FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo rescheduled

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The FINA Diving World Cup, an April Olympic qualifier in Tokyo that was canceled last week, has been rescheduled for May 1-6 in the Japanese capital.

“FINA takes the opportunity to express its gratitude to the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, Japanese Government and the IOC for their commitment to confirming the arrangements for the events and once more reiterates its confidence on a very successful staging of the Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo,” according to a press release. “The Government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and local governments across Japan continue to work together to jointly address the COVID-19 situation and ensure the safety and security of all competitors.”

Last week, FINA’s interim executive director sent a letter to national federations saying that the World Cup, originally scheduled for April 18-23, was canceled. The letter cited an inadequate Covid health and protection plan, associated additional costs, visa procedures not being ready and a three-day quarantine impacting travel arrangements.

FINA later issued a statement, saying a decision on reallocating the World Cup, and other Olympic qualifiers in artistic swimming and open-water swimming, was under review. After that, FINA’s website listed the World Cup as canceled. It is now listed as “TBC.”

FINA also announced Friday that an open-water swimming Olympic qualifier in Fukuoka from May 29-30 has been moved to Portugal from June 19-20. The Portuguese site hosted Olympic open-water qualifiers in 2012 and 2016.

A decision on an artistic swimming qualifier originally scheduled for May 1-4 in Tokyo will be made in the coming days.

The U.S. qualified three open-water swimmers for the Olympics in 2019 and cannot qualify any more. The U.S., which hasn’t yet qualified any artistic swimmers for Tokyo, is expected to compete in the artistic swimming qualifier

In diving, China is the lone nation to so far qualify the full complement of divers for the Tokyo Games. The U.S. is among the nations expected to compete at the World Cup, looking to earn Olympic spots in synchronized events and women’s springboard after filling up spots in other events in 2019.

USA Diving canceled its World Cup team trials due to the pandemic, electing to send the team that was selected in December 2019 for the World Cup that was originally scheduled for April 2020.

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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.

“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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