2020 Olympics

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Roger Federer says he will pursue elusive Olympic gold in Tokyo

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Roger Federer will turn 40 in 2021, but before then, he wants to play once more in the Olympics, he confirmed Monday.

As with all athletes, especially those in their late 30s, he added the qualifier “if healthy.”

“I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now,” Federer said.

Federer said he needed time to consider the schedule and how to juggle his family life, the U.S. Open, the grass-court season and the clay-court season.

An Olympic singles gold is one of the few medals to elude the Swiss star in his career, though he has a silver medal from 2012 and a doubles gold from 2008. He reached the semifinals as an unseeded 19-year-old in his first appearance in 2000 but lost in the second round in 2004 and the quarterfinals in 2008. He advanced to the final for the first time in 2012, losing to Britain’s Andy Murray.

He missed the 2016 Olympics with a knee problem that kept him sidelined for much of the year.

The Olympics also hold sentimental value for him — he met his future wife, Mirka Federer, in Sydney in his first Olympic appearance. He also has twice carried the Swiss flag in Olympic opening ceremonies before declining the honor in 2012. 

Barring injury, qualification shouldn’t be an issue. The top 56 players in the ATP singles rankings will qualify as long as they are in the top four within their own country.

Federer will need an exemption to the rule that players must have played a set number of Davis Cup ties in the Olympic cycle, but the qualification criteria include an exemption for players who have demonstrated a commitment to the Davis Cup in the past. He’s sure to meet that requirement, given his 27 prior appearances, his Davis Cup commitment award and his 2014 title with Stan Wawrinka.

The 2020 Olympic competition will take place on hard courts specifically DecoTurf, the surface used at the U.S. Open. Of his 102 career titles, 70 have been on hard courts, including five consecutive U.S. Open wins from 2004 to 2008.

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U.S. men’s gymnasts shake off “disaster” to qualify for Olympics

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It wasn’t pretty, but the U.S. men earned enough points Monday in Stuttgart, Germany, to qualify for the men’s team final at the world championships and clinch a berth in the 2020 Olympics.

Last year’s silver medalist, Russia, sent a message with a massive performance on the first day of qualifiers Sunday, with 2018 all-around bronze medalist Nikita Nagornyy and defending all-around champion Artur Dalaloyan posting scores that held up as the best and second-best by comfortable margins. Russia unsurprisingly finished atop the team qualifications, followed by defending champion China and last year’s third-place team, Japan.

The U.S. men finished seventh, just good enough to qualify for the eight-team final.

GYM WORLDS: Men’s qualifiers into team, individual finals

Monday’s qualification was also imperative for Olympic qualifying. The top nine teams who have not yet already qualified — in other words, the top nine after China, Japan and Russia — booked tickets to Tokyo next year.

But while the U.S. men completed their most important task, their mistakes will keep most of them out of individual events later in the week. Yul Moldauer finished 11th in qualifying to clinch a spot in the all-around. Sam Mikulak barely joined him, finishing 27th in qualifying and only making it to the 24-gymnast final because each country is limited to two participants, the same rule that kept Gabby Douglas out of the 2016 Olympic final.

And the U.S. men only advanced one man to the event finals — Mikulak on the horizontal bar, where he won a bronze medal last year. Moldauer is the second reserve in the floor exercise after finishing 10th.

Mikulak, who also won a team bronze medal at the 2014 world championships, was far from pleased, calling the qualification round “a disaster” for himself and the team.

“I never woke up,” Mikulak said. “That’s the best way I can put it, I don’t know if I just haven’t found my diet right? I thought I was doing everything right, but I just felt so heavy and sluggish today. All these trainings leading up to today, I felt fresh, light and strong; today my feng shui was not where I wanted it to be. It took a couple of events for me to feel right.”

READ: Biles, U.S. women dominate qualifying

The U.S. men started on the floor exercise, where Moldauer earned a score of 14.466 but Mikulak fell twice. Moldauer and Mikulak both fell on the pommel horse, putting the team in a hole.

Trevor Howard‘s solid performance helped to stabilize the team on rings. Mikulak and Moldauer both landed their vaults and broke the 14.5 mark.

Mikulak fell for a fourth time on the parallel bars but still posted a score of 14.333, while Akash Modki hit his routine for a 14.533.

On the horizontal bar, Mikulak finally found his peak form and posted a score of 14.866, which held up as the second-best score of the qualifiers. Shane Wiskus also helped the U.S. team finish strong with a 14.166 on the same apparatus.

Defending team champion China had some surprising struggles in individual events. Xiao Ruoteng fell on the pommel horse, on which he won gold last year, but still finished third in the all-around to earn a chance to improve on his all-around silver medal in 2018. Defending parallel bars champion Zou Jingyuan also will miss out on a chance to defend his title.

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GYM WORLDS: TV Schedule | U.S. Roster

Volleyball federation questions Argentina over ‘culturally insensitive’ celebration

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FIVB, the international volleyball federation, has asked Argentina’s federation to answer for gestures made after the team qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.

Several players used their fingers to make their eyes appear slanted, an offensive gesture throughout much of Asia. Major League Baseball suspended Houston first baseman Yuli Garriel for five games after making such a gesture, albeit accompanied by a direct verbal insult toward Los Angeles pitcher Yu Darvish, in the 2017 World Series.

“The FIVB has seen the photographs of the Argentinian men’s volleyball team celebrating their victory at the Tokyo Volleyball Qualification Tournament with inappropriate and culturally insensitive gestures,” the federation said in a press statement. “Last week the FIVB made it clear that these type of actions by players and official representatives of national volleyball teams are completely unacceptable. The FIVB is urgently seeking an explanation from the Argentinian National Federation to ensure that all involved understand that their actions will have caused great offence, even if there was no such intention to do so.”

The team qualified by winning a five-set thriller over China, which hosted the qualification event.

Argentinian star Facundo Conte is well-known in the Chinese volleyball community for his years playing with Shanghai Golden Age, and he faced an onslaught of pointed comments on his Instagram feed:

“Dude, explain you behavior please, you spent 2 seasons in Shanghai, you were respected, and show your respect to Chinese,” wrote one person with an unprintable Instagram ID.

“I’m the one who got your T-shirt last night .. excited .. but I feel upset about your behavior (emoji) can you explain to people that you meant no harm?” wrote Instagram user ykj629.

Conte apologized in a temporary Instagram story:

Conte apology

“The idea was that we became Japanese because we are going to Olympics in Tokyo,” Conte said. “It had nothing to do with no respecting China or Japan! Now we know it wasn’t a good idea, and i regret making you feel that way!”

Argentina has reached the quarterfinals of the last two Olympics, losing each time to Brazil.

The team also won the Pan Am Games tournament for second consecutive time earlier this month without Conte, the MVP of the 2015 tournament.

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