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Thread: Tokyo Olympics

  1. #166
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    I'm taking the '2020' off the title of the Tokyo Olympics thread

    ...not going to replace it with '2021' yet. We'll just wait and see.

    MAY 20, 20214:13 PM UPDATED 13 HOURS AGO
    Olympics-Most Japan firms say Games should be cancelled or postponed
    By Tetsushi Kajimoto

    3 MIN READ


    TOKYO (Reuters) -Nearly 70% of Japanese firms want the Tokyo Olympics either cancelled or postponed, a Reuters survey found, underscoring concerns that the Games will increase coronavirus infections at a time when the medical system is under heavy strain.


    FILE PHOTO: The giant Olympic rings are seen behind Japan's national flag amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo
    With just nine weeks to go before the Games, states of emergency have been imposed in much of Japan until the end of the month to counter a spike in infections that has resulted in a shortage of medical staff and hospital beds in some areas.

    The country’s vaccination programme has also been particularly slow, with just 4% of the population inoculated, the lowest rate among the Group of Seven nations.

    The Corporate Survey, conducted May 6-17, showed 37% of firms were in favour of cancellation, while 32% want a postponement.

    In particular, those calling for a cancellation have increased from February when the same questions were asked in the monthly survey. Then, 29% were keen on a cancellation while 36% favoured a delay.

    “There’s no way that the Olympics can go ahead under the current circumstances,” a manager at a metals firm wrote in the survey.

    “Nothing the government does seems to be well-planned. All it appears to be doing is spreading anxiety.”

    The results of the survey are roughly in line with public opinion polls.

    Many Tokyo residents say, however, they are conflicted about holding the Games.

    “Variant strains could enter, creating a terrible situation,” said Keiko Yamamura, a 58-year old yoga instructor. “But when I think of the athletes who have worked so hard, I’d like to let them do it.”

    The government and International Olympic Committee have repeatedly said the Games will go ahead. About 70% of the 10,500 athletes due to attend have already qualified.

    If the Games, which have already been postponed by a year, were cancelled, a quarter of the firms expect big economic losses. But nearly 60% said economic losses would be limited while another 13% said they expect economic losses to be relatively small.

    The survey, conducted for Reuters by Nikkei Research, canvassed some 480 large and midsize non-financial companies, of which about 230 answered questions on the Olympics. Respondents participate in the survey on condition of anonymity.

    Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Edwina Gibbs
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  2. #167
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    I find it extremely bizarre that the Japanese government spent these past several months lollygagging around the issue of vaccinations. Usually, the Japanese are usually highly organized and up on things. You’d think with Japan scheduled to hold the Olympics they would have had their act together, instead of twiddling their thumbs. It’s a stupid situation that didn’t have to be this way. However, I do understand the worry many there have of new strains of the virus being brought into the country.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 05-21-2021 at 09:43 AM.

  3. #168
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    Congrats Sakura Kokumai!

    I hope you get a chance to compete.

    SAKURA KOKUMAI OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED AS FIRST U.S. KARATE OLYMPIAN
    By Todd Kortemeier | May 25, 2021, 3:36 p.m. (ET)


    Sakura Kokumai poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympic shoot on Nov. 22, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif.

    Sakura Kokumai first saw her name appear alongside the word “Olympian” back in March 2020. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were postponed, the karate Olympic qualifying system was revised and athletes had to wait until Tuesday to have their Olympic fates confirmed.

    Kokumai found herself in the same spot — among the first 40 karate athletes officially qualified for the Games. Kokumai ranks as the fourth kata athlete in the world, securing her place. She is the only one among the 40 from Team USA.

    It’s been a long wait for both Kokumai and the sport of karate, as both will be making their Olympic debuts in Tokyo. The discipline of kata that Kokumai practices is based on progressing through a series of movements. Athletes receive scores from judges on their technical execution.

    Kokumai, 28, first took up the sport at the age of 7 in her native Hawaii. Growing up, she lived in both Hawaii and Japan, where her parents are originally from. Kokumai now lives in San Diego.

    Kokumai committed to the kata discipline at the age of 16, and by 2012 won her first world championships medal. A seven-time national champion at the senior level, Kokumai has been a member of the national team since 2007. She owns six senior Pan American championships and in 2019 captured the gold medal in individual kata at the Pan American Games. She’ll hope to bring home a medal of a similar color from Tokyo.

    “Karate has been a part of my life for a long time now,” she told TeamUSA.org in September. “It may be new to the Olympics, but there are so many karate practitioners around the world, and I think that people who practice karate have a relationship with the sport that’s very personal. I’m hoping the Olympics will allow people to see what we do and why we do what we do.”


    Todd Kortemeier
    Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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  4. #169
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    collateral damage

    May 31, 2021
    9:28 PM PDT
    Sports
    As Japan loses training camps, Olympics buzz fades
    Tetsushi KajimotoDaniel Leussink

    4 minute read

    A visitor and the Olympic Rings monument cast shadows on the ground outside the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) headquarters near the National Stadium, the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games that have been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan May 30, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato

    Ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Japanese city of Kamo spent 70 million yen ($640,000) on horizontal bars, gymnastic mats and other upgrades to training facilities for 42 Russian gymnasts and coaches who now won’t be coming.

    The team scrapped plans for pre-Olympics training in Japan because of the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic, local officials said. Officials in the northwestern city of 25,000 say they regret the lost opportunity to host the team, even more than the money spent.

    The Games, now less than eight weeks away after being delayed by a year, have been upended by COVID-19. Foreign spectators will not be allowed, and more than 100 municipalities have cancelled plans to host overseas teams.

    "Local kids who could be future star gymnasts were disappointed to miss the opportunity to meet the Russian gymnasts," Kamo official Hirokazu Suzuki told Reuters.

    Although there is little Olympic buzz in host city Tokyo, which is under a state of emergency because of the pandemic, in smaller places like Kamo, which had been planning the camp since 2019, the disappointment is perhaps more palpable.

