Four-time Olympic women’s basketball gold medalist Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez were chosen as US flag bearers for the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday night. Alvarez, who won a silver medal in speedskating at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and Bird were chosen by a vote of fellow US athletes. They are the first duo to share the honor of leading the delegation into the ceremony.
Six Polish swimmers sent home
Six Polish swimmers are fuming after the country’s swimming federation put 23 athletes on the plane to Japan when they were only meant to send 17. The athletes had taken the Olympic oath and departed Poland to great fanfare, but they didn’t even make it as far as Friday’s Opening Ceremonies after running afoul of world swimming’s qualifying rules.. Alicja Tchorz, an Olympian at the 2012 London Games and 2016 Rio Games, took to social media to vent her frustration over missing her third Olympics because of an apparent administrative bungle. “Imagine dedicating 5 years of your life and striving for another start at the most important sporting event . . . giving up your private life and work, sacrificing your family etc.,” she wrote in a Facebook post. A statement signed by members of the swimming team demanded the resignation of the president of the Polish Swimming Federation, Paweł Słomiński, and the management board.
Brisbane awarded 2032 Summer Games
Brisbane will host the 2032 Summer Olympics, the inevitable winner of a one-city race steered by the International Olympic Committee to avoid rival bids. The Games will go back to Australia 32 years after the popular 2000 Sydney Olympics. Melbourne hosted in 1956.
Women’s soccer players protest
The referee’s whistle blew, the British players glanced at one another and they dropped to their knees. Their Chilean counterparts responded in kind, all taking a knee at the Sapporo Dome. An hour later, it was the American and Swedish players in Tokyo taking part Wednesday in united, unprecedented gestures against racism by teams at an Olympics. And the final women’s soccer game of the day saw Australia’s players pose with an Indigenous flag and link arms before kickoff while their New Zealand counterparts knelt. The women’s soccer players were the first athletes to use the Olympic platform for a display of activism, taking a knee at the start of their games.
Equal gender participation for first time
The International Olympic Committee added 18 new events to the Tokyo Games in a push toward gender equity. There are an equal number of women and men for every sport, excluding baseball and softball because of differing roster sizes. The IOC said women’s participation in Tokyo will be 49 percent, up from 4 percent at Rio, a nearly even split with the men.
Abbott’s shutout win No. 2 for US softball
Behind the powerful left arm of Monica Abbott, the top-ranked United States softball team sneaked by third-ranked Canada, 1-0, on Thursday at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium. Abbott tossed a shutout, allowing just one hit, walking three and striking out nine. The day before, her fellow American ace Cat Osterman tossed six scoreless innings and struck out nine while surrendering just one hit to Italy. Abbott came in for the final inning to secure the 2-0 win.
Britain’s top shooter tests positive
Top-ranked shooter Amber Hill of Britain will miss the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19. The No. 1 in women’s skeet said she tested positive Tuesday night shortly before her scheduled departure for Tokyo, and that she was in self-isolation with no symptoms. “Broken is about the only way to describe the pain I’m feeling right now,” the 23-year-old Hill wrote on her Instagram account … A Chilean taekwondo athlete and a Dutch skateboarder are the latest Olympians to test positive for coronavirus. Chilean athlete Fernanda Aguirre says in an Instagram post she is “devastated” and says “I feel so much sadness, anguish, frustration.” Dutch Olympic skateboarder Candy Jacobs likewise says she is “heartbroken” after being sent into quarantine. She won’t get to compete in the street discipline in skateboarding.
Mothers must nurse outside Olympic Village
The captain of Spain’s synchronized swimming team has complained about the “drastic measures” by Tokyo Olympic organizers that have made it impossible for her to take her baby to the Tokyo Games.
Ona Carbonell used her Instagram account to say she had to leave behind her 11-month-old son “despite the appearance of some news suggesting the possibility that we athletes could travel to the Tokyo Olympic Games accompanied by our infants or young children.”
“We have been informed by the organizing entities of some extremely drastic measures that make this option impossible for me,” she said. “After receiving countless expressions of support and encouragement to go to Tokyo with Kai, I wanted to express my disappointment and disillusionment that I will finally have to travel without him.”
She said “our only possibility is to wait for the end of this pandemic so that normality returns” and “that the reconciliation of motherhood and elite sport is no longer something extraordinary and practically impossible to carry out.”
Family members were not allowed to accompany athletes to Tokyo due to COVID-19 restrictions but the International Olympic Committee had announced last month that nursing mothers would be allowed to bring their babies to Japan. The move had come after complaints made by Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher and American soccer player Alex Morgan.
Carbonell told Spanish media that nursing mothers would have to leave the Olympic Village bubble to breastfeed their children, increasing their risk of infection and putting their teammates at a greater risk as well. The babies and caregivers have to stay at hotels.
Only spectator was a bear
A security guard at the Azuma Sports Park spotted a brown bear at the venue early Tuesday, and it came back again on Wednesday just hours before the first scheduled softball game between Japan and Australia took place, a Fukushima police spokesman told Agence France-Presse.
“We couldn’t find or capture the bear, and while there won’t be any spectators at the stadium, we are on alert and searching for the bear around the site,” the official said.