The reviews are in from pundits and commentators outside of Edmonton on the first day of NHL free agency.
After waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple pleas for cancellation, a recent surge of coronavirus cases in Japan and an official name that went out of date, the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics are finally on. Athletes across the globe are arriving in the Olympic village and preparing to compete for international glory on the largest stage in the sports world. With spectators banned, it’ll also be the quietest stage. The Olympics are often a maelstrom of people and sports, and the 13-hour time difference (16 hours on the West Coast) from North America only adds another degree of difficulty in keeping track of events. Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Olympics.
The last time we saw Andre De Grasse on the global stage was in Qatar at the 2019 world athletics championship, where he was holding a silver and bronze medal for his performances in the 200 metres and 100 metres, respectively. And the last time he was on the Olympic stage, in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, he left clutching the same medals in the same events. This year, Mr. De Grasse is looking to capture his first Olympic gold medal in the 100, 200, and 4×100-metre relay.
Rosie MacLennan’s Olympic career is filled with firsts: first Canadian trampoline gold medal at London in 2012, then first trampolinist to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2016 Rio. Ms. MacLennan also happens to be the first Canadian woman to win two gold medals in an individual event at a Summer Games and the first Canadian to successfully defend Olympic gold at the Summer Games. Now, set to compete in her fourth Olympics, Ms. MacLennan aims for an unprecedented first, a three-peat.
If COVID-19 hadn’t halted the sports world in 2020, judoka Jessica Klimkait most likely wouldn’t be in Tokyo. In March, 2020, months before a fight-off with teammate and 2019 world champion Christa Deguchi to determine Canada’s lone Olympic spot, she suffered a knee injury. The injury was bad enough that Ms. Klimkait admitted that she didn’t think she would have been able to prepare for the fight. But because of pandemic-related health regulations, the fight-off never happened, so Judo Canada decided the next world championship would determine who gets the Olympic spot. That world championship happened last month and, when it ended, Ms. Klimkait had a medal draped around her neck. Gold. A feat she means to replicate at the Tokyo Games.
Erica Wiebe never thought she’d become an Olympic champion but she proved herself more than worthy in 2016, capturing the gold in Rio and becoming the second Canadian woman to win wrestling gold. She then captured gold again at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and a bronze at the world wrestling championship. And when she got news of a postponed Olympics, she turned the extra time into an MBA. But the reigning champion is the reigning champion for a reason and Ms. Wiebe hopes to make that clear in her title defence in these Games.
When Penny Oleksiak was winning medals and setting Olympic records in Rio, she was just 16. She became the first Olympic champion born in the 2000s, the first Canadian swimmer to win four medals and the first Canadian summer athlete to win four medals at a single Games. Ms. Oleksiak was also named the CP Female Athlete of the Year in 2016. After taking a break in 2018 because there were days she simply didn’t feel like swimming, she’s made a comeback. In the Canadian Olympic trials in June, she pulled away to win the women’s 100-metre freestyle in 52.89 seconds. Still just 21, Ms. Oleksiak is already a Canadian legend looking to enhance her legacy.
Simone Biles is the GOAT. Ms. Biles, the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history, who also happens to have two signature moves named after her, The Biles and The Biles II, has made it clear that 2020 Tokyo will be her last Olympics. Her legacy is near-insurmountable but her feats this year will determine how high the pinnacle truly is.
A four-time Grand Slam champion, and reigning US Open and Australian Open champion, Naomi Osaka is a marvel at age 23. Now, the world No. 2 Naomi Osaka looks to add another accolade to her trophy cabinet, a gold medal in her home country. She’ll be well rested too after withdrawing from Wimbledon to take personal time with her friends and family in mid-June and clashing earlier with French Open organizers over her media obligations.
After placing fifth in the 85-kilogram weightlifting competition at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, the then-19-year-old from Cameroon fled his team camp. He didn’t feel safe enough to return to his homeland for reasons he still hasn’t discussed. After a period of living on the streets of Brighton, England, with no contacts and little clothing, Mr. Tchatchet struggled to survive. But after applying for asylum in England, Mr. Tchatchet’s case was fast-tracked, and he was moved to a London immigration removal centre. From there, he was released and transferred to a hostel in Birmingham, where he eventually found a new social circle and coach. He later won the British, English and British University and College weightlifting championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019. A medal in the Tokyo Games would be a culmination of a one-in-a-million life story.
