TOKYO — Sporting white pants, a blue jean jacket and black ballcap, decathlon champion Damian Warner proudly waved the Maple Leaf as he entered the Olympic Stadium as Canadian flag-bearer.
The image was a fitting one to wrap up a very successful Olympics for Canadian athletes, who made 24 trips to the podium while staying clear of COVID-19 complications.
Track cyclist Kelsey Mitchell sent the Canadians out on a high note, winning gold in the women’s sprint competition.
That gave Canada seven gold, six silver and 11 bronze medals in Tokyo. Those numbers are significant.
The 24 total medals set a new standard for Canada in a non-boycotted Olympics, while the seven gold tied the nation’s output at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
The only time Canada took home more hardware was in the 1984 Los Angeles Games when Canadian athletes won 10 gold and 44 total medals. Those games were boycotted by 14 Eastern Bloc countries, including the Soviet Union and East Germany.
Canada finished 11th both in the official medal standings and the overall medal count.
IN PHOTOS: Canada’s medals at Tokyo Olympics
The United States won three gold medals on the final day of competition to pass China for the top spot in the medal standings. The U.S. finished with 39 golds to China’s 38.
The overall medal race wasn’t even close. The Americans finished with 112, with China well in the distance at 88.
No doubt sweating up a storm in the muggy 32 C conditions, Warner — who entered 45th out of 206 countries — was sandwiched between Qatar and Gabon as flag-bearers formed a large circle on the infield.
Volunteers held flags for countries that did not have athletes present at the ceremony. Many athletes left Japan shortly after their respective competitions.
Warner was later joined by about 120 Canadian athletes, coaches and support staff who marched in the parade.
The ceremony, with its jazzy soundtrack, had a more celebratory feel than the muted and rather sombre opening ceremony over two weeks earlier.
Athletes danced, hugged and took pictures as festive music filled the 48,000-seat venue.
Earlier, Mitchell capped Canada’s Games in an emphatic fashion. The 27-year-old from Sherwood, Park., Alta., beat Ukraine’s Olena Starikova in two straight heats to capture the women’s sprint title.
She won the first race by 0.061 seconds and the second race by 0.064.
Not bad, for someone who only picked up the sport four years ago. Driving a truck as a municipal worker, the former varsity soccer player was looking for a way to get back into competitive sport.
“I hadn’t ridden a track bike before, I’d ridden a bike as a kid but nothing since,” Mitchell said.
“I had dreamt of going to the Olympics, and in the back of my mind you want to go and you want to win. So to have a gold medal, it’s pretty surreal.”
She is the second Canadian woman to win track cycling gold in an individual event following Lori-Ann Muenzer’s sprint gold in 2004.
Mitchell and Muenzer met four years ago, just after Cycling Canada had first approached Mitchell about joining their team. Mitchell’s aunt was in Muenzer’s spin class and suggested she take part to meet the former Olympian.
“I went up and introduced myself and I said, ‘I want to try track cycling and I want to go to the Olympics,’ and she was probably like, ‘Who the hell is this girl?”‘ said Mitchell. “But she was super nice and was like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome.’
“It was a long time ago. It feels like it was a really long time ago, but I guess it was only four years.”
Elsewhere at the velodrome, Calgary’s Allison Beveridge finished ninth in the women’s omnium.
The only other event featuring Canadians on the final day was the men’s marathon, where simply finishing the race was no mean feat. Thirty men in the field of 106 didn’t finish.
Ben Preisner was the top Canadian, finishing 46th in his Games debut. Calgary’s Trevor Hofbauer was 48th, while Cam Levins, of Black Creek, B.C., hung with the lead group through the first half of the race, but faded over the final 10 kilometres to finish 72nd in 2:28.43.
“I really wanted to finish out of respect for a guy like Tristan Woodfine (who qualified but wasn’t selected for the team),” Levins said. “I felt like it was only right to finish this race, and only three of us got to go. And so, yeah, I think that’s kind of what motivated me to stay in.
“It’s hard to call yourself an Olympic athlete if you can’t even finish the race … so, wanting to do my best to get through it no matter how slow or tough the second half was.”
Marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, the defending champion and world record-holder, pulled away over the final 10 kilometres to win gold.
Overall, Team Canada has plenty of reasons to be thrilled with its performance in Tokyo. Warner in the decathlon, the women’s soccer team, Andre De Grasse in the men’s 200 metres and women’s eight rowing crew captured Olympic titles in high-profile events.
Mitchell, swimmer Maggie Mac Neil and weightlifter Maude Charron also topped the podium as Canada’s women Olympians once again made up the vast majority of the medals.
