Congrats on the winning Futura design!
The van Dorens sure do get training in where they can. (ad)
Long time, no see, Caterine!
Kai Kazmirek trains in b&w.
Maria Espinoza is joyous.
You Won't Find Some Elite Athletes at the Games
The Major League Baseball season gets underway tomorrow, and its top stars are likely embracing the return to playing. In an alternate universe, though, they'd also be excited this year at the opportunity to showcase their sport and represent their home nations at the Olympic Games this summer.
In reality, the vast majority of MLB players will not be in Tokyo. While its "second-tier" players could be available, MLB's elite players will not. And from Barcelona 1992 through Beijing 2008, the last Olympic stretch for baseball before its Tokyo return, they did not, either. Simply put, MLB's team owners and players' union don't like the idea of shutting down the league's summer season for two weeks to accommodate the Games. (Meanwhile, the Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization have committed to the Olympic break.)
For Olympic and baseball (not necessarily MLB) fans, it's incredibly frustrating. The Olympics are the ultimate stage for a worldwide sports audience, and a validation of a sport as globally relevant. Sure, MLB has had the World Baseball Classic - notably, revenue from which it controls - but it hardly compares to the Summer Games.
Outspoken MLB star Bryce Harper puts it frankly, "You want to grow the game as much as possible and you're not going to let us play in the Olympics because you don't want to (lose) out on money for a two-week period? OK, that's dumb". (Um... yes, baseball team owners are more interested to grow their immediate revenue than to "grow the game".)
Baseball may not get the chance again. The sport was not included in the program for Paris 2024, taking women's softball (despite embracing the Olympics) down with it. Very likely, the fact that the sport's biggest power brokers don't have an interest is a key to why baseball isn't a core sport for the Olympics. A return for Los Angeles 2028 is possible, helped by a United States-based Games, but MLB availability may very well again be an issue.
The vast majority of sports do see the Olympics as a unique, elite goal for its players. But MLB is not alone in some recalcitrance. Here is a look at how some other high-revenue professional sports approach the Games.
As the only traditional team sport in the Winter Olympics* since Chamonix 1924, ice hockey has a special position of interest from the International Olympic Committee in ensuring elite players participate. Aside from that background, men's ice hockey's relationship with the Games is similar to baseball's.
The sport's top professional league, the National Hockey League, has a team ownership structure reluctant to stop a season's play and risk revenue and player injury. And, similar to MLB's World Baseball Classic, the NHL has its own contrived international tournament, the World Cup of Hockey.
And also similar, other top leagues make the Olympics a priority. But every four years, there is another round of negotiations, with the NHL's business interests pitched against the IOC's and the International Hockey Federation's interest in presenting a top quality tournament to expand the game. NHL players appeared for the first time in Nagano 1998, and did so through Sochi 2014, but skipped Pyeongchang 2018. Current expectation is that the NHL will return for Beijing 2022. That's due in large part to the players themselves wanting to go.
The Nathan Chen - Yuzuru Hanyu duel is the marquee event at the World Figure Skating Championships this week. Who has the edge?
Meanwhile, get to know Anna Shcherbakova - and her jumps - as she heads to the ladies' finals in the lead.
Indian table tennis player Sathiyan Gnanaseskaran reaches Tokyo 2020, completing a comeback from Rio 2016 qualification heartbreak and a deep personal loss.
"Sexism isn't a women's issue, any more than racism is a Black issue." Tennis champion Venus Williams opens up for Vogue in a personal op-ed.
More tennis: count Simona Halep as another star looking for Olympic success this year.
Champion biathlete from Germany Arnd Peiffer announces his retirement.
Field hockey: Great Britain's top Olympic scorer Ashley Jackson "steps away" from the team.
For Chinese Taipei boxer Chen Nien-Chin, success at the Olympics will be another in a career of challenges to overcome.
Tokyo 2020-bound sport climbing star Adam Ondra chats with El Capitan-free solo star Alex Honnold.
Congratulations to New Zealand's Olympic sports athletes who were recognized by the ISPS Handa Halberg Awards for a decade of excellence, including rowers Hamish Bond & Eric Murray and Nathan Cohen & Jason Sullivan, golfer Lydia Ko, and canoeist Lisa Carrington.
The Irish Field (paywall): Equestrian Cian O'Connor finds success with his partner horse, Kilkenny.
More Ireland: Arthur Lanigan-O'Keefe maintains a composure over what he can control as he approaches the start of his modern pentathlon season.
Olympic 49er sailor Pawel Kolodinski is in the thick of competition again and targeting Tokyo 2020, after a long recovery from a broken leg.
Yukiko Ueno, Yamada Eri, and Yukiyo Meno - all holdovers from the gold medal-winning team 13 years ago at Beijing 2008 - named to Japan's softball team for Tokyo 2020.
Get to know Laurent Dubreuil, recent speed skating world champion, who has finally channeled family experience in the sport into elite success.
Sweden's women's handball team went from 11th at last year's world championships to an impressive qualification this past weekend. It took a new approach with a younger team to do it.
R.I.P. to two-time Olympic snowboarder Julie Pomagalski of France, who passed away at age 40 after an avalanche accident.
And, Barcelona 1992 champion judoka Toshihiko Koga passes away at age 53, after a long battle with illness.
Weightlifter Yulduz Jumabayeva gets a hero's reception in Turkmenistan for a belated gold medal award.
Fredrik Samuelsson leads a community of decathletes and heptathletes in a campaign to preserve combined events' place in athleteics.
Contribute your thoughts on World Athletics growth in their landmark survey.
Passionate about motherhood not impeding opportunities, former Olympic runner Alysia Montano launches "&Mother", to help support professional athletes.
Even more Ireland: Relive Irish legend Eamonn Coghlan's rise to elite running, via key development in the United States, courtesy of Buzz.ie.
Holger Rune, at only 17 reached his first ATP Tour main draw at the recent Chile Open. How far will he take Danish tennis?
Ishita Malaviya is leading a wave of women surfers in - and for - India.
NIna Kennedy announces there's a new name in the mix for women's pole vaulting.
Can Brian Rice become the first African-American snowboarder at the Olympics?
Antoinette de Jong plays with a friend.
Michel Bourez is coming at you.
Gregor Traber's focused.
Thiago Braz has good memories of Rio.
Stefanos Tsitsipas settles into Acapulco.
About This Blog
Highlights from the world of Olympic sports, focused on the athletes, and as seen through the cheeky lens of this one particular, passionate fan.
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Biweekly links to select Olympic sport headlines and news, with a focus on the athletes
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Biweekly selection of intriguing, provocative social posts from Olympic sport athletes
Athletes Worth Watching
Weekly roundup of features on emerging Olympic sports athletes to keep an eye on
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At Rio 2016's Barra Olympic Park
Header: Kallimamaro stadium in Athens, site of the first modern Olympics in 1896