Dani Alves has been included with Neymar absent as Brazil named an 18-player squad to defend their gold medal at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Brazil's Olympics head coach Andre Jardine confirmed the squad on Thursday, with 38-year-old Sao Paulo full-back Alves one of three over-age players, along with Sevilla's Diego Carlos and Athletico PR goalkeeper Santos.

Former Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain star Alves, who has 118 international caps, was set to be part of Brazil's Copa America campaign but missed the showpiece CONMEBOL tournament due to a knee injury and will instead captain the Olympic side.

PSG star Neymar's absence is notable given he previously indicated he had wanted to be part of the Tokyo Games.

Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz, Lyon's Bruno Guimaraes and Flamengo's Pedro have also been selected to represent Brazil.

Brazil won Olympic gold on home turf at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, with Neymar scoring the decisive penalty in a 5-4 shoot-out victory over Germany.

Jardine's side are grouped alongside Germany, Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia in Group D for the Tokyo Olympics.

Brazil will face Germany in their opening game in Yokohama scheduled for July 22.

 

Brazil squad for Tokyo Olympics:

Santos (Athletico PR), Brenno (Gremio); Dani Alves (Sao Paulo), Gabriel Menino (Palmeiras), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro), Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal), Nino (Fluminense), Diego Carlos (Sevilla); Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), Bruno Guimaraes (Lyon), Gerson (Flamengo), Claudinho (Red Bull Bragantino), Matheus Henrique (Gremio); Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin), Malcom (Zenit), Antony (Ajax), Paulinho (Bayer Leverkusen), Pedro (Flamengo).

Dominic Thiem has joined Rafael Nadal in announcing he will not compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old US Open champion pinned his decision on the belief he would struggle to find his best form, having endured a tough 2021 season so far.

Thiem has lost his last three matches, including a first-round defeat to Pablo Andujar at the French Open, and has an overall 9-8 win-loss record for the year.

World number five Thiem confirmed, however, that he intends to play Wimbledon, which begins on June 28, and will then focus on getting in the best possible shape for his grand slam title defence at Flushing Meadows.

Nadal said earlier on Thursday that he would play neither Wimbledon nor the Olympics, where the tennis tournament starts on July 24, because he wished to recover from his clay-court season efforts.

Women's tour superstar Naomi Osaka has elected to miss Wimbledon but said on Thursday she would represent Japan at her home Olympics.

Thiem revealed his Olympics decision in a statement posted on his Twitter page, saying: "After talking with my team and analysing the situation I have taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from competing in the Tokyo Olympics.

"For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher. However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don't feel ready to play my best in Tokyo.

"These last two weeks I have been training hard – and I’m starting to improve my conditioning and concentration little by little. My goal is to work hard the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my US Open title.

"I wish the entire Austrian team traveling to Tokyo all the best. I am young and I hope to be able to play for Austria at the Olympics in Paris 2024."

Naomi Osaka will not take part in Wimbledon, but is expecting to return to the court in time to feature for Japan at the Tokyo Olympics.

Osaka withdrew from the French Open having won her first-round match, after she was fined and threatened with further punishment – and possible expulsion from the grand slam – for skipping obligatory media duties.

The four-time grand slam champion had confirmed before Roland Garros that she would not be taking part in post-match news conferences, suggesting her mental health was not helped by having to attend the mandatory interviews.

Osaka, the world number two, stated she has had "long bouts of depression" since winning the 2018 US Open title.

With Wimbledon starting at the end of June, Osaka has decided to skip the third grand slam of the year, and instead take time away from tennis.

However, she aims to be back to represent Japan in their home Olympic Games, which start next month.

A statement from Osaka's representatives confirmed that she will miss Wimbledon while taking some personal time with friends and family, but that she will be ready for the Olympics.

The 23-year-old's withdrawal came on the same day that Rafael Nadal – a beaten semi-finalist at Roland Garros – confirmed he would not play at Wimbledon or the Olympics.

Nadal, 35, explained that the quick turnaround from a gruelling campaign in Paris to another tough schedule at Wimbledon presented too much of a risk to his fitness.

Rafael Nadal will not compete at Wimbledon or the Olympic Games as he bids to prolong his prolific career.

The 20-time grand slam champion was knocked out of the French Open at the semi-final stage by eventual winner Novak Djokovic.

And, with just a two-week gap to the grass-court slam in London, the 35-year-old has opted against taking part at the All England Club or the Games in Tokyo.

"Hi all, I have decided not to participate at this year's Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo," the Spaniard tweeted.

"It's never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discuss it with my team I understand that it is the right decision.

