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Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:
The Tokyo Olympics are exactly 1 year away (we hope)
The opening ceremony was originally scheduled for Friday, July 24, until the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers made the unprecedented decision to push it back a year due to the pandemic. So the Games are now slated to begin on Friday, July 23, 2021.
Will that actually happen? No one can say right now. Four months after the postponement was announced, COVID-19 continues to hold much of the world in varying states of semi-paralysis. The United States, which is the Olympics’ top country in terms of both medals won and TV revenue generated, is struggling mightily to contain the disease (or, more to the point, not struggling hard enough). Tokyo is also experiencing a surge in infections, and the head of its Olympic organizing committee said this week that the Games could not be held under the current conditions. Another postponement probably isn’t an option. IOC and Tokyo officials have indicated that if the Games can’t be held next summer, they won’t be held at all.
If that’s the scenario that plays out, Canada could miss out on one of its most successful Olympics ever. The sports data company Gracenote projects the Canadian team will win 22 medals in Tokyo. That would match 1996 and 2016 for Canada’s highest total at a non-boycotted Summer Olympics. And the model has Canada winning five gold medals — one more than in ’16 and two more than in ’96. One caveat is that there are more events in the Olympics now, and therefore more medals. So while 22 was the 10th-highest total at the 2016 Rio Games, it would only be good for 13th in Tokyo, per Gracenote’s system.
Looking deeper into what we might be missing this summer (or to put it more optimistically, what we might see next summer), the model predicts Canada’s gold medals will come from Damian Warner (decathlon), Kylie Masse (swimming — women’s 100m backstroke), Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes (women’s beach volleyball), Laurence Vincent-Lapointe (canoe — women’s singles) and Vincent-Lapointe and Katie Vincent (canoe — women’s doubles).
Notice that four of those five gold come from women. That disparity carries over into the overall medal total, where men account for only three of Canada’s 22 podium finishes. Besides Warner’s decathlon gold, the model has Andre De Grasse taking bronze in the 200 metres and Evan Dunfee scoring silver in the 50km race walk.
The bulk of the women’s medals are in the water. The model has Canadian swimmers reaching seven podiums — including a gold for Kylie Masse in the 100m backstroke, silvers for Masse in the 200 back and Maggie MacNeil in the 100 butterfly, and bronze for Sydney Pickrem in the 200 individual medley. 2016 Olympic darling Penny Oleksiak will be shut out of the solo medals this time, according to Gracenote. But she’s likely to have a hand in all three relay bronze Canada is projected to win. The system also has Canada winning four diving medals, with Meaghan Benfeito and Jennifer Abel landing a pair each.
Two more interesting things, both in gymnastics: the model says Rosie MacLennan will fall just short of a three-peat in the solo trampoline event, taking silver. And Ellie Black will become only the second Canadian — and first Canadian woman — to win a medal in traditional gymnastics, taking bronze in the marquee individual all-around event.
Read about how Canada’s four gold medallists from 2016 are preparing for the uncertain Tokyo Games in this piece by CBC Sports’ Scott Russell. Read more about how other Canadian athletes and coaches are dealing with their own strange circumstances in this piece by CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux.
WATCH | Questions abound with Tokyo Games 365 days away:
The NHL’s Seattle expansion team named itself the Kraken
That’s a mythical sea creature (“Release the Kraken!”). In keeping with the aquatic theme, the team’s primary colours (also unveiled today) are dark blue and light blue, with some red trim mixed in. The main logo (somewhat surprisingly, given the wackiness of the name) is quite simple: a stylized “S” that invokes the creature rising out of the water. The secondary logo is an anchor fashioned to resemble Seattle’s Space Needle. Here’s what the home jersey looks like, courtesy of the Twitter account @icethetics:
The jersey really is a thing of beauty! I can’t wait to wear one. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/SEAKraken?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#SEAKraken</a> <a href=”https://t.co/TiP9ex3TWe”>pic.twitter.com/TiP9ex3TWe</a>
Among the other names considered were Sockeyes, Evergreens and Metropolitans. The latter was the name of Seattle’s team in the old Pacific Coast Hockey Association. They won the Stanley Cup in 1917, a few months before the NHL was founded.
The Seattle Kraken will become the NHL’s 32nd team when they begin play for the 2021-22 season. They’ll be placed in the Pacific Division, bumping the Arizona Coyotes to the Central so that each division will have eight teams. Seattle’s owners paid a record $650-million US expansion fee, easily eclipsing the $500 million Vegas forked over only a few years ago. An $800-million rebuild of Seattle’s old arena is also underway. Read more about the team’s new name and logo here.
Washington’s NFL team rebranded (sort of). Ten days ago, the team announced it was “retiring” the Redskins name and logo, but didn’t say when. That day arrived today, when the franchise said it will now officially be known as the Washington Football Team. The plan is to go by that for the 2020 season, giving the team more time to come up with a permanent name. Washington will still use its traditional burgundy and gold colours for its uniforms. In place of the old logo on the helmets will be the player’s jersey number. Read more about the changes in Washington here.
Against all odds, all three Canadian teams advanced at the MLS is Back Tournament. On Tuesday, Toronto won its group, but the others’ chances didn’t look so hot heading into their final match of the group stage. FiveThirtyEight’s projection model gave Montreal a 30 per cent chance of landing a wild-card spot in the round of 16, and Vancouver only a 4 per cent chance. But Montreal won and got the help it required to advance. Vancouver got help too, and today it earned the multi-goal win it needed, beating Chicago 2-0 with goals in the 65th and 71st minutes. In the next round, the tournament becomes single-elimination. Montreal faces Orlando on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, and Toronto faces a TBD team Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET. Vancouver’s opponent and match day/time will be known after the group stage wraps up tonight. Read more about the Whitecaps’ big win here.
The National Women’s Soccer League final is set. It’s an unlikely matchup between the Houston Dash, who were seeded fourth for the knockout stage, and the sixth-seeded Chicago Red Stars. A new champion will be crowned because the North Carolina Courage, who won the title the last two years and had a perfect record heading into the quarter-finals, were upset by Portland. In yesterday’s semis, Houston blanked Portland 1-0 and Chicago beat Sky Blue FC 3-2. Chicago’s lone Canadian player, Bianca St. Georges, scored one of the goals. The Challenge Cup final kicks off Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by the American network CBS.
Mookie Betts got the second-biggest contract in baseball history. Boston traded the 2018 AL MVP, who’s still very much in his prime, to the Dodgers over the winter because they were too cheap to give him a long-term contract. L.A. chose not to make the same mistake, locking Betts up to a 12-year, $365-million US extension. In terms of total money, only Mike Trout’s $426.5M deal with the L.A. Angels is larger. Betts will be in action tonight as the shortened MLB season opens with two games: Yankees vs. Nationals at 7 p.m. ET and Giants vs. Dodgers at 10 p.m. ET. Read six things you should know for this weird season here.
Mike Tyson is getting back in the ring. Iron Mike is 54 years old and 15 years removed from his last pro fight, a 6th-round TKO at the hands of little-known Kevin McBride. But on Sept. 12, he’ll square off with another middle-aged boxing legend, 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr., in an exhibition bout on pay-per-view. Read more about it here.
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