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Olympics 2020/2021 news: Serena Williams opting out, athletes who are banned from competing, and more

Olympics 2020/2021 news: Serena Williams opting out, athletes who are banned from competing, and more

Game, set, love-match

Text: Brandon Alexius Chia


Image: Instragram | @naomiosaka
Image: Instragram | @serenawilliams
Image: Instragram | @carririchardson_

In case you missed it, the Olympics 2020 (yes, it's 2021 but merchandise were printed last year so there are no changes to the title) is set to run from 23 July to 8 August. But the confusing name just happens to be the last thing that is concerning about the famed event. Due to the catastrophe of the virus, the games were delayed for a year and many athletes were and still iffy on whether they should fly thousands of miles to participate. But besides that, from management scandals down to athlete bans, there is a whole lot to unpack ahead of the postponed Olympics. Some athletes have either failed to qualify, gotten disqualified, or dropped out on their own accord. It's all very confusing, so we are here to spill the Olympics tea that we know of so far.

Tennis-gate

One of the most famous names in the sport, Naomi Osaka, has expressed her concerns over the continuation of the games because of COVID-19. When she had decided not to enter Wimbledon last month, many were expecting her to back out from the Olympics too. However, she is  to arrive in Japan on 19 July – just a few days before the start of the games. The sporting community is waiting to see if the increased number of cases in Tokyo right now will affect her decision.

Tennis royalty Serena Williams has confirmed during a press conference at Wimbledon that she was not on the US team and that she did not want to go into details on why she opted out. The 23-time Grand Slam winner did state that the Olympics was a wonderful place for her in the past.

Argentinian star player Guido Pella had secured a golden ticket to the summer games but announced over social media that he would be skipping it this year as he did not feel ready to meet the physical demands and represent his country.

Barred from competing

Everyone knows how stringent doping rules are in the world of sports. Huddler Brianna McNeal was unsuccessful in her appeal to overturn a five-year ban, which prohibits her from competing in the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Olympics on grounds of tampering with the doping-control process. Brianna had missed a blood test while recovering from an abortion that took place two days prior and did not hear the test officials at her door.

Sprinter Sha' Carri Richardson made headlines over the past two weeks after being removed from the US track team due to a one-month ban after testing positive for marijuana. This nullified her win at the Olympics trials in Oregon and a coveted spot to participate in the 100-metre category.

The Olympics have not budged on letting women with naturally high testosterone compete in the women's long-distance running categories. Five sprinters including South African Olympian Caster Semenya and Namibian athlete Beatrice Masilingi were prohibited from running in the 800-metre and 400-metre categories respectively.

Perhaps next time?

12-time medallist swimmer Ryan Lochte failed to qualify for a spot this year after coming in seventh during the trails last month – relinquishing the opportunity to guard his record for the 200-metre category.

North Korea withdrew all their teams from the competition due to the pandemic and not wanting to risk the health of their athletes. Samoa Olympic officials have withdrawn the weightlifting team due to health concerns as well, but other teams will be sent to compete in sports such as sailing and judo as these athletes are based outside of the country.

Canada and Australia had announced earlier this year that they would not be sending any teams to Tokyo but they have since rescinded their decision as athletes are scheduled to arrive this week. The Aussies will need to serve a 14-day quarantine after being tested for COVID-19 and they will have to adhere to strict guidelines stated in the "Playbook".

Management issues

A wave of resignations from about 10,000 workers took place starting in Feb, followed by the resignation of organising committee president Yoshiro Mori after sexist remarks were leaked online. In Mar, creative director Hiroshi Sashaki also resigned after demeaning comments about fashion icon Naomi Watanabe had surfaced.

Two Olympic workers in the athletes' village tested positive for COVID-19 and admitted to eating meals in a large group with fellow workers the week before. This raises alarms as Tokyo is experiencing a surge in the number of infections this month – local spectators might be banned from entering the stadiums if the city enters a state of emergency. There is no word on whether the games will be cancelled in light of the situation.