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Saturday December 4th, 2021 6:33PM

The Latest: Judo stars could get early bouts with top seeds

By The Associated Press
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The Latest on the Tokyo Olympics, which are taking place under heavy restrictions after a year’s delay because of the coronavirus pandemic:

The Olympic judo draw has created fascinating paths to gold for the two biggest stars in the sport.

Japanese 73 kg superstar Shohei Ono and French two-time Olympic gold medal-winning heavyweight Teddy Riner both ended up in the same quarter of their draws as the No. 1 seeds in their weight classes. Both came into Tokyo unseeded because of recent inactivity, making them a potential disaster for every medal hopeful in their divisions.

Ono, the current pound-for-pound star of the sport, was placed in the same quarter of the men’s field as Azerbaijan’s top-seeded Rustam Orujov, one of his greatest rivals.

Ono didn’t compete for the past 18 months, but only one judo player in the Olympic field has ever even scored a point against him.

Riner was drawn into the same quarter as the Russian team’s Tamerlan Bashaev, who won silver at the world championships last month. The 6-foot-8 Riner is attempting to win his record-tying third gold medal and his fourth Olympic medal overall, but he recently revealed he tore knee ligaments in February.

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Gymnast Oksana Chusovitina says her record eighth Olympics will be her last.

The 46-year-old from Uzbekistan is competing on vault at the Tokyo Games, nearly 30 years after making her Olympic debut while competing for the Russian Federation in Barcelona in 1992.

Chusovitina has won a pair of Olympic medals during her long career. She was part of the Russian Federation team that captured gold in 1992. She later added a silver medal on vault while competing for Germany in 2008.

Chusovitina says she wants to spend more time with her 22-year-old son Alisher, who recently completed college.

She credits gymnastics for helping save Alisher’s life as a child. Alisher was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 3. Chusovitina moved to Germany to give him access to treatment and used the living she made there as a gymnast to help pay for his care.

Chusovitina needs to finish in the top eight during qualifying on Sunday to advance to the finals scheduled for Aug. 1.

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German women’s field hockey captain Nike Lorenz has been given approval to wear a rainbow armband and socks at the Olympics.

The German Olympic Committee says it got approval from the International Olympic Committee for Lorenz to wear the colors against Britain on Sunday.

The German Olympic Committee says it is “a symbol for sexual diversity.”

Lorenz has previously worn a rainbow armband for games in other competitions.

The IOC has recently relaxed how it implements a rule which historically stopped athletes making political, religious or other statements of belief or identity.

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A second Dutch athlete and a staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Tokyo Games.

Team NL says taekwondo athlete Reshmie Oogink and a rowing team staff member have tested positive and will quarantine for 10 days.

“I am speechless” Oogink said. “I have done everything I could and have worked so hard to get so close to the Games. I even overcome major knee injuries and now it has come to a sudden end. This is the end of my career.”

Chef de Mission of TeamNL Pieter van den Hoogenband says the team is doing everything to keep infection to a minimum, but the situation is having an impact.

A day earlier, on Wednesday, Dutch skateboarder Candy Jacobs said on Instagram that she had tested positive and been sent into quarantine.

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U.S. gymnast Kara Eaker is doing well physically but remains in isolation three days after testing positive for COVID-19.

Annie Heffernon, the vice president of the women’s program for USA Gymnastics, said Eaker is in isolation while teammate Leanne Wong is in quarantine.

Both athletes served as alternates for the U.S. team. Wong, who continues to test negative, was put in quarantine due to contact tracing.

Heffernon called the positive test a “nightmare scenario" and admitted she is dealing with anxiety while waiting for the team’s daily COVID-19 test results.

“I mean, we’re devastated for them,” Heffernon said. “Of course, it’s not anything we dreamed of happening or wanted to happen. And it was a rough 36 hours, I’m not going to lie. It was difficult for everybody. It was hard for me. It was hard for the athletes. It was hard for the staff.”

