Tokyo Olympics chief won't rule out last-minute cancellation as COVID-19 concerns linger

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Global News 20 July, 2021 - 09:45pm 4 views

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Olympic softball has, unfortunately, been an on-again-off-again event since first being introduced in 1996, with the last two Games not hosting any softball, much to the chagrin of Team USA and the rest of the softball-starved world. ... Here's what you need to know about the 2021 Olympic softball tournament. Sporting NewsOlympic softball, explained: How group play, standings work in 2021 tournament format

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The contract between the IOC and the host city Tokyo suggests only the IOC can cancel the event. ... But the head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee Toshiro Muto has not ruled out cancelling the Olympic Games even at this late stage. bbc.comTokyo Olympic Games: When are they and will they go ahead despite Covid?

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Tokyo Olympics officials ban social media teams from posting photos of athletes kneeling: report

Fox News 22 July, 2021 - 01:11am

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The Olympics have just started, but officials already appear to be embroiled in controversy.

The Games’ opening soccer matches started with kneeling protests during the Britain-Chile and U.S-Sweden games. But curiously, it appeared no photos of players protesting before kickoff were posted on social media from official channels.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 organizers reportedly prohibited their social media channels from posting photos of athletes kneeling in protests, The Guardian reported Wednesday. No photos of the protests appeared on any social media pages, according to the paper.

An insider told The Guardian that the message came from high-ranking officials with a specific reference to the Britain-Chile match. Britain’s soccer players vowed to kneel in protest of racism, inequality and discrimination before their Olympic matches and followed through on the declaration.

Team GB nor the IOC immediately responded to Fox News’ request for comment.

"It is allowed," IOC president Thomas Bach said at a Wednesday press conference when asked about the protests. "It is no violation of Rule 50. That is expressively what is allowed in these guidelines."

Earlier in July, the IOC extended more guidelines on athletes’ freedom of expression at the Tokyo Games but warned against political gestures during official ceremonies, competitions and in the Olympic Village

The IOC said the guidelines were approved by the executive board of the IOC as part of the IOC Athletes’ Commission’s (IOC AC) recommendations. The IOC said the guidelines offer "further clarity" on the "wide range of opportunities available to them to express their views."

Athletes will be allowed to express a political gesture prior to the start of a competition or during their introduction or the introduction of the team. However, the gesture must meet four different criteria.

The gesture has to be consistent with the "Fundamental Principles of Olympism;" cannot be targeted at a certain people, country or organization; cannot be disruptive; and cannot already be banned by a nation’s own Olympic committee or federation.

"When expressing their views, athletes are expected to respect the applicable laws, the Olympic values and their fellow athletes. It should be recognized that any behavior and/or expression that constitutes or signals discrimination, hatred, hostility or the potential for violence on any basis whatsoever is contrary to the Fundamental Principles of Olympism," the IOC said.

If an athlete breaks the guidelines, the IOC laid out possible discipline. The IOC could have disciplinary hearings, in which the athlete would be required to provide full transparency about their actions.

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Opening ceremony director fired over Holocaust joke on Games eve

Reuters 22 July, 2021 - 01:11am

The news is the latest in a series of embarrassments for Tokyo organisers that have sparked outrage at home and abroad, and comes just days after a well known musician was forced to step down as composer for the ceremony after old reports of his bullying and abusive behaviour surfaced.

Abe, who famously dressed up as the titular plumber from video game Super Mario at the Rio Games to represent Japan, played an outsized role in attracting the Olympics to Tokyo.

At the time of the bid, Abe and his supporters hoped the Olympics would parallel the 1964 Tokyo Games heralding the nation's revival after decades of economic stagnation and also mark its recovery from a devastating nuclear and natural disaster in 2011.

Instead, the Games, delayed a year because of the global pandemic, has faced a series of setbacks and scandals.

Earlier this year the head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee resigned after making sexist remarks and Tokyo Olympics creative head followed after he made derogatory comments about a popular Japanese female entertainer.

On Thursday, Tokyo Game organisers fired Kentaro Kobayashi over a joke he made about the Holocaust as part of his comedy act in the 1990s that recently resurfaced in domestic media.

"It has come to our notice that Mr. Kobayashi used comments that made fun of a tragic fact in history in his past performance," said Seiko Hashimoto, who heads the organising committee.

Earlier, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organisation, released a statement condemning Kobayashi's past behaviour.

"Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics," said Abraham Cooper, a rabbi and global social action director of the centre.

The opening ceremony on Friday is set to be a subdued affair, with Japanese media reporting that less than 950 people - including only around 15 global leaders - are set to attend.

First Lady Jill Biden lands in Tokyo on Thursday afternoon for the Games' opening ceremony, raising expectations she might also use her attendance to discuss vaccines with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Biden has been travelling across the United States urging more people to get inoculated.

Only a third of Japanese have had at least one dose of the vaccine, fuelling public concerns that the Olympics could become a super-spreader event. Already 87 Olympic-related personnel, including athletes, have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing athlete withdrawals and pushing teammates to isolate.

NHK said Abe decided against attending the ceremony after the Japanese government declared a state of emergency and virus restrictions over Tokyo. Abe's office could not immediately be reached on Thursday, a public holiday in Japan.

In a recent poll in the Asahi newspaper, 68% of respondents expressed doubt about the ability of Olympic organisers to control coronavirus infections, with 55% saying they opposed the Games going ahead.

Olympics competition has already begun, with the Japanese women's softball team getting the hosts off to a winning start on Wednesday. read more

The second day of softball began early Thursday under cloudy skies with the United States defeating Canada by a run to go 2-0 in the standings.

Between matches in rural Fukushima, which was devastated by the 2011 nuclear disaster, players were on the lookout for a brown bear which had been spotted this week.

"I'm kind of disappointed I didn't get to see it," U.S. pitcher Monica Abbott said. read more

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