Shorn of glitz, Tokyo Olympics begin in shadow of pandemic

Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Kuwait's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Kuwait's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Algeria's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Algeria's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement. (AFP)
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The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement. (AFP)
Yemen's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Yemen's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Iran's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Iran's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Egypt's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Egypt's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Kuwait's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Kuwait's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Syria's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Syria's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Egypt's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Egypt's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Oman's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Oman's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Sudan's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Sudan's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Iraq's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Iraq's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Tunisia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Tunisia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement. (AFP)
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The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement. (AFP)
The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement. (AFP)
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The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement. (AFP)
The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement. (AFP)
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The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement. (AFP)
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Updated 24 July 2021

Shorn of glitz, Tokyo Olympics begin in shadow of pandemic

Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
  • Rower Husein Alireza, sprinter Yasmine Al-Dabbagh carry Saudi flag at inauguration
  • Just a few hundred officials and dignitaries were in the stands of the 68,000-seat venue

TOKYO: Japan’s global superstar Naomi Osaka on Friday lit the Olympic cauldron to mark the start of Tokyo 2020, in an opening ceremony shorn of glitz and overshadowed by a pandemic but defined by hope, tradition and gestures of diversity. Postponed by a year due to the coronavirus, the Games are being held without spectators in a city under a COVID-induced state of emergency, as many other parts of the globe also still struggle with a resurgence of cases.

Athletes, the vast majority wearing masks, paraded through an eerily silent National Stadium.

Just a few hundred officials and dignitaries were in the stands of the 68,000-seat venue, including French President Emmanuel Macron, US First Lady Jill Biden, and Japan's Emperor Naruhito, who will declare the Games open.

Saudi rower Husein Alireza and 100-meter sprinter Yasmine Al-Dabbagh carried the Kingdom’s flag at the opening ceremony.

The Olympics have faced opposition in Japan over fears the global gathering of 11,000 athletes could trigger a super-spreader event, and is taking place under strict virus measures.
Overseas fans are banned for the first time in the history of the Games, and domestic spectators can only watch events at a handful of venues.

READ MORE

Saudi rower Husein Alireza and 100 meter sprinter Yasmine Al-Dabbagh were chosen to carry the Kingdom’s flag at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo on Friday. More here.

Masked athletes

Athletes, support staff and media are subject to strict COVID-19 protocols, including regular testing and daily health checks.
The restrictions made for an opening ceremony that was far from the usual exuberant celebration.

Every athlete entered the stadium wearing a mask, and the national delegations of athletes marching around the stadium were far smaller than usual, ranging from just a handful of people to a few dozen.

The ceremony wove together references to both Japan's traditional crafts and its globally adored video games, with athletes entering to theme music from famed titles.
“Today is a moment of hope. Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “But let us cherish this moment because finally we are all here together.”
“This feeling of togetherness — this is the light at the end of the dark tunnel of the pandemic,” Bach declared.

Biggest Saudi delegation
This is the first time in Olympic Games history that participating nations could nominate a male and a female athlete to carry their flags.
Karate star Tarek Hamdi will be the flag bearer during the closing ceremony on Aug. 8.
Saudi Arabia has sent its largest-ever Olympic delegation to the games in Japan. 




Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)

It includes 11 individual athletes plus the country’s under-23 football team. They will compete in nine sports, surpassing the country’s record of six at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Mostly masked athletes waved enthusiastically to thousands of empty seats and to a world hungry to watch them compete but surely wondering what to make of it all. 
Some athletes marched socially distanced, while others clustered in ways utterly contrary to organizers’ hopes. The Czech Republic entered with other countries even though its delegation has had several positive COVID tests since arriving.

Polls have consistently shown Japanese people are opposed to holding the Games during the pandemic, but hundreds of people still gathered outside the stadium and cheered as the fireworks exploded overhead.
Mako Fukuhara arrived six hours before the ceremony to grab a spot.
"Until now it didn't feel like the Olympics, but now we are by the stadium, it feels like the Olympics," she told AFP as people snapped selfies nearby.
Inside, fewer than 1,000 dignitaries and officials were in the stands, and in a sign of how divisive the Games remain, several top sponsors including Toyota and Panasonic did not attend the ceremony.
Small groups of protesters demonstrated against the Games outside the stadium as the ceremony began, but their chants were drowned out as the music started.
Tokyo is battling a surge in virus cases, and is under emergency measures that means bars and restaurants must shut by 8:00 pm and cannot sell alcohol.
Olympic officials have put a brave face on the unusual circumstances, with IOC chief Thomas Bach insisting cancelling the Games was never on the table.
There are also hefty financial incentives in play. Insiders estimate the IOC would have been on the hook for around $1.5 billion in lost broadcasting revenues if the Games had been cancelled.
The pandemic has not been the only hiccup in preparations though, with scandals ranging from corruption during the bidding process to plagiarism allegations over the design of the Tokyo 2020 logo.
The controversies kept coming right up to the eve of the Games, with the opening ceremony's director sacked on Thursday for making a joke referencing the Holocaust in a video more than two decades ago.
When the full programme of sport begins on Saturday, a new generation of Olympic stars are looking to shine after a decade dominated by the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.
US swimmer Caeleb Dressel could target seven gold medals, and in track and field, 400 metre hurdlers Karsten Warholm of Norway and the USA's Sydney McLaughlin are among those hoping to emerge as household names.
In gymnastics, Simone Biles will attempt to crown her dazzling career by equalling Larisa Latynina's record of nine Olympic gold medals.
New Olympic sports will also be on display in Tokyo, with surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and karate all making their debut.

