Olympic Basketball: Quarter-finals the aim for Iran’s Tokyo Olympic bound basketball team

Ramin Tabatabaei, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Basketball Federation (IRIBF), has set reaching the quarter-finals as the men’s team’s goal at the Tokyo Olympics. Iran has qualified for the Olympic basketball tournament for just the third time, following their exploits at last year’s World Cup.

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Despite losing all three group games including an eight-point defeat to eventual winners Spain Iran finished as the highest-ranked Asian team at the tournament. They beat Angola and the Philippines in the classification round to achieve that feat and Olympic qualification, edging out China on points difference. Twelve teams are due to compete in two groups in Japan, with the top four in each advancing to the knockout rounds.

“Our first goal is to advance to the next phase since we want to be among the world’s top eight teams,” Tabatabaei said, speaking to the Tehran Times.

In the Tokyo Olympic qualification which was held last year, we showed an outstanding performance against Spain, Puerto Rico, Tunisia, Angola, and the Philippines. We were the best Asian side in the tournament which was held in China. 

In Tokyo, Iran will have a chance to defend its credibility and we want to qualify for the next stage for the first time. Mehran Shahin tab was the head coach for Iran at the World Cup, and he has a good chance of retaining the role at the Tokyo Olympic. An IRIBF Technical Committee will choose the head coach, according to Tabatabaei.

Iran’s basketball team last reached the Olympics in Beijing 2008, losing all five games and finishing 11th out of 12 teams. Iran’s participation at next summer’s Olympics is a divisive issue and there have been calls for the nation to be banned following the execution of wrestler Navid Afkari.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was among the organizations to call for clemency before Afkari accused of stabbing a security guard to death and being involved in demonstrations against the country’s regime in 2018 was killed.

Afkari had demanded he was labored into making a false confession. Human Rights Watch said the case was part of a systematic pattern in which Iranian authorities disregard torture allegations and use coerced confessions in trial proceedings. IOC vice-president John Coates hinted an Olympic ban for Iran was unlikely as this execution didn’t relate to a sporting event” and numerous other nations competing at the Olympics also still have the death penalty.

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Olympic Basketball: Late NBA season could rule stars out of Tokyo Olympics

The National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver has thrown further doubt that the league’s players will compete at the Tokyo Olympics after stating that their participation at the Games could be limited. Despite the 2020-2021 season having a tentative start date of December 1, Silver has now said his “best guess” would be that the league will restart in January.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019-2020 NBA season is ongoing – with the NBA Finals set to start on September 30 and potentially end as late as October 13. Based off the tentative start for the 2020-2021 season in December, the NBA Finals for that year were expected to start in June 2021, but now that could come at the same time as the Olympics.

“There are a lot of countless US players, and we may be up in contradiction of a scenario where the top 15 NBA players aren’t rival in the Olympics, but other great American players are competing,” Silver told CNN yesterday.

Many NBA players participate in the Olympics from other countries. That’s something we’re going to have to work through. I just say, these are highly unique and unusual circumstances – I think, just as it is for the Olympic Movement, it is for us as well. We’re just successful to have to sort of find a way to meld and net those two competing considerations. Although a schedule has not yet been released, Silver has said that the goal is to start the next season in January with a standard 82-game schedule and playoffs.

A normal NBA season starts in late October with the NBA Finals running through to mid-June, with a push back possibly moving into the same period as the Tokyo Olympic Games. Tentatively, these are due to start in April according to provisional plans, ending in June. Currently, the Conference Finals – featuring the top four teams in the NBA – are playing the final set of playoff games before the NBA Finals begin next week.

It is a factor in our planning, added Silver, speaking about the Olympics. It would be tough for us to decide in January based on the Olympics happening on schedule when that’s so unclear. Basketball Australia is one of the national governing bodies expressing their concern over the thought of losing their top players for the Games but has also stated nothing can be done until the NBA confirms its position.

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“We are continually monitoring the status of leagues at home and abroad where our Australian athletes are playing including the NBA,” said Basketball Australia high performance and national team’s general manager Jan Stirling.