"The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at he maximum level of competition."

Nadal explained that the quick turnaround from a gruelling campaign in Paris to another tough schedule at Wimbledon presented too much of a risk to his fitness.

"The fact that there has only been two weeks between RG [Roland Garros] and Wimbledon didn't make it easier on my body to recuperate after the always demanding clay court season," he said.

"They have been two months of great effort and the decision I take is focused looking at the mid and long term.

"Sport prevention of any kind of excess in my body is a very important factor at this stage of my career in order to try to keep fighting for the highest level of competition and titles.

"I want to send a special message to my fans around the world, to those in the United Kingdom and Japan in particular.

"The Olympic Games always meant a lot and they were always a priority as a Sports person, I found the spirit that every sports person in the world wants to live. I personally had the chance to live 3 of them and had the honor to be the flag bearer for my country."

Nadal is a two-time Wimbledon champion and took gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

A pre-Olympic camp in Japan for Jamaican athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics this summer that was being planned by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), has been cancelled because of the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the JOA said today in a statement.

According to the JOA, the Tottori Prefectural Government stated that due to the spread of Covid-19, the Japanese Government is imposing strict measures on all local governments hosting pre-Games camps, which are unprecedented and treated as "abnormal circumstances."

The communication from Japan also stated that although the current COVID-19 situation in Tottori Prefecture is not as serious as in other regions, the increasing cases of highly infectious mutant variants and the ongoing state of emergency in Tokyo and in eight other prefectures are raising public sentiments nationwide, which has also increased concerns locally among citizens, healthcare providers and health authorities with regards to hosting the pre-Games camp.

Under the circumstances, the Prefectural Government has been compelled to conclude that it would be extremely difficult to hold a safe and secure camp for Jamaica's athletes as initially planned.

In light of the new measures and policy approach of the Japanese Government, the Prefectural Government was constrained to make new proposals that would make it practically impossible for the camp to take place as the revised timetable would have the delegation arriving practically at the same time as the scheduled opening of the Athletes' Village, which effectively defeat the objectives of holding the camp.

As they set out on the final leg of their Olympic journey, the Jamaica Football Rugby Union (JFRU) is expressing appreciation for the unrelenting support provided by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA).

Jamaica’s Olympic diver Yona Knight-Wisdom has qualified for his second Olympic Games but things could have gone terribly wrong as he struggled financially to make ends meet.

LeBron James has ruled himself out of competing for the United States at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

The 36-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star has represented his country at three Olympics, but he did not feature at Rio 2016. 

Earlier this year James had suggested he was considering playing for the USA in Tokyo.

However, following the Lakers' first-round playoff series defeat to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, he said he would instead spend the next few months promoting his new movie 'Space Jam: A New Legacy', which is scheduled to open in July. 

Asked if the Olympics were a possibility for him, James said: "Nah, I think I'm gonna play for the Tune Squad [the name of the team in the film] this summer instead of the Olympics.

"I think that's what my focus is on, on trying to beat the Monstars – or the Goon Squad we call them now.

"I didn't have much success versus the Suns, so now I am gearing my attention to the Goon Squad here in July, in mid-July.

"So I'm going to let the ankle rest for about a month and then I'm going to gear up with Lola, Taz, Granny, Bugs and the rest of the crew. So, hopefully I'll see you all at the match."

Asked how the Lakers' early exit – the first time James has been on a losing side in a first-round playoff series in his NBA career – would benefit his body, he said: "It's going to work wonders for me. Obviously during the season I don't talk about rest, I don't even like to put my mind in that frame, it makes me weak.

"But in the off-season I've got an opportunity to rest. I've got like three months to recalibrate, get my ankle back to 100 per cent, where it was before that Atlanta game.

"That's the most important thing for me. Everything else feels extremely well. My ankle was the only thing that was bothering me in the latter stages of the season.

"It never fully got back to before the injury. But I'm happy I was able to go out there and at least try to help our team win."

Jamaican artistic gymnast Danusia Francis has heaped praises on the Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) for providing her with funding as she fine-tunes her preparation for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July.

Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the US Open, the Olympic Games, Indian Wells: this year's tennis calendar is not lacking in red-ringed dates.

But August 8 and September 26 are majorly notable in that they will mark the 40th birthdays of Roger Federer and Serena Williams, respectively.

Federer's birthday falls on the final day of the Tokyo Olympics, while Williams reaches the same landmark a fortnight after the US Open women's singles final.

Both have kept their future plans quiet, but it would come as no major surprise if one, or both, were to retire by the end of the year.