Born in Slovenia, 22-year-old phenom Luka Doncic is what it looks like when James Harden is combined with Larry Bird. The fiery two-time NBA all-star, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks, has admitted that a gold medal with the Slovenian team is more important to him than a NBA championship, and with a U.S. team missing many of its staples, his dreams may not be far off.
Eliud Kipchoge, 36, is simply the greatest marathoner in history. The Kenyan won Olympic gold in 2016 by 70 seconds (the largest margin of victory since 1972), set the world record of 2:02:37 at the Berlin Marathon in 2018 and then broke the two-hour barrier in a Vienna race in 2019. The only thing left for him is to cap off his career would be a sub-two-hour victory at the Tokyo Games. Time waits for no man but it seems like Mr. Kipchoge ages like fine wine.
Olympic basketball is highly underrated. Take all the NBA stars you know, throw them on a single team and watch them dominate the field. If you love basketball, it’s a multiday highlight reel; if you don’t, it’s a multiday highlight reel. This time, there’s the added intrigue of Luka Doncic’s first Olympics.
After going undefeated in an International Basketball Federation, or FIBA, qualifying tournament in Ostend, Belgium, in February, 2020, Team Canada will be making its third consecutive Olympic appearance at these Games. The program is ranked fourth in the world and led by Natalie Achonwa, Miranda Ayim and Kim Gaucher, making their third Olympic appearances.
For the first time since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, baseball is back on the docket and this year it’s staged by a ravenous baseball country. Remember men’s hockey at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics? Remember that buzz, the anticipation, the elation? Now put it around a baseball diamond.
The women’s soccer team that secured back-to-back bronzes in the London and Rio Games will be back in action in Tokyo. The eighth-ranked Canadians will be led by captain Christine Sinclair, who is looking to add to her world-record 186 international goals. The 22-player roster also includes 12 veterans from Rio’s squad, including Janine Beckie, Kadeisha Buchanan, Allysha Chapman and Jessie Fleming, on the hunt for another taste of Olympic glory.
The International Surfing Association has been lobbying the International Olympic Committee since 1995 to include its sport, so needless to say it’s been a long time coming for surfing. Forty surfers (20 men and 20 women) will compete in shortboard surfing, with judges rating athletes on the type and difficulty of manoeuvres performed and accounting for speed, power and flow. A sport that’s oft stereotyped as a stylish beach pastime, instead of a ultra-high dexterity and agility sport, surfing will finally get its time in the mainstream.
From the streets of SoCal to the stadiums of Tokyo, skateboarding is finally an official Olympic sport. It will consist of two events: street and park. Athletes will skate three timed runs while being scored on difficulty of their tricks, height, speed and originality. The street course is designed to replicate street skating in a city with stairs, rails and ramps, while park skate features a bowl.
Yes, three-on-three basketball is an Olympic sport. No, this is not a joke. And, yes, the U.S. men’s team failed to qualify. Ever played half-court pick-up at the gym? Same rules. First to 21, ones and twos, loser’s ball on a made basket and defence has to clear rebounds beyond the arc. The only differences are that the ball is slightly smaller than the FIBA ball, the court is slightly smaller, and the shot clock is set to 12 seconds instead of 24. Also there’s a 10-minute timer; whoever is leading wins. If the game is tied, then it’s overtime, with the first team to two points wins.
Karate, originated in Okinawa, Japan, finally makes its debut in Tokyo to join taekwondo, wrestling and judo in combat sports. Olympic karate is divided into two disciplines, kata and kumite. Kata (forms) is a demonstration of offensive and defensive moves against a virtual opponent and is judged on power, speed, rhythm and balance via a points system. Kumite is a fight between two opponents where points are awarded when competitors lands strikes and kicks with good form on specific areas on their opponent’s body. There are three-minute matches and the first one to an eight-point lead wins.
Sport climbing is divided into three disciplines: lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering. Speed climbing has athletes climbing a 15-metre wall along a fixed route while secured to ropes in a race. Lead climbing is the same but without the route, and boulding is a four-metre-long climb without any safety ropes, along fixed routes. Typically during the World Cup competition, these would be their own event but in Tokyo, final rankings will be determined by a combined score as a mixed event.
