FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 19, 2021
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This year's largest and most anticipated sporting event begins this week, with more than 11,000 athletes from 206 countries competing in the Summer Olympics after a one-year pandemic delay. The games are notably different, to understate it. Covid still is surging in Japan and Tokyo is under its fourth emergency declaration, so no spectators can see the 339 competitions in person. Only about 16 percent of Japan's population is fully vaccinated. Athletes will be tested regularly for the coronavirus and their movements will be restricted and monitored.
Gala opening ceremonies at Japan National Stadium in Tokyo are Friday, following two days of preliminary events. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded in 33 sports from archery to yachting, including new ones such as 3x3 basketball, karate, surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and BMX freestyle. Other events include beach volleyball, swimming, softball and baseball. The spectacle, usually held every four years, still is called the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for marketing and branding purposes. (Lots of merchandise with that year was made in advance.)
At least 70 percent of people in Japan think it's too risky to let in thousands of foreign athletes, coaches, journalists and media technicians, surveys show, but the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizing committee didn't want to lose billions of dollars from NBC and other networks paying to televise the high-viewership event. About 10,000 of the 80,000 registered volunteers had quit, citing fear of infection among their reasons, organizers said last month. The roughly two-week event ends with a closing ceremony Aug. 8.
Sportswriter says: "The athletes who make it to Tokyo deserve an extra badge of courage." – Mike Wise, The Washington Post
Paralympics: Olympic-style competitions for athletes with a range of disabilities also were delayed a year. Those medal events take place Aug. 24 to Sept. 5 in Tokyo.
Next Olympics in U.S.: Los Angeles is the Summer Olympics site in 2028 -- the first time the U.S. will host the games since 2002, when the Winter Olympics were in Salt Lake City.
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