Tom Goldman

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Gymnastics fans woke up to stunning news today. Last night, American Simone Biles pulled out of the women's gymnastics team finals competition for mental health reasons. NPR's Tom Goldman was at the event in Tokyo and joins us now.

Japan's Naomi Osaka is out of the Tokyo Olympics after losing on Tuesday in straight sets to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round.

The loss is a major upset and a shock to the host country. Osaka is considered the face of these Games and lit the cauldron during the Olympic opening ceremony a few days ago.

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The U.S. men's basketball team won gold in the last three Summer Olympics. But a fourth gold is not a sure thing. Last night, France beat the U.S. 83 to 76. It's being called a major upset. NPR's Tom Goldman says, maybe it wasn't.

Updated July 25, 2021 at 4:46 AM ET

TOKYO — The golf world is reeling after two of the best golfers will miss the Tokyo Summer Olympics because of the coronavirus. World #1 Jon Rahm of Spain and #6 Bryson DeChambeau of the U.S. both tested positive before leaving for Japan.

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The 2020 Summer Olympics have begun - in the summer of 2021 - a year late, maybe billions of dollars short and with almost no spectators. We turn now to NPR's Tom Goldman in Tokyo. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

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Updated July 23, 2021 at 4:01 PM ET

TOKYO — In some ways, the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics looks very normal. Delegations of athletes decked out in clothes representing their countries march triumphantly into the stadium, waving flags. A beautifully choreographed spectacle from the host country, Japan, celebrates its art and traditions.

It's Opening Ceremony day in Tokyo, heralding the official start to another Olympics. Although we've already had two days of sports competition, there's the knowledge that once the smoke settles after tonight's ceremony-ending fireworks, the gates are flung open to 16 straight days of unprecedented drama.

As a reporter, it'll be fine to have a daily plan — but as always, I'll be ready to wad it up and throw it away as unforeseen stories capture the imagination.

So at this point, there is a sameness about these Tokyo Games.

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The Tokyo Summer Olympics officially begin Friday with the Opening Ceremony.

But the sports actually start today (8 p.m. ET).

Host nation Japan kicks off competition with a softball game against Australia.

With three first-day games (the other two are top-ranked U.S. vs Italy and Mexico vs Canada), softball is in the Olympic spotlight after being out of it for the past 13 years.

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And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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The NBA has long been considered the most progressive of the major professional sports leagues – teams and especially players have taken the lead with their activism and focus on social issues.

But coaching hires this week have critics wondering whether the NBA has taken a step back.

A difficult moment

As new Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups sat down for his introductory press conference on Tuesday, it was a difficult moment.

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The NBA is seen as the most progressive of the big professional sports leagues, often taking the lead on activism around social issues. But some coaching hires this week have people wondering whether the NBA's taken a step back.

A new era in college sports begins this week.

Following Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear's executive order allowing college athletes to be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness — known by its abbreviation "NIL" — at least seven states will put into effect NIL laws, on Thursday. The laws allow athletes to make money for things like endorsement deals, signing autographs and social media content.

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And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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College sports are about to change dramatically and Congress needs to act quickly in order to ensure fairness.

That was the message Wednesday on Capitol Hill, at a lengthy senate hearing about new state laws that'll allow college athletes to make money off the use of their name, image and likeness. The money would not be from the athlete's school.

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And now, as they say on the T-shirt, it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NBA fans have been flooding back into arenas for the playoffs.

The presence of ticket-purchasing and merchandise-buying humans, missing for more than a year during the coronavirus pandemic, has been a welcome sight for the cash-strapped league. Players have loved feeding off the excitement of live audiences.

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