As numerous of our US-based athletes have spoken directly to Basketball Australia or through the media in new times, they are very much looking forward to representing Australia at the Tokyo Olympics. Until there is confirmation from the NBA on exact timings for the 2020-2021 season, we aren’t in a position to have discussions with athletes and officials who are on NBA contracts around their availability.

Australia’s men’s team will be seeking their first Olympic medal in the sport and will look to rely on NBA stars Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs, Joe Ingles of Utah Jazz, and Ben Simmons of Philadephia 76ers in their bid, having finished fourth at the Basketball World Cup last year.

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Olympic Athletics: Bach says phased return of sport a cause for “confidence” regarding Tokyo Olympic

The return of some sporting events amid the coronavirus pandemic should lead to confidence in our preparations for Tokyo Olympic, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has said. In an open letter to the Olympic Movement, following on from one written in April, Bach gave an update on plans going forward and stated he was thankful that sport was back in some form, paying tribute to those who made it possible.

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“The very optimistic greeting of these events proves that not only athletes and sports organizations but also the public at large have been desire for the return of sport as an essential part of our lives,” Bach supposed.

We also see that sport can be organized safely, even under the ongoing restrictions. This should give all of us confidence in our preparations for future events, including the Tokyo Olympic Games. Despite his optimism, Bach stressed the need to continue to act responsibly when planning and scheduling sports events.

Many due to take place in 2020 have been postponed or canceled due to ongoing travel restrictions, limits on large gatherings, and concern for the safety of athletes and personnel. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are the most high-profile example – postponed from 2020 to 2021 in March.

“In our preparation and scheduling, we all have great accountability, not only for our own stakeholders but for the entire game community,” added Bach.

From knowledge, we know that every mishap that touches one of us affects all of us and has the possible to undo the great progress we have made together in the past few months. In this setting, we are monitoring the potential of innovative testing methods for the safe organization of events. In addition to the already existing test methods, there are several so-called rapid tests already on the market or under development. 

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When used in mixture with other virus countermeasures, such fast tests give us a significant additional tool to ensure a safe setting for everyone complicated. Bach also mentioned hopeful signals coming from scientists which suggest a vaccine for COVID-19 could be advanced as early as the end of the year.

On the other hand, we have to realize that even testing methods and vaccines are not the ‘silver bullet’ that will solve all our problems.  We just do not yet know the full influence of any potential inoculation, but altogether, there are good reasons for cautious hopefulness. The IOC will continue to study these developments closely. 

We are also evaluating what consequences they would have for the organization of sports events, ranging from the need to change certain rules of our respective organizations to medical, economic, social, and logistical aspects. To this end, we continue to collaborate closely with the World Health Organization, public authorities, medical and technical experts, as well as medicinal companies. 

We are also drawing from the experience of those sports organizations that have recently organized successful events. We of course will share any visions with all those worried among you, so that all of us in the Olympic Movement can advantage.

Coronavirus cases have declined in Japan over the last month, but given the global nature of the Olympics, the health situation abroad may be as important in determining whether or not the Games can go ahead. Much of Europe is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 and the prevalence of the virus rates remain high in much of the Americas, as well as India.

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A coronavirus countermeasures taskforce, formed of officials from the Japanese Government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee, is assessing possible scenarios and measures that could allow the Olympics to run as predictable from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

The Paralympics is then arranged to follow from August 24 to September 5. A system for allowing athletes to be exempt from travel restrictions is expected to be approved this week, while Japan’s Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto recently said Tokyo 2020 should be held next year “at any cost”.

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Olympic Tables Tennis: Japanese table tennis player and Olympic medal hope Harimoto returns to competition

Japanese table tennis player and Olympic medal hope Tomokazu Harimoto played in his first competition since the suspension of sport. The 17-year-old played in a spectator-less one-day exhibition at Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo. 

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He featured alongside several other medals hopes for next year’s Olympic Games in the Japanese capital, including Ishikawa Kasumi and Niwa Koki, with competitors taking each other on in cross-gender contests.