The six-women U.S. delegation of Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner worked out on each event during podium training on Thursday.

The American women are staying in a hotel near the venue rather than the Olympic village, a decision made before they arrived for the Games.

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Australia has evened its record to 1-1 in Olympic softball with a 1-0 victory over Italy in Olympic softball. Jade Wall hit a run-scoring single in the second inning and Kaia Parnaby took a three-hitter into the seventh. Australia is fourth among the six teams after an opening loss to Japan, and Italy fell to 0-2.

Taylah Tsitsikronis doubled off Greta Cecchetti leading off the second, advanced on Tarni Stepto’s groundout and scored on a two-out infield hit by Wall, who beat the throw to first after second baseman Andrea Filler’s diving, backhand stop.

Italy’s Giulia Longhi singled with two outs in the seventh, pinch-runner Fabrizia Marrone stole second and Laura Vigna worked out a nine-pitch walk.

Ellen Roberts, who played college ball for Memphis, made her Olympic debut after Parnaby had thrown 85 pitches, and Marta Gasparotto took a called third strike.

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American beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb is out of the Olympics after four positive COVID-19 tests, and Tri Bourne will take his place as the partner of four-time Olympian Jake Gibb when the competition begins this weekend.

Crabb confirmed his withdrawal Thursday in a statement to The Associated Press, noting that he was vaccinated and tested negative before he left the United States but tested positive when he arrived in Japan.

“I’m symptom-free, thankfully, but deeply disappointed to not be able to join Jake on the sand and compete as a member of Team USA,” Crabb said. “I want Jake to play in his fourth Olympic games and I want him to bring home a medal. Tri Bourne, an incredible athlete, person and close friend will be competing alongside Jake and filling my spot on Team USA.”

The Olympic beach volleyball tournament begins Saturday at Tokyo’s Shiokaze Park, with Gibb and Bourne scheduled to play their first match on Sunday night against Italy.

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The International Olympic Committee says it will start including images of athletes taking a knee in its official highlights reels and social media channels.

Players from five women’s soccer teams kneeled in support of racial justice Wednesday, the first day it was allowed at the Olympic Games after a ban lasting decades.

But those images were excluded from the official Tokyo Olympic highlights package provided by the IOC to media including The Associated Press that could not broadcast the games live.

Official Olympic social media channels also did not include pictures of the athlete activism.

“The IOC is covering the Games on its owned and operated platforms and such moments will be included as well,” the Olympic body said Thursday in an apparent change of policy.

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Host Japan beat Mexico 3-2 in softball to improve to 2-0 at the Tokyo Games.

Mana Atsumi’s squeeze bunt single with one out in the eighth inning scored automatic runner Eri Yamada.

Haruka Agatsuma’s grounder to second off Danielle O’Toole advanced Yamada to third, and Atsumi bunted on a 0-1 pitch. Yamada was running on the pitch and slid home ahead of Amanda Sanchez’s throw.

Mexico, 0-2 at its first Olympics, tied the score 2-2 when Yamada dropped Anissa Urtez’s fly to center in the seventh inning for what was ruled a single.

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One of the social media sensations of the Rio Olympics won’t be competing in Tokyo. Namibia’s Dan Craven tested positive for COVID-19 in Spain, where the former professional cyclist lives with his family.

Even more devastating was the timing of it.

Craven told The Namibian newspaper that he had been trying to receive a COVID-19 vaccine through Spain’s national health care system, “but the bureaucratic system to get registered has just been crazy.”

“Two hours after I tested positive,” Craven said, “I got a phone call saying I can come in for my vaccine.”

The tall, lanky rider with the bushy red beard said on his Instagram page that he caught the virus on a training ride with three other people. He was supposed to have the single starting spot for Namibia, where he was born, but tested positive in a pre-event test and will be replaced in Saturday’s race to Fuji International Speedway by Tristan de Lange.

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Four more residents of the Olympic Village, including two athletes, have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 91 people accredited for the Tokyo Games have tested positive since the beginning of July.

