2021 Olympic storylines to follow


The Tokyo Summer season Olympic Video games, initially scheduled for final summer season and postponed as a result of a global pandemic that’s nonetheless going, are set to lastly be held. From July 23-August 8, the best athletes, principally novice, from world wide will compete in what’s prone to be one of many extra distinctive occasions in Olympic historical past.

Whereas issues clearly stay fluid with COVID-19 nonetheless a difficulty, there are many storylines to regulate at these Video games. Here is a glance.


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The video games will go on

Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports activities

It made sense to postpone these Summer season Video games in 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic in full power all through the world. And vaccines nonetheless not accessible. Quick ahead to the current day, and whereas Japan noticed a spike in circumstances through the Spring, issues have reportedly calmed down sufficient — in line with the BBC, — for the Olympics to be safely held. As of June 24, there have been practically 790,000 confirmed circumstances within the nation with simply over 14,500 deaths. Nevertheless, a bit greater than 8 p.c of the inhabitants (nearly 126 million) have been absolutely vaccinated. 


Change of plans

Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports activities


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Will the athletes be protected?

Will the athletes be safe?

Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports activities

That is clearly the No. 1 concern for all these concerned. And, a number of nations and the World Gamers Affiliation are asking the Worldwide Olympic Committee to ensure the athletes can compete within the most secure method attainable. Whereas the athletes aren’t required to be vaccinated, worldwide opponents will probably be examined earlier than and after arriving in Japan. They have to stay in cohorts — or bubbles — and never intermingle with native residents.


Gone in a puff

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports activities

Sha’Carri Richardson turned heads along with her stellar efficiency in successful the ladies’s 100 meters on the U.S. monitor and discipline trials final month. After all, the outgoing and styled Richardson will not be competing within the occasion after she obtained a one-month suspension from testing optimistic for marijuana (THC, a chemical in hashish is a banned substance). Richardson’s predicament has gone worldwide, drawing most assist for the budding star, but in addition criticism. Richardson, although, should still be a part of the U.S. girls’s 4×100-meter relay staff in Tokyo.


Welcome back

Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports activities

OK, now that we all know the Video games will probably be held and precautions are in place, what in regards to the competitions? First off, we must always remind followers that baseball and softball will make their return to the Olympic program for the primary time since 2008. Legends Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman are slated to take the softball discipline for america, which opens play towards Italy on July 20. The American baseball squad , supervisor by former Los Angeles Angels skipper Mike Scioscia, will face Israel in its July 1 opener.


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Getting in on the enjoyable

Getting in on the fun

Kenton Phillips, Florida Right this moment through Imagn Content material Providers, LLC/USA TODAY

Baseball and softball aren’t the one additions to the Olympic program. Karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and browsing will debut on the subsequent Summer season Video games — along with 3-on-3 basketball. It will likely be fascinating to see how they fare, although, one can assume skateboarding would be the greatest hit of the group. Sadly, for followers of the U.S. Olympic staff, surf legend and 11-time world champion Kelly Slater  didn’t qualify for the Video games. As did three-time Olympic gold medal snowboarder Shaun White in skateboarding. 


Youth gone wild

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Go Grimes Go


In comparison with Sky Brown and Kokona Hiraki, 15-year-old U.S. swimmer Katie Grimes looks as if a senior citizen. Nonetheless, Grimes will probably be making her Olympic debut after she received the hearts of American swim followers along with her second-place end second within the 800 freestyle on the U.S. swimming trials. Whereas Grimes’ Olympic profession is simply getting began, and loads of eyes will probably be on her at Tokyo, one other Katie will look to proceed her worldwide dominance within the pool.


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Padding the Ledecky legacy

Padding the Ledecky legacy

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports activities

That different Katie? Sure, American Katie Ledecky, who completed forward of Katie Grimes within the 800 on the U.S. trials. The five-time Olympic gold medalist and winningest feminine within the historical past of the U.S. swimming trials, the 24-year-old Ledecky might be in for an additional dominant Summer season Video games efficiency. In 2016 at Rio, Ledecky received 4 of these golds, with three coming in particular person occasions. Can she high that efficiency?


