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How the Olympics will look different this year – CTV News

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TORONTO —
The Olympics begin in Tokyo next week, and the competition will be historic — and strange — for a number of reasons.

The Olympics were set to occur in 2020 before they were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the globe. Although the situation has been shifting week to week, with spectators being banned earlier this month at most venues and Japan entering a state of emergency due to a rise in COVID-19 cases, the Olympics seem to still be on track to begin next week, with opening ceremonies planned for Friday.

But this year’s Olympics will be very different from usual, from athletes having their movements hemmed in by strict rules to medal ceremonies where medals are on a tray.

Here are some of the ways that the Olympics will differ this year:

A LACK OF SPECTATORS

A few months ago, the plan was for 10,000 Japanese fans per venue to be permitted to attend the Olympic events in person, with only overseas spectators banned. But as COVID-19 cases rose in Tokyo, where the majority of events are being held, officials made the decision to ban all spectators.

A state of emergency was declared in Tokyo on July 9, and officials announced that no spectators would be permitted into any Tokyo venues or regions close to the city. Hokkaido and Fukushima prefectures announced that no spectators would be allowed at events held in those regions as well.

According to CNN, Japanese Olympic Committee Seiko Hashimoto said last week that Miyagi, Fukushima and Shizuoka prefectures would be permitted to allow spectators at 50 per cent capacity, with a maximum of 10,000 spectators.

The Olympic Committee has also asked for the public to stay away from the official route of marathon and race walk events that are occurring in Sapporo. Spectators will also be barred from Musashinonomori Park, where cycling road events will begin.

NO TOURISM FOR ATHLETES

Although athletes are always focused on performing their best at the Olympics, there is usually a little bit of fun in visiting another country and interacting with other top-level athletes. However, this year, athletes received a detailed playbook full of rules intended to keep athletes safe and ensure the games don’t turn into a COVID-19 superspreader event.

Athletes must wear masks and practice physical distancing at all times, with “hugs, high-fives and handshakes” discouraged. They are not permitted on public transport unless it is the only option to reach certain venues, and athletes must follow an “Action Plan” that shows what activities they will be doing at permitted locations related to the Olympic Games.

Specifically, athletes are not allowed to “walk around the city, and visit tourist areas, shops, restaurants or bars, gyms, etc.” according to the playbook.

The athletes will not be able to hang around after their event is done either. Athletes and “sport-specific team officials” are required to leave Japan no later than 48 hours after their competition has been completed or after they have been eliminated, if they do not make it until the end of the competition.

MEDALS ON A TRAY

This week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that there would be a significant change to the medal ceremonies this year: athletes will be placing medals around their own necks.

Usually, an IOC member or another official would place the medals around the necks of the winning athletes. But this year, the winners of each event will be presented with medals on a tray, and the athletes will pick up their medal and put it on themselves.

This is different than how some sporting events held during the pandemic have handled the issue. At the Euro Cup recently, the Union of European Football Associations president Aleksander Ceferin hung medals around the players’ necks himself.

DROPOUTS

Several high profile athletes — as well as an entire country — will not be competing in the Olympics this year.

North Korea announced in April that it would not be sending athletes to Tokyo to compete. The decision was made out of fear that athletes might contract COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

Serena Williams said at the end of June that she would not be attending the Olympics this year.

Roger Federer also confirmed that he would not be at the Olympics this summer, citing a knee injury that he tweaked at Wimbledon.

Other tennis stars, such as Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Nick Kyrgios will not be at the Olympics, with Kyrgios referencing the lack of spectators as part of the decision.

Canadian star Bianca Andreescu announced earlier this week that she would be pulling out of the games due to “all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic.” Fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov withdrew in June, saying it was the “best decision for everyone’s safety.”

Several NBA stars have confirmed that they will not be competing in the Olympics, such as LeBron James and Serbian player Nikola Jokic, who won the most valuable player award recently.

Samoa also decided not to permit its weightlifting team to attend the Olympics out of COVID-19 fears. The weightlifting team is based in Samoa, but other Samoan athletes who are based internationally will be permitted to compete.

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Canada stun U.S. to set up final with Sweden

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Canada stunned world champions the United States on Monday, handing them a shock 1-0 defeat in the semi-finals of the women’s Olympic football tournament to set up a clash with Sweden in Friday’s showpiece match.

