This summer’s Olympians can be excused if they think they’re being treated like sniffling preschoolers on an urban field trip.
Athletes competing in Tokyo will have to submit a contact tracing list, take their temperature daily for two weeks before arriving, and produce two negative COVID-19 tests within 96 hours of leaving home.
Once at the Games, they must submit a detailed when-and-where activity plan, submit to daily saliva tests, limit mixed-zone interviews to 90 seconds, and wear masks on the awards stand. All that plus no shopping, dining out, barhopping, or any of the other traditional tourist activities that help make the Olympics memorable.
And it’s still possible that the athletes will be performing in front of empty seats. The Tokyo organizers, who’ve already banned overseas ticket-holders, won’t decide until next month whether spectators will be allowed.
Equity on display
With the gender split among Olympic athletes narrowed to 51 percent male and 49 percent female, the IOC is urging countries to use one flagbearer of each sex in the Tokyo ceremonies as a symbol of equity.
Great Britain has agreed (”a real hallmark legacy message,” said chef de mission Mark England) and other nations are likely to follow.
On the diamond
Whether the US baseball team makes it to the Olympics, there will be an imposing American nine in Tokyo, albeit competing for Israel.
The Israelis, who qualified for the Games for the first time by winning the Africa/Europe tournament, have a roster pool loaded with ex-major leaguers (including former Red Sox players Ryan Lavarnway, Ian Kinsler, and Danny Valencia) and farmhands.
The US squad, which faces Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico in its preliminary group at next month’s regional qualifier in Florida, has to win the tournament to collect its Olympic ticket. Otherwise, the Yanks will have to finish second or third to earn a spot in the last-chance event in Taiwan.
Opponents on tap
The first Olympic match for Brazil’s defending men’s soccer champions will be against the Germans, whom they defeated on penalty kicks in the Rio final. Honduras, which beat the US team to earn its berth, is grouped with South Korea, New Zealand, and Romania, while Mexico, the 2012 gold medalist, faces France, Japan, and South Africa . . . Lelisa Desisa, the reigning men’s world champion and two-time Boston victor, has been chosen for Ethiopia’s Olympic marathon team along with London winner Shura Kitata and Sisay Lemma. Tokyo winner Birhane Dibaba, Roza Dereje, and Tigist Girma make up the women’s entries . . . “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (”Faster, Higher, Stronger”), the Olympic motto adopted by Pierre de Coubertin, the modern Games founder, likely will be updated with the addition of the Latin word “Communis” (”Together”) when the IOC membership meets in Tokyo this summer. The change, approved by the executive board, was pushed by president Thomas Bach, who says that he ran it by de Coubertin’s statue at Olympic House in Lausanne and that de Coubertin smiled at him.
Odds against scullers
Daunting odds for the US men’s scullers and pair at next weekend’s last-chance Olympic qualifying regatta in Switzerland, where only the top two make it to Tokyo. There are 26 entries in the single, 18 in the double, 18 in the lightweight double, 9 in the quad, and 14 in the pair. The quad, which includes Finn Putnam of Littleton, produced an encouraging effort at the opening World Cup rowing event in Croatia, where they missed winning the bronze in a photo finish with the Germans. The best chance to earn a spot at the Games is in the women’s lightweight double with Michelle Sechser and Molly Reckford, who’ll be in with a top-three placement. Meanwhile, the women’s quad, which already has qualified, is holding a 10-candidate camp in Princeton, N.J. The group includes two members of the last global boat in Emily Huelskamp and Sophia Vitas, as well as Massachusetts residents Cicely Madden (Weston) and Maggie Fellows (Warwick). The boat will be selected in early June . . . The US divers earned Olympic berths in both men’s and women’s synchronized springboard plus women’s individual springboard at the recent World Cup competition in Tokyo, bringing the total to seven of eight events (all but men’s synchronized platform). Sarah Bacon’s springboard silver was the first American medal in that Cup event since 1989. The team will be selected at next month’s trials in Indianapolis . . . Westwood fencer Andrew Mackiewicz has earned a spot on the Olympic men’s saber team, where he’ll join Sherborn native Eli Dershwitz. Rio saber medalist Dagmara Wozniak qualified for her third Games . . . It took nine years, but US high jumper Erik Kynard likely will get the gold medal that was stripped from Russia’s Ivan Ukhov as part of his recently upheld doping suspension. Kynard, who placed sixth in Rio, will be gunning for his third Games at next month’s trials . . . Banned from using its national anthem at the Games as part of its penalty for doping, Russia at least will be allowed to have a familiar refrain played for its champions on the award stand — Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1.” It’s a classical warhorse that has been used for everything from Orson Welles’s radio series to David Letterman’s show to Merrie Melodies cartoons.
John Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Material from Olympic committees, sports federations, interviews, and wire services was used in this report.