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Olympics postponement raises questions, throwing athletes' scheduling into disarray – CBC.ca

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It’s still going to be called Tokyo 2020, but the Olympics and Paralympics are now, most likely, going to be happening in the summer of 2021.

In the wake of Tuesday’s unprecedented announcement — the first time the Games have ever been postponed — a logistical nightmare stands in the way of the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 planning committee.

Athletes have questions they want answered once again, a common theme they’ve been grappling with ever since the global COVID-19 pandemic created havoc with their usual rigid routines.

From venues to scheduling, qualification processes to shifting timelines and financial consequences, the IOC and organizing committee have an enormous amount of work to do — something they could never have expected or planned for even as recently as three months ago.

“It will create some complications, but it’s better than exposing athletes to a dangerous situation,” Canada’s Dick Pound, the longest-serving member of the IOC, told the CBC on Tuesday. “One of the things will be how many of the facilities that were planned for 2020 will be available in 2021. The international sport calendar will have to be rejigged.”

WATCH | Canadian IOC member Dick Pound on postponement:

Canadian IOC member Dick Pound tells the CBC the Tokyo 2020 postponement will have a big impact on the international sports calendar. 8:50

Two massive international events set for summer 2020 — the world athletics and world aquatics championships — will no doubt be affected by the postponement. World Athletics, track and field’s governing body, said Tuesday it’s talking with organizers about alternative dates for the track world championships set for Eugene, Ore., next summer.

The event is currently scheduled to run Aug. 5-15, 2021. That would be in direct conflict if the Games parallel the original schedule set for Tokyo 2020, which were to run July 24 to Aug. 9.

World swimming body FINA also said it will talk to the Japanese organizers of the 2021 world championships about a possible schedule clash with the Tokyo Olympics.The championships are planned for July 16-Aug. 1 in Fukuoka.

Canada’s Andre De Grasse celebrates his silver medal in the 200 metres at the world track and field championships in October. The dates for next year’s championships are in doubt because of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. (The Associated Press)

And while thousands of athletes worldwide now have some of the clarity they so badly craved since the beginning of the global pandemic, they are also again facing the unknown.

“Utter relief. Excitement. Uncertainty,” Erica Wiebe told CBC Sports following Tuesday’s announcement by the IOC. “We’re in unprecedented times. We’ll be more ready than ever in 2021 and wearing the Maple Leaf with more pride than I thought was possible.”

Two-time Olympic trampoline champion Rosie MacLennan is on the COC’s athletes’ commission and was a vocal proponent of Canada not sending athletes to Tokyo this summer.

The 31-year-old from King, Ont., was relieved the IOC did not wait four weeks to make a decision.

“I know it’s not an easy decision and the process is incredibly complex, but I do think it does give an incredible opportunity for the Olympic Games to be a story of the world coming together and overcoming this virus,” she told Canadian Press. “The last 36 and 48 hours have absolutely been a whirlwind for athletes across Canada and also athletes around the world.”

On Sunday night, it was announced Team Canada would not be attending Tokyo 2020 if they went ahead as scheduled. While it seemed as though a postponement was inevitable, the strong Canadian stance sent a shockwave through the athletic community.

On the outside, it was a united effort as athletes took to social media saying they respected and appreciated the move and that safety was more important than sport. But in the background many Canadian Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls were heartbroken and wondered what it meant for their athletic dreams.

Team Canada’s slogan is “Postpone today. Conquer tomorrow.” The chance to conquer is now once again a reality but getting to Games, whenever they happen, isn’t going to be easy.

“I think everyone in every industry is wondering when we can return to normal life,” Wiebe said.

On March 15, the 2016 Olympic wrestling champion earned her spot to Tokyo 2020. The Stittsville, Ont., native, celebrated on the wrestling mat in Ottawa, somewhat subdued knowing her celebration might be met with not attending the Games this summer.

WATCH | Some Canadian athletes’ careers could be in jeopardy:

CBC Sports’ Scott Russell says the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics could jeopardize careers of some of Canada’s older athletes. 5:57

“It seems a little surreal,” Wiebe, 30, said then. “I’ve been doing this sport for a long time. I thought I had seen it all. But I have yet to experience a global pandemic.”

While Wiebe and so many other Canadian athletes are feeling some relief knowing they will in fact get their chance to compete on the world stage in summer 2021, there’s a barrage of questions spinning through their minds.

“The big uncertainty is what does qualification look like?” Wiebe said Tuesday. “What is the actual postponement start date? Will international federations set up competitions between now and a 2021 Games to mitigate lost competition opportunities leading into a 2021 Games? How will athlete funding be allocated? When will training facilities open again?”

Will international federations set up competitions between now and a 2021 Games to mitigate lost competition opportunities leading into a 2021 Games?– Canadian wrestler Erica Wiebe

It’s an unending list Wiebe is running through over and over.

When Pound was asked about the fate of athletes who have already qualified, his response was anything but reassuring.

“It’s an interesting question. Someone who qualified in 2020 might get surpassed by an up-and-comer by 2021. That’s another negotiation point,” Pound said.

At the time of Tuesday’s announcement, 57 per cent of the athletes set to compete at Tokyo 2020 had qualified, leaving a large number of athletes that have yet to get their chance to earn a spot in the Games.

A number of qualification events have been postponed already, including a last-chance men’s basketball qualifier that was set to take place in Victoria at the end of June. Canada’s team needed to win the tournament to earn a berth to Tokyo.

