Update on the latest sports
Osaka lights cauldron at opening ceremony
TOKYO (AP) — Tennis star Naomi Osaka has lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games, ending the flame’s long journey from Greece.
Sadaharu Oh, Shigeo Nagashima and Hideki Matsui were among the baseball greats who took part in bringing the flame into the stadium. They passed it to a doctor and nurse who ran a couple hundred yards with it. A Paralympic athlete took it from them and began rolling it and his wheelchair closer to the stage as athletes and others on the floor for the ceremony rushed forward for a closer look.
Six students were next to take it closer to the stage, and at the foot of the stage with the last torch was Osaka — the four-time Grand Slam winner who will compete at the Tokyo Games. It’s always a mystery until the last moment who gets the honor of lighting the cauldron.
She took it to the center of the stage. A staircase emerged, the cauldron opened and Osaka walked to the top, dipped the flame in, the cauldron ignited and fireworks filled the sky.
Earlier, the pandemic-delayed games were declared open by Japan’s Emperor Naruhito. That followed a parade of athletes from 207 countries, who marched into the Olympic Stadium waving to empty seats. Basketball’s Sue Bird and baseball’s Eddy Alvarez were the flagbearers for the U.S. team.
In other Olympic news:
— Naomi Osaka’s opening match in the Olympic tennis tournament has been pushed back from Saturday to Sunday. Organizers did not immediately provide a reason for the switch, only saying that the move came from the tournament referee. Osaka was originally scheduled to play 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China in the very first contest of the Games on center court Saturday morning.
— A bad weather forecast for Monday in Tokyo has prompted Olympic officials to move scheduled rowing events to Sunday. Officials say rain, high winds and strong gusts could cause choppy and potentially unrowable conditions at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay. The change affects men’s and women’s single and double sculls semifinals, and men’s and women’s fours repechage. The opening heats in the men’s and women’s eights also were moved from Sunday to Saturday.
— South Korea’s An San has broken the women’s Olympic archery record with a score of 680 in the qualifying round on a hot and humid day. Her mark topped the score of 673 set by Lina Herasymenko of Ukraine in 1996. An San’s teammates were second and third. Russian Olympic Committee archer Svetlana Gomboeva collapsed in the intense heat and was treated by medical staff. In the men’s qualifying round, Kim Je Deok of South Korea posted the top mark of 688, with Brady Ellison of the United States second and Oh Jin Hyek of South Korea third.
— About 100 of the 613 U.S. athletes descending on Tokyo for the Olympics are unvaccinated, according to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s medical chief. Medical director Jonathan Finnoff says some 600 of the American athletes had filled out their health histories as they prepared for the trip, and estimated 83% had replied they were vaccinated. The IOC has estimated around 85% of residents of the Olympic Village are vaccinated; they base that on what each country’s Olympic committee tells them but have not independently verified the number.
— American beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb is out of the Olympics after four positive COVID-19 tests. Tri Bourne will take his place as the partner of four-time Olympian Jake Gibb when the competition begins this weekend. Crabb confirmed his withdrawal Thursday in a statement to The Associated Press, noting that he was vaccinated and tested negative before he left the United States but tested positive when he arrived in Japan.
— The West African country of Guinea has reversed an earlier decision to pull out of the Olympics and will send a delegation of five athletes. The country’s Minister of Sports made the announcement Thursday after national and international outcries that followed an earlier declaration that Guinea would not send athletes to Tokyo, blaming the coronavirus and its variants.
— The World Anti-Doping Agency says several Russian athletes have been kept away from the Games because of doping suspicions based on evidence from a Moscow testing laboratory that was shut down in 2015. WADA’s director general says it intervened with sports bodies to ensure the handful of athletics were not selected. The team of 335 Russian athletes accredited for Tokyo is competing without a national flag and anthem as punishment for state tampering with the Moscow lab’s database.
