A little change of pace today. The nightly highlights cooled down while the off-the-field storylines ramped up. We’ll turn our attention to the NBA Playoffs, Euro 2020 and the College World Series the rest of this week. For now, it’s major headlines for the Olympics and NCAA.
The Rules of the Games
International Olympic Committee Delivers Outline for 2021 Games, Fan Attendance, Travel Requirements & More
The 2021 Tokyo Olympics light the flame on the games in just over month, and new information made headlines on Monday. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) announced that a limited number of fans will be allowed at events next month. The cap is set at 50 percent of each venue and “up to 10,000” spectators, maximum. The catch? Only local spectators will be in attendance as the country is not opening up international travel for non-essential Olympic athletes and staff.
Let’s Go Deeper
Japanese medical professionals had long urged against holding the Olympics while Tokyo was still under a state of emergency with high COVID-19 rates until May. In the last few weeks, the positivity rate in Tokyo dropped below 4 percent. That state of emergency was lifted on Sunday, just one day before the IOC’s announcement, but medical professionals are still against holding the games.
Fan Etiquette & Expectations
The IOC also said masks will be required for fans and “speaking in a loud voice or shouting” is not prohibited. The assumption is that speaking loudly or shouting could lead to an increased spread if social distancing is not properly maintained, but enforcing those rules gets dicey. Get ready for the quietest Olympics of all time.
Japan’s Biggest Concerns
Even though COVID-19 rates have fallen in the past few weeks, Japan’s vaccination campaigns have had serious trouble getting traction. Less than 1/5 of all adults in the country have received the first dose of the vaccine. The IOC expects many of the incoming athletes to be vaccinated, but they have not made it a requirement to participate.
With overall attendance cut by more than half of the original projected ticket sales, the Japanese government (not the IOC) will lose more than $400 million in revenue. Japan bid on the Olympic host responsibilities back in 2013. Luckily, Tokyo did not need to build numerous Olympic venues over the past eight years, but they did revamp the iconic National Stadium where the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were held. It now holds 68,000 spectators, but it won’t come near that number for the opening and closing ceremonies next month.
Answering the Big Question
Yes, the Olympics are happening. And yes, they’ll be like every other sporting event for the past year — completely different.
Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA
SCOTUS Unanimously Sides With Student-Athletes in Fight for Compensation
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) upheld a district court decision on the NCAA’s violation of antitrust laws on Monday, paving the way for incremental increases in how college athletes can receive compensation. The ongoing “pay for play” fight has long been leaning against the NCAA, but Monday’s unanimous vote opened the gates for years of transition that could deconstruct the NCAA’s current business model. It was a win for student-athletes, but it’s just the next step in a long process.
What It Means: The NCAA was already progressing towards athletes making money on their name, image and likeness (NIL), but Monday’s ruling further solidified the NCAA’s current model is, was, and has been unlawful.
“The NCAA is not above the law… The NCAA couches its arguments for not paying student athletes in innocuous labels. But the labels cannot disguise the reality: The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.” — Justice Brett Kavanaugh
Plaintiff’s attorney Jeffrey Kessler is the most famous lawyer in America when it comes to sports labor lawsuits, and he was overjoyed with the result.
“Hopefully it will be the major next step on the road to a true fair competitive system for these athletes.” — Jeffrey Kessler
The NBA Draft Lottery Odds
NBA Draft Lottery: Tonight (8:30 pm ET, ESPN)
With no NBA games last night — for the first time in over in a month — we turn our focus to tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery. The future landscape of the league hinges on the bouncing of 14 small ping pong balls with 1,001 possible outcomes. If you’re not familiar with the spectacle, the league pulls from a lot of 14 teams to determine picks 1-4. Then, picks 5-14 are decided by the remaining teams’ regular-season record from last year. The three worst teams have a 14% chance to land the No. 1 overall pick. The draft itself will take place July 29. Here are the odds:
NBA Lottery Odds
Other Teams: Bulls (4.5%), Kings (4.5%), Pelicans (4.5%), Hornets (1.8%), Spurs (1.7%), Pacers (1%), Warriors (0.5%)
The Top Picks: As always, the top draft projections are subject to change. For now, Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State) is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick with Evan Mobley (USC), Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga) and G-League prospects Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga projected in the Top-5.
The Ringer: The Ringer’s 2021 NBA Draft Guide (Mock Draft)
Sporting News: NBA Draft Prospects: Ranking the Top 60 Players Overall
The Tampa Bay Lightning delivered the biggest blowout of the NHL Playoffs on Monday night with an 8-0 shutout against the Islanders that was downright disrespectful. Steven Stamkos had two goals and an assist while Brayden Point scored once again to extend his goal streak to eight games. Andrei Vasilevskiy had 21 saves and a spotless scoresheet as Tampa Bay took a 3-2 series lead. They can close it out Wednesday night in Nassau Coliseum.
Jacob deGrom took the mound for the Mets on the MLB’s first official day of sticky-stuff checks, and he didn’t miss a beat. deGrom (5 IP, 6 Ks, 1 H, 0 ER) nailed his 12th straight start with one or fewer earned runs to pass Bob Gibson for the longest streak to start a season. His Mets beat the Braves (4-2), and he dropped his season ERA to just .50.
️ SOCCER: Denmark Join Euro Knockout Stage
After the Christian Eriksen scare last week, Denmark overcame unlikely odds to reach the knockout stage of Euro 2020 on Monday with a 4-1 win over Russia. They needed to win by two goals or more to advance. Eleven total teams have secured their spot in the knockout rounds with six remaining matches and five more bids available in the group stage.
*We’ll have full coverage of the Euro 2020 Tournament and the College World Series in tomorrow’s edition and throughout the rest of the week.
The United States women’s national basketball team roster for the Tokyo Summer Olympics was announced on NBC’s Today on Monday morning. It includes a pair of four-time Olympic gold-medal winners in Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. (Bleacher Report)
As we approach the end of June let’s take stock of the six divisional races. Obviously things can change, teams can get hot, teams can completely melt down, but we’ve likely seen enough to have a good idea of divisional contenders and non-contenders. (CBS Sports)
Unlike last year, this offseason looked more like what we’re used to with an in-person NFL draft, OTAs at team facilities and the return of minicamps for most clubs. So who took the bull by the horns this offseason to make their mark? (ESPN)
Question of the Day
Do you think allowing fans at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics is a good idea?