Swimmer Penny Oleksiak won three medals in Tokyo to become Canada’s most decorated Olympian with seven career medals, while De Grasse won three to give him six overall, the most all-time among Canadian men.
But where there is Olympic ecstasy, Olympic agony is rarely far behind. Canada also had its share of close calls and disappointments.
Cyclist Michael Woods finished just off the podium in the men’s road race on the first day medals were awarded at the Games. Two-time Olympic champion trampoline gymnast Rosie MacLennan, the women’s 4×400 relay team, weightlifter Boady Santavy, divers Meaghan Benfeito and Caeli McKay, artistic gymnast Ellie Black and even Oleksiak — in two separate races — were among those with fourth-place finishes.
Meanwhile, Canada came up empty in golf and tennis, two sports in which the nation is becoming a power.
“No point or second was ever easily taken from Team Canada,” chef de mission Marnie McBean said.
“We saw there is a knife-edge difference between brilliance and breakdown. It takes bravery to believe in one when you know when you are risking the other.”
Canada’s successes were made more remarkable, however, considering they came with Tokyo in a state of emergency due to a rise on COVID-19 cases. Athletes also had to battle oppressive heat and humidity throughout the Games.
The Canadian Olympic Committee said none of its delegation had tested positive for the virus as of Sunday.
“One of our key goals was to come to Tokyo and to return to Canada COVID-free,” COC chief executive officer David Shoemaker said.
“We’ve approached this as critical for our protection, critical for our performance goals and critical for the protection of our hosts here in Japan.
“We’ve come this far with zero COVID cases among the 840 athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers in the Team Canada delegation.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 8, 2021.
COVID-19: Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena among Ontario facilities to see major capacity limit increase – Global News
The Ontario government has announced a major boost of maximum COVID-19-related capacity limits at major outdoor and indoor sporting venues, such as the Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto.
“With public health and health-care indicators currently stable and proof of vaccination now in effect, we are able to recommend cautiously easing capacity limits in certain settings,” Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said in an update Friday afternoon, noting the increases will mostly be in places where vaccine proof is required.
“Increasing capacity limits does not mean we can let our guard down. We must remain cautious and humble in the face of this Delta variant.”
Moore said the revised rules will take effect as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
At indoor meeting and event spaces (convention and conference centres, banquet halls etc.), theatres, cinemas, concerts, sports events, racing venues and commercial TV and film shoots with audiences will be able to increase the number of people in attendance to up to 50 per cent of approved capacity or 10,000 people (whichever is less).
For outdoor event spaces where it is standing room only for patrons, up to 75 per cent of approved capacity or 15,000 people (whichever is less) will now be allowed.
COVID-19: Ontario expands capacity limits for some indoor, outdoor settings
When it comes to outdoor event venues where people are seated, up to 75 per cent of approved capacity or 30,000 people (whichever is less) can now be accommodated.
Officials said seated outdoor venues can see higher numbers of people because mobility is less and therefore it reduces the risk of potential transmission of COVID-19.
The announcement came just a day after the Toronto Blue Jays announced the release of additional seats for the final six home games of the regular season, citing ongoing discussions with Premier Doug Ford’s office and Moore. The team said the increase would be in line with public health measures.
In an update right after Moore’s announcement, the Jays announced the 500L section at the Rogers Centre would be reopening to visitors now that up to 30,000 fans will be permitted to attend.
The current capacity limit at the Rogers Centre under Ontario’s COVID-19 regulations is 15,000 fans. At Scotiabank Arena, the limit was capped at 1,000 fans. Both venues have vaccination policies in place.
When Moore was asked why he is recommending these changes now, he said the COVID-19 situation in Ontario has been stable for several weeks and the province needs to have a “balanced and proportionate public health response” to the pandemic.
“For the majority (of attendees), they will be protected through vaccination, they will be wearing masks, they will be screening and monitoring for any symptoms … and I do think that is a much safer environment that we can start to safely and cautiously open,” he said, calling the recent implementation of vaccine certificates a “game-changer.”
“We’ll monitor these caps over the coming weeks to make sure this process remains safe. I’m confident that we can do this safely, and slowly, and cautiously because we all need balance. We’ve made sacrifices over the last year and a half and so have these businesses, and I think this will allow them to open safely and not be sources of infection or outbreak.”
As for how long vaccine certificates will be needed to access many indoor public settings, Moore suggested the program could be in place until the winter.