(With AFP)

 


Blow for Al-Hilal, Saudi Arabia as Salem Al-Dossari ruled out for month

Blow for Al-Hilal, Saudi Arabia as Salem Al-Dossari ruled out for month
Updated 22 sec ago

Blow for Al-Hilal, Saudi Arabia as Salem Al-Dossari ruled out for month

Blow for Al-Hilal, Saudi Arabia as Salem Al-Dossari ruled out for month
  • 30-year-old set to miss at least two SPL matches, Saudi Arabia’s World Cup qualifiers against Japan, China in October

RIYADH: Al-Hilal and the Saudi national football team have been dealt a major blow with news that Salem Al-Dossari will be sidelined for up to four weeks as he recovers from a recent injury.

According to Al-Hilal, medical tests confirmed that the 30-year-old winger had torn a joint ligament.

Al-Dossari will now miss the club’s matches against Al-Shabab and Al-Hazem in the sixth and seventh rounds of the Saudi Pro League, and the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup against Japan and China on Oct. 7 and 12, respectively.

His participation in Al-Hilal’s AFC Champions League quarterfinal against Iran’s Persepolis on Oct. 16, however, will depend on how quickly his injury responds to treatment.

Al-Dossari was injured during his team’s 3-2 victory over Al-Ettifaq in their last SPL match.

Meanwhile, Al-Hilal captain Salman Al-Faraj on Monday edged closer to a first team return with another training session with the club’s youth team, but Peruvian forward Andre Carrillo was still three to four weeks away from a full recovery.

The reigning champions will meet Al-Shabab in the sixth round of the 2021-22 SPL season matches at King Fahd International Stadium on Thursday.


Alhasnaa Al-Hammad, Leen Al-Fozan, Nada Abed claim titles at Saudi Fencing Championship

Alhasnaa Al-Hammad, Leen Al-Fozan, Nada Abed claim titles at Saudi Fencing Championship
Updated 21 September 2021

Alhasnaa Al-Hammad, Leen Al-Fozan, Nada Abed claim titles at Saudi Fencing Championship

Alhasnaa Al-Hammad, Leen Al-Fozan, Nada Abed claim titles at Saudi Fencing Championship
  • Trio of fencers won sabre, foil, epee titles at end of Gold Round in Alkhobar

RIYADH: Fencing trio Alhasnaa Al-Hammad, Leen Al-Fozan, and Nada Abed have been crowned overall champions in the sabre, foil, and epee categories, respectively, at the conclusion of the Saudi Fencing Championship Gold Round in Alkhobar.

Ahmed Al-Sabban, president of the Saudi Fencing Federation, presented the overall winners with their prizes after the championship’s final round held at the fencing arena in Prince Saud bin Jalawi Sports City.

Dai Al-Amiri won the epee category in the competition for under-15s, while Aya Ammar claimed the foil title in the same age group.

The results of the Gold Round had seen top places go to Shahd Al-Kloub in epee, Leen Al-Fozan in foil, and Alhasnaa Al-Hammad in sabre.


Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr have most valuable squads in AFC Champions League

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr have most valuable squads in AFC Champions League
Updated 21 September 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr have most valuable squads in AFC Champions League

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr have most valuable squads in AFC Champions League
  • The 2019 winners’ players are worth $71.76m, while Riyadh neighbors Al-Nassr’s are valued at $71.33m

It is no surprise that Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr, the latter despite their managerial change last week, are two of the favorites to lift the AFC Champions League trophy on Nov. 23 — and not just because the final will be held in their home city of Riyadh.

If you follow the money, these rivals should be there or thereabouts. Of the eight teams left in Asia’s premier club competition, the two Saudi Arabian representatives have the most valuable squads. That is according to Transfermarkt, the website used around the world to track and rank such things.

Al-Hilal have the most expensive assets of all, worth a collective $71.76 million, just slightly more than Al-Nassr’s $71.33 million.

