taliban were toppled in 2001. The heavy toll so far comes largely from battles in rural areas, according to the UN, and could be catastrophic if fighting spills into more densely populated towns and cities. As the US wraps up its withdrawal, the Pentagon is supposed to switch to “over-the-horizon” counter-terrorist operations in Afghanistan. The stated objective of future operations is to pursue the original war aims of 2001, to stop Afghanistan being a launching pad for terrorist attacks on the US. Julian Borger writes that as yet, it is far from clear what that will look like in practice.

‘Do more to protect Scouts’ – More than 250 people in the UK and Ireland have been convicted of child sexual abuse committed as Scout leaders or in other positions of responsibility within the movement since the 1950s, according to analysis. Recent examples include Oliver Cooper from Bognor Regis, who was jailed for six years in October 2020. Abbie Hickson, from the abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp (BBK) solicitors, said the Scout Association “must do much more to protect the safety of its scouts … Much of their safeguarding policy relies on the integrity of the Scout leaders themselves.” A Scout Association spokesperson said: “We recognise that over that time there have been incidents of abuse.” Its “robust safeguarding policies and procedures in place” had been reviewed by the NSPCC in 2012 with a further independent review by Hugh Davies QC in 2015. “Recommendations from these reviews have been implemented.”

Police memorial to open – On Wednesday a new memorial will be officially unveiled to honour those such as Fiona Bone, PC 12601 in Greater Manchester police, killed in the line of duty. It is at the national memorial arboretum in Staffordshire and took seven years to raise the £4.5m cost. In September 2012, accompanied by PC Nicola Hughes, 23, Bone, 32, responded to a call about a burglary in Mottram, Greater Manchester. It had been placed by a gangland killer who lured the officers into a trap, and unleashed a gun and grenade attack.

Police memorial in the national arboretum, Staffordshire
It took seven years to raise the £4.5m needed to build the memorial. Photograph: Handout

Vikram Dodd writes that the unveiling comes during a difficult year for policing, when the worst of the service has been on display, including a murder and a manslaughter. Still, 25 officers a day are attacked in London alone, while the job carries mental health strains and the continuous fear of not going home. The memorial will also have a digital version telling the lives of those officers killed.

Today in Focus podcast: Why aren’t women taken seriously?

When journalist Mary Ann Sieghart set out to document the ways that women are held back by a cultural presumption of their inferiority, she found reams of data to support her case – and heard stories of how it affects even the most successful women in the world. She explains why the authority gap persists, and asks what we can do about it.

Today in Focus

Why aren’t women taken seriously?

Lunchtime read: ‘Amy Winehouse was so funny’

The superstar producer Mark Ronson nearly quit music during lockdown. Now he’s starting a “new phase” with a TV show. He discusses therapy, paparazzi – and being tucked in by Robin Williams.

Mark Ronson
Mark Ronson. Photograph: Joe Pugliese/Courtesy of Apple


Charlotte Dujardin, the defending Olympic individual dressage champion, produced an inspired performance to cruise into Wednesday’s final and set up a potential gold medal bid. A golden Sunday for the hosts has helped soothe anxiety in Japan about the Games spreading Covid. Australia’s Ariarne Titmus produced one of the upsets of the Games so far when she beat the USA’s Katie Ledecky to win a thrilling women’s 400m freestyle final. Duncan Scott is the fastest qualifier for tomorrow’s 200m freestyle final, with Thomas Dean also making it through on a good day for British swimming. Stay up to the minute at our live blog.

British Lions coach Warren Gatland has cranked up the pressure on the “incredibly desperate” Springboks and said his team can go up another gear as they seek to clinch the series victory in South Africa on Saturday. The weekend’s come-from-behind win in the first Test means the tourists have their destiny in their own hands ahead of the next game in Johannesburg. Alice Capsey has announced herself to the Hundred by leading the Oval Invincibles to a 15-run win over the London Spirit. Australia’s Minjee Lee overturned a seven-shot deficit before beating South Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6 in a play-off to win her first major title in the Evian Championship in France.


Ministers are considering plans to block China’s state-owned nuclear energy company from the consortium planning to build the £20bn Sizewell C nuclear plant on the Suffolk coast, as well as one in Bradwell in Essex. A move to exclude China General Nuclear will further stoke tensions between London and Beijing. The FTSE100 is down 0.4% this morning on the futures market while the pound is on $1.375 and €1.167.

The papers

The Guardian’s top story on this Monday morning is “Young people urged to get jab as doctors warn over ICU admissions”. The UK recorded 29,173 new cases on Sunday, down from 48,161 the week before. But NHS England said one-third of 18 to 29-year-olds had still not had at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with one in 10 of the whole adult population. The Daily Telegraph reports that unions “have launched a battle against Government plans to end the pingdemic” by “encouraging key workers in transport and food to ignore the exemption [from isolation] and stay home”.

Guardian front page, Monday 26 July 2021
Guardian front page, Monday 26 July 2021.

The Independent leads on another chapter in the baby deaths scandal, with midwives warning that Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham still doesn’t have enough “resources, beds and equipment to help mothers give birth safely.” The Daily Mail reveals that “Up to 50,000 dementia cases were missed during lockdown … because referrals to memory clinics all but stopped at the start of the Covid pandemic.” The i reports that the police are facing a “mental health crisis”.

The FT’s main story is ministers “exploring ways to remove China’s state-owned nuclear energy company from all future UK power projects”. The Times’s top headline is “Covid cases fall as jabs turn the tide” while the Daily Express “Hope[s] Covid is going away for the summer” as cases fall for the fifth day in a row. Metro has the health secretary’s apology for the “cower” remark on Twitter on its front page. The Daily Mirror leads on Wayne Rooney calling the police over “embarrassing snaps”.

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