IOC official disagrees coronavirus vaccine needed for Olympics

Tokyo Olympics Delayed
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SYDNEY (AP) — The head of the IOC’s coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics said Wednesday he disagrees with suggestions by some scientists and doctors that a vaccine for COVID-19 is needed to hold the Games.

John Coates, an International Olympic Committee member from Australia who is a lawyer, said he had seen the opinion but didn’t agree.

“The advice we’re getting from WHO (World Health Organization) says we should continue to plan for this date and that is what we’re doing, and that’s not contingent on a vaccine,” Coates told the Australian Associated Press. “A vaccine would be nice. But we will just continue to be guided by WHO and the Japanese health authorities.”

On Tuesday, Japan Medical Association president Yoshitake Yokokura said it would only be possible for the Olympics to go ahead in July 2021 if the infections were under control, not only in Japan, but globally.

“In my view, it would be difficult to hold the Olympics unless effective vaccines are developed,” Yokokura said.

Coates offered no details how 11,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians from more than 200 nations and territories could safely enter — and exit — Japan without spreading the virus. They would be housed together in the Athletes Village.

They would also be accompanied by thousands of staff members and coaches, and thousands more technical officials who have to run the events. Add to this thousands of world broadcasters, who pay billions for the rights to the Olympics — a critical element, particularly if the Olympics are held with limited numbers of spectators.

Coates said a lot of work had been done since the postponement and the target was still to have 43 venues for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Coates was speaking in Australia a day after Yokokura told a video media conference of his concerns.

Devi Sridhar, a professor of Global Health at the University of Edinburgh, also said holding the Olympics may depend on finding a vaccine. The same could apply to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

According to Johns Hopkins University data on Wednesday, Japan had reported about 13,700 cases of COVID-19 with 394 deaths.

When the delay was announced last month, IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided the Tokyo Games would not be held beyond the summer of 2021.

MORE: Michael Phelps on rewatching every Beijing Olympic final

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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