    Most of the cancellations so far have been in the 500 or so municipalities involved in the Olympics "host town" programme, in which foreign teams base their pre-Games training in Japanese facilities.

    In some cases, such as Australia's judo team, the teams pulled out over safety concerns. In others, such as a delegation from Cuba set to stay in Higashimatsuyama city north of Tokyo, the municipalities decided not to host.

    Organisers say the Games will be held safely. Several opinion polls have shown most Japanese people want the event to be cancelled or postponed again.

    The national government earmarked 13 billion yen for municipalities to host training camps while imposing coronavirus measures, officials said.

    Municipalities apart from Tokyo were expected to see a boost of about $110 billion through 2030 from the Games, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said in a March 2017 estimate.

    "Training camps will give a huge impulse to the economies of towns and cities where they are held, but that is being lost," said Katsuhiro Miyamoto, an emeritus professor of economics at Kansai University who studies the economic impact of the Olympics.

    SPORTS EXCHANGE

    Officials in Narita, east of Tokyo, were caught by surprise when the United States' track and field team informed them it had decided to pull out of planned a training camp.

    About 120 athletes and staff, including star sprinter Justin Gatlin, were set to come for the camp, said Kentaro Abe, a municipal official in charge of host town projects.

    Narita's sports relationship with the United States started in 2015, when it hosted the U.S. training camp before the world athletics championships in Beijing.

    "It doesn't mean that our efforts to promote sport exchange between Japan and the United States came to nothing," Abe told Reuters, adding that city would look to continue the relationship.

    In the central city of Toyota, home to the carmaker and Olympic sponsor Toyota Motor Corp, Canadian swimmers and coaches pulled out of pre-Olympics training scheduled to be held over about three weeks in July.

    Such cancellations could add to the pain for towns and regions that are already smarting from a drop-off in tourism.

    At her hotel in western Izumisano city, Eriko Tsujino worries she could lose about 60 bookings from Mongolian and Ugandan national teams if the athletes ditch plans to train in Japan.

    "If they were to cancel at the last minute, it would cause a huge loss," she told Reuters, saying the bookings had still not been confirmed because of the state of emergency.

    After the Russians cancelled their camp in Kamo, officials there decided at the last minute to host a much smaller Portuguese delegation of one female artistic gymnast and two accompanying staff, Suzuki said.

    But the city also sought to keep friendly relations with the Russian gymnasts, asking kids and other locals to show them support with making video messages and letters.

    ($1 = 109.8100 yen)

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  5. #170
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    Olympic condoms

    Tokyo Olympic Games 2020
    Tokyo Olympics athletes warned not to use 160,000 free condoms
    Organisers say condoms are souvenirs to take home
    Competitors must ‘avoid unnecessary forms’ of contact

    In 2016, Olympic athletes were openly encouraged to make use of free condoms in Rio - but Tokyo 2020 is warning athletes to take them home instead. Photograph: Dpa Picture Alliance/Alamy
    Justin McCurry in Tokyo
    Fri 18 Jun 2021 06.02 EDT

    The organisers of the 2020 Olympics have repeatedly vowed to put on a “safe and secure” Games during the coronavirus pandemic. But safe sex – or anything approaching intimacy for that matter – will be forbidden for athletes competing in Tokyo.

    The International Olympic Committee this week repeated demands that residents of the Olympic village must observe social distancing guidelines to prevent an outbreak of Covid-19, threatening rule-breakers with a range of penalties, including fines, disqualification or even deportation.

    Athletes, according to the public health measures outlined in the latest Olympic playbook, must “avoid unnecessary forms of physical contact”.

    That has left Japanese organisers red-faced after questions were raised about the fate of 160,000 condoms that, in keeping with Olympic tradition, are due to be handed out in the village this summer.

    Hundreds of thousands of free condoms have been distributed since Seoul 1988 to encourage safe sex during the unofficial Olympic sport of bed-hopping among athletes from over 200 countries who spend weeks living in close quarters. However, if the 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes observe Covid-19 rules to the letter during their stay in Tokyo, this year’s consignment will go unused.

    The mixed messaging has baffled observers, including the celebrated Japanese mountaineer, Ken Noguchi, who said handing out prophylactics while imploring their owners to keep them under wraps was “something I just can’t comprehend”.

    Games organisers have belatedly spun the anomaly into a safe sex message. The condoms are not intended for use in the athletes’ village, they said. Instead, they are meant to be taken home and used to raise awareness of HIV and Aids.

    Four Japanese manufacturers had been banking on the Games to market their speciality – ultra-thin condoms made of polyurethane that are said to heighten the pleasure of safe sex.

    But, according to Agence France-Presse, Games requirements mean they are only permitted to distribute thicker, latex-based versions, which some have described as offering an inferior experience.

    “When I learned about the requirement, I thought, ‘Oh my god … can that be right?’” an industry source told AFP. “We had really counted on being able to offer these ultra-thin ones.”

    While the IOC has said up to 80% of prospective Olympic and Paralympic village residents will be fully vaccinated by the time the Tokyo Games open on 23 July, they will spend much of their time there a safe distance from their fellow residents.

    Organisers were originally planning to provide meals in vast dining halls, but are now encouraging athletes to eat – and sleep – alone.
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  6. #171
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    Olympic condoms

    Tokyo Olympic Games 2020
    Tokyo Olympics athletes warned not to use 160,000 free condoms
    Organisers say condoms are souvenirs to take home
    Competitors must ‘avoid unnecessary forms’ of contact

    In 2016, Olympic athletes were openly encouraged to make use of free condoms in Rio - but Tokyo 2020 is warning athletes to take them home instead. Photograph: Dpa Picture Alliance/Alamy
    Justin McCurry in Tokyo
    Fri 18 Jun 2021 06.02 EDT

    The organisers of the 2020 Olympics have repeatedly vowed to put on a “safe and secure” Games during the coronavirus pandemic. But safe sex – or anything approaching intimacy for that matter – will be forbidden for athletes competing in Tokyo.