Fellow grand slam greats Venus Williams, Andy Murray and Kim Clijsters may also be a matter of months away from bowing out of the professional ranks.

Will life after tennis begin at 40 for Williams and Federer, or could the superstar pair return to the French Open in 2022?

Stats Perform looked at the players who may be considering their futures, what they still want to achieve, and their prospects of attaining those remaining goals.
 

Federer's final fling?

Ahead of his 30th, Federer was asked what it felt like to hit such a milestone.

"Birthdays happen. They're part of life," Federer said. "I'm happy I'm getting older. I'd rather be 30 than 20, to be honest. To me it's a nice time."

A decade on, Federer may be similarly equanimous about hitting 40. Family life is good, he'll never need to borrow a dollar, and he has advanced from 16 grand slams to 20.

But the knees would sooner be 30 than 40, and Federer, remarkable sportsman though he is, is coming to the end of the line in his tennis career. It will hurt the Fedfans to think so, but all the evidence points to it. We are probably witnessing a lap of honour.

Having won Roland Garros only once at his peak, we can surely forget the prospect of any heroics in Paris. Federer needs to win a few rounds though, in order to be sharp and battle-hardened for the grass season. Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open are events where you might give a fit Federer a chance, even at such a veteran age, but he has played only three matches since the 2020 Australian Open, losing two of those.

Target: Federer has never settled for second best, so he will want to be a tournament winner again, no doubt about it. The hunger does not go away after 20 grand slams, but it can be more difficult to sate.

Prospects: Slim, but not forlorn. So much of Federer's game is about feel and ease of movement, and assuming that knee surgery last year means the body is in good shape again, he should be able to call on those staples of his game. Key missing ingredients are the confidence that comes with beating rivals, and match fitness. Federer's 1,243 wins and 103 singles titles count for an awful lot still, and there could be one final hurrah before the Swiss great signs off.


Serena still one short of Court

From precocious teenager to queen of the tour, Williams' tennis journey has been a 25-year odyssey and there is nobody more driven to succeed than the great American.

It must be an intense frustration that she remains rooted on 23 grand slams, one short of Margaret Court's record haul, and the four grand slam final losses she has suffered while on that mark have been cruel blows.

As her 40th birthday approaches, it would not be a surprise if Williams reached that target, but what once felt inevitable now only has the air of being a possibility. She is becoming less of a factor when looking at title favourites, but Williams is still capable of beating top players, still a threat wherever she shows up.

Target: The 24th slam remains the must-have for Williams. Tour titles feel like an irrelevance, and Williams has won just one of those since January 2017, her calendar built around peaking for the majors since returning from giving birth to daughter Olympia.

Prospects: Beating Aryna Sabalenka and Simona Halep at the Australian Open demonstrated Williams still has the game for the big stage, and a semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka, to whom she has now lost in three of four encounters, should not particularly detract from that. Williams is playing on clay primarily to get in great shape for grass, because Wimbledon, where she plays the surface with a command that others can only envy, is where that elusive 24th slam looks most likely to come.


Amid losing streak, tennis waits to learn what Venus infers

Some suspect that the Williams sisters, having arrived on tour together, might bow out at the same time too. Venus has won 49 WTA Tour-level titles but has recently slipped out of the top 100 for the first time since early 2012. Ahead of turning 41 in June, it is hard to see her being a reliable force again.

The seven-time slam winner will be needing wildcards for the grand slams unless the wins start to flow, and naturally she should have no trouble getting those backdoor tournament entries, but for a player of her stature, losing in the first round most weeks can offer little satisfaction.

It is 21 years since Venus' greatest tennis summer, when she won the Wimbledon, Stanford, San Diego, New Haven, US Open and Olympics singles titles, along with doubles glory alongside Serena at the Olympics and Wimbledon.

Nevertheless, she said at the Australian Open in February: "I'm trying to get better every day. I think that no matter what happens to you in life, you always hold your head up high, you give a hundred million percent. That's what I do every single day. That's something that I can be proud of."

Target: Venus last won a singles slam in 2008, so forget that. A run to the second week of a slam is not entirely unimaginable, or she could stun a big name early on. Venus will want to wring every last drop from her career, but you suspect more than that, she would love to be there to watch her little sister win that 24th slam.

Prospects: Since a second-round exit to Elina Svitolina at the 2019 US Open, Venus has won only four matches at WTA level, and she is presently on a run of five consecutive defeats, which began with a 6-1 6-0 trouncing by Sara Errani at the last-64 stage of the Australian Open. Her last Wimbledon appearance resulted in a first-round loss to the then 15-year-old Coco Gauff two years ago, so even hopes of a resurgence at the event she has won five times appear somewhat remote.


