Ready or Not: Rio Olympics open doors at Athletes Village

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Ready or not, the Rio Olympics are opening their doors.

The Games begin in just over two weeks, but the Athletes Village opens officially on Sunday, meaning 10,500 athletes and another 7,000 staff members will start trickling into the luxurious layout, with the pace picking up daily until the Aug. 5 opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium.

The 31-building compound should pamper the world’s best. It’s set among tennis courts, soccer fields, seven swimming pools – with mountains and the sea as a backdrop – and topped off by a massive dining-kitchen compound that’s as large as three football fields.

“I want to help all the athletes have a wonderful welcome to Brazil,” said Priscilla Antonello, a residence center deputy manager whose job is to help athletes find their accommodations.

Will she be star-struck by so many Olympians?

“I couldn’t be in this job if I behaved like that,” she replied Saturday, standing on the 13th floor of one of buildings, gazing out over cycling paths, bubbling fountains and lots of green.

She already knows which countries will be where, but she’s not allowed to say.

Some delegations had already arrived on Saturday, easy to spot with banners or flags hanging off the sides of buildings.

Slovenia had the best banner. In green and white it says: “I Feel sLOVEenia.” The LOVE portion was set off in white type, making sure the message got across.

Another read: “All for Denmark.”

Banners or flags from Canada, Britain, Portugal, Finland and Sweden were among those spotted. A tiny red and yellow Chinese flag was pinned near the top of one of the compounds.

Everything about the village is massive, though fairly standard for recent Summer Olympics.

Organizers say the compound has:

– 10,160 rooms; 18,000 beds; seven laundries; an enormous, hospital-like clinic; a massive gym.

In addition, organizers are providing 450,000 condoms, three times more than London did four years ago. Among them will be 100,000 female condoms.

Organizers said this is to encourage safe sex. Many had considered that increased supply to be due to Brazil’s outbreak of the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.

Asked about it on Saturday, deputy chief medical officer Marcelo Patricio replied: “No, it’s not.”

Then there’s the dining-kitchen area, a sprawling tent where officials expect to serve about 60,000 meals daily to Olympians and staff – and perhaps another 10,000 daily to the hired help.

“The hardest part is knowing how much to prepare,” said Flavia Albuquerque, who oversees Rio’s food and beverage service. “We want them to eat anything they want to.”

That will be easy. The choices are nearly infinite. Diners will choose from different buffets – Brazilian, Asian, International, and Pasta and Pizza. Then there’s a casual dining area that will feature barbeque.

“The casual area might be the most popular,” Albuquerque said.

There will be lots of dirty plates, but none to wash. The plates will be biodegradable, made of corn and sugar cane.

Brazilians figure their food will be a hit: rice, black beans, farofa (flour from toasted cassava often sprinkled on top of food) and meat. And Brazil’s exotic juice will be popular: caju, acai, carambola, caqui, goiaba and maracuja, often squeezed into juices – sucos in Portuguese.

Billionaire real estate developer Carlos Carvalho might have the only problem.

He aims to sell the 3,604 apartments after the Olympics – some in the range of 2.3 million ($700,000). Carvalho’s company Carvalho Hosken has declined to say how many have been sold, but reports say only between 6-10 percent.

The project is a victim of Brazil’s deep recession, the worst since the 1930s.

Carvalho Hosken earlier said the project’s total cost was about $1.5 billion, including construction, land acquisition and other development costs.

MORE: Rio unveils largest athletes village in Olympic history

2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

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At the French Open, a Ukrainian mom makes her comeback

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Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, once the world’s third-ranked tennis player, is into the French Open third round in her first major tournament since childbirth.

Svitolina, 28, swept 2022 French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan of Italy, then beat Australian qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 32 at Roland Garros. She next plays 56th-ranked Russian Anna Blinkova, who took out the top French player, fifth seed Caroline Garcia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 on her ninth match point.

Svitolina’s husband, French player Gael Monfils, finished his first-round five-set win after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. She watched that match on a computer before going to sleep ahead of her 11 a.m. start Wednesday.

“This morning, he told me, ‘I’m coming to your match, so make it worth it,'” she joked on Tennis Channel. “I was like, OK, no pressure.

“I don’t know what he’s doing here now. He should be resting.”

Also Wednesday, 108th-ranked Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis ousted three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in four and a half hours. Wawrinka’s exit leaves Novak Djokovic as the lone man in the draw who has won the French Open and Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz as the lone men left who have won any major.

The top seed Alcaraz beat 112th-ranked Taro Daniel of Japan 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The Spaniard gets 26th seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada in the third round. Djokovic, the No. 3 seed, swept 83rd-ranked Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (2), 6-0, 6-3 to reach a third-round date with 29th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Svitolina made at least one major quarterfinal every year from 2017 through 2021, including the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019. She married Monfils one week before the Tokyo Olympics, then won a singles bronze medal.

Svitolina played her last match before maternity leave on March 24, 2022, one month after Russia invaded her country. She gave birth to daughter Skai on Oct. 15.

Svitolina returned to competition in April. Last week, she won the tournament preceding the French Open, sweeping Blinkova to improve to 17-3 in her career in finals. She’s playing on a protected ranking of 27th after her year absence and, now, on a seven-match win streak.

“It was always in my head the plan to come back, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself, because obviously with the war going on, with the pregnancy, you never know how complicated it will go,” she said. “I’m as strong as I was before, maybe even stronger, because I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court, and match by match I’m getting better. Also mentally, because mental can influence your physicality, as well.”

Svitolina said she’s motivated by goals to attain before she retires from the sport and to help Ukraine, such as donating her prize money from last week’s title in Strasbourg.

“These moments bring joy to people of Ukraine, to the kids as well, the kids who loved to play tennis before the war, and now maybe they don’t have the opportunity,” she said. “But these moments that can motivate them to look on the bright side and see these good moments and enjoy themselves as much as they can in this horrible situation.”

Svitolina was born in Odesa and has lived in Kharkiv, two cities that have been attacked by Russia.

“I talk a lot with my friends, with my family back in Ukraine, and it’s a horrible thing, but they are used to it now,” she said. “They are used to the alarms that are on. As soon as they hear something, they go to the bomb shelters. Sleepless nights. You know, it’s a terrible thing, but they tell me that now it’s a part of their life, which is very, very sad.”

Svitolina noted that she plays with a flag next to her name — unlike the Russians and Belarusians, who are allowed to play as neutral athletes.

“When I step on the court, I just try to think about the fighting spirit that all of us Ukrainians have and how Ukrainians are fighting for their values, for their freedom in Ukraine,” she said, “and me, I’m fighting here on my own front line.”

Svitolina said that she’s noticed “a lot of rubbish” concerning how tennis is reacting to the war.

“We have to focus on what the main point of what is going on,” she said. “Ukrainian people need help and need support. We are focusing on so many things like empty words, empty things that are not helping the situation, not helping anything.

“I want to invite everyone to focus on helping Ukrainians. That’s the main point of this, to help kids, to help women who lost their husbands because they are at the war, and they are fighting for Ukraine.

“You can donate. Couple of dollars might help and save lives. Or donate your time to something to help people.”

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