He went on to say as part of the provincial government’s gradual approach to reopening, it will assess other settings where capacity limits could be eased. He also pointed to early modelling on cases that suggested there could be a sharp rise of cases after Christmas.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
NBA denies Canadian Andrew Wiggins of religious exemption to skip COVID-19 vaccine – CBC.ca
The NBA has denied Canadian Andrew Wiggins’s request for a vaccination exemption, leaving the Golden State Warriors swingman ineligible to play home games until he meets San Francisco’s vaccination requirement.
The ruling was announced Friday, hours after the New York Knicks said their entire roster is vaccinated, making all their players eligible to play in their home games.
Because of local coronavirus regulations in New York and San Francisco, the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Warriors are required to be vaccinated to play in their home arenas unless exemptions for medical or religious reasons apply.
Wiggins, from Vaughan, Ont., sought an exemption from the league for religious reasons.
“The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins’s request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events,” the league said in a statement.
“Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfils the city’s vaccination requirements.”
NBA says unvaccinated players can play
Unvaccinated players are allowed to play this season, though the NBA has said that they will have to be tested daily on practice and travel days, and at least once — possibly more — on game days. Fully vaccinated players will not be subject to daily testing.
However, the Knicks, Nets and Warriors face stricter rules because of their local regulations, which the NBA has told teams do not apply to visiting clubs.
WATCH | ‘Bring It In’ panel discusses vaccine passports’ effect on sports:
The Knicks are the first of those teams to say they have met the mandate.
Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said earlier this week that a couple players wouldn’t yet be eligible, but he was confident everyone would be able to participate by the time the regular season begins on Oct. 19.
Local mandate not yet in effect
Wiggins still has time, as San Francisco’s mandate doesn’t take effect until the middle of next month. Training camps open Tuesday.
The NBA has struck agreements this off-season to have virtually all parties involved in games — referees, coaches, stat-crew workers and anyone else who will be in close proximity to players on or off the court in NBA arenas — vaccinated in order to participate.
The one exception: The players themselves, with the National Basketball Players Association rebuking all efforts from the NBA to mandate that they be vaccinated. About 85 per cent of players were vaccinated at the end of last season. The league-wide figure is believed to have increased since.
2020 Ryder Cup pairings: U.S. runs it back, Rory McIlroy out for Saturday foursomes – Golf Channel
After his team dug itself a 6-2 hole on Friday at the Ryder Cup, European captain Padraig Harrington had some decisions to make when deciding on his pairings for Saturday morning’s foursomes session.
One pressing question was whether he’d sit Rory McIlroy for the first time in McIlroy’s cup career. McIlroy had played in every session since making his debut in 2010 (26 for 26), but he’d dropped both his team-play matches on Friday at Whistling Straits while failing to reach the 16th hole in either one.
Ultimately, Harrington decided that his visiting side’s best chance at a comeback was to sit McIlroy on Saturday morning.
“We have plenty of options on our team,” Harrington said. “Spoiled for choice in many ways, and yeah … I’m very comfortable again with the team I’ve put out tomorrow. Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team.”
McIlroy and Poulter, who lost in foursomes on Friday morning, will both be benched, while Harrington will mix things up slightly elsewhere, splitting Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland, and pairing them with Tyrrell Hatton and Bernd Wiesberger, respectively. Two of Europe’s foursomes pairings are intact: Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.
Meanwhile, on the American side, captain Steve Stricker is going back to the well, keeping all four of his previous foursomes teams. All but Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth won on Friday morning, though Thomas helped lead a four-ball rally alongside Patrick Cantlay on Friday afternoon as the U.S. duo tied Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood.
Cantlay reunites with Xander Schauffele, who is 2-0. Dustin Johnson, also 2-0, reunites with Collin Morikawa.
“We had one other group that we were thinking about putting out, but it went so well this morning that I figured why mess things up and change things up at all,” Stricker said. “We changed the order a little bit is all, but we kept the same pairings.”
The U.S. leads by four points, its largest advantage after Day 1 since 1975. History is on the Americans’ side, too, as just once in five previous instances since 1979 (the year that the Great Britain and Ireland side was expanded to include continental Europe) has a team coughed up a lead of more than three points after the opening day.
Here are the matchups and starting times for Saturday morning’s foursomes session:
8:05 a.m. ET: Koepka/Berger vs. Rahm/Garcia
8:21 a.m.: Johnson/Morikawa vs. Casey/Hatton
8:37 a.m.: Thomas/Spieth vs. Hovland/Wiesberger
8:53 a.m.: Schauffele/Cantlay vs. Westwood/Fitzpatrick
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COVID-19: Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena among Ontario facilities to see major capacity limit increase – Global News
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