International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach emphasized solidarity during his Opening Ceremony speech in Tokyo on Friday. Gov. Spencer Cox and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall are expressing it.
Earlier this week, they sent a letter of support to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike for hosting the Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus crisis.
“We greatly respect the obstacles you have had to overcome and the sacrifices you have made during the global pandemic,” the letter said. “And we are confident that your entire nation will gain from these Games a renewed spirit from having brought mankind together at this important time in our world’s history.”
Though no other Olympic host nation has ever had to manage anything quite like the pandemic, Japan isn’t the first to hold the Games amid a shroud of uncertainty, either.
In the letter, Cox and Mendenhall noted Salt Lake City faced its own challenges when hosting the Winter Games in 2002, just five months after 9/11.
“We, too, faced great uncertainty when our nation came under attack,” Cox and Mendenhall wrote. “The people of our state and our city persevered, sometimes against great odds, to ensure that we were able to use the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games as a platform to bring a spirit of unity by welcoming the athletes of the world. It is a unique role that only the Games can play!”
Utah has been selected as the United States’ next Winter Olympics host and is expected to make a bid for either 2030 or 2034. Cox has brought renewed energy and support from the state to the effort since taking office this year.
Softball: Urtez’s stellar defense not enough for Mexico to stop Chidester, Team USA
Except for one series of plays, Anissa Urtez and the Mexico national softball team went toe-to-toe with Amanda Chidester and top-ranked Team USA late Friday night during Olympic round-robin play at Yokohama Baseball Stadium in Tokyo.
Chidester and Haylie McCleney scored on a bases-loaded line drive to the outfield with two outs in the third inning to provide the only scores in Team USA’s 2-0 win. The Americans remain undefeated after three games. Mexico drops to 0-3.
Urtez, a former standout at the University of Utah, and Chidester are engaged and live together in Draper. This was their first and likely only meeting in the Olympics, and neither held back in her effort to bring her team to victory.
Urtez’s defense at shortstop proved ironclad. A diving catch to her right robbed Cat Osterman of what could have been a costly hit. She also made two of three put-outs in the seventh inning as Mexico held out hope for a bottom-of-the-inning rally and finished with a team-high four assists.
Chidester was originally slated to play right field but was moved to designated player before she even took the field. She scored while running for Dejah Mulipola.
“Mexico posed a tremendous challenge to us,” Team USA coach Ken Eriksen said. “With a roster full of former Team USA players that are good, we needed our ‘A’ game today.”
Team USA next plays Australia at 7 p.m. Saturday. It wraps up round-robin play Sunday at 7 p.m. against Japan in what will likely be repeated as the gold-medal matchup Tuesday at 5 a.m.
Mexico dealt with the three top-ranked teams in the tournament early and will now get Italy on Sunday and Australia on Monday, both at 5 a.m. MDT.
Rowing: Kathleen Noble says conditions