The 2020s are no stranger to athlete protests. We’ve seen them in every major North American sport in varying forms and it’s been evident at the Olympics in the past. The clearest example was at the 1968 Olympics, where American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos protested on the podium against the civil rights problems in the United States by raising fists clad in black gloves.
Now with racial tensions heightened in the United States after numerous high-profile killings of Black men by police officers, some form of protest by American athletes can almost be expected. And with the recent discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools in Canada, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a form of protest by a Canadian athlete either. This is especially the case since the International Olympic Committee has recently announced rules allowing for more freedom of expression from athletes.
Spectators have been completely banned from the Tokyo Olympics and Japan is under a COVID-19 state of emergency. This is the worst-case scenario for atmosphere at the Games but it does bring a level of intrigue. All the athletes are now effectively in a vacuum; there are no outside influences that can affect their performance; everything comes from within. So while some may argue that the gravitas of the Olympics makes the event what it is, completely silent stadiums offer a level of assessment that a raucous crowd muddies. There’s no momentum, no crowd favourites, and very little in the way of hometown advantage. This is as flat a playing field as one can get, barring playing the Games on the moon.
In terms of the virus itself, it’s already among a few athletes in Tokyo. Athletes from each of Lithuania, Israel, Uganda and Serbia have tested positive for COVID-19. Two workers in the Tokyo Olympic village have also tested positive for the virus, a few days ago. Athletes will also be required to put their medals around their own necks during ceremonies. The coronavirus is going to be a part of the Games, which kept their original 2020 Tokyo Olympics name despite being postponed a year because of the pandemic; the question is how much.
Jessica Springsteen, the daughter of Bruce Springsteen and singer-songwriter Patti Scialfa, is one of four members of the U.S. equestrian team. The 29-year-old will join the veteran trio of Laura Kraut, McLain Ward and Kent Farring, who’ve competed in a combined seven Olympics. Ms. Springsteen will be ranked third behind Ms. Kraut and Mr. Ward at the Games and will be riding 12-year-old stallion Don Juan van de Donkhoeve in her first Olympics.
CBC, Sportsnet, TSN and TLN are all homes of the Tokyo Olympics on Canadian TV. Online, Sportsnet and TSN will let you watch by either buying their standalone streaming service or by signing in with your television provider on their website. CBC’s live streams can be found through the CBC website and CBC Olympics app. TLN’s coverage of the Tokyo Games on TV will include select live soccer matches in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
Tokyo is also 13 hours ahead of Eastern Time and 16 hours ahead of Pacific. Meaning, evening events in Tokyo will take place in the morning here in Canada and morning events in Japan will happen during the evening here.
Sign up for The Globe’s Olympic newsletter and follow all of the news, features and opinion in the leadup to the Summer Games in Tokyo.
Keep up with the latest behind-the-scenes stories and images from the Olympics in our reporters’ notebook from Tokyo.
Nathan VanderKlippe spoke to bronze medalist Caileigh Filmer after her podium finish with teammate Hillary Janssens in women’s pair rowing. Filmer discussed “going internal” with Janssens to maximize their performance on the water. It’s not a bad analogy for a Games characterized by isolation.
Rachel Brady: “Hayden doesn’t have a lot of miles on his body like many athletes would at 37. That’s because he took seven years off from the sport after he made the podium at the 2012 London Olympics, before deciding to plunge back in and try to make a comeback for Tokyo – his fourth Olympics.”
James Griffiths: “The bitterness and anger left over from the protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019 have not faded. While public unrest is not seen today, that is only because the Chinese government imposed a national security law on the city last year, not because any of the issues which sparked the protests have been solved.”
What athletes and teams should Canadians look out for? Consult our guide.
Penny Oleksiak bears the hopes of a nation in Tokyo – and that’s just fine with her. Rachel Brady spoke with the now six-time medal winner before the Games began
How did Canada’s swimmers use data to get stronger? Grant Robertson and Timothy Moore explain.
The reviews are in from pundits and commentators outside of Edmonton on the first day of NHL free agency.
