The Latest: Jill Biden meets virtually with US athletes
The Latest on the Tokyo Olympics, which are taking place under heavy restrictions after a year’s delay because of the coronavirus pandemic:
Jill Biden has held a virtual meet-and-greet with several U.S. athletes who will compete at the Tokyo Games.
The U.S. first lady is in Tokyo to support the athletes and attend the opening ceremony.
She spoke virtually with Eddy Alvarez, a baseball player and short track speed skater, and basketball player Sue Bird. Both will be flagbearers for the U.S. at the opening ceremony. She also spoke with Allison Schmitt, a four-time Olympic swimmer and mental health advocate.
Biden told the athletes that they’d given up a lot to be in Tokyo and relied on support from family and friends.
On Saturday, she’ll dedicate a room in the residence of the U.S. chief of mission to former U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and his wife, Irene Hirano Inouye.
She will host a U.S.-vs.-Mexico softball watch party at the U.S. Embassy for staff and their families, and cheer U.S. athletes competing in several events before leaving Tokyo.
South African race walker Lebogang Shange has been banned for four years for doping and will miss the Tokyo Olympics.
The former African champion was entered in the men’s 20-kilometer race on Aug. 5. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled on the case in Tokyo.
The 30-year-old Shange tested positive for the anabolic steroid trenbolone and was provisionally suspended in December 2019. His ban will expire before the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The Swiss Olympic team says 400-meter hurdler Kariem Hussein has accepted a nine-month ban after testing positive for a banned stimulant.
The 2014 European champion was entered in the event at the Tokyo Games. The heats start next Friday. It is unclear if Hussein will be replaced in the 40-athlete lineup.
The Swiss Olympic body’s tribunal backdated the ban by one week from the time Hussein was provisionally suspended. That suspension had not been disclosed.
Tokyo Olympic organizers have reported 25 new COVID-19 cases. Three of them are athletes that were announced on Thursday.
There are 13 athletes among the 110 Olympic-accredited people that have tested positive in Japan since July 1.
Three media workers coming to Japan from abroad were included in the latest update.
Naomi Osaka’s opening match in the Olympic tennis tournament has been pushed back from Saturday to Sunday.
Organizers did not immediately provide a reason for the switch. They said only that the move came from the tournament referee.
Osaka was originally scheduled to play 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China in the very first contest of the Games on center court Saturday morning.
One reason for the move could be that Osaka might have a role in the opening ceremony Friday night. That wouldn’t leave her much time to rest before a Saturday morning match.
Osaka is returning to competition for the first time in nearly two months after she withdrew from the French Open following the first round to take a mental health break.
She is one of Japan’s top athletes.
The World Anti-Doping Agency says several Russian athletes have been kept away from the Tokyo Olympics because of doping suspicions based on evidence from a Moscow testing laboratory that was shut down in 2015.
WADA director general Olivier Niggli says it intervened with sports bodies to ensure those athletes — “not many, but there was a handful” — were not selected.
The team of 335 Russian athletes accredited for Tokyo is competing without a national flag and anthem as punishment for state tampering with the Moscow lab’s database. The team name is ROC, the acronym for Russian Olympic Committee, without the word “Russia.”
The identity ban for the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Games was imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last December.
Giving WADA the database and samples from the lab was key to getting closure for the long-running Russian state-backed doping scandal.
WADA had a list of around 300 athletes under suspicion and gave evidence to Olympic sports bodies for possible disciplinary cases.
Niggli says “we cross-checked what we had from this long list” to ensure athletes were not selected for Tokyo.
Russian archer Svetlana Gomboeva lost consciousness during a competition at the Tokyo Olympics in intense heat.
Coach Stanislav Popov says in comments via the Russian Olympic Committee that Gomboeva collapsed shortly after completing the qualifying round Friday.
Popov says “she couldn’t stand it, a whole day in the heat” and adds that humidity made the problem worse. Temperatures in Tokyo were above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit.)
The heat in Tokyo’s summer months already prompted organizers to move the marathons and race-walking events to the cooler city of Sapporo.
U.S. men’s water polo captain Jesse Smith will skip the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics on Friday after the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee limited how many players from his team could participate in the festivities.
Olympic water polo rosters consist of 13 players, and 12 are designated as available for each game. Smith said the team was told by the USOPC that it could have 12 credentialed athletes walk in the ceremony.
“We tried to keep our team together and change it with every constructive outlet, but no success, and now it’s time to refocus on getting game ready,” Smith wrote on Twitter. “So tonight I am sending my team out there to represent (the United States) proudly and soak up every moment. Let’s go boys!”
The 38-year-old Smith is playing in his fifth Olympics, matching Tony Azevedo for most Olympic teams for a U.S. water polo athlete. He was under consideration to serve as the male U.S. flag bearer for the opening ceremony before that honor went to baseball player Eddy Alvarez.
A map on the Olympic website has been changed after Ukraine protested that it included a border across the Crimean Peninsula.
The map is part of a “Cheer Zone” feature tracking how fans around the world have backed different teams at the Tokyo Games.
Late Thursday the map had a black line across the top of Crimea in the same style as national borders. On Friday morning, there was no line across the peninsula. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Ukraine still considers it to be Ukrainian territory.
The Ukrainian embassy in Japan tells the Associated Press in an e-mail that “we have protested to the IOC and the map was corrected.”
Road cyclist Michal Schlegel is the fourth Czech athlete from three different sports to test positive before their competition at the Tokyo Games.
Schlegel tested positive at the team’s training base in Izu and will miss Saturday’s road race.
The Czech Olympic Committee said in a statement Friday that Schlegel is in isolation, and that Michael Kukrle and Zdenek Stybar will be its only two riders lining up at Musashinonomori Park for one of the first medal events of the Summer Games.
Czech beach volleyball players Marketa Slukova and Ondrej Perusic and table tennis player Pavel Sirucek also tested positive earlier this week. That has prompted the Czech Olympic team to investigate whether the outbreak is linked to its chartered flight to Tokyo.