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Despite COVID And Vaccine Controversies, NFL Ratings Are Better Than Ever

Everything seemed to be pointing the wrong way for the NFL’s ratings heading into 2021. The previous year saw record-lows, and the league has been right in the middle of COVID-19 vaccine feuds. However, they’re managed to overcome the predictions and have soared to rating highs.

The FBI’s Lack Of Action Against Larry Nassar Allowed Him To Sexually Abuse 70 Girls

Between the the first complaints made to the FBI regarding Larry Nassar’s horrific abuse and the time it actually took for the agency to take action against him, Nassar was able to sexually abuse about 70 girls.

Covid Outbreaks Among Unvaccinated LA County Children Linked To School Sports

Health officials in Los Angeles County are reporting an increased spread of Covid-19 among unvaccinated children. As of right now, the officials are mainly connecting the increase to the start of school sports.

Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s Health Director, held a media briefing last week in which she called the initial increases in infections among unvaccinated children “somewhat sobering.” 

“While coronavirus case rates amongst almost all other age groups in the county declined in recent weeks, cases among unvaccinated children rose from 73 per 100,000 in May to 307 cases per 100,000 by August 14th.”

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“Though it’s still low, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate for unvaccinated children is also much higher than the virtually nonexistent hospitalizations among vaccinated children. We anticipate an upward trend in outbreaks as our schools have reopened, but we’re continuing to work hard to prevent, investigate, and manage them as they happen,” Ferrer said.

Between August 16th and August 22nd there were 3,186 new Covid cases reported at K-12 schools, according to the county health department. A large portion of those cases have come from the LA Unified School District, where children are required to be tested weekly. 

LA County has been reporting three Covid-19 outbreaks a week, and each outbreak impacts dozens of students. Ferrer claims that of the 14 school outbreaks the county saw this month about half could be directly tied to school sports. 

Between July 30th and August 20th there were nine different outbreaks among high school dance and cheerleading teams that involved 131 students. Ferrer says that these outbreaks were tied to multi-day indoor camps “which took place outside L.A. County and brought together students from different schools that each abided by different masking policies,” she added.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that LA County cancel all high-risk sports and extracurricular activities, or hold them virtually. However, LA County is seeming to ignore that advice.

As of right now, LA County is relying on masking, quarantine, and testing policies in its schools among students and faculty. Ferrer did say that the county would be changing its guidance to require a negative Covid-19 test from all athletes and staff members within 72 hours of competition. 

“Masks are also required for all participants indoors, regardless of vaccination status. And the county has also been encouraging schools to move practices and games outdoors whenever feasible, and reduce capacity indoors. I do join with you in wishing that it was a lot simpler, and that rules didn’t need to change, but the virus has changed, and we all need some flexibility to adapt to this more dangerous variant,” Ferrer said.

At LAUSD, 6,500 students had to miss school during the first week due to Covid-19 outbreaks. If an unvaccinated student gets infected, the district’s current policy states that the student must quarantine for 10 days, or seven days if they test negative six days after exposure and have no symptoms.  

Currently, only children aged 12 and up can get vaccinated against COVID-19. L.A. County or other city sites make it easier for residents to get the shot without an appointment.

Paralympics Bar All Fans From Attendance Due To Covid-19 Concerns

Just as all fans were recently banned from the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, organizers for the Paralympics this year announced that all spectators will be barred from the event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

During the Olympics some fans were able to spectate from outlying areas away from Tokyo, however, for the Paralympics organizers are planning on barring all fans with the exception of some children for a couple of events. Organizers are also telling the public not to come out to view any road events. 

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International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa all met last week to finalize these decisions before announcing it to the public. 

The Paralympics begin on August 24th with about 4,400 athletes projected to participate. The Olympics this year had around 11,000 athletes, so the smaller scale should hopefully make it easier for organizers to manage health and safety procedures. 

The announcement also comes as Japan, and Tokyo specifically, sees a rise in Covid-19 case numbers. Parsons spoke at a news conference where he proclaimed that there was no room for complacency in the wake of the Olympics. 