    The International Olympic Committee this week repeated demands that residents of the Olympic village must observe social distancing guidelines to prevent an outbreak of Covid-19, threatening rule-breakers with a range of penalties, including fines, disqualification or even deportation.

    Athletes, according to the public health measures outlined in the latest Olympic playbook, must “avoid unnecessary forms of physical contact”.

    That has left Japanese organisers red-faced after questions were raised about the fate of 160,000 condoms that, in keeping with Olympic tradition, are due to be handed out in the village this summer.

    Hundreds of thousands of free condoms have been distributed since Seoul 1988 to encourage safe sex during the unofficial Olympic sport of bed-hopping among athletes from over 200 countries who spend weeks living in close quarters. However, if the 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes observe Covid-19 rules to the letter during their stay in Tokyo, this year’s consignment will go unused.

    The mixed messaging has baffled observers, including the celebrated Japanese mountaineer, Ken Noguchi, who said handing out prophylactics while imploring their owners to keep them under wraps was “something I just can’t comprehend”.

    Games organisers have belatedly spun the anomaly into a safe sex message. The condoms are not intended for use in the athletes’ village, they said. Instead, they are meant to be taken home and used to raise awareness of HIV and Aids.

    Four Japanese manufacturers had been banking on the Games to market their speciality – ultra-thin condoms made of polyurethane that are said to heighten the pleasure of safe sex.

    But, according to Agence France-Presse, Games requirements mean they are only permitted to distribute thicker, latex-based versions, which some have described as offering an inferior experience.

    “When I learned about the requirement, I thought, ‘Oh my god … can that be right?’” an industry source told AFP. “We had really counted on being able to offer these ultra-thin ones.”

    While the IOC has said up to 80% of prospective Olympic and Paralympic village residents will be fully vaccinated by the time the Tokyo Games open on 23 July, they will spend much of their time there a safe distance from their fellow residents.

    Organisers were originally planning to provide meals in vast dining halls, but are now encouraging athletes to eat – and sleep – alone.
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  7. #172
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    Team USA Karate



    USA KARATE ANNOUNCES DELEGATION FOR OLYMPIC GAMES TOKYO 2020
    June 29, 2021, 4:02 p.m. (ET)

    USA Karate announced today the full U.S. delegation for the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

    Karate is one of five sports added to the Olympic program and making its debut this summer at the Games. The sport will feature two separate events: kata, which is a solo form of karate, and kumite which focuses more on sparring.

    Representing Team USA’s first ever Olympic Karate team will be Sakura Kokumai (Los Angeles, CA), Ariel Torres (Miami, FL), and Brian Irr (Plano, TX). Athlete qualification pending United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee approval.

    Sakura Kokumai qualified in the first phase of qualification, securing her Olympic spot by ranking top four in the world in the female kata division. Kokumai selected Brian Mertel to be her on-site coach at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

    Ariel Torres punched his ticket to Tokyo when he won gold at the World Karate Federation Olympic Qualification Tournament in Paris; confirming his status as a favorite in the male kata division. Javier Mantilla was chosen as Torres’ coach for his Olympic debut.

    Brian Irr is the third member of the USA Karate Olympic team, qualifying as the continental representation from the Pan-American Karate Federation’s continental games. He will be competing in the +75 male kumite category. Irr invited coach Brody Burns to sit in his chair.

    The USA Karate team will be guided by Team Leader, Elizabeth Sottile; and CEO/NGB Representative Phil Hampel during these Olympic Games.

    Other USA Karate delegation members include Tom Scott, athlete training partner; Jose Fraguas, Press Officer; Nicole Clinton, Athletic Trainer; Jessica Bartley, Sport Psychologist; Maile Chinen, Venue Coordinator; and Fariba Madani, Referee.

    Karate competition will take place at the Nippon Budokan, the iconic Japanese martial arts venue, on August 5-7, 2021. USA karate athletes will be competing each day of competition: Kokumai on August 5, Torres on August 6, and Irr on the 7th.
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  8. #173
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    Masao Kagawa


    Karate-After long battle, karate gets long-awaited chance on biggest stage
    By Syndicated Content
    Jun 29, 2021 | 8:10 PM
    By Chang-Ran Kim

    TOKYO (Reuters) – Karate has fought a long, hard battle to earn its place as an Olympic sport.

    Despite its 100 million practitioners worldwide, a solid place in popular culture and a rich history that some say can be traced back to the 15th century, the Japanese martial art’s bid to join the Olympics had been rejected three times, including, initially, for Tokyo 2020.

    It was only thanks to the provision under the “Olympic Agenda 2020” reform blueprint adopted in 2014 that Games hosts were allowed to propose a number of sports and karate was granted a second shot.

    Lobbied by then-chief cabinet secretary and current prime minister Yoshihide Suga, karate officially won its place two years later to join fellow Asian martial arts judo and taekwondo on the big stage in Tokyo.

    Unfortunately for Japan’s karate federation, however, entering the Olympic sphere also exposed the rampant bullying of one of its leading athletes by a senior federation member in a scandal that sent shockwaves through the local karate world.

    With just four months to go until karate’s debut at the Games, Japan Karatedo Federation (JKF) technical director Masao Kagawa was forced to resign when karateka Ayumi Uekusa blew the whistle – through the Olympics hot-line – on his abuses and unsanctioned use of a bamboo stick during training that caused her a serious eye injury.

    The federation quickly dismissed Kagawa as head of the sport’s “Player Strengthening Committee” and replaced him with a popular former karate champion, Rika Usami, known as “the queen of kata”.

    With the scandal behind it, karate will be looking to Tokyo 2020 to demonstrate why it deserves to be a core Olympic sport.

