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IOC, Tokyo officials say Olympics must go on in 2021 ‘at any cost’

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Sept. 9 (UPI) — International Olympic Committee officials and Japan’s Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto pledged that the Games in Tokyo will take place next summer despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Hashimoto said the Tokyo Games must be held “at any cost” starting July 23. The 2020 Tokyo Games were initially set to begin this July but were delayed until next year because of the COVID-19 outbreak — a decision that cost the IOC about $800 million.

“Everyone involved with the Games is working together to prepare, and the athletes are also making considerable efforts toward next year,” Hashimoto told reporters Tuesday. “I think we have to hold the Games at any cost.”

Hashimoto’s comments came one day after IOC vice president John Coates said next year’s Games will happen “with or without” the virus.

“The Games were going to be their theme, the Reconstruction Games, after the devastation of the tsunami,” Coates told reporters Monday, referring to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. “Now very much these will be the Games that conquered COVID-19 — the light at the end of the tunnel.”

IOC president Thomas Bach said his organization is committed to having a safe Games in 2021 but lots of planning lies ahead before the competitions can be staged.

Bach told reporters Wednesday that progress with vaccines and the development of rapid testing for the coronavirus wouldn’t be the complete answer for holding the rescheduled Games next summer.

“They will not be the silver bullet, but they can greatly facilitate the organization of the Games,” Bach said. “… In the coming weeks, you will see important and intensive discussions taking place with regard to different scenarios to COVID-19 countermeasures. We remain focused on delivering a safe and successful Games next year.

“We don’t know how the world looks like tomorrow, so how can you expect us to know how the world looks in 320 days from today?”



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Bianca Andreescu skipping French Open, rest of season

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Sept. 23 (UPI) — 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu said she will not play in the upcoming French Open and will sit out the remainder of the 2020 season.

The 20-year-old Andreescu — currently ranked No. 7 in the world — announced her decision on social media, saying she wants to “focus on my health and training.”

“I have come to the difficult decision to skip the clay court swing this year and will be taking the remainder of the season off to focus on my health and training,” she wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “As hard as it was to come to this conclusion, I have so much to look forward to in 2021, including the Olympics.

“I want to use this time to focus on my game so I can come back stronger and better than ever. As always, your encouraging words and support meant the world to me and I look forward to getting back on the court and competing for Canada next year!”

Andreescu hasn’t competed on tour since withdrawing from a match during the WTA Finals in October 2019 because of a left knee injury. The same knee ailment prevented her from playing at the Australian Open in January.

Andreescu — the first Canadian to win a major singles trophy with her triumph in New York last year — also skipped this month’s U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and a lack of preparation time.

The 2020 French Open is set to begin Sunday in Paris. Andreescu is the third top-10 player on the women’s side to opt out of the tournament, joining No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and No. 3 Naomi Osaka.



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Fantasy football: Kelce, Andrews top Week 3 tight end rankings

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Sept. 24 (UPI) — Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, Jared Cook and Tyler Higbee lead my Week 3 fantasy football tight end rankings for 2020.

Jonnu Smith, Darren Waller, Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant and Hunter Henry round out my Top 10 options at the position. Mo Alie-Cox of the Indianapolis Colts and Logan Thomas of the Washington Football Team are among my favorite sleepers this week.

An early explosion of offense around the league has led to increased relevance for tight ends through two weeks of the fantasy football season. Check out my weekly waiver wire article for more great options for your fantasy football team’s tight end slot in Week 3.

Here are some of my favorite players in this week’s Top 20 rankings:

TOP SHELF

The Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens should score in bunches in a high-octane Monday Night Football matchup. I expect Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce to be one of the most productive players in the game. Kelce is my top tight end this week.

The Ravens have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Kelce should have at least eight catches and has a great chance to score multiple times in Week 3.

Mark Andrews will be the tight end on the other side of the field when the Ravens take on Kelce’s Chiefs to cap off the Week 3 schedule.