“In light of the current case numbers in Tokyo and wider Japan, everyone attending these games must be vigilant.” 

New Covid-19 infections tripled in Tokyo throughout the 17-day period that the Olympics were occuring, however, local health expert’s haven’t directly linked the rise in cases to the Games themselves. Experts instead believe that the Olympic games caused a lot of the public to get distracted and put them into a false sense of security. 

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced this week that a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas will be extended until September 12th; the current state of emergency has been in place since July 12th and was initially meant to end later this month. 

“The surge in infections is reaching alarming record highs,” Suga said.

This past Friday Tokyo logged around 5,800 new cases, and on Sunday it logged about 4,300 more. This rise in infections has put an extreme strain on Japan’s healthcare system and its workers.

Dr. Haruo Ozaki, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, said in an interview that “a significant number of people are still unvaccinated, and characterized the virus situation for the Paralympics as worse than it was during the Olympics.”

About 37% of the Japanese population is thought to be fully vaccinated at this point. Ozaki said the decision to not have fans at the Paralympics was a “minimum necessity, holding the event in general is a political decision, but the judgement by the medical side is that it will be difficult. 

“The Olympics is a festival and might have affected the people in ways to loosen up and served as an indirect cause of rising cases.”

Olympics

Sydney McLaughlin Wins Gold In World Record Time For 400m Hurdles 

Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad of the United States and Femke Bol of the Netherlands delivered an amazing 400m hurdles race at the Olympic finals for the sport. In the final strides of the race McLaughlin overtook both her competitors to win in 51.46 seconds, breaking the world record for the best 400m flat time set in 1970, as well as beating her own personal record. 

“You need somebody who’s going to push you to be your best, and I think that’s what we do so well. It’s iron sharpening iron. Every time we step on the track it’s always something fast,” McLaughlin explained. 

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“I saw Dalilah ahead of me with one to go. I just thought: ‘Run your race.’ The race doesn’t really start till hurdle seven. I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had. I’m absolutely delighted.”

Muhammad finished just .12 seconds before McLaughlin: “I was coming at it fast and I could have gone right or left leg and I chose to go on my right leg. I had to shorten my strides but that is just how it goes.”

Bol took bronze with a time of 52.03, meaning for the second day in a row the top two finishers in the Olympic 400m hurdles final had destroyed the world record, and the recipients of the bronze medal have broken the records set just six weeks ago. 

The designers of the trach claim that it contains small pockets of air which help absorb shock while the athletes are running, and it can also create a trampoline effect which gives a 1-2% performance advantage.

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“It definitely feels fast. I can feel that energy return. A lot of people talk about the shoes, but I think it’s one of those tracks that gives you that energy right back and pushes you and propels you forward. Especially when you go into hurdle eight and feel that death. Today I didn’t feel like I was going into death,” Muhhammad explained. 

McLaughlin agreed: “It’s one of those tracks that gives you that energy right back and pushes you forward. Every time you step on the track there seems to be some sort of record broken and it’s really cool to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

Seb Coe, the president of World Athletics, responded to critics who were curious about if the track helped give the athletes an unfair advantage. 

“Of course there is a balance. We do need to make sure we’re not allowing designs or materials that really transform the sport into something we don’t recognize. But I also don’t want to strangle the innovation that the shoe companies or track manufacturers are bringing to the table.”

McLaughlin credits her coach Bobby Kersee and training alongside Allyson Felix as two of the main factors that helped her win. 

“It’s just about trusting your training, trusting your coach, and that will get you all the way round the track. We’ve practised the last 40m so many times, so it was nothing unfamiliar for me. I just knew I had to go and give it everything I had and dip at the line.”

Tokyo Olympics

Simone Biles Pulls Out Of Olympics Due To Medical Issue 

Simone Biles has suddenly pulled out of all Olympic competitions due to a medical issue. This update comes after the US Women’s gymnastics team took silver in the women’s team final, right behind Russia. 

This marks the first time in a decade that the US women’s team has not come out of the international competition with gold. They’ve managed to win every single Olympics and World Championships event since 2011. 