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Simone’s second act

Simone's second act

Grace Hollars/USA TODAY Sports activities

From the swimming pool to the gymnastics area. The latter is the place American followers predict extra feminine particular person dominance. The massively well-liked Simone Biles received 4 gold medals (together with the all-around Olympic gymnastics crown) and a bronze in her Olympic debut at Rio in 2016. Biles is making an attempt to develop into the primary girl to repeat as Olympic all-around champion in 50 years. She may not have had an excessively stellar efficiency on the U.S. gymnastics trials, however continues to be anticipated to shine shiny in Tokyo.


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Durant good to go for U.S.

Durant good to go for U.S.

Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports activities

The U.S. Olympic males’s basketball staff obtained a significant increase when NBA celebrity Kevin Durant stated he would play. Durant, who averaged 34.3 factors and 9.3 assists throughout a stellar playoff efficiency for the Brooklyn Nets, joins the likes of fellow NBA stars Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Draymond Inexperienced, and Damian Lillard on the U.S. roster. With Durant formally within the combine, it will appear arduous to consider that the People will not win a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal. that quest begins towards France on July 25.


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Tokyo no go for Williams sisters

Tokyo no go for Williams sisters

Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports activities


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Making an announcement

Making a statement

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports activities

U.S. hammer throw competitor Gwen Berry earned a spot on the U.S. monitor and discipline for the Tokyo Video games after ending third within the occasion on the nation’s nationwide trials. Nevertheless, she was the speak of the competitors after showing to show away whereas on the rostrum through the taking part in of the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Berry has supplied her aspect of the story and naturally drawn criticism from conservative lawmakers and pundits. Ought to Berry, a self-proclaimed “activist athlete,” or any competitor trying to make use of the Olympics as a platform to ship a message in these politically unstable occasions, particularly within the U.S., be in that place? Issues might get fascinating. 


The next Usain Bolt

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports activities

OK, is there anyone on the planet able to dwelling as much as the dominance that Bolt’s had on the current Olympic scene? Most likely not, however there are some proficient sprinters keen to do that summer season in Tokyo. American Trayvon Bromell received the 100 meters on the nationwide trials in 9.80 seconds. Nevertheless, Canada’s Andre De Grasse, who completed third within the 100 and second within the 200 at Rio, and South Africa’s Akani Simbine might need one thing to say about who’s the quickest man on the earth. 


The next Michael Phelps

Insidefoto/Imago/Icon Sportswire

If there’s unlikely to be a direct substitute to the extent of Usain Bolt, then we would have to attend a protracted, very long time to catch the subsequent Michael Phelps within the pool . Whereas American Caeleb Dressel  (two relay golds in Rio 2016) could be the subsequent nice American male swimmer, the perfect total swimmer on the worldwide stage is Nice Britain’s Adam Peaty. The reigning Olympic 100 breaststroke champion and a key determine on its 4×100 medley relay group that has its sights set on the People. Nonetheless, the beauty of Olympic competitors is for stars to be born.


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Russians nonetheless “formally” banned

Russians still "officially" banned

Paul Kitagaki Jr./Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

Again in 2015, a report from the World Anti-Doping Company (WADA) discovered proof of systematic, mass doping amongst Russian athletes. Thus, Russia was unable to formally discipline an Olympic staff for the 2016 Summer season Video games and 2018 Winter Video games. As was the case within the two earlier Olympics, Russian athletes — 335 on this case — will compete on their very own in Tokyo. However, because the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee).

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports activities and leisure on-line and for print for greater than 25 years. He grew up within the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Corridor of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s additionally the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine College in Chicago. You’ll be able to comply with Jeff at @jeffm401.


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