The 2019 Asian champions, who defeated Esteghlal 2-0 in the round of 16 of the AFC Champions League last week, have two players whose worth can be measured only by using eight figures. Moussa Marega, who arrived this year from FC Porto, has a value of $11.74 million, but the player worth the most is, unsurprisingly, Matheus Pereira at $17.60 million.

The Riyadh giants beat a number of clubs from the English Premier League and elsewhere to sign the Brazilian from West Bromwich Albion in August. The playmaker showed his worth against Esteghlal with a fine assist for the opening goal. His pass was converted by Bafetimbi Gomis, whose relatively low valuation of $1.88 million is influenced by his 36 years and short contract. The highest-rated local player in the squad is the talismanic Salem Al-Dawsari at $3.76 million. Next is central midfielder Mohammed Kanno at $3.05 million.

Al-Nassr have plenty of gems of their own after a busy 12 months or so in the transfer market. Injury-hit Argentine Pity Martinez has a $14.08 million valuation, which is not that much below the $17.60 million or so the nine-time Saudi champions paid out for the playmaker in 2020. This is something of a surprise given his inactivity in recent months. The club has so far had better luck with its more recent additions, with Talisca valued at $11.74 million, the same as Cameroonian striker Vincent Aboubakar. The highest-rated Saudi player is the excellent full-back Sultan Al-Ghanam at $3.17 million, $821,500 above midfielder Abdulfattah Asiri.

In terms of the AFC Champions League, none of the other six clubs can boast such expensive assets. Persepolis have reached two of the last three finals, but the Tehran giants have only one player worth seven figures. Mehdi Torabi headed the only goal against Istiklol of Tajikistan in the last minute of their second-round match and that can only add to his current valuation of $1.17 million. There is still talent in the squad, however. If Jalal Hosseini was a little younger than 39, then the center-back, who has made more than 100 appearances for Iran, would be worth his weight in gold.

Al-Wahda complete the West Asian quartet after their penalty shootout win in the all-UAE clash with Sharjah. According to Transfermarkt, Sharjah’s squad is valued at $36.44 million — almost three times more than Al-Wahda’s. If so, then coach Henk ten Cate has done well to take the Abu Dhabi club so far. Their two most valuable assets are Joao Pedro of Brazil and Syrian striker Omar Khribin, worth $3.52 million and $2.11 million, respectively. Again, if Ismail Matar was 28 instead of 38 then the winger would be one of the hottest and most expensive properties in Asian football. One also wonders how much more than $176,000 20-year-old midfielder Abdullah Hamad will be worth in the years to come.

Should Al-Nassr or Al-Hilal make it all the way to the final, then they will meet East Asian opposition and there is a good chance that the team will be from South Korea. The third most-valuable squad left in the competition belongs to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at an estimated $25.56 million. The two-time Asian champions have the usual sprinkling of foreign players, with Russian striker Stanislav Iljutcenko worth $2.35 million and Gambian winger Modou Barrow just $352,000 less. There are also plenty of local players worth $1 million or more, signifying the strength in depth that Jeonbuk possess. There are current or former Korean internationals such as attackers Song Min-kyu, Han Kyo-won and Lee Seung-ki. At the back, former FC Augsburg center-back Hong Jeong-ho marshals the defense.

Jeonbuk’s rivals for the Korean title and defending Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai have players with valuations that reflect the talent at the club. There are no huge stars, with Georgian midfielder Valeri Qazaishvili the highest valued at $1.88 million. There are two local players who are worth almost as much, with talented midfielder Yoon Bit-garam and goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo, who starred for Korea at the 2018 World Cup, valued at $1.76 million. Then there are young players such as Lee Dong-jun and Lee Dong-gyeong, who seem a little undervalued.

Pohang Steelers are one of two teams, along with Al-Hilal, with three Asian club championships under their belt. Despite having 39 players in their squad — one of the biggest in the entire 40-team tournament — the Steelers’ entire roster is worth only $12.65 million, about a sixth of those of Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr. No player is estimated to be worth even $1 million. Left-back Kang Sang-woo is the highest valued at $997,500.

Japan has one club left compared to Korea’s three. Nagoya Grampus’ most expensive player, for any club looking to buy, is Jakub Swierczok. The Polish striker scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Daegu FC last week. There are some other talented strikers at the club, such as Yoichiro Kakitani and Mu Kanazaki, but they are valued lower as they are the wrong side of 30. The most expensive domestic player is 25-year-old center-back Shinnosuke Nakatani.

Fans in Saudi Arabia will get a chance to check out some of these talents in the coming weeks, allowing them to judge just how accurate such valuations are and whether they will increase or decrease.