Canada has already qualified eight teams in various sports, one shy of the record nine teams it sent as the host nation at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

“Mixed feelings for our athletes,” Seyi Smith, chair of the COC’s Athletes’ Commission, said of Tuesday’s decision. “Good that they can focus on everyone’s collective responsibility to the pandemic now. Bad that meticulous planning for the Games and life planning post-games has been derailed.”

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Woods on Masters: 'My body was ready' – TSN

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Tiger Woods felt strong and fit enough to compete for another green jacket. He could sense the adrenaline starting to flow, along with a strange sensation.

He was grumpy.

Instead of flying to Augusta National for the Masters this week, he was home in Florida, where the only competition for a green jacket was a putting contest with his 11-year-old son, Charlie.

“I felt energetic, I felt really alive and wired and kind of irritable, and I didn’t know what was going on,” Woods said in an interview with GolfTV made available Thursday. “And I realized it was Sunday morning. … And my body, subconsciously, I knew I was supposed to be getting ready to leave and start playing the Masters.

“My body was ready, and I didn’t know why I was acting that way,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

The interview recorded Wednesday with Henni Zuel of GolfTV — Woods has an endorsement deal with the Discovery-owned channel — was his first since the final round of the Genesis Invitational in February. Woods chose not to play the next four tournaments because his back was not ready. And then golf was shut down along with other sports by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has been at home with his two children and girlfriend, riding bikes for exercise, occasionally playing golf at The Medalist Club and having putting contests with Charlie, with the green jacket going to the winner.

That’s another reminder of these times. This will be the longest a Masters champion has been able to keep golf’s most famous piece of clothing at home. Woods is not required to leave it in his locker at Augusta National until he returns to defend. And that won’t be until November at the earliest.

“This is not the way that I would’ve wanted to keep the jacket for a longer period of time,” Woods said. “I wanted to get out there and compete for it and earn it again, like I did in ’02. But it’s not a normal circumstance, it’s not a normal world. It’s a very fluid environment and it’s very different for all of us. Fortunately, we potentially could have a Masters in November and play it then. I guess I’ll be defending then and hopefully that all comes about.”

In the meantime, he started playing for the jacket with Charlie at the start of the year, wanting to take advantage while the jacket was at home.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to defend, I don’t know if I’ll be able to win again, but let’s just take a moment to have a little fun with it,” Woods said. “Occasionally, it’s gone into his closet. Primarily, it’s stayed in mine. But the fact he’s been able to earn it off me — because there are no wins that are given in this family — it’s been fun to see him tease me about beating me and being able to wear the jacket and have it in his closet where he says it belongs.”

Woods would rather let 95 other players try to take it over 72 holes at Augusta National.

That will have to wait.

The time off has been helpful in one regard. Woods, who won the ZoZo Championship in Japan late last year for his record-tying 82nd victory on the PGA Tour, was off to a slow start this year. He didn’t seriously contend at Torrey Pines and finished last at Riviera. And then he shut it down, his back not feeling quite right as he resumes his career following four surgeries, the last one to fuse his lower spine.

“Night and day,” he said about the difference in how he feels from the last time he played on Feb. 16 in Los Angeles. “I feel a lot better than I did then. I’ve been able to turn a negative into a positive and been able to train a lot and get my body to where I think it should be at.”

He still struggles to think about what he should be doing this week: a flight to Augusta on Sunday to practice and help hand out trophies in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals; the noise and bustle of practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday, the Masters Club dinner on Tuesday night for only champions, the Par 3 Tournament with his kids as caddies on Wednesday, and then quiet of the eve of the Masters as he tries to build toward the final round of his favourite tournament.

He stuck to one tradition — the Champions Dinner.

Woods tweeted a photo of him having his dinner Tuesday night, wearing the green jacket, with his girlfriend and children and food that he wants on the menu — steak and chicken fajitas, sushi and sashimi, milkshakes. Also on the table were cupcakes.

Whenever he gets around to hosting the real dinner at Augusta National, it probably won’t end the same way.

There was a food fight at home.

“It got a little bit interesting at the end, a little ugly, where icing was flowing across people’s hair and face, and so we had a little bit of fun at the end,” Woods said. “I did take the jacket off. This jacket cannot get any cupcake on it.”

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Young, Paul to headline H-O-R-S-E field starting Sunday on TSN – TSN

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Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks will headline the field of NBA, WNBA and NBA alumni in a H-O-R-S-E challenge beginning Sunday night on TSN.

Catch it beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on TSN2, TSN.ca, the TSN App and on TSN Direct.

Other members of the field include former WNBA star and Naismith Hall-of-Famer Tamika Catchings, WNBA All-Star Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky, Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls, Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz as well as retired stars Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups.

ESPN’s Mark Jones will serve as the event’s host.

The challenge will be held in tournament format, with the quarter-final round happening this Sunday and the semifinal and final round taking place the following Thursday.

Sunday’s quarter-finals will see Young take on Billups, Catchings face Conley, LaVine against Pierce, and, finally, Paul match up with Quigley.

State Farm will donate more than $200,000 on behalf of the participants to charities focused on coronavirus relief efforts.

Here is the complete broadcast schedule for the tournament.

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Report: Paul, Young headline HORSE field – TSN

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The NBA and ESPN’s plan to televise a HORSE competition is nearing completion according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Among those expected to participate are Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine. Wojnarowski adds the competition will include a couple of WNBA players and recent NBA alumni.

More to come. 

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