The Swedes beat Australia 1-0 thanks to a 46th-minute goal from Fridolina Rolfo to return to the final after their silver medal in Rio five years ago.

Canada celebrated their first win over the U.S. in over 20 years after Jessie Fleming’s 75th minute penalty settled the contest.

The crucial moment, in a game which had produced little incident, came when U.S. defender Tierna Davidson challenged Deanne Rose on the edge of the penalty area. After a video review, a spot kick was awarded.

Canada‘s veteran striker Christian Sinclair initially had the ball in her hands, but Fleming took the responsibility and kept her cool to slot home.

The U.S, pre-Games favourites for the gold medal, went close to an equaliser when Carli Lloyd struck the bar with a header but Canada held on for a famous victory – and their first appearance in an Olympic final.

The Americans have won the gold medal four times and have not lost to Canada for over 20 years. It is only the fourth time the Canadians have beaten their neighbours in 62 meetings.

“It has been a long time coming to beat those guys,” said Fleming. “We want to come away with gold now but it is really special for us to put our flag on the map,” she said.

TRIPLE SUBSTITUTION

The game was a dull affair until a triple substitution saw Megan Rapinoe, Lloyd and Christen Press brought on — a change which brought new life to the American attack.

The first effort on goal finally arrived in the 65th minute with a curling shot from Lloyd which was tipped over by Stephanie Labbe, and moments later the Canada keeper did well to keep out a glancing header from Julie Ertz.

But just as the Americans were piling on the pressure, a Canada break led to the penalty award and the end of the road for Vlatko Andonovski’s side.

“It sucks. Obviously you never want to lose, you never want to lose in a world championship, you never want to lose to Canada, obviously, and you never want to lose playing the way we did,” said Rapinoe.

Sweden, who lost to Germany in the Rio final, fired an early warning with a Rolfo shot rattling the crossbar.

Australia, seeking a first Olympic final, thought they had gone ahead just before the break with a Sam Kerr effort but the goal was ruled out for a foul.

It was the Swedes who took the lead when Matilda’s keeper Teagan Micah could only push a looping, deflected shot from Filippa Angeldal against the bar and Rolfo hooked in the loose ball.

Australia were reduced to 10 players in stoppage time when Ellie Carpenter was sent off for pulling down Sweden substitute Lina Hurtig as she ran goalwards.

“It is amazing, I am so happy,” said Angeldal, “I think we learnt a lot from this game, we worked so hard as a team and we will have to bring that to the final.”

“It feels like I am in paradise. I love to play with this team, we have a great team spirit,” she added.

Kerr said she was disappointed with the ruling out of her goal.

“Obviously, we are disappointed because we wanted to be in the gold medal match but at the end of the day, we have got a game against the U.S and the bronze medal is at stake,” she said.

The bronze medal game will be held in Kashima on Thursday with the gold medal match at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Friday.

The men’s semi-finals will be held on Tuesday with Mexico taking on Brazil and Japan up against Spain.

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Pritha Sarkar/Hugh Lawson/Ken Ferris/Ed Osmond)

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Latin America’s resurgent left and Caribbean spurn U.S. policy on Cuba

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The United States doubled down on its tough stance and sanctions on Cuba after historic protests in the Communist-run island last month and said it would seek to support protesters.

But many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region which is still scarred by Washington’s backing of coups during the Cold War and has shifted leftwards in recent years, are asking it to back off instead.

President Joe Biden branded Cuba a “failed state” in the wake of the July 11-12 protests over an economic crisis and curbs on freedoms. His administration imposed new sanctions on those who cracked down on protesters and promised the politically important Cuban-American community more actions were coming, like efforts to help Cubans circumvent “censorship”.

While the fresh sanctions are largely symbolic, they suggest a return to a period of detente under former President Barack Obama is not forthcoming.

The right-wing governments of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras joined the United States last week in issuing a statement condemning mass arrests and calling for full restoration of disrupted internet access.

Yet only 20 foreign ministers worldwide joined in signing the letter, signalling how relatively isolated Washington is on its Cuba policy, analysts said. Even U.S. allies like Canada who have condemned the Cuban crackdown and supported protesters’ right to freedom of expression did not sign.

Meanwhile, Cuba’s leftist allies in Latin America and fellow Caribbean island nations have focused their reaction on the contribution of the U.S. embargo to the country’s current humanitarian crisis, urging Washington to lift sanctions. Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia have sent aid.

