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Two important pre-Olympic meets are happening this weekend
One is in track, the other in diving. Here’s what they are and why they matter:
World Athletics Relays
Nine events are taking place during the two-day track meet in Poland, but five are of particular interest: the men’s and women’s 4×100 metres, men’s and women’s 4x400m, and the mixed 4×400. Those are the relays that will be run at the Tokyo Olympics.
Canada has qualified for only one of the Olympic races — the women’s 4×400. It could have clinched spots in others by finishing in the top eight at the World Athletics Relays. But that went out the window when Athletics Canada decided to not send a team to Poland because of coronavirus concerns. The United States, Jamaica, Australia, India, and Trinidad and Tobago also elected to stay home, stealing much of the juice from what could have been a pretty exciting pre-Olympic meet.
Canada’s decision to withdraw doesn’t mean it can’t add more Olympic relay teams. The entry lists for Tokyo will be rounded out at the end of June based on countries’ top times during the Olympic qualifying period. Canada hopes its non-qualified teams will get a chance to run by then. If not, their placings at the last world championships, in the fall of 2019, could come into play. The men’s 4×100 team finished ninth (just missing the eight-team final), so it should be OK. Same for the mixed 4×400, which placed 10th. Canada didn’t have a team in the women’s 4×100 or men’s 4×400, so it will be tough to land Olympic berths in those events.
Read more about the Canadian men’s 4×100 and women’s 4×400 teams, who are the country’s best hopes for a track relay medal in Tokyo, in this story by CBC Sports’ Doug Harrison. Stream the World Athletics Relays live Saturday from 12:50-4:15 p.m. ET and Sunday from 1:10-3:15 p.m. ET here. Watch more coverage of the meet on the Road to the Olympic Games shows Saturday and Sunday on the CBC TV network (check local listings for times).
FINA Diving World Cup
This six-day meet, which starts Saturday in Tokyo, serves two purposes. It’s a test event for the Olympics, and it will decide the remaining spots still up for grabs. Unlike the World Athletics Relays, the competition should be pretty robust. China, which won seven of the eight diving gold medals at the last Olympics, sent a team. So did Great Britain and the United States, who finished second and third, respectively, in the diving medal standings in Rio.
Canada’s best divers are there too. Three-time Olympic bronze medallist Meaghan Benfeito is scheduled to compete in the women’s 10-metre individual event and the 10m synchro with partner Caeli McKay. Jennifer Abel, a 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, is slated for the 3m individual and the 3m synchro with partner Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu. The Canadians have a good shot at an Olympic medal in each of those events, so this is a chance to see them in action before Tokyo. Watch the women’s 3m synchro final live Saturday at 2:45 a.m. ET, and the women’s 10m synchro final live Sunday at 2:45 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. A pair of men’s finals are also being streamed live this weekend. See the full schedule and watch the live streams here.
Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball cut ties with Roberto Alomar
MLB fired the Hall of Famer and Blue Jays legend from his job as a consultant in his native Puerto Rico today after receiving the findings of an investigation it commissioned into “an allegation of sexual misconduct reported by a baseball industry employee earlier this year involving Mr. Alomar in 2014.” No other details about the alleged misconduct were provided. Alomar was also placed on baseball’s “Ineligible List,” meaning he can’t work for the league office, any team in the majors or any affiliated minor league or club.
The 53-year-old had worked for the Jays as a special assistant. The team announced today that it was “severing all ties with Alomar, effective immediately.” That includes removing his name from the Level of Excellence at their stadium, and taking down his banner hanging above centre-field.
The Baseball Hall of Fame released a statement saying Alomar will remain in the Hall because he was “in good standing” when he was elected a decade ago and “his enshrinement reflects… the perspective of the voters at that time.”
Alomar posted a tweet saying he’s “disappointed, surprised and upset with today’s news” but understands MLB’s position given “the current social climate.” He added that he hopes “this allegation can be heard in a venue that will allow me to address the accusation directly.” Read more about the Jays’ and MLB’s decisions to distance themselves from Alomar here.
Germany is playing short-handed at the women’s curling world championship. Two of the five team members (the second and the alternate) are still in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus. But organizers and Alberta health officials allowed the other three to play in today’s opening draw in Calgary after they tested negative. A standard curling team is four players (teams usually carry an alternate fifth for big events), but the World Curling Federation permitted an exception in this case due to the circumstances. Skip Daniela Jentsch threw the last two rocks in each end, as usual, while the other two players delivered three each. They lost 8-4 to Russia. Read more about the German team’s bizarre situation here.
The women’s hockey world championship will happen in August in Canada. Last week, for the second straight year, the tournament in Nova Scotia was postponed due to coronavirus concerns. Today, the IIHF announced it will be played Aug. 21-30 somewhere in Canada. An exact location was promised “in the coming weeks.”
The reigning NFL MVP wants to play somewhere else. That bombshell of a report rocked the league just hours before the draft began last night. Reportedly, Aaron Rodgers has soured on the Green Bay Packers so much that he’s told people in the organization he wants to be traded. The 37-year-old quarterback has spent his entire career in Green Bay, winning one Super Bowl (and Super Bowl MVP award) and earning the regular-season MVP trophy three times. The San Francisco 49ers, who drafted quarterback Trey Lance third overall last night, admitted they “inquired” about Rodgers, but the Packers insist they’re not moving him. Rodgers is reportedly attending tomorrow’s Kentucky Derby, so maybe we’ll hear something straight from the horse’s mouth.
Jaromir Jagr plans to keep playing at 50. But he doesn’t sound too happy about it. The 49-year-old freak of nature just finished his 33rd season of pro hockey, playing for the Czech team he owns. Rytiri Kladno won its second-tier league, meaning it gets promoted to the top-level Extraliga next season. As an owner, that’s great news for Jagr. As a player, he’s not so thrilled. “I am embarrassing myself there,” Jagr said. “I expect much more from myself and I don’t have it. But I am aware that when I leave, many [business] partners will leave the team too. That’s why I have no choice.” Jagr turns 50 on Feb. 15 of next year. He had two goals in 19 games this season for Kladno — the team he started his pro career with as a 16-year-old back in 1988.
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