— The Swiss Olympic team says 400-meter hurdler Kariem Hussein has accepted a nine-month ban after testing positive for a banned stimulant. The 2014 European champion was entered in the event at the Tokyo Games. The heats start next Friday. It is unclear if Hussein will be replaced in the 40-athlete lineup.
— Six Polish swimmers have returned home before the Olympics even started, their dreams scuttled by the country mistakenly sending too many athletes to Tokyo. Only 17 swimmers from Poland qualified for the Tokyo Games. The country’s swimming federation put 23 athletes on the plane to Japan, sparking outrage among those who were denied a chance to compete.
— Australian swimmer Kaylee McKeown has surprisingly withdrawn from one of her best events because of a busy schedule at the Tokyo Olympics. McKeown dropped the 200-meter individual medley, where she’s ranked No. 1 in the world and would have been a favorite to win a gold medal. She’ll focus instead on her two backstroke events and the relays.
Guardians will be new name of Cleveland Indians
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team has a new name. The team that’s been known as the Indians since 1915 will now be called the Guardians, effective at the end of the 2021 season.
The ballclub announced the name change Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks.
The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that numbered 1,200 just over a month ago. But the process quickly accelerated and the club landed on Guardians.
Owner Paul Dolan said the new name mirrors the city and its people. He is expected to provide more details on the choice and background on the change at a news conference at Progressive Field before the Indians host the Tampa Bay Rays Friday night.
Brewers host White Sox in a matchup of Central Division leaders
UNDATED (AP) — A pair of first-place teams square off in the opener of an interleague series at Milwaukee when Lucas Giolito (jee-oh-LEE’-toh) and the Chicago White Sox visit All-Star Freddy Peralta and the Brewers Friday night.
Chicago’s nine-game cushion in the AL Central is the largest of any division leader in the majors, followed by Milwaukee in the NL Central with a 6 ½-game lead.
In other highlights of Friday’s schedule:
— Atlanta left-hander Max Fried (freed) faces Phillies All-Star Zack Wheeler in an excellent pitching matchup as the teams continue their four-game series in Philadelphia. The Braves and Phillies are tied for second place in the NL East at 47-48, four games behind the New York Mets.
— Veteran lefty David Price is transitioning back into the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation, and early results are promising. The 35-year-old Price worked a season-high four innings in his last start, allowing one run and two hits at Colorado. He’ll be on the mound against the Rockies again, on regular rest, as the Dodgers welcome Colorado for a three-game weekend series. Price is 4-0 with a 3.12 ERA in 25 appearances this season.
— The Detroit Tigers are perfect since the All-Star break, winning all seven games of their homestand for their longest winning streak in nearly five years. They’ll try to stretch that run to eight games at Kansas City, with the unexpected savior of their starting rotation on the mound. Wily Peralta joined the Tigers’ rotation last month, his first time as a starter in the majors since 2017 with Milwaukee. He worked out of the bullpen from 2018-19 with the Royals, signed a minor league deal with Detroit during spring training, was promoted to the big league club in June and has been aces since then. Peralta is 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA. In five starts since June 26, he is 3-0 with one earned run allowed in 26 2/3 innings.
Sabres to open NHL draft featuring Michigan, mystery, Kraken
UNDATED (AP) — The Buffalo Sabres have the first pick Friday night in the NHL draft. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams is juggling trade talk and draft scenarios. He won’t tip his hand on who Buffalo might select once the two-day draft opens.
Michigan defenseman Owen Power is considered the top-ranked prospect and one of three Wolverines who could be chosen in the first round. The Seattle Kraken have the No. 2 pick. There is some mystery this year because many prospects had limited or no playing time due to the pandemic.
There’s even more uncertainty surrounding the Sabres, who have the potential of shaking up the draft order by adding an extra pick. Adams hasn’t ruled out doing so while juggling trade talks involving three key players, including captain Jack Eichel (EYE’-kul), who has questioned his future in Buffalo over a dispute with the team regarding how to repair his herniated disk.