Surf, skate, Simone Biles and COVID are on the agenda – Canon City Daily Record


The Tokyo Games have arrived like no other in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the complexities it has created in hosting a major international sporting event.

What will unfold over the next 17 days will include images of triumphs and defeats, as well as questions about the rationale for moving forward amid rising infection rates.

Here are six summer stories to follow through to the closing ceremony on August 8:

COVID GAMES

Whatever the efforts of the International Olympic Committee, the one-in-a-century coronavirus will remain the central theme of the Tokyo Games.

As infection rates in Japan hit their highest level in six months – thank you, Delta variant – everyone involved in the Olympics has strict orders to test, test and retest.

A few athletes had to leave the Olympic Village due to infections while others who contracted the virus never made it.

Tokyo organizers recently said the Games could be put on hold in the event of a major outbreak. Stay tuned to this political quagmire.

In the meantime, Japan has taken all possible precautions to minimize the risk. Heads of government are barring spectators from entering the sparkling stadiums and arenas built for the celebration of sport. They put Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures on a state of emergency and limited the approximately 80,000 athletes, officials, staff and media from interactions with the Japanese public.

Simone Biles is expected to perform at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany last year. (AP Photo / Matthias Schrader, file)

SIMONE’S FLIGHT

American gymnast Simone Biles is arguably the greatest Olympic gymnast in history. She can certainly leave Tokyo with this claim. Biles, 24, could be the biggest draw for the Summer Olympics – at least from an American perspective.

She is set to become the first gymnast to win two consecutive Olympic titles since Czech star Vera Caslavska in 1964 and 1968.

Biles is the anchor for America’s favorite women’s team that is on the Olympic stage for the first time since the Larry Nassar scandal involving the sexual abuse of hundreds of female athletes who brought shame and contempt at USA Gymnastics.

Katie Ledecky of Team USA during aquatic training at the Tokyo Aquatic Center ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 22, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

ORGANIZE A POOL

Stanford graduate Katie Ledecky will never be confused with the now retired Michael Phelps. But the low-key Ledecky has a chance to leave Tokyo as the most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time.

Ledecky, 24, already has 15 world championship titles, the most in history. She entered the Tokyo Games with five gold medals and one silver. Ledecky must win four gold medals to overtake fellow Stanford swimmer Jenny Thompson to become the Olympic point guard. Ledecky plans to swim freestyle races over 200 meters, 400, 800 and 1,600 meters. She will also participate in at least one relay.

She would need to win six medals to tie Dara Torres and Thompson with 12 medals for the biggest Olympic booty for a woman.

None of this will compete with Phelps, who has won 28 medals, including 23 gold, in five Olympics.

Golden State Warriors teammates Draymond Green, left, and Kevin Durant perform shooting drills during Team USA basketball practice in Las Vegas on Monday, July 18, 2016 (Benjamin Hager / Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

END OF SUPERPOWERS

What’s going on with American basketball and now the women’s football team that opened the Tokyo Games with an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Sweden?

It has been a tough summer so far for teams who rarely lose.

Kevin Durant’s US side lost back-to-back games to Nigeria and Australia earlier this month in pre-Olympic tune-ups in Las Vegas. A roster filled with NBA players looked sluggish against Nigeria after their long season.

But come on. The United States had lost a total of two international games from 1992 to June 2021. But from another point of view, it creates intrigue in the men’s Olympic tournament. As Olympian Draymond Green said, almost everyone opposes American domination.

The women’s basketball team, filled with iconic stars like Sue Bird, 40, and Diana Taurasi, 39, also stumbled a week ago. The WNBA’s all-star roster was not enough in a 70-67 loss to Australia. The women also lost to Team WNBA in an All-Star game, scoring the Americans’ first straight losses since 2011.

But this team is good. It’s hard to imagine less than a seventh consecutive gold medal.

The reigning world champion women’s football team, however, left plenty of questions on the pitch after Sweden’s beating on Wednesday.

Like the women’s basketball team, the American roster is brimming with talent including Carli Lloyd, 39, and Megan Rapinoe, Bird’s basketball fiancee.

The Americans came to Tokyo in search of redemption after failing for the only time to win a medal at the Rio Games in 2016. They seek their fifth gold, but admitted that it would not be easy to claim it. .

Japanese Naomi Osaka returns the ball to Romanian Patricia Maria Tig during their French Open tennis first round match at Roland Garros stadium on Sunday, May 30, 2021 in Paris. (AP Photo / Christophe Ena)

THE QUEEN OF TENNIS OF JAPAN

Naomi Osaka, 23, made headlines this year by retiring from the Roland Garros tennis tournament instead of being forced to do necessary media interviews after her matches. Osaka, a second-ranked Haitian-Japanese player in the world, said she needed a mental health break after tennis. She also skipped Wimbledon.

But she’s expected to be one of the biggest people to catch the host nation’s attention. Although her family moved to the United States when she was 3, Osaka has represented Japan throughout her career.

“The Olympics in themselves are special, but having the opportunity to play in front of Japanese fans is a dream come true,” she wrote in July before the government banned spectators. “I hope I can make them proud.”

Carissa Moore of the United States makes a gesture as she leaves after a practice session at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 22, 2021, at Tsurigasaki Beach in Ichinomiya, Japan. (AP Photo / Francisco Seco)

EXTREME FUN

In an attempt to inject youth into the Olympics, IOC officials are introducing skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing to the menu. They join a growing list of extreme sports reaching the Olympic stage, including mountain biking, BMX and snowboarding at the Winter Games.

Skateboarding will attract a lot of attention with American Nyjah Huston taking on Japanese star Yuto Horigome.

Surfing faces a more difficult stage as the sport depends on the wave conditions. Waves are waist-deep in Chiba at the start of the Olympics, but optimists say swells could be on the horizon.

“It probably won’t be very good surfing,” said Kelly Slater, the all-time great surfer who narrowly missed qualifying for the Tokyo Games. “But everyone has the same chances and they will have to compete against each other. In terms of that, it’s fair competition.


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