Tomokazu played Ishikawa, who was part of the team which earned an Olympic silver medal at London 2012 and a bronze medal in Rio 2016. Most of the players had not competed since the Qatar Open in March, with sport then suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was my first match in half a year and I was nervous from start to finish,” said Tomokazu, according to the Olympic Channel.

In practice, everyone hits everything hard but it doesn’t work that way in matches. Practice alone isn’t enough. It’s comforting to be able to hit live balls again. I got rid of more than half the concerns that had built up in the last six months.

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Tomokazu earned a silver medal in the men’s singles and mixed team events at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. He also claimed the singles title at the 2018 International Table Tennis Federation World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon. 

It was announced in January that Tomokazu would be part of Japan’s national table tennis squad for the Tokyo Olympic. He will have to wait another year, however, with the Olympics postponed until July 23 to August 8, 2021, due to the pandemic.  

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Olympic Athletics: Van Niekerk “comfortable and confident” over Olympic title defense after return to competition

Wayde van Niekerk revealed he is comfortable and confident about defending his 400 meters title at next year’s Olympic 2020 Games in Tokyo. The South African, who set the 400m world record of 43.03sec when he earned Olympic gold in Rio 2016, competed in his first international race in more than three years this week.

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He won the men’s one-lap race at a European Tour meeting in Switzerland in 45.58. Van Niekerk had been recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury picked up in 2017, and suffered another setback earlier this year when he tested positive for COVID-19. 

“It was a good ice breaker, considering the circumstances I’ve had to go through the last few months, not being able to be as consistent as I’d like to be,” he supposed, as reported by The Citizen. 

It has been a bit of a roller coaster year, but I feel comfortable and confident for the upcoming season and the Olympic 2020 Games. I still have enough time to get myself ready for the Games, so it’s just about putting in the correct work and making sure I’m investing in the right areas for me to be ready. For now, it’s time to get back to the drawing board and start sharpening up the edges.

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Despite the encouraging return to competition, Van Niekerk decided to withdraw from the Diamond League meeting in Rome, which took place yesterday. Instead, he refunded to South Africa from his European camp to focus on the 2021 season.

Van Niekerk is a two-time world champion in the 400m, triumphing in 2015 and 2017, and also earned a world silver medal in the 200m at the latter rivalry in London.  The 28-year-old is set to compete at his second Olympic Games at Tokyo Olympic, now suspended to July 23 to August 8 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. He acted as a flag-bearer for South Africa at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony.

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Olympic Athletics: Japan to allow foreign athletes to enter the country to aid Tokyo Olympic preparations

Overseas athletes will now be allowable to enter Japan before the Tokyo Olympics, in a change the Japanese Government hopes will help the arrangements of home stars. It is predictable that the B. League and the V-League Japan’s top local basketball and volleyball competitions will be among the first to license foreign players ahead of their time openers in October.

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Rendering to Kyodo News, this decision was made to help Japanese players get the best groundwork likely before Tokyo Olympic, by allowing the highest level of competition in their leagues. In the V-League, teams are permitted to have a maximum of one foreign player outdoor of Asia, while in the B. League, six of the ten number leaders were from abroad.

These included American Davante Gardner leading the points per game table, and his compatriot Jack Cooley who scored more rebounds per game than any other player. Other sports expected to allow foreign players include the nation’s table tennis T-League, rugby’s Top League, and professional golf.

These changes were made contempt the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021 and paused generous activity worldwide. Operating bodies and sports associations will be asked to be responsible for implementing COVID-19 prevention measures.

Foreign athletes will be required to provide results of multiple COVID-19 tests before sendoff their countries and upon arrival in Japan. They will also need to isolation for 14 days after arriving in Japan and will have to submit their movement plans within the country.

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The Government is reportedly using the readmission of foreign athletes as a way of testing the effectiveness of immigration control procedures ahead of the postponed Olympics and Paralympics. Japan currently denies entry to residents from dozens of countries but this presents a clear problem with Tokyo Olympic imminent.

Japan’s football top flight, the J-League, and the Nippon Expert Baseball league have both been using foreign athletes in their rivalries but only those who were in the country before the Government barred the entry of foreign nationals.

