Canada's medal count expected to drop at Beijing Winter Olympics
Here are some stories you should follow in the quick turnaround after Tokyo
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There's another Olympics around the corner
Tokyo 2020 ended just over a week ago. But thanks to the Summer Olympics' one-year delay, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are now less than six months away.
So don't let your Olympic fever subside too much — here's everything you should know ahead of the Beijing Games, which run from Feb. 4-20:
Canada is projected to win eight fewer medals than in 2018. That would amount to 21 in Beijing after a record-setting 29 podium appearances by Canadians in Pyeongchang. Those 29 medals were more than the Americans' 23, and Canada also won 11 golds compared to nine for the U.S. But Gracenote, a data company which delivers numbers-based projections for the Olympics, says to expect only five gold medals in Beijing while also giving the nod to the U.S. in the total medal count. Canada has never beaten the U.S. in the medals standings at consecutive Winter Olympics.
Some familiar faces are Canadian contenders once again. Mikael Kingsbury remains the favourite to win moguls gold. Mark McMorris and Max Parrot promise to be prominent in snowboard events. Canada's speed skaters are still a force, while freestyle skiing events also provide medal opportunities. Canada's curlers missed the podium in the men's and women's events in 2018 (they still won mixed doubles gold) but should be favoured to climb back in 2022 — even if they are not the gold-medal locks they once were.
The decrease in medals may come from bobsleigh and figure skating. If the U.S. does in fact win more medals than Canada, it could be because three-time Olympic medallist and two-time bobsleigh champion Kaillie Humphries defected to the American team after winning bronze in Pyeongchang. Canada's figure skating team may also take a step back as it's entered a bit of a rebuilding stage following the retirement of 2018 medallists — deep breath now — Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir, Kaetlyn Osmond, Meagan Duhamel and Patrick Chan.
Who is going to play hockey? Our first glimpse of the women's roster will come on Wednesday when Canada plays an exhibition ahead of the world championship, which begins Friday in Calgary. Originally scheduled for Nova Scotia, the province's premier said in April the tournament posed too big a COVID-19 threat, forcing the change of venue.
Meanwhile, the NHL schedule for next season includes an Olympic break, suggesting the league expects its players will attend. But it also said talks with the international Olympic and hockey organizations are ongoing, with one outstanding issue being COVID-19 insurance for players. The sides previously said a final decision would be made after the Tokyo Olympics.
Some believe these Games should be boycotted. Canadian conservative leader Erin O'Toole said Canada should consider a boycott because of the reported human rights violations against the Muslim minority Uyghur population in China, in addition to the recent imprisonment of a Canadian in the country following what the federal government calls a "sham trial." Other countries have also discussed the possibility of a boycott. But it seems unlikely, with various experts noting that such action may only increase tension between Canada and China. Neither the Liberals or New Democrats have called for a boycott. Read more about why a boycott probably won't happen in this CBC News piece.
COVID-19 restrictions could be even harsher than Tokyo. Daily new infections in Tokyo tripled over the course of the Olympics, though experts say that was not directly caused by the Games. Even so, China seems even more determined to crack down and limit interactions — both between Chinese citizens and the Olympic bubble, and between the likes of journalists and athletes within the bubble. The New York Times recently reported interviews would occur between thick plastic walls and there would be even fewer fans than in Tokyo, among other potential restrictions. The figure skating Cup of China, scheduled to take place in November, was cancelled today when it was determined a "competition bubble" was not viable in the country.
Tokyo proved an Olympics can be pulled off relatively safely amid a pandemic. Somehow, it's time to do it all over again in 172 days.
The Tokyo Paralympics will take place mostly without fans. Other than some schoolchildren in certain municipalities, there won't be spectators in the stands when the Paralympics begin next Tuesday. Organizers made the announcement today amid reports that Japan's state of emergency would be extended through mid-September — after the Games are over. Read more about today's decision here.
Canadian singles tennis players flamed out of their home tournament. Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Vasek Pospisil, Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Annie Fernandez combined for exactly one victory at the National Bank Open (formerly the Rogers Cup) in Toronto and Montreal. That win belonged to the reigning champion Andreescu, who was then promptly upset by 13th seed Ons Jabeur. Instead, Canadian success came from lesser-known places. Wild-card entry Rebecca Marino, who stepped away from the sport for five years because of depression, reached the round of 16 before falling to top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka. And Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski won the women's doubles tournament alongside Brazilian partner Luisa Stefani. Read more about Dabrowski's victory and watch highlights here.
There will be a new CEBL team next season. The Scarborough Shooting Stars were unveiled as the league's latest expansion franchise ahead of the 2021 championship weekend, which begins with Friday's semifinals. Per the season-ticket sales site, Scarborough's home games will be played at a U of T facility in downtown Toronto. The Shooting Stars become the league's first Toronto-based team, joining other Ontario outposts in Ottawa, Hamilton, Guelph and Niagara as well as Fraser Valley, Saskatchewan and Edmonton. A Montreal team is also expected to join the league for 2022. Read more about the Scarborough reveal here.
Congratulations to these Olympic gold medallists. The summer of 2021 may never be topped for Breanna Stewart and Stephanie Labbé. Stewart, arguably the best player on the American women's basketball team, announced she and wife Marta — a Brazilian pro basketball player — welcomed a baby girl just days after winning the Olympic title. And Labbé, the heroic Canadian soccer goalie, revealed her engagement to fellow Canadian Olympian and multi-sport athlete Georgia Simmerling. Not a bad month.
You're up to speed. Talk to you tomorrow.