    Karate has been ruled out for Paris 2024, though it will have a place at the postponed Youth Olympics in Dakar 2026 following a debut at the 2018 youth event in Buenos Aires.

    In the “kata” category, in which athletes demonstrate offensive and defensive techniques against a virtual opponent, Japan’s Ryo Kiyuna is a favourite to win what would be the first gold medal for his native Okinawa prefecture, the birthplace of karate.

    For female kata, a close contest is expected between Spanish world champion Sandra Sanchez and Japan’s Kiyou Shimizu after their memorable tie-breaker match at the sport’s top event in 2019.

    The “kumite” sparring category will involve 60 athletes in three weight categories each for men and women, with France’s Steve Dacosta, Azerbaijan’s Rafael Aghayev, China’s Xiaoyan Yin and Turkey’s Serap Ozcelik Arapoglu among those to watch.

    (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, editing by Ed Osmond)

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  9. #174
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    Cool to see this in GQ



    On Guard: Curtis McDowald Is Fighting His Way to the Top of the Fencing World
    The 25-year-old Olympian is an electric presence in competition—and dead set on shaking up a stodgy, conservative sport outside of it.
    BY BRADFORD WILLIAM DAVIS

    PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANA SCRUGGS

    July 6, 2021

    New York’s Fencer’s Club is giving country club, with all that entails. The brand-new midtown Manhattan facility has blindingly white walls and pristine rows of lockers in plain view of the padded floors where practice takes place. A discreet dumbbell rack sits outside the glass windows of a large conference room, just in case you need to take a work call between your drop sets. And maybe it’s just the cloth mask I’m wearing, but for a gym that hosts routine Olympic mini-camps ahead of the Tokyo Games, the place smells neutral. Maybe even...pleasant?

    Curtis McDowald, the first-time Olympic fencer, confirms my suspicion—that something is just a little off at his training grounds. “A lot of these characters, they want the club to be like Planet Fitness,” he says in between tune-up bouts. “This the Fencer’s Club? Or the Planet Fitness club?”

    McDowald brings the grit, passion, and personality the rest of the joint misses. The lithe six-footer dominates not only within the strip—the narrow rectangular space where fencers battle—but well beyond it, overwhelming the club and the sport with his presence. He’s the type of dude who’ll bet his Rolex on Instagram before an Olympic qualifier against a favored opponent, just in case the stakes weren’t already high enough. (Curtis won the match; his opponent, Marco Fischera, declined to take the bet.) Or to start a cryptocurrency—let him know if you want in on $CURT.

    But right now, the 25-year-old is mowing down sparring partners, the latest a recent Northwestern standout named Pauline Hamilton, then afterward explaining exactly what he’s doing.


    There are three types of fencing, each defined by its blade: foil, sabre, and Curtis’ discipline, épée. The longest and heaviest of the three blades, épée fencing also distinguishes between the others by allowing fencers to use the tip of their weapon to make contact with any part of their opponent’s body to score a point. Because your entire body is a target instead of just the torso (foil) or upper half above the waist (sabre), épeé emphasizes a particularly methodical, harnessed approach to offense, where cunning must be married to raw athleticism, lest you leave yourself exposed.

    “She's making a fake attack, and I'm just, kind of like, pretending it scares me. I'm like, Oh look!" Curtis says. “You know, in martial arts, the game of it…is deception. So if I make you believe that you're doing something correct, and you find out at the end result, you're wrong, you've been deceived.”

    “You have to assume that...OK, if you didn't create the trap, that I made a trap for you.”

    Beyond the strategizing—he counts The Art of War as one of the most important books in his development—he’s also performing, clowning his opponents out of their protective vests. Trash talk is followed by pep talk—he’s a mentor to many of the younger fencers, especially the Black ones—then more trash talk for the rematch. Fencer’s Club isn’t home, but he’s conquering it anyway.

    Towards the end of his bout with Pauline, Curtis stretches his arms completely out of his stance, daring his opponent to thrust at him—the fencer’s equivalent, say, of a matador waving his bright red flag at a charging bull.

    Pauline tries her best. Curtis parries, slashes back, and scores the point.

    Then, he rips off his protective helmet and lets out a roar that resounds in every pocket of the club—the kind of noise that might make Curtis the most exciting young fencer in a generation, but that also draws the ire of the sport’s old guard, crusty fans of an ancient, insular sport. Now, fencing at its highest level is full of emotion like any sport, and Curtis is far from the first to bicker with a referee when he thinks they blew it. But Curtis’ heightened intensity is a blessing.


    To me, Curtis’s YouTube clips seem like they should be highlight reels, but the comments about his exuberance on the strip and banter with the referees that appear beneath put me in the minority. One commenter fears the South Jamaica, Queens product will make the sport “Go the way of the NBA”—no euphemism here—“full of disrespectful trash players.” Another expresses his pride in—seriously—“the refs for standing up to him.” Where else have you ever seen fans identify with the refs more than the players?

    But this is fencing, where being a Black man in a white sport, and a demonstrative guy in a quiet one, interlock into a sort of existential affront to fencing’s stodgy culture. Maybe in an alternate universe, he’s a fiery competitor like Russell Westbrook. Here, he’s Curtis, the surly malcontent.

    His intensity and showmanship are unique and defining traits, but Curtis explains that his approach—the one that has him ranked second in the US and 27th worldwide, and with a ticket booked to Tokyo for this summer’s Olympics—is a required part of his process.

    “You got to treat your practice like a competition,” Curtis tells me when I ask about the screams and the showmanship. “A lot of people are afraid. They think, if I practice the same way, people will learn and you'll see my moves. But that's martial arts.”

    “Why is (Curtis) so animated? I mean, he's a killer!” says Jake Hoyle, currently America’s top-ranked men’s épéeist and Curtis’ teammate. “Like, when you fence against him, he's trying to beat you 15-zero, every time. Like, he's not giving you any ground and he fences in practice like you would in a competition.”