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Tokyo Olympics chief expecting IOC approval of 50 to 60 items to simplify Olympics

Around “50 to 60” items aimed at simplifying the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are set to be approved in the coming weeks, according to Organizing Committee chief executive Toshirō Mutō. Speaking after the latest meeting of the Tokyo Olympic Executive Board today, Mutō said he expects an agreement on the items that will be reached following discussions with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission on September 24 and 25.

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The measures – which target reducing costs and ensuring the safety of athletes and spectators – including the number of people involved in the Games, infrastructure, and Ceremonies, Mutō added. The Tokyo Olympic chief admitted the exact cost of the items would not be available until December.

“We imagine to have an agreement on the substances, but the ballpark number on the reduction won’t be obtainable immediately because we need to thoroughly inspect the numbers,” Mutō supposed.

Mutō also said not to expect a decision on if or how spectators will be able to attend the Olympics and Paralympics, pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, by the end of the year. Organizers have repeatedly stressed that they are including crowds in their planning for the rescheduled Games, but leading officials from both the IOC and Tokyo Olympic have acknowledged holding events without spectators is a possibility. How fans can attend the Games is set to be the main subject of a meeting of a panel assessing coronavirus countermeasures in November.

“When it comes to the specific numbers and how much of the percentage of total capacity should be allowed, I can’t say whether that will be decided by December,” Mutō said.

We need to keep a close eye on the situation with the COVID-19 spread. We shouldn’t make a decision right before Games time, but definitely, we should observe the situation thoroughly. The first set of COVID-19 countermeasures are set to be revealed by the end of the year, a timeline reiterated by IOC vice-president and Tokyo Olympic Coordination Commission chairman John Coates today.

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Border controls, COVID-19 countermeasures at venues, plans for dealing with infected people, pre-Games training camps, rules for public transport, and the necessity of an isolation period upon entry into Japan are all being discussed.

“Our decision at the moment is to go ahead,” Coates, who recently claimed Tokyo Olympic will take place next year irrespective of the coronavirus pandemic, supposed.

What we wait for is to decide what counter-measures we need to go ahead with, to proceed depending on what stage COVID is at. The extent of the ceremonies, the extent of the crowd participation, any necessary quarantine when they arrive in Japan.  All of those things. And by the time we get to the end of the year, we’ll assess what counter-measures we’ll need to apply.

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Burkhill added to the Australian artistic swimming team for Tokyo Olympic after Stackpole retirement

Hannah Burkhill has been added to the Australian artistic swimming team for the Tokyo Olympic Games following the retirement of Rose Stackpole. Australia established its artistic swimming side in February, with Rio 2016 Olympians Hannah Cross, Emily Rogers, Stackpole, and Amie Thompson called in the team.

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Jane Fruzynski, Kiera Gazzard, Kirsten Kinash, and Rachel Presse are due to make their Olympic entrances. All eight were due to compete together in the team event, with Thompson and Stackpole also scheduled to compete in the duet. Stackpole announced her retirement from the sport in August, with Burkhill now added to the Australian team for Tokyo Olympic.

“This is a vision come true, I’ve required this for so long,” Burkhill supposed.

In 2012 I had just ongoing rival and I was so happy to see the Olympic Side in person in their lead-up and viewing them compete at the London Olympics. I still can’t trust I’ll be at my Games next year. It’s been such a crazy year and this instant is so happy but also poignant.

“Afterward just missing out on the early selection in February, I’m so glad to have another chance but sad that Rose won’t be with the side next year.

At Tokyo Olympic, I just want to put collected a swim that our public, supporters, and country can be proud of. Burkhill was a member of the side that competed at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju in South Korea, where Australia aided seal their place at the Olympic 2020 Games.

Australia is due to be one of 10 nations rival in the side competition at the suspended Olympic 2020 Games. The Australian side will compete against hosts Japan, Egypt, Canada, Russia, China, and Ukraine. Three other countries will qualify for the Olympic 2020 Games.

