US basketball teams learn draws for Paris Olympics

Also in this week’s Olympic notebook, IOC bans Russian athletes from parade, Brisbane adjusts stadium plans for 2032

USA's Kevin Wayne Durant celebrates with the flag of the USA after their victory in the men's final basketball match between France and USA during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on August 7, 2021.

Olympic basketball draw announced

How about an early matchup in the Olympics where Joel Embid could be guarding Nikola Jokic? Or another early game where it will be a rematch of the women’s gold medal game from the Tokyo Olympics?

That will be the case for the U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams after the group draws for the Paris Olympics were announced on Tuesday.

The men’s team will have Serbia, ranked No. 4 in the world and featuring Jokic among other NBA players, South Sudan and a to-be-determined team from a qualifier in Puerto Rico in its group.

The women’s team will be in a group with Japan — the team the Americans beat in the gold medal game at the Tokyo Olympics — Belgium and Germany.

Both the men’s and women’s competition will have three groups of four teams, where the top two finishers and the two best third-place teams will advance to the quarterfinals.

The other groups in the men’s competition are: Group A — Australia, Canada, Spain qualifier winner, Greece qualifier winner; Group B — Germany, France, Japan, Latvia qualifier winner.

The other groups in the women’s competition are: Group A — China, Spain, Serbia, Puerto Rico; Group B — Australia, Canada, France, Nigeria

IOC bans athletes from Russia, Belarus, for opening ceremony parade

Athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete in the Paris Olympics, but only as neutral athletes and not as representatives of their countries as a measure the International Olympic Committee imposed following the invasion of Ukraine

In light of that, the IOC on Tuesday announced that those athletes won’t be able to participate in the opening ceremony parade of nations that is set to take place along the Seine River in Paris. It will be the first time in an opening ceremony where athletes of nations will be paraded on boats instead of just walking into a stadium.

The IOC said the athletes from Russian and Belarus could experience the event by watching it as fans, but not be in it. Russian officials were not happy at all with the decision.

“This is, of course, the destruction of the idea of Olympism. This is an infringement on the interests of Olympic athletes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said to reporters, according to an ESPN article. “Of course, this is absolutely contrary to the entire ideology of the Olympic movement, and this does not paint the IOC in a good light.”

Last week, the Russian Olympic Committee said it would not boycott the Paris Games despite the IOC’s mandate that their athletes have to compete as neutral competitors. Neutral athletes will be allowed to only compete in individual sports. No teams for Russia or Belarus will be allowed to compete.

Brisbane pivots on stadium plans for 2032

The hosts of the 2032 Summer Olympics — Brisbane, Australia — already have been mired in a debate on what to do for a centerpiece stadium when it’s their turn to host the Games.

Organizers originally wanted to take down and rebuild a famed cricket ground and host the opening and closing ceremonies there, but decided to scrap that idea due to concerns of heavy costs.

One alternative was to build a brand-new stadium that would cost more than $2 billion, but that plan was also rejected.

Instead, organizers have settled on upgrading an existing rugby stadium near downtown Brisbane that will host the opening and closing ceremonies. Another existing stadium will be renovated to host the track and field events.

The cost to refurbish the two stadiums is a reported $66 million, which is much more in line with the IOC’s new ambition to have more cost-effective Games for host cities.

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