    Later on I ask Ben Bratton, one of Curtis’ mentors in fencing and the first African-American épeéist to win a world championship title with Team USA, a version of the same question: would Curtis be dealing with this kind of critique if he were white?

    “No.” Bratton says, flatly. “But I'll also say that I think if Curtis was white, I don't even think he has to do that,” referring to the psych-up exuberance his mentee takes to the strip. “Curtis is weaponizing something that I think as a Black athlete, we can use: the ability to make your opponents, oftentimes white, uncomfortable by your power as a Black man. He's doing something that is exclusive to us.”

    “A lot of people don't like it,” Hoyle says. “I don't know what the big deal is. What's the problem if he's yelling at practice? People are like, Oh, it's disturbing practice…it's obnoxious. But I don't see it like that.”

    “You can be silent and your body language says “he’s a total *******.” And I think you can, like, respectfully scream,” says Pauline—again, one of the people he thoroughly beat. “A lot of people are not so happy with Curtis. But, you know he's a lot nicer than some of the people with good reputations.”

    As Curtis continues dominating his way through practice, I take a seat on a bench near the conference room. An older woman approaches, joining two other middle-aged recreationists, with a complaint.

    She rips her mask and protective gear off, and loudly proclaims: “He's screaming his ****ing head off!” She may be nearly as animated as Curtis, but the men nod along, similarly miffed that his quest for gold is tarnishing their weekly group aerobics class.

    Every trait Curtis has cultivated may make him an Olympian. It also makes him a target.
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  10. #175
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    continued from previous post




    Demetria Goodwin’s friends swore her tall, slender boys would play basketball. She had other ideas.

    “That was always the first thing that came out of people's mouths. I'm like, ‘No, nah. He swims,” she’d say, referring to Miller, her youngest.

    “And he's a fencer," she’d insist of Curtis.

    "Fencer?" A question her friends and neighbors would ask, usually twice just to make sure. “Oh, with the swords?” Demetria recalls, her thick Queens accent pulling out the silent “w.”

    We’re chatting at a midtown diner— as a Queens native, I’d offered to meet her in her hood, but she enjoys being a brisk walk from where Curtis used to make his weekly trips to fencing practice, back when she was raising him as a single mom driving in on her days off from her busy schedule working on Rikers Island.

    Demetria wasn’t joking, so when he was 12, she signed him up for the Peter Westbrook Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the first Black fencer to win an Olympic medal for Team USA. Curtis didn’t need much persuading, quickly realizing he’d rather seek fights on the strip instead of dodging them between classes at his Hollis, Queens middle school—one of three housed in the same building.

    “I used to get my ass whipped over there, like all the time,” Curtis recalls. “I got my ass whooped so bad, the last day [of school] they just graduated me,” even though a mixup meant he’d missed nearly a third of seventh grade after getting hit by a car and jumped by the passengers.

    It didn’t end there. “I. Cannot. Make. This. ****. Up.” Curtis tells me. The same crew rolled up to him three years later. This time, it wasn’t a beatdown, it was a drive-by.

    “I'm looking at this car, and, Oh, Bentley in the hood is what I'm thinking. Then, this mother****er is driving fast...comes out in a power slide right, and I'm like, He look like he's got a gun or some ****.”

    Shots were fired. Hunched under a mailbox, Curtis realized: “I'm leaving everything in the hood behind me.”

    Fortunately, his fencing was already forging a path ahead. Curtis showed immediate promise, and older, accomplished fencers like Bratton quickly took notice of not just his physical gifts, but his diligence. Bratton remembers Curtis replicating the fundamentals world-class fencers twice his age practiced, studying his own moves in the mirror, far away from the other tweens.



    “Most people follow the system that they're put into,” he says. “But Curtis had enough insight even at that young an age, to assess his environment, what people were doing that were in a space that he wanted to be in and start doing it.”

    But the wealthy, white culture sustaining his trade? Well, he’s still figuring that out, playing defense at all times like he’s down to his final point.

    There was the time, Curtis says, he borrowed an equipment bag, one that couldn’t have cost more than $50 at the time, from the Club’s lost and found—a common practice among the boys at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, and anyway, he was late for a competition. His friend returned it, along with both of their blades, the next day, only for the club to inform him that the bag belonged to Miles Chamley-Watson, the foil fencer who would go on to win bronze in Rio de Janiero in 2016. Returning the bag intact to Chamley-Watson wasn’t enough for the club, nor was the apology Curtis was ordered to write to Miles and the Club’s board of directors. Nor was being reprimanded in front of the younger fencers Curtis was beginning to mentor, Fencer’s Club intent to teach its impressionable PWF kids that the Black-on-Black crime doesn’t pay.

    The Club suspended Curtis for a year, and ordered him to replace Miles’ bag with a brand new set—Curtis estimates it cost him $400—if he wanted to be reinstated. He was 14.

    Though Philippe Bennett wasn’t on the club’s board when Curtis was suspended, the current chair regrets the club's punitive actions, and goes out of his way to defend Curtis’ approach.

    “(Curtis is) undaunted....He's definitely someone who we know that when you're on the strip, you've got yourself a true competitor. That's all he can do and I wish him the best.”

    Bennett believes “a lot has evolved” at the Fencer’s Club, citing the club’s diversity statistics, the work of its DE&I committee, and the persistent presence of elite fencers of color like Curtis, as evidence that it's become a more inclusive institution.

    (When I asked Curtis if the club was inclusive, his response was straightforward: “Hell no.”)

    When Demetria learned her son was being suspended and fined, she wondered: “Are we trying to punish him? Or are we trying to correct him?" As a veteran of Rikers, she knew “the difference between I'm punishing you, and I'm gonna correct you so that you don't do it again.” It was clear the club couldn’t—or wouldn’t—draw the same distinction.

