Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar has told his club team, Barcelona, that he wants to play in the Olympics and Copa America Centenario next summer, according to O Globo.
Neymar may be the 2016 Olympic host nation’s most famous potential Olympian, but there is at least some question of whether he will suit up at the Rio Games.
Copa America Centenario takes place from June 3-26. Soccer at the 2016 Olympics takes place from Aug. 3-20. Neymar plays for Barcelona in La Liga, whose season usually begins in late August. That would be a busy summer of national team duty, which may not sit well with Barcelona.
In 2012, FIFA ordered club teams to allow its players to compete in the Olympics. In 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Barcelona did not have to release Lionel Messi to compete in the Olympics, though Messi did end up winning…
Paul Maruyama grew up in Tokyo with three other brothers who were always fighting each other. His mother, a Seattle-born Nisei, was fed up and said, “if you’re going to fight, then fight at the dojo.” She dragged the brothers to a neighborhood judo dojo, where the brothers all started their journey to black belt. For Paul, his journey would continue as member of the US Judo Olympic team in 1964, and Head Coach of the 1980 and 1984 US Judo Olympic Teams.
Competing at the Olympic level is a challenge. But Paul Maruyama readily acknowledges that his efforts and accomplishment pale in comparison to those of his father.
After the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the Soviet Union invaded Manchuria, where the Japanese had a significant colonial population. The Soviet army captured Japanese Imperial Army soldiers and sent them to labor camps in Siberia, while non-combatant Japanese who were in many cases pioneer families who volunteered to cultivate farmlands in Manchuria, were trapped on the Asian continent, denied exit by the Soviet Union.
Maruyama’s father, Kunio Maruyama, had made his way to Japan with two other men, Hachiro Shinpo and Masamichi Musashi. As Paul Maruyama describes in his book, Escape from Manchuria, the three men maneuvered covertly out of Manchuria. They were on a mission to inform the government in Japan that some 1.5 to 1.7 million Japanese were unable to leave the former Japanese colony, where thousands were dying daily due to disease and starvation, as well as at the hands of Soviet soldiers, and revenge-seeking Chinese and Manchurian mobs.
The three then had to convince the head of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur, that an urgent rescue was needed. It took over two years, but by August 1948, three years after the end of the second world war, American warships had repatriated over a million Japanese. So many more remained – children abandoned or taken in by Chinese families, Japanese women married to Chinese and their children who were not considered Japanese citizens, as well as men who were imprisoned in Siberia.
What a legacy! Think about it. The greatest growth in Japan’s
Simone Biles easily defeated Olympic champions Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman in their first U.S. competition together at the Secret Classic in Hoffman Estates, Ill., on Saturday night.
Biles, the two-time reigning World all-around champion, posted the highest score of all gymnasts on three of the four events and totaled 62.4 points. She’s won eight straight all-around competitions dating to 2013.
“I’m just really proud of myself,” Biles said on Universal Sports. “I was just really nervous [debuting new routines].”
Douglas, the 2012 Olympic all-around champ, beat Biles on uneven bars (15.4 points) and finished second overall, 1.9 points behind.
“I really wanted the confidence in myself, to go in here and I’m going to hit, hit, hit, hit,” Douglas said on Universal Sports. “There still needs to be more improvements for me. I need to be more consistent and trust myself a little bit more.”
On October 14, 1964, four days after the start of the Tokyo Summer Games, civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Fifty one years later, despite Barack Obama becoming the first black in the Oval Office, the state of race relations in the United States appears be getting worse. According to a recent New York Times CBS News poll conducted last week, race relations have regressed. “…nearly six in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad, and that nearly four in 10 think the situation is getting worse. By comparison, two-thirds of Americans surveyed shortly after President Obama took office said they believed that race relations were generally good.”
In my view, race relations between blacks and whites in the US have been a long slog of three steps forward two steps back. Sports in some ways has been a leading indicator for race relations, mainly because at some point, ability and outcome outweigh the color of one’s skin.
Here are a few significant moments from sports relevant to this topic, including past Olympiads – this is not a comprehensive list by any means:
Max Schmeling beat Joe Louis in 1935 in a highly publicized match between a white German and a black American, one year prior to the Berlin Games in 1936.
Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, under the glare of Nazi leaders who espoused Aryan racial superiority.
In 1938, Joe Louis dropped Max Schmeling three times in the first round, remaining heavyweight champion of the world.
Jackie Robinson broke the race barrier in baseball by becoming the first black ball player in the major leagues on April 15, 1947.
In the 1960 Summer Games in Rome, decathlete Rafer Johnson was the first black athlete to be flag bearer for the US team. Despite protests, apartheid South Africa participated in those Games.
South Africa was suspended by the IOC from participating in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 due to the South African government adopted a policy to prohibit athletes of different races to participate in sports together.
In 1968 at the Summer Games in Mexico City, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who came in first and third in the 200 meter race, were kicked out of the Olympic Games for raising their fists covered in black gloves. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated that year.
Usain Bolt appears to be rounding into form. Just in time, too.
The Jamaican clocked 9.87 seconds in two 100m races in a little over an hour at a Diamond League meet in London on Friday night, on a rain-soaked track and into a headwind.
“Overall, it was a good run, but the start was really poor,” Bolt said on the BBC of his final win into a 0.8 m/s headwind (video here). “My coach keeps telling me, relax and it flow. But I really wanted to run faster.”
Bolt showed medal-worthy form for the first time since 2013.
His performances — an hour before the final, Bolt won his preliminary heat in 9.87 into a 1.2m/s headwind (video here) — upped anticipation for a showdown with American Justin Gatlin at the World Championships in Beijing (Aug. 22-30, broadcast info here).
“Teams were assigned a minder,” Victor Warren explained to me. “Our guide, our liaison, our gal was Michiko, a delightful young lady. When we won, which was rare, she cried. When we lost, she cried.”
Warren, a member of the Canadian field hockey team at the 1964 Tokyo Games, explained that one day, Michiko handed out a song sheet to the team. It was the popular children’s song, “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands”…except it was in Japanese. “The wording was shiawase nara te o tatakou or something like that. We all sang it on the bus, and it was delightful.”
One of the hottest singers in Japan, and the world, at that time was Kyu Sakamoto, who had released this song in 1964, 5 months before the start of the Olympics.
Canadian Ian Millar, 68, who competed in a record 10 Olympics, won Pan American Games gold in team jumping on Thursday, 36 years after taking his first Pan Am Games medal.
Millar said at the London 2012 Olympics that he wanted to continue on to the Rio 2016 Games. The oldest Olympian, not counting art competitions, was Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who was 72 at the Antwerp 1920 Games. Millar would have to compete in Tokyo 2020 to beat that record.
Millar debuted at the Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1979, and at the Olympics in Munich in 1972.