And the reviews are not positive. Zach Hyman was considered a winner of the free agency period, but not the Edmonton Oilers, which had one of the most active and consequential days in team history.
Edmonton’s move included:
Adam Larsson left as free agent, Ethan Bear traded, Jujhar Khaira left as free agent, James Neal bought out, Caleb Jones and third round pick traded.
Zach Hyman signed to a seven-year, $5.5 million per year deal, Tyson Barrie signed to a three-year, $4.5 million per year deal, Cody Ceci signed to a four year, $3.25 million per year deal, Derek Ryan signed to a two year, $1.25 million per day, RFA Warren Foegele acquired in a trade, Mike Smith signed two years. $2.2 million per.
Here is some of what the commentators had to say:
Mike Brehm of USA TODAY had Hyman as a winner: “He played with skilled forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in Toronto. Now he’ll get a chance to play alongside Connor McDavid in Edmonton. Plus, the winger gets a seven-year, $38.5 million contract after averaging $2.25 million in his last contract.”
But Matt Larkin, The Hockey News on youtube had Edmonton as a loser: “I just don’t understand. What are they doing? … I’ll put the Zach Hyman deal aside. I’m willing to defend it. I think he’s going to actually be very helpful in the
short term. You have to give him that term and money because it’s competitive to sign him. I think he’ll be a really nice fit
playing with McDavid… I think that move is totally fine but bringing in guys like Cody Cedi and with term, I just don’t understand what this team is doing. You’re bringing Duncan Keith. You lose Adam Larsson. You trade away Caleb
Jones. You trade Ethan Bear… You’ve also resigned Mike Smith into his 40s now for multiple seasons.
“I just can’t condone the decisions over all of this team… I don’t know if this team is better. I don’t believe that they are but I could be wrong.”
Larkin added: “I do think that the Oilers could save their offseason. They could steal Tomas Tatar on a cheaper deal kind of like what they gave to Dominik Kahun last summer.”
Scott Burnside of The Athletic gave the Oilers a 4.5 out of 10 grade. “That’s some weird stuff going on for an Oilers team that was embarrassingly swept by Winnipeg in the first round of the playoffs. Young defensive depth went out the door in the form of Caleb Jones (Chicago) and Ethan Bear (Carolina) replaced by 38-year-old Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci, who was pretty good in Pittsburgh and is now an Oiler at $3.25 million for the next four years. Ceci is the kind of player, and that is the kind of contract, that fans in Edmonton will turn on in an instant… This is at best a blue line in transition and at worst in regression. Love Zach Hyman up front and the Oilers will love him too but not likely for the entirety of his seven-year deal at $5.5 million).”
Commentator Josh Wegman of The Score, also had the Oilers as a loser: “The Oilers general manager’s reputation has taken a turn for the worse over the past couple of weeks. The Oilers made a handful of questionable moves Wednesday, leaving them with one of the most suspect blue lines in the league… The Bear-for-Foegele trade isn’t entirely bad in itself, but the fact that the Oilers shipped out a promising, homegrown blue-liner to make room for Barrie and Ceci is bad optics. Outside of Nurse, this back end is littered with question marks… Holland did do well to improve Edmonton’s forward depth, bringing in Foegele, Derek Ryan, and Zach Hyman, but the latter’s seven-year deal worth $5.5 million per season is a massive overpay. The Oilers also didn’t address their issues between the pipes, missing out on all the top free-agent options and failing to pull the trigger on a deal for Kuemper.”
Lyle Fizsimmons of Bleacher Report also had the Oilers as losers, says that Holland “made a series of moves Wednesday that could be labeled anywhere from optimistic to misguided… iI’s the defensive moves—particularly the Bear trade—that reminded fans of past moves that saw young assets bloom elsewhere. The Oilers traded Matt Greene, then 25, to Los Angeles in 2008 and saw him win two Cups with the Kings; dealt Jeff Petry, then 27, to Montreal in 2015 and saw him emerge into one of the league’s best blueliners and later help the Canadiens to the Cup Final this season; and dispatched Justin Schultz, then 25, to Pittsburgh in 2016 where he, too, went on to win a pair of Stanley Cups.”
