Bird to carry U.S. flag at opening
Four-time Olympic women’s basketball gold medalist Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez were chosen as U.S. flag bearers for the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday night.
Alvarez, who won a silver medal in speedskating at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and Bird were chosen by a vote of fellow U.S. athletes. They are the first duo to share the honor of leading the delegation into the ceremony.
Bird is the second U.S. women’s basketball player to carry the flag, joining current coach Dawn Staley, who did it at the 2004 games. Those were the first that Bird participated in.
“It’s an incredible honor to be selected the flag bearer for Team USA,” Bird said. “I know what that means, because I got to witness Dawn Staley go through it when she was selected in 2004. It’s an honor that is bigger than the moment in that you’ve been selected by your fellow Team USA athletes to represent the entire delegation, and it will last forever.”
Bird will be trying to win an unprecedented fifth gold medal with teammate Diana Taurasi, which would give them the most in golds in women’s basketball history.
Alvarez becomes the first baseball player to carry the flag for the U.S. The sport returned to the Games at the request of Japan after being absent from the previous two Olympics.
Sweden stuns U.S. in women’s soccer
TOKYO — Stina Blackstenius scored a pair of goals and Sweden stunned the United States at the Olympics with a 3-0 victory Wednesday in the women’s soccer tournament.
The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world and the favorites to win gold in Tokyo, were riding a 44-match unbeaten streak heading into the match. But Sweden, ranked No. 5, has been the U.S. team’s nemesis of sorts in recent years. The Swedes bounced the Americans from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in the quarterfinals, the earliest U.S. Olympic exit ever, by making a defensive stand.
This April, Sweden played the United States to a 1-1 draw in Stockholm, which snapped a winning streak dating back to January 2019 when the Americans lost to France in the run-up to the World Cup. It was the U.S. team’s only draw this year.
LAVIN CLEARED, FINALISTS ALSO ON WAY: USA Basketball expects to have its full 12-man roster available for Sunday’s matchup against France, the first game for both teams in the Tokyo Olympics. Zach LaVine has been cleared to exit the health and safety protocols that stemmed from a coronavirus testing-related issue, will fly to Japan and rejoin the team on Thursday. And the plan is that the three players from the NBA Finals — Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday from the newly crowned champion Milwaukee Bucks and Devin Booker from the Phoenix Suns — will be in place on Saturday.
Tokyo virus cases hit 6-month high: Tokyo’s COVID-19 infections surged to a six-month high Wednesday with the Olympic host city logging 1,832 new cases just two days before the Games open.Tokyo is currently under its fourth state of emergency, which will last until Aug. 22, covering the entire duration of the Olympics that start Friday and end Aug. 8.
Rolovich won’t be at Pac-12 media day
PULLMAN — Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said he will not participate on site at next week’s Pac-12 media day in Los Angeles after choosing not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
“As the Pac-12 Conference has required that all in-person participants at next week’s Pac-12 football media day be fully vaccinated I will participate remotely and look forward to talking about our football team and the incredible young men in our program,” Rolovich wrote in a statement posted Wednesday on Twitter. “I have elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private. While I have made my own decision I respect that every individual — including our coaches, staff and student-athletes — can make his or her own decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Rolovich is about to begin his second season as the head coach at Washington State after spending the previous four seasons at Hawaii. Washington State played just four games last season and had two games — included the Apple Cup with rival Washington — canceled due to COVID-19 issues.
Washington State has said all students engaging in activities on campus for the 2021-22 academic year must provide proof of vaccination with exemptions for medical, religious or personal reasons.
BOWDEN HAS TERMINAL CONDITION: Hall of Fame college football coach Bobby Bowden announced Wednesday he has been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition. The 91-year-old Bowden was hospitalized last October after he tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test came a few days after returning to his Tallahassee home from a lengthy hospital stay for an infection in his leg. He did not disclose his condition in his statement.
SHOOTINGS: Two shootings in downtown Milwaukee early Wednesday as crowds celebrated the Milwaukee Bucks’ first NBA championship in 50 years left three people wounded, police said.
DEALS: The first increment of the $1.5 billion sale of the Minnesota Timberwolves to e-commerce mogul Marc Lore and retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez has been formally approved by the NBA.