We wish you a Murray summer

Once a grand slam nearly man, Murray banished that reputation with his US Open triumph and twin Wimbledon titles, not to mention the two Olympic gold medals, the Davis Cup victory, and the 14 Masters 1000 tournaments he won along the way, a big-time champion on every surface.

What a career, and it deserves a fitting ending. Murray is battling one injury after another and will miss the French Open, hoping his tired frame holds up to see him through Queen's Club, Wimbledon, the Olympic hat-trick bid and the US Open.

Target: He would probably say another slam is possible, if he can get healthy and stay that way. The 'if' there is doing an awful lot of heavy lifting though.

Prospects: Should Murray manage to stay injury-free, then it will be enthralling to see what he can achieve. However, since an unexpected title in Antwerp in October 2019, he has won just four matches on the ATP Tour and one in the Davis Cup. The resurfaced hip, the troublesome groin, the pains of being Andy Murray aged 34 are proving wearing on the Scot. If he is fit enough to feature at Wimbledon, it would be a joy to see him play even just one more great singles match on Centre Court. Admirers must hope Murray follows the pattern of his career by exceeding expectations, which are logically low.


Kim wildcard wonder?

If you missed the Clijsters comeback, it is hardly surprising, given she returned to the WTA tour after a near eight-year absence just weeks before the pandemic shut down tennis, and she has barely been seen since. The three-time US Open winner was dealt bum draws in her comeback year but gave Garbine Muguruza, Johanna Konta and Ekaterina Alexandrova enough to think about in the course of three first-round defeats.

Since losing behind closed doors in three sets to Alexandrova at the US Open, Clijsters has undergone knee surgery and had COVID-19, and she does not plan to play again until after Wimbledon.

Target: If Clijsters, who turns 38 in June, can build up form and fitness, then some kinder draws would be a fitting reward for persistence. She could have quietly called time on this comeback, but the former world number one is a fighter, and it would be fitting, perhaps, if her career were to end with a night session match in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Court at Flushing Meadows. The Belgian's intentions are not entirely clear, but that prospect must have crossed her mind.

Prospects: The New York wildcard would be assured if Clijsters can show she is in any sort of form, given her US Open history. Clijsters' immediate potential is entirely unclear, but she had the highest game-winning percentage (66.7 per cent) of any woman in World Team Tennis last year, and Jessica Pegula, Sofia Kenin and Jennifer Brady were all part of that competition. Bring that game to a major and we're talking.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce said her priority for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan is running faster than 10.70 in the 100m but indicates that it would be nice to be on the podium with a medal and the time she is so passionately in pursuit of.

Shadae Lawrence’s second-place finish in the discus at the USATF Throws Fest in Arizona on Saturday was the second time she had lost in competition this season but it was perhaps her most significant achievement.

It took a world-leading throw of 70.22m from Dutchwoman Jorinde van Klinken to defeat the 25-year-old Jamaican, who achieved an important milestone of her own. Her fourth throw of 65.47m and fifth of 67.05m meant that she broke her own national record of 65.05 twice, and even more important, it was an indication that she was getting closer to her ultimate goal for this season.

“I was very happy to see those numbers. I really wanted to perform well at that meet. I was happy I could put it together and get the job done. I want to make my personal dream of being an Olympic finalist come true,” she said, explaining that the records, at this point in time, mean little by comparison.

“My only goal for the season is to make top 8 at the Olympics. I know this a great achievement (the national record) and I’m thankful but this wasn’t a goal of mine.”

The simple fact is that for Lawrence and her coach Julian Robinson the new milestone was not surprising but the immediate future is more about achieving the aforementioned goal and that for that to be accomplished, there is much work still left to be done. Robinson is under no illusions. He knows what needs to get done.

 “No, it wasn’t a surprise. Physically, I think she has the ability to produce those distances. However, she lacks the consistency and this is so for several reasons; her technique is not yet stable and she needs more exposure competing at the elite level or close to that,” he said.

Lawrence started the season with a win at the USF Bulls Invitational in Florida on March 20, throwing 63.75m, which surpassed the Olympic qualifying standard of 63.50m. She followed up with another win at the Florida State Relays on March 26 when she threw 62.88m.

After that, her performances dipped even though she kept winning. Throws of 57.76m and 57.86m resulted in victories at the USATF Sprint Summit on April 3 and at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational, on April 16.