1. These commentators have varying degrees of knowledge and expertise about the Oilers and about the true talent of the players Edmonton move out and moved in. Nonetheless, I find it interesting what outsiders have to think. Quite often they get it right in evaluating Edmonton’s moves, but they also get it wrong. For example, last year the re-signing of Mike Smith was widely criticized but it worked out well.
2. The comment I most agreed with came from Larkin when he said: “I don’t know if this team is better. I don’t believe that they are but I could be wrong.” It’s excellent when any commentator recognizes the limitation of their her or his own knowledge, and the limitation of anyone’s predictive power in general, and owns up that they could very well be wrong. That’s a sign of wisdom.
3. I’m fascinated by those fans and commentators who aren’t expert in these players, who haven’t seen many of them play much this past season and certainly haven’t studied them closely enough to give an expert take on their value, yet come out with complete certainty on the merit of a trade.
For example, we can tell certain things about Foegele from his statistics and from what others say of him, but that’s not the kind of deep analysis needed to get a fair and accurate sense of his true talent. It’s the best we can do, and it’s fun to engage in this kind of judgement as fans and commentators, but how could we possibly be certain of our predictive powers regarding the outcome of a trade when our knowledge base is so incomplete?
Even if we have a deep understanding of the value of a player, as many Oilers fans do with players like Larsson and Bear, it’s hard to know just how they’re going to perform next year. For one thing, so much depends on the player’s health and his usage. Will Larsson’s back hold up? Will Bear get thrown into the deep end, over his head, against the toughest competition?
But it’s also difficult to guess if a player like Bear will do what it takes and get the right coaching and opportunity to take a step up. And it’s also difficult to know how much more one more year of grinding will impact Larsson’s game.
4. The best we can do with players we know well is offer a probability, such as me guessing Larsson has an 80 per cent chance of playing as well as he did this past season and suggesting it’s a coin flip as to whether Bear will progress or regress this coming year. As for players I haven’t seen and studied thoroughly, such as Foegele, Keith, Ceci and Ryan, my guesses about how they’ll play are utterly crude, not anything I would state with certainty.
5. As for Larkin wondering what the Oilers are up to, that’s a fair question, but I think the answer is obvious: Edmonton was scrambling to fix its defence after Larsson unexpectedly left, and this is what made most sense to the organization. When you’re scrambling, it’s not easy. Ask any quarterback. Sometimes you get sacked, even concussed. Sometimes you’re able to improvise a touchdown pass.
Canada has its first rowing medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Victoria’s Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens of Surrey, B.C., took bronze on Thursday in the women’s pair with a time of six minutes 52.10 seconds.
The 2018 world champions finished behind the gold-medal winning duo of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand (6:50.19) and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia (6:51.45).
Conlin McCabe of Brockville, Ont., and Kai Langerfeld of North Vancouver, B.C., were the other Canadian rowers in a final Thursday, finishing fourth in the men’s pair on the 2,000-metre course at Sea Forest Waterway.
Canada’s women’s eight will race for a gold Friday.
The country’s rowers are looking to rebound after a disastrous showing at the 2016 Rio Games that saw the program secure just one medal.
The Canadians qualified 10 boats for Tokyo — the most since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta — and have a gender-neutral team for the first time in their history.
???? Bronze medal for #TeamCanada ????
Caileigh Filmer & Hillary Janssens win ???? in the women’s pair, capturing Team Canada’s first rowing medal of #Tokyo2020 ????????????
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) July 29, 2021
890 million-year-old fossils may be oldest sign of animal life on Earth, Canadian geologist says – The Washington Post
N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 4 new cases, 66.1% of eligible population fully vaccinated – CBC.ca
Amid pushback, Alberta health minister defends plan to ease COVID-19 isolation, masking, testing rules – Globalnews.ca
Zach Hyman is exactly what was missing in the Edmonton Oilers top-six – Edmonton Sun
Edmonton Oilers sign veteran centre Derek Ryan… DURING Ken Holland's media avail – Edmonton Journal
Filmer, Janssens capture bronze in women’s rowing pair at Tokyo Olympics – CityNews Toronto
U.S. Economy Grew 1.6% in Second Quarter – The New York Times
"What are they doing?": Edmonton Oilers a loser of NHL free agency, NHL commentators say – Edmonton Journal