    After Fencer’s Club threw him off the strip, Bratton gathered some of the other fencers—Adam Rodney, Dwight Smith, and Donovan Holtz—and brought Curtis to a nearby Starbucks on 28th and 7th in Chelsea.

    “Most athletes who end up in that situation—they never come back from it,” Bratton told Curtis. “It’s almost like a death sentence.”

    Ben’s advice: don’t let it be yours. “I basically challenged him to be the first to come back stronger and to not let it beat him down.”

    After Curtis’ mom paid his fine and he did his time, he came back to the club, worked his way to a full scholarship from St. John’s University’s well-regarded fencing program, and was rated All-American in men’s épée twice. Somewhere in between St. John’s and Tokyo, Curtis developed a world-class flèche—an explosive running thrust where he shifts his body downward to surprise his opponent before striking upward for a point. His signature move marries his athleticism, aggression and deceptiveness.

    Still, his brush with disaster has stuck with him. In conversation, even when discussing the beatdowns and drive-bys, Curtis’ voice has notes of nostalgia and amusement, a wistful “deadass, bro” punctuating every hair-raising hood testimony, along with a beaming smile not even his paper mask can cover. But the Fencer’s Club suspension? There was no silver lining.

    "I just genuinely thought, like, Man, maybe I'm a bad person?” he says. "I'm really ****ing up.” It had confirmed for him a frustrating truth: that, despite his best efforts, and despite his all-world talent, he might not ever be fully accepted by the sport he loved, embraced by the institution he had given so much to.

    “I'm starting to understand, like, no. The punishments that I receive—it's just never going to be proportionate to the crime that I actually make. And when I watch other kids do certain things, or my white counterparts? Slap on the wrist. That was my real first understanding of [how] people are going to look at me when I do certain things. And I'm not going to get the benefit of the doubt.”

    For Curtis, it led to a somber epiphany, one that could come only from trading the predictable dangers of his all-Black school and community for the fickle embrace of a white institution: “I need to think how it looks first, rather than doing the right thing. Because doing the right thing can get me in trouble.”
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  11. #176
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    continued from previous post



    “How many good African-American fencers are there?” Curtis asks me.

    To start, I say, there’s Ibtihaj Muhammad, the star of the 2016 games, who won bronze while competing in hijab. Daryl Homer, the men’s sabreist, won silver five years ago and will compete again this year. And on Curtis’ own épeé team is Yeisser Ramirez, a sturdy Cuban American whose ferocity on the strip and Charizard wingspan helped him clinch him a spot. In other words, Curtis is just the latest character in a burgeoning movement of elite Black fencers competing on the sport’s most prominent stage.

    “I'm not rare,” Curtis says. “I'm really not.” That may read triumphant—the Black fencer, no longer a rarity!—but Curtis sounds exasperated. I don’t blame him.

    I met Curtis last year, in my capacity as a New York Daily News sports columnist. I wish I could say it was because of his prodigious fencing talent, or that we naturally found each other as fellow loudmouths from Queens. Instead, I got a tip that one of Curtis’s former St. Johns University coaches had told his Fencer’s Club students that Abraham Lincoln “made a mistake” when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

    My reporting bore it out: last June, Ukranian-born Boris Vaksman told his students over Zoom that Lincoln had screwed up “because they”— ahem, ahem—“don’t want to work. They steal, they kill, they [do] drugs.” (He also clarified that it was only the “majority” of African-Americans responsible for such behavior.) That initially earned Vaksman a two-month suspension from the Fencer’s Club. After I wrote about the story, in conjunction with prominent fencers leaking the audio of Vaksman’s remarks, the club terminated his contract. USA Fencing then suspended him for two years.

    ADVERTISEMENT

    Reporting on Boris was a crash course in what young, gifted, and Black fencers like Curtis endure. Team USA’s solid quorum of Black fencers are exceptional athletes on their own merits—but even more so when you understand that because they are Black fencers, they are exceptions. Their existence is proof not just of their athletic excellence, but of their triumph over a system designed to keep them out.

    It’s not just the racist coaches, though one can only imagine how many would-be fencers have quit rather than face the abuse. According to Fencing Parents, an independently published blog written for families interested in the sport, competitive youth fencing can cost between $20,000 and $40,000 a year. If you understand, generally, where wealth is concentrated in this country—which families hope to earn $40k a year and which can blow that amount on a hobby—then the lack of Black fencers should not surprise you. Curtis’ mother, Demetria, said Curtis’s training got pricey “to the point where I didn't even want to know the amount.”

    “It’s a shame that I never actually did the budget-budget for it. Cause if I woulda done the budget, he might not have been fencing.” She’s joking, I think.

    Later—nearly midnight, after he’s finished a private coaching session—Curtis still wants to talk, so he asks another question: “Over the last 20 years, there's been a lot of really good African American fencers. But how many African American coaches are there?”

    I didn’t have the answer offhand, but I knew: not many.

    The glaring lack of Black coaches, Curtis explained, is “because they're being iced out of the opportunity...They're being told, ‘Oh, if you want to work here, you have to get a degree in coaching from Europe.’”

    I don’t know much about fencing; I can’t tell you how important European experience is for aspiring Black fencing coaches. But I do know other things.

    As a baseball reporter, I have seen what happens when a sport’s exorbitant costs at the youth level close the door on American-born Black talent. I know what happens when there’s a near-complete absence of Black people working in leadership, both in coaching and front offices, across an entire organization. I’ve listened to broadcasters ridicule Marcus Stroman for wearing a du-rag under his ball cap. I’ve been at the center of national dialogues sparked by Fernando Tatis Jr committing the mortal sin of swinging at a hittable pitch, and by Tim Anderson’s decision, fresh off getting drilled by a fastball to his ass, to emote in a cultural context the league suspended him for, even as they proudly appropriate it with ignorant, hip-hop shaded marketing. And I can confirm that the press box—where I am frequently the only credentialed Black person present, and as such, have my presence challenged by colleagues and double-checked by stadium security—is no different than the field.