Andrews scored twice in Week 1 and should return to the end zone in Week 3. He is my No. 2 tight end this week and should be in lineups regardless of league format.

SNEAKY PLAYS

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee lands at No. 5 in my rankings. Higbee exploded for three touchdowns in Week 2 and should continue to be an integral part of the Rams offense.

I expect the tight end to catch at least five passes for 50 yards and to return to the end zone in a game against the New York Giants Sunday in Inglewood, Calif.

Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki hauled in eight catches for 130 yards and a score in Week 2. He should continue his breakout campaign on Thursday Night Football when the Dolphins face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars have allowed a league-high 198 recieving yards to tight ends this season. I expect Gesicki to see double-digit targets in Week 3 and turn that into a great fantasy football performance. He is my No. 8 tight end this week and is a must-start in leagues that require starting tight ends.

LONGSHOTS

Mo Alie-Cox has done a fantastic job as a replacement for injured Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle. He’ll return to that role in Week 3 when the Colts host the New York Jets, who just allowed two touchdowns to San Francisco 49ers tight end Jordan Reed.

Alie-Cox had 111 yards on five catches in Week 2. I expect him to come close to 100 receiving yards again in Week 3. He is No. 11 in my rankings, but should only be in lineups for leagues that require starting tight ends.

Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas is my No. 15 tight end option and lands in streaming territory for Week 3.

Thomas had a touchdown in Week 1 and hauled in four catches in Week 2. He should surpass that total in this game against the Cleveland Browns, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends in 2020.

Cleveland allowed 11 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown to Cincinnati Bengals tight ends in Week 2. Thomas could end up as a Top 10 fantasy football tight end for Week 3 if he gets into the end zone against the Browns.

Week 3 fantasy football tight end rankings

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs at BAL

2. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens vs. KC

3. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles vs. CIN

4. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints vs. GB

5. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams at BUF

6. Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans at MIN

7. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders at NE

8. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins at JAX

9. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos vs. TB

10. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers vs. CAR

11. Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts vs. NYJ

12. Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons vs. CHI

13. Evan Engram, New York Giants vs. SF

14. Jordan Reed, San Francisco 49ers at NYG

15. Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team at CLE

16. Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns vs. WAS

17. Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. HOU

18. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles vs. CIN

19. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions at ARI

20. Chris Herndon, New York Jets at IND

This week in the National Football League

The Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff celebrates after a first down in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Rams defeated the Eagles 37-19. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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College football: Notre Dame-Wake Forest postponed due to COVID-19

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Sept. 22 (UPI) — Saturday’s game between Notre Dame and Wake Forest has been postponed after the Fighting Irish announced 13 players are currently in isolation.

Notre Dame said in a statement Tuesday that seven student-athletes tested positive for the coronavirus out of 94 tests administered Monday. Combined with testing results from last week, 13 players are isolated — with 10 in quarantine.

Due to the positive results over the past two weeks, Notre Dame has paused all football-related activities until further testing is completed. Both schools are working on rescheduling the matchup.

“With student-athlete health and safety our primary focus, we will continue to follow our prevention protocols and ongoing testing procedures,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “We managed an increase in positivity rates in August, and the players handled it wonderfully.

“We knew COVID-19 would present challenges throughout the season, and we’ll always put student-athlete health and safety at the forefront of our decision making. We look forward to resuming team activities and getting back on the playing field.”

Wake Forest athletic director John Currie said the programs are attempting to reschedule the game for Oct. 3 — an open date that both schools share.

“I know everyone involved is saddened to be unable to play this weekend, but based on the circumstances it is the right decision,” Currie said in a statement Tuesday. “We are already discussing options for rescheduling with the ACC and our future opponents, including the possibility of playing on the October 3rd weekend.”

Notre Dame beat South Florida 52-0 at home last week and opened the 2020 season with a victory over Duke.

Wake Forest began the season with a blowout loss to top-ranked Clemson in Week 1 and a 45-42 setback to North Carolina State in Week 2.

This is now the fourth ACC contest impacted because of coronavirus issues.



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