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Biles’ departure from competition was a major blow to the team. She was originally expected to compete on all four apparatuses for the competition, but her teammates stepped in for her on the uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. 

The final score for the Russia Olympic Committee was 169.528 and the US scored 166.096. Great Britain won the bronze overall. USA Gymnastics recently released a statement regarding Biles. 

“Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.” 

Biles remained in the arena after being pulled from the competition to cheer on her teammates and celebrate their strong performances. Biles was not limping terribly while celebrating with her team, so onlookers are hopeful that she will be able to make a recovery, but no one knows the full extent of what the medical issue even is. 

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Jordan Chiles stepped in for Biles on the uneven bars and balance beam and Sunisa Lee competed on the floor exercise. Chiles managed to land a 14.166 on uneven bars and Lee earned a 15.4, which helped the team advance exponentially. 

During floor exercise, Chiles experienced a fall that led to her receiving an 11.7, the combined scores from all the performances overall were not enough to surpass Russia. 

It’s still unclear whether or not Biles will be able to compete later on in the competition for either individual events or the all-around individual final; which she won at the Olympics five years ago. 

Biles initially qualified for all five individual finals in Tokyo. 

“I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke!” she said on Instagram ahead of the team final.

Olympics

Organizing Committee Chief For Tokyo Olympics Claims Games Could Still Be Cancelled

The chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, claimed that a last-minute cancellation was not off the table for the Olympic Games this year, despite the fact that the opening ceremony is scheduled to take place this Friday.

A combination of athletes testing positive for Covid-19 and major Olympic sponsors pulling out of the opening ceremony is what has so many experts worried.

“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” Muto explained.

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“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

Covid-19 cases are currently on the rise in Tokyo. The Games are set to happen with no spectators, and Japan decided this month that participants will be competing in empty venues to minimize health risks.

So far there have been 67 cases of Covid-19 in Japan among the individuals accredited for the Games since the beginning of July, when a majority of the athletes started arriving. Japan’s vaccination program overall has been delayed, and the city of Tokyo is currently experiencing a surge of new cases with 1,387 being reported on Tuesday.

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Seiko Hashimoto, who sits alongside Muto as organizing committee President, said that “safety measures introduced to reassure the Japanese public had not necessarily done so, I’m aware that popular support for the Games had dropped.”

“I really want to apologize from my heart for the accumulation of frustrations and concerns that the public has been feeling towards the Olympics.”

Kenji Shibuya, former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, said that the Olympics bubble system was “already kind of broken. My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the (athletes’) village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people,” he added.

“Members of the public are concerned because they feel that the current situation appears to show that the playbooks that were meant to guarantee security are not providing a sense of safety.”

55% of the Japanese population claimed that they were opposed to the Games and wanted them to be cancelled, according to a poll performed by a local media outlet.

Olympic Athletes Will Put On Their Own Medals This Year To Prevent Spreading Of Covid-19 

The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach announced this week that all athletes at the Tokyo Olympics will put their medals around their own necks as a means of protecting themselves and others from the Covid-19 virus. 

“The medals will not be given around the neck. They will be presented to the athlete on a tray, and then the athlete will take the medal to him or herself.”

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“It will be made sure that the person who will put the medal on the tray will do so only with disinfected gloves so that the athlete can be sure that nobody touched them before,” Bach explained. 

Many individuals in the industry were wondering what the medal ceremonies would look like this year, considering Japan is currently enduring another state of emergency due to the spreading of the Delta variant of Covid-19. 

In Europe, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has been personally hanging medals around the necks of all players involved in the competition finals. He also shook hands with Italy’s standout goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and other all star players. 

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Bach, however, confirmed this Wednesday that during the 2021 Tokyo Games there will be no hand shaking or hugs allowed during the ceremony. This marks just one of the many changes the International Olympic Committee is going to have to continue to endure for deciding to move forward with the Games this year. 

Many of the residents of Japan are adamantly against hosting the Olympic Games this year, considering the world is still very much battling the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the rollouts of multiple vaccines internationally. 