    So, yeah, in a roundabout way, I know something about fencing.

    But I also know that Curtis is still Curtis, in spite of the different rules Black people face. Or maybe, because of them.

    “Look, you're a black man— you understand this,” he tells me as we leave the club towards Penn Station. “We walk around dealing with a certain level of perpetual pressure (that) white people don't understand.”

    “I'm very confident in the technical and tactical strategies, but...there's a psychological level I can go above them. Because I don't have the same fears.”

    The way Curtis embraces the deeper, existential pressures he faces reminds me of our earlier chat about traps on the fencing strip. Not because trying to score a point in épée and navigating the varied, systemic, and interlocking burdens of institutionalized racism are comparable, but because they aren't. You ain’t seen what he, or Ibtihaj, or Yeisser, Nzingha Prescod, or Darryl or Ben or especially Peter Westbrook has seen. But, since he’s seen what you ain’t, the moment the match becomes a mind game, Curtis is already in his bag.

    And yes, he owns it.
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  12. #177
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    Streaming schedules on NBC

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  13. #178
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    It begins...

    JULY 15, 2021 11:47 PM UPDATED 8 HOURS AGO
    Virus outbreaks at Olympic hotels sow frustration, stoke infection fears

    By Ju-min Park, Eimi Yamamitsu, Antoni Slodkowski

    5 MIN READ


    TOKYO (Reuters) - Coronavirus outbreaks involving Olympic teams in Japan have turned small-town hotels into facilities on the frontline of the pandemic battle, charged with implementing complex health measures to protect elite athletes and a fearful public.


    FILE PHOTO: The exterior of the Hamanako hotel, where dozens of Brazilian Olympic team members stay and a COVID-19 cluster has been detected, is pictured in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo
    Infections here have hit at least seven teams arriving in Japan barely a week out from the July 23 opening ceremony and after host city Tokyo reported its highest daily tally of new COVID-19 infections since late January.

    Health experts and hotel staff say the outbreaks underscore the risks of holding the world’s largest sports event during the middle of a global pandemic in a largely unvaccinated country.

    In one example, 49 members of Brazil’s judo team are being kept in isolation after eight COVID-19 cases were discovered among the staff at a hotel where they are staying in Hamamatsu, southwest of Tokyo.

    None of the judokas have tested positive but frustration over their isolation is mounting as health officials work to contain the outbreak.

    “People from the city’s public health centre are tracking down close contacts here,” a staff member at the Hamanako hotel who did not want to be identified told Reuters. “There are dozens of regular guests as well but we’re getting cancellations now.”

    The staff member said athletes are using designated lifts and those who work with them are prioritised for COVID-19 testing. Meals are held in the dining area in separate spaces and the athletes are staying on separate floors.

    City official Yoshinobu Sawada said teams were required to sign formal agreements to follow coronavirus protocols on eating, movement and transportation restrictions. The infected hotel staff have been moved to quarantine centres.

    Other outbreaks tmsnrt.rs/3r8Zv98 among athletes include members of Olympic delegations from Uganda, Serbia, Israel and several other nations either testing positive or isolating in their hotels after being designated as close contacts.

    The organising committee did not immediately respond to Reuters’ questions seeking comment.

    COMPLEX, COSTLY MEASURES
    Games organisers tell hotels to report people with a high temperature during Olympic team check-ins and say organisers and public health centres will handle outbreaks or suspected cases, according to documents the organisers sent to hotels.

    Hotels need to provide room service or food delivery to athletes in isolation, and run different hours or separate spaces for meals between Olympic guests and regular guests.

    The documents say organisers will not cover costs for hotels to equip rooms with acrylic dividers or provide separate dining spaces for the athletes.

    Tokyo 2020 playbooks for athletes and sports federations call for attendees to physically distance themselves from others, to wear masks, and to get tested daily.

    Those playbooks are working and being enforced, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said, and there was “zero” risk of Games participants infecting residents..

    Tokyo entered its fourth state of emergency earlier this week amid a rebound in cases that pushed Games organisers to ban spectators from nearly all venues. More than 1,300 new cases were reported on Thursday, the most in six months.

    Most people in Japan think the Games should not go ahead and only 18% are fully vaccinated.

    UNVACCINATED CLEANING STAFF
    Six hotel officials spoken to by Reuters were mostly worried about separating athletes from regular guests as well as the safety of their staff.

    Azusa Takeuchi from the Lake Biwa Otsu Prince Hotel, which is hosting 53 members of New Zealand’s rowing team, said staff were taking COVID-19 tests every four days, wearing masks and providing contact-free services.

    Similar measures were in place at the Ebina Vista Hotel on the outskirts of Tokyo, according to an Olympic official staying there, who said he was housed on the seventh floor but not permitted to use a lift.

    “There are guards at each floor 24/7 preventing us from using them. Instead we are allowed to go from hotel restaurant to our rooms and back using only external evacuation stairs,” said the official, who did not want to be identified.

    Other measures, confirmed by the hotel, include breakfast for the athletes served before 6:30 a.m. at the restaurant or through meal boxes delivered to hotel rooms.

    Koichi Tsuchiya, the hotel manager, said he worried about his staff.

    “I’m scared someone from the cleaning staff would get infected. People entering guest rooms are scared,” said Tsuchiya, adding that some staff were not vaccinated. “This is making us nervous.”

    Tsuchiya also worried about his visitors.

    “Travel agents brief the athletes before arrival: you can’t do this, this is not allowed, that is banned. I’m sure the athletes are extremely stressed,” he said.

    “As staff, we’re doing our best to help them relax. But this is the situation we’re in, so the infection countermeasures are the priority.”