Over 100 Saudi athletes compete in 2nd Women’s Karate Championships in Jeddah

Over 100 Saudi athletes compete in 2nd Women’s Karate Championships in Jeddah
Updated 21 September 2021

Over 100 Saudi athletes compete in 2nd Women’s Karate Championships in Jeddah

Over 100 Saudi athletes compete in 2nd Women’s Karate Championships in Jeddah
  • Saudi Karate Federation President Dr. Musharraf Al-Shehri praises tournament which hosted 10 clubs at the Asian Arts Center

RIYADH: Women’s sport in Saudi Arabia continued its rapid rise with the hosting of the 2nd Women’s Karate Championship at the Asian Arts Center in Jeddah this week.

The tournament was attended by Saudi Karate Federation President Dr. Musharraf Al-Shehri, who praised the standard of the competition, the organization of the event and the large number of participants, saying all are an indication of the sport’s rising popularity in the Kingdom.

The winners were crowned by Dr. Nouf Al-Hammad, women’s sports officer at the federation, and Dr. Iman Al-Husseini at the end of the tournament in which more than 100 athletes from 10 centers from across the nation took part.

In the individual kata competitions, Lama Abdelaziz from the Heroes’ Steps Center came first , ahead of Sabah Yamen from the Expressions Fitness Center in second and Malak Al-Khalidi from the Heroes’ Steps Center in third.

In the group kata competitions, the Heroes’ Steps Center took first place, with the Asian Arts Center and the Sartieh Center second and third, respectively.

In the fighting disciplines, Malak Al-Khalidi from the Steps of Champions Center won the under 50kg category, while Noura Al-Rashed from the same club won the under 55kg competition.

Dana Mansour from the Asian Arts Center won the under 61kg category  and Rana Viad from the Bagdo Sports Center claimed top spot in the under 68kg.

Al-Shehri also presented the Shield of the Federation to the Asian Center for Martial Arts in appreciation of their hosting of the tournament.


Cricket superstar Virat Kohli crushed in 200th IPL match for Bangalore

Cricket superstar Virat Kohli crushed in 200th IPL match for Bangalore
Updated 21 September 2021

Cricket superstar Virat Kohli crushed in 200th IPL match for Bangalore

Cricket superstar Virat Kohli crushed in 200th IPL match for Bangalore
  • It remained an unforgettable evening for Kohli who fell for five in his 200th IPL match

DUBAI: Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore suffered a crushing nine-wicket loss to Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday hours after he announced to step down as captain at the end of this Indian Premier League.
It remained an unforgettable evening for Kohli who fell for five in his 200th IPL match and Bangalore were skittled out for 92 with Kolkata spinner Varun Chakravarthy returning figures of 3-13 in Abu Dhabi.
The 32-year-old Kohli, who put out a video message of his captaincy exit on the opening day of the revived IPL on Sunday, is still searching for Bangalore’s first title win in the Twenty20 tournament.
“Sometimes it can take you a game, I hope not two, to get into the tournament, you have to stay with the eight-ball, if you’re not, the other teams will be all over you,” Kohli said after his team’s first match of the UAE leg.
Kohli, who last week announced his decision also to quit India’s T20 captaincy at the end of the T20 World Cup in October-November, has been under close scrutiny as a leader in recent months.
Kohli was made Bangalore’s captain in 2013, but despite his superstar status, the team’s best finish was losing in the 2016 final.
His record without a title is often compared to India’s vice-captain Rohit Sharma who has secured five IPL crowns for holders Mumbai Indians.
RCB were at the receiving end of an inspired Kolkata bowling performance with Chakravarthy and Andre Russell taking three wickets each to flatten the opposition batting.
Seam bowler Prasidh Krishna took down Kohli, trapped lbw after the skipper opened the batting with Devdutt Padikkal who top-scored with 22.
Bangalore lost regular wickets to Chakravarthy’s mystery spin that got key batsman including Australia’s Glenn Maxwell for 10 and Sri Lankan import Wanindu Hasaranga for nought.
“Pretty good from Varun, he’s going to be a key factor when he plays for India,” Kohli said of the spinner who is included in India’s World Cup squad.
“It’s great guys who’ve got the opportunity to play at the international level. He’s someone who is going to play in the near future for India, it’s a great sign.”
Shubman Gill, who made 48, and debutant Venkatesh Iyer, who hit an unbeaten 41 off 27 balls, then put on 82 for the first wicket as Kolkata chased down their target in just 10 overs.
The Eoin Morgan-led side need to win five of their remaining six matches to stay in the race for a play-off spot.
The tournament resumed Sunday after it was halted in May because of a devastating surge in pandemic deaths in India, prompting foreign players to rush home.
Many have not come back including England’s Ben Stokes (Rajasthan Royals) and Pat Cummins (Kolkata) of Australia.