Vaccination rates are different in every country, so the thought of bringing in thousands of individuals from hundreds of countries all with different vaccination and infection rates, has most Japanese citizens worried for the health of their country; especially considering they’re currently in lockdown and the Games are set to begin in less than two weeks. 

It’s still unclear what other modifications will be made to the Games this year. Covid-19 infection rates are still on the rise in Tokyo and Japan in general, and while the IOC has taken a multitude of measures to protect all athletes and staff involved in the Olympics, it’s unclear how smoothly this event will go considering all that’s at stake.

Tokyo Olympics

Japan Declares Covid-19 State Of Emergency Two Weeks Before Olympic Games 

The Tokyo Olympics will still be happening later this month despite the fact that Japan has just entered into another state of emergency due to the spreading of the Covid-19 virus. The Japanese government announced this week that it would be reinstating strict health and safety measures that will take effect next week and last throughout the Olympic Games. 

The biggest measure that’s being taken is that no spectators will be allowed to attend the games, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa announced this morning. Japanese media outlets reported that all venues in and around Tokyo will be completely unattended.

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 920 new Covid cases just 16 days before the Games. This is 200 more than any other single-day total since May. This Thursday the country reported another 896 cases. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed to protect the nation as much as possible from further spreading. 

“New infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it. I vow to do everything we can to prevent the further spread of the infections.”

“I think we can all be very satisfied that the strict measures, having been established to protect everybody — the Japanese people and the participants of the Games — have proven to be successful,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. 

Olympic organizers have outlined a plan that will enforce a “complex web of Covid countermeasures that will limit contact between Olympic participants and non-participant Japanese citizens,” according to Bach. 

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The measures will force “Level 1” participants (athletes, coaches, team officials and more) to be tested daily, and other levels of participation will be tested based on how often they’re in common Olympic spaces. 

Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical advisor, warned of “continuing risks of a resurgence of the infections that puts pressure on [Japan’s] medical systems.”

Olympic Organizers claimed that “in the event that a state of emergency or other priority measures aimed at preventing infection are implemented at any time after July 12, restrictions on spectator numbers at the Games, including non-spectator competitions, will be based on the content of the state of emergency or other relevant measures in force at that time.” It was officially announced today that no spectators would be allowed at the Games. 

 Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike promised that her city would “control the flow of people and be thorough with regard to measures to prevent infection during and around the Games.”

Japanese residents have been adamant in their disapproval of the Games still occurring this year despite the fact that so many countries have such different vaccination and infection rates.

Serena Williams Exits Wimbledon 2021 After On-Court Injury 

Serena Williams was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon this year after suffering a knee injury in the middle of her first match. During the first set of her Round 1 match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Williams slipped on the grass while planting one of her legs resulting in the knee injury. 

At first Williams only exited briefly and had the intention to finish the match regardless of her knee. After she was quickly treated by a trainer she returned and attempted to continue the match as tears streamed down her face from the pain. 

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Williams was visibly trying not to put any extra weight on her injured leg and was able to manage playing for a little while before she fell to the ground after landing on her knee. She took to Instagram later that day to address her devastation.

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg. My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on Centre Court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked off the court.” 

This is the second time Williams was forced to withdraw from a Grand Slam competition due to an injury. The other time was also at Wimbledon in 1998, 23 years ago. 

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The rainy weather has been affecting the condition of some of the courts at Wimbledon this year, leading to slippery grass. Williams was the second player forced to retire from the competition due to an injury caused by slipping on the grass. 

Adrian Mannarino of France also slipped on the grass and injured his knee right as he was winning in his match against Roger Federer. Novak Djokovic also slipped numerous times throughout his match on Monday but was able to avoid injury. 

With both Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep not playing in the Grand Slam this year, and number one seed Ash Barty dealing with a hip injury, it seemed as though Williams was going to have a relatively easy time winning what would’ve been her 24th Grand Slam. 

It’s unclear whether or not Williams will be able to play in the US Open this year, as the extent of her injury has not been determined or released to the public. There is a chance she won’t be able to return to the court until next season.