    Additional reporting by Elaine Lies, Sakura Murakami, Rocky Swift, Ami Miyazaki and Mari Saito; Editing by Lincoln Feast.
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  14. #179
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    facts

    July 20, 2021
    3:22 AM PDT
    Last Updated 6 hours ago
    Asia Pacific
    Factbox: Coronavirus outbreaks at the Tokyo Olympics
    Reuters

    2 minute read

    People receive the first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Central Vaccination Center, inside the Bang Sue Grand Station, Thailand, June 21, 2021. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha


    The logo of the Tokyo Olympic Games, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building in Tokyo, Japan, January 22, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo


    TOKYO, July 20 (Reuters) - The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be held under unprecedented conditions including tight quarantine rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections.

    Nevertheless, a number of cases have emerged among athletes and other people involved with the Games.

    Following is a list of cases, in chronological order.

    JUNE 20 - A coach with Uganda's squad tests positive on arrival at Narita airport and is quarantined at a government-designated facility. The rest of the team heads by bus for their host city, Izumisano, near Osaka in western Japan.

    JUNE 23 - A Ugandan athlete tests positive, according to Izumisano officials.

    JULY 4 - A member of Serbia's rowing team tests positive on arrival. The other four team members are isolated as close contacts.

    JULY 9 - One Lithuanian and one Israeli athlete test positive, according to reports. Later reports say the Lithuanian's results were unclear and subsequently tested negative.

    JULY 14 - A masseur for the Russian women's rugby sevens team tests positive, forcing the team into isolation for two days, the RIA news agency reports. Officials in Munakata, southwestern Japan, confirm one staff member was hospitalised and say none of the team members could be considered a close contact.

    - The refugee Olympic team delays its arrival in Japan after a team official tests positive in Doha. The infected official is in quarantine without symptoms, with 26 of the 29 refugees set to remain in their Doha training camp.

    - Seven staff at a hotel in Hamamatsu, central Japan, where dozens of Brazilian athletes are staying, test positive, a city official says.

    - Twenty-one members of the South African rugby team are in isolation after they are believed to have been in close contact with a case on their flight.

    JULY 15 - Eight athletes from the Kenya women's rugby team are classified as close contacts after a positive coronavirus case is found on their flight to Tokyo, says an official with the southwestern city of Kurume, where they were set to hold a training camp.

    - U.S. basketball player Bradley Beal’s Olympic dream is cut short when USA Basketball announce he will miss the Games after entering coronavirus protocols at the training camp in Las Vegas.

    - An Olympic athlete under a 14-day quarantine period tests

    positive for the virus before moving to the Olympic Village, the organising committee reports, without giving details. It says one member of the Games personnel and four Tokyo 2020 contractors also tested positive.

    JULY 16 - Australian tennis player Alex de Minaur tests positive for COVID-19 before his departure for Tokyo, the Australian Olympic Committee says.

    - A member of the Nigerian Olympics delegation is in hospital after testing positive at Narita airport, according to media reports. The person, in their 60s, has only light symptoms but was admitted to hospital because of their advanced age and pre-existing conditions, TV Asahi says, adding it was the first COVID-19 hospitalisation of an Olympics-related visitor.

    - An Olympic-related non-resident under a 14-day quarantine period tests positive for the virus, the organisers say, without giving further details. Three Tokyo 2020 contractors, all of whom are residents of Japan, also tested positive, organisers say.

    JULY 17 - Fifteen people test positive for the virus, the organisers say, including the first case at the athletes' village - a visitor from abroad involved in organising the Games. The rest are two members of the media, seven contractors and five members of the Games personnel.

    JULY 18 - Ten people, including two South African male soccer players staying at the athletes' village, tested positive for the virus, organisers say. This is the first time athletes have been found positive within the village. The others are one athlete under a 14-day quarantine period, one member of the media, one contractor and five Games personnel.

    JULY 19 - Three people - one member of the Games personnel, one member of the media and one contractor - tested positive for the virus, organisers say. Twenty-one people in the South African soccer delegation are categorised as close contacts, following positive test results for two soccer players from that country. The number of close contacts is later revised down to 18.

    Those identified as close contacts can still take part in competition if they are found negative in a test conducted within six hours of the start of their event.

    An alternate on the U.S. women's gymnastics team tests positive and another alternate is a close contact, USA Gymnastics say. They remain at the team's training camp just east of Tokyo.

    JULY 20 - Nine people, including one athlete staying at the Olympic village, tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the organisers say. The other eight were a volunteer worker, a member of the Games personnel and six contractors.

    Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Elaine Lies; Editing by Michael Perry, Lincoln Feast, Kim Coghill and Timothy Heritage
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  15. #180
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    3 new martial IFs



    GAISF President Raffaele Chiulli welcomes six new IOC recognised International Sports Federations
    July 20, 2021
    GAISF President Raffaele Chiulli praised the six International Sports Federations (IFs) who were granted full International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognition at today’s IOC Session. The six fully recognised IFs granted full IOC recognition at the 138th IOC Session in Tokyo, Japan, are as follows:

    ♦ The International Cheerleading Union (ICU)

    ♦ The International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA)

    ♦ The International Sambo Federation (FIAS)

    ♦ The International Federation Icestocksport (IFI)

    ♦ The World Association of Kickboxing Organisations (WAKO)

    ♦ World Lacrosse (WL)

    GAISF President Chiulli said:

    “This is a historic day for the global sports community and an incredible milestone for each of these respective sports. Today’s decision will provide a major boost for each of these now fully recognised IFs to continue to grow their sports around the world. GAISF will continue to provide its expertise and support throughout the next stage of their journeys, in addition to the ongoing support provided by ARISF and AIMS.”

    As a service to our readers, Around the Rings will provide verbatim texts of selected press releases issued by Olympic-related organizations, federations, businesses and sponsors.

    These press releases appear as sent to Around the Rings and are not edited for spelling, grammar or punctuation.
    Hold the phone...cheerleading?

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