Two weeks later, she was second at the North Florida Invitational where she threw 58.66m before her big throws in Tucson last weekend.

The performances represented were the low-hanging fruit that she has been able to reach since she began working with Robinson in late 2019 with bigger goals in mind.

“I train really hard. My biggest aim for this season, physically, was to get stronger,” she said. “The past few years throwing, I wasn’t strong and I was throwing decent. I knew if I could get my strength to a certain level, I could be more consistent. So every time I get into the gym I’m pushing myself.”

She believes that she can get even stronger and be a lot more consistent with throws well above 60m in the weeks she has left before the Olympic Games this summer.

“If I consistently push myself I will get stronger. I already have that mentality so once I’m healthy I will be in the best shape physically for the Games,” she explained.

“I think to be able to throw consistently you must attack your training that way. For me, I just need to train consistently. Be consistent with my gym, plyometric work, working on technical aspects of the throw. That’s how consistency comes about.”

With that goal met, she fancies the possibility of springing a surprise in Tokyo; just like she did on Saturday, produce a throw that she never has managed to deliver before but one that could produce a record that will be more meaningful.

 “If I execute the way I’m preparing to physically and mentally then anything can happen,” she said.

“The Olympic Games isn’t a walkover, no major championship is. My aim is to fearlessly execute all my throws. Before the beginning of the season, my aim was the Olympics. I told myself it doesn’t matter how I compete throughout the season; I need to get it done starting July 31st.”

July 31 is the day of the qualifying round of the women’s discus.

 

Adam Gemili has accused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of hypocrisy over its plans to sanction athletes who take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter at this year's Games in Tokyo.

Last month, the IOC executive board approved recommendations in regard to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, relating to athlete expression at Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

Although it pledged to "increase opportunities for athletes' expression during the Olympic Games" and celebrate "Peace, Respect, Solidarity, Inclusion and Equality" through collective branding, it was deemed "not appropriate" for competitors to "demonstrate or express their views on the field of play".

As such, any actions such as taking a knee at a podium ceremony will be subject to sanctions, although it is unclear at this stage what the punishments might be.

British sprinter Gemili told The Guardian "all hell would break loose" if athletes were banned for protesting.

If he is able to improve upon his fourth-placed finish in the 200m at Rio 2016, the 27-year-old explained he would not be dissuaded from taking a stand and cited double standards over the celebrations of Black Power protests at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and the IOC's present position.

"For sure I would be happy to take a knee if I was successful at the Olympics and I had that opportunity," he said.

"I would definitely protest. The fact the IOC is telling athletes 'no, you can't do it' is only going to make people more angry. If the opportunity came, I wouldn't shy away from it.

"This is what I don’t understand: the IOC are so quick to use Tommie Smith, the picture of his fist raised, but they are saying 'actually, no one is allowed to do that'. It doesn't make sense.

"I don't think you can ban an athlete for protesting. And if they do, all hell would break loose and it could go south and sour very quickly. They will be very naive to even try to do that.

"The Olympics is not a place to be political, it's a place for sport and to bring the whole world together, but the whole BLM movement is more than political. It's about being a good human, and equal rights for everyone."

The IOC reported 70 per cent of over 3,500 athlete respondents to their survey were against demonstrations on the "field of play" or at official ceremonies, with that figure dropping fractionally to 67 per cent for podium ceremonies.

Nevertheless, Gemili feels the governing body's methodology was flawed when it came to accurately showing the strength of feeling from athletes of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

"I think the IOC knew exactly what it was doing," he added.

Jamaican Olympian Neville Myton died today after a prolonged battle was cancer. He was 74.

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe said he is dreaming of playing for France at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Mbappe and world champions France are preparing for the rescheduled Euro 2020, which gets underway next month.

As Didier Deschamps' Les Bleus eye European glory, Mbappe also wants to represent his country at the Tokyo Games, starting in July.

"For us, having recognition from the whole country is very important," the 22-year-old Mbappe told TF1.

"Everyone knows that my dream has always been to take part at the Olympic Games and I hope I will be able to realise one of my lifelong dreams."

France have been drawn alongside hosts Japan, Mexico and South Africa in Group A at the Olympics.

Led by Under-21 boss Sylvain Ripoll at the Olympics, France are scheduled to open their campaign against Mexico on July 22.

On his short-term objections, Mbappe said: "The objective is always the same - to try to win the Euros to bring happiness to the French people.

"We have a team which is capable of competing for it. We always want to win. If we do win it, it will bring a great deal of joy.

"We are going to prepare well for the tournament with the hope of going far. We will be trying to bring the trophy back to France."

 

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