“Congratulations to Hannah for being selected to her debut Olympic Team today,” supposed Ian Chesterman, Australia’s Chef de Mission.

Hannah has worked incredibly hard to be in the position she is in today and her selection is a testament to her dedication and persistence. I am sure it is a moment that is being celebrated by her family and friends as well. I also want to thank Rose for her contribution to artistic swimming and the Australian Olympic Team in Rio.

Rose made a brave decision to retire, never an easy one with a squad spot secured. But this has now provided an thrilling opportunity for Hannah to make her Olympic debut, an chance I am sure she will make the most of.

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I know Hannah will do her colleagues, family, supporters, coaches, and the Australian Olympic Squad proud in Tokyo. Stackpole has commended Burkhill on securing the place in the Australian side for the Games and fortified her to make the most of the knowledge.

“My advice for Hannah is to enjoy every moment of your Tokyo Olympic experience,” Stackpole said.

Whether it’s walking into the Village, the Opening Ceremony, your first day of competition – there are so many overwhelming positive experiences, try to take in as much as possible. I know Hannah and the team will put in a performance they will be proud of. I took a lot of time thinking about whether to retire, but I was ready to move on and I’m so lucky to go out on my terms. Everyone on the team and in my community has been supportive, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

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Olympic Badminton: Indian badminton coach urges Olympic medal hopes to attend training camps

Indian badminton coach Agus Dwi Santoso has urged Olympic medal hopes to attend national training camps. Eight athletes can attend the training camp at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad.

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Only world champion PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth, women’s doubles specialist Sikki Reddy and former world number one Kidambi Srikanth are currently attending the camp, however.  London 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Saina Nehwal is a notable absentee following a fall-out with the SAI and the Badminton Association of India (BAI).

It comes after the SAI and BAI did not add Nehwal’s husband and Tokyo Olympic hopeful Parupalli Kashyap to their list of potential players for next year’s postponed Games. Satwiksairaj Ranki Reddy, who recently tested positive for coronavirus, is at her home in Amalapuram, while her mixed doubles partner Chirag Shetty has stayed in Mumbai.

Ashwini Ponnappa decided to stay in Bangalore and train at the Padukone-Dravid Centre of Sports Excellence. Santoso revealed he wanted more players to attend the camp at Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy to ensure the country was adequately prepared for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

“I understand SAI’s decision to allow eight players for the camp in this pandemic but only four players are training,” he said, as reported by Times of India. 

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I need more players of the same level, quality players because badminton is a mind game, it needs teamwork. It has been a few weeks and we are still training a few players and that is not good. It is important to train as a group so that players can compete hard and help each other – healthy competition is important.

I hope for support from SAI in getting more players to train. Once we have that, we would be in a better position to prepare and do well in tournaments including the Tokyo Olympics. India has earned two Olympic medals in badminton, with Sindhu adding a silver medal from Rio 2016 to Nehwal’s bronze from London 2012.

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Olympic Softball: World Games athlete of the month award honors Japanese softball star Yamada

Japanese softball player Eri Yamada has been given the World Games athlete of the month award for August. The 36-year-old would have been captaining Japan at her third Olympics this summer, but the Games were postponed to between July 23 and August 8 of next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Botswana, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, South Africa, and Spain will play the five-day tournament divided into two groups. Fans who want to watch the live-action of Olympic Softball in Olympic 2020 can get Olympic Softball Tickets online.

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Instead, she has been doing promotional work on behalf of the team. Yamada earned Olympic gold with Japan in Beijing 2008, hitting a home run in the final against the United States to solidify her position as a star performer during the tournament. 

She also claimed bronze at Athens 2004. Baseball and softball were then dropped from the Olympic programmed for London 2012 and Rio 2016, but are set to return at Tokyo Olympic.

The International World Games Association awarded her the athlete of the month title to “honor an outstanding softball player”.

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Softball, one of the founding sports of the World Games, was contested at the maiden edition in Santa Clara in 1981. The sport once again is due to feature at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham.  As the next scheduled edition of the Women’s Softball World Championships has been pushed back to 2023, the multi-sport event in Alabama will double up as a World Championships. 

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