Skateboarder Candy Jacobs of the Netherlands and table tennis player Pavel Sirucek of the Czech Republic tested positive and had to leave the village to enter a quarantine hotel.

Two additional “games-concerned personnel” — a category that includes team coaches and officials — staying in the village overlooking Tokyo Bay tested positive.

The 91 cases do not include athletes who tested positive at home before their scheduled travel to Tokyo for events they will now miss.

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The United States beat Canada 1-0 for a 2-0 start in Olympic softball.

Monica Abbott pitched a one-hitter and center fielder Haylie McCleney and second baseman Ali Aguilar combined to throw out the potential tying run at the plate in the sixth inning.

The Americans are getting just enough offense as they try to regain the gold medal they lost to Japan in 2008.

Abbott struck out nine, walked three and needed 102 pitches to throw the Americans’ second consecutive one-hitter. Cat Osterman, at age 38 the Americans’ senior player, struck out nine over six innings and Abbott struck out the side in the seventh to finish an opening 2-0 win over Italy on Wednesday.

Amanda Chidester hit an RBI single in the fifth off loser Jenna Caira that scored McCleney, who went 3 for 3 with a walk and has reached base seven times in the two games.

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The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee has fired the director of the opening ceremony because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998.

Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto says opening ceremony director Kentaro Kobayashi has been dismissed. Kobayashi was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust in his comedy act, including the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust,” in one of his shows.

His dismissal comes the day before Friday’s opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games.

Earlier this week, a composer whose music is expected to be used at the opening ceremony was forced to resign because of past bullying of his classmates, which he boasted about in magazine interviews.

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Home hope Naomi Osaka will face 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China and Novak Djokovic will play 139th-ranked Hugo Dellien of Bolivia in the opening round of the Olympic tennis tournament in Tokyo.

Draws were held two days before play opens at Ariake Tennis Park.

Osaka is returning to competition after she withdrew from the French Open following the first round to take a mental health break.

Djokovic is attempting to become the first man to complete a Golden Slam by winning all four major tennis tournaments and an Olympic singles gold medal in the same year.

Defending Olympic champion Andy Murray received a tough opening round draw against 15th-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada.

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Russian swimmer Ilya Borodin, the European champion in the 400-meter individual medley, will miss the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Russian Swimming Federation says Borodin tested positive at a training camp in the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.

The positive test came shortly before he was expected to travel to Japan with other Russian swimmers.

Federation vice-president Viktor Avdienko tells the Tass state news agency that Borodin has been placed into isolation, the rest of the team has tested negative and no one was deemed a close contact in Borodin’s case.

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Jill Biden has embarked on her first solo international trip as first lady, leading a U.S. delegation to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

On her way she stopped in Alaska, where she praised efforts to vaccinate residents in the rugged, remote state but noted the work is not done.

She has a robust agenda for roughly 48 hours on the ground in Japan’s capital.

She is set to arrive in Tokyo Thursday afternoon and have dinner with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his wife, Mariko Suga.

She will hold a virtual get-together with members of Team USA Friday before meeting Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace. She attends the opening ceremony for the Games in the evening.

She also 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.

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Australia’s highest-ranking Olympic official and the current premier of the state of Queensland, where the 2032 Summer Games will be held, have put an early test to the old adage that sports and politics don’t mix.

Hours after Brisbane was given the hosting rights for the Games 11 years down the track following an International Olympic Committee vote in Tokyo on Wednesday, Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates had a public disagreement with Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The issue at the late night news conference in Tokyo? Whether Palaszczuk and other members of the city’s delegation should attend the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony on Friday.

Palaszczuk indicated she’d be staying in her hotel room.

That didn’t sit well with Coates, a powerful vice-president for the IOC and one of the driving forces behind Brisbane having received the hosting rights so soon without any real competition.

Coates told Palaszczuk that she and the others could not stay home and sit in their rooms.

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