Some countries in the region have also warned against U.S. meddling in Cuba’s domestic matters.

These regional divisions came to the fore last week when the Organization of American States had to postpone a meeting on the human rights situation in Cuba due to objections by more than a dozen member states.

“Any discussion could only satisfy political hawks with an eye on U.S. mid-term elections where winning South Florida with the backing of Cuban exiles would be a prize,” wrote Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the OAS, Ronald Sanders, in a column published on digital platform Caribbean News Global.

“The task of the OAS should be to promote peaceful and cooperative relations in the hemisphere, not to feed division and conflict.”

He had sent a letter on behalf of 13 countries from the Caribbean Community or CARICOM – which though small, represents a significant voting block in the OAS – urging the body to reconsider the “unproductive” meeting, while other countries sent similar missives.

REJECTION OF OAS, FOREIGN MEDDLING

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said last month the OAS should be replaced “by a body that is truly autonomous, not anybody’s lackey”, sentiments echoed by Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez.

He also said he thought Biden must make a decision about the embargo against Cuba given that “almost all countries of the world” are against it, while Fernandez said it was up to no other country to decide what Cubans should do.

Mexico, Argentina and Bolivia all shifted left in recent years, while Peru last month voted in a socialist leader and Chile and Brazil appear poised to move to the left in elections due this year and next.

“We appreciate countries that defended the Latin American and Caribbean dignity,” said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who has accused U.S.-backed counterrevolutionaries of being behind the protests following years of open U.S. funding of democracy programs on the island.

The Chair of the OAS Permanent Council described the objections to the Cuba meeting as particularly unusual.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said it was “deeply disappointed” the OAS meeting did not take place, adding: “The people of the Americas have a right to hear from the Inter-American Commission on Human rights about the situation in Cuba”.

“We will continue to work within the OAS to press for democracy and human rights in Cuba and throughout the Americas and are confident this informational meeting will indeed take place in the coming days.”

William LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University in Washington, said the problem was the OAS had under Secretary-General Luis Almagro “adopted a strident partisan stance totally aligned with U.S. policy”.

Biden was inheriting a regional foreign policy from former U.S. President Donald Trump focused mainly on Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, that had alienated much of Latin America, said LeoGrande, pointing out the Latinbarometer opinion poll showed a sharp decline in the image of the United States.

The OAS General Secretariat declined to comment while the State Department spokesperson said “Almagro’s leadership in supporting democracy and respect for human rights in the Americas” had returned the OAS to its original purpose.

Biden, a Democrat, had vowed during his presidential campaign to ease some of the sanctions on Cuba tightened by his predecessor Donald Trump, a Republican, raising hopes of a return to the Obama-era detente.

But analysts say the protests have complicated his leeway to do so, especially after he made a poorer-than-expected showing with voters in south Florida’s anti-communist Cuban-American community, which backed Trump’s tough policies toward Havana and helped him win the presidential election battleground state.

The Democratic National Committee last week launched a digital ad campaign in Florida highlighting Biden’s “commitment to the Cuban people and condemnation of communism as a failed system.”

 

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Additional Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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Kyle Lowry Signs With Miami Heat Leaves Toronto – HYPEBEAST

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Kyle Lowry is bidding farewell to the city of Toronto after nine years to join the Miami Heat. For many years, Lowry has been the face of the Toronto Raptors, bringing in an immeasurable impact to not only the franchise but the Canadian community worldwide.

It is hard to quantify Lowry’s effect on the team, the city and the country but Lowry did definitely had a hand in shifting the franchise from being an underdog to an NBA champion. As Lowry departs the Raptors for South Beach, fans are possibly calling him the greatest player of the Canadian NBA franchise. Lowry holds the most assists (4,277), steals (873), three-pointers (1,518) and triple-doubles (18) in Raptors history.

Lowry is set to join the Miami Heat in free agency and is expected to sign a three-year sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors. Sources have reported that Lowry prefers a three-year deal with no options. The specific terms of the deal have yet to be announced, but Lowry took to Instagram and Twitter to seemingly confirm his move to Miami.

The 35-year-old NBA veteran averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game last season. His move to Miami will give him the opportunity to play with Heat’s star Jimmy Butler.

In other sports news, Simone Biles announced she is competing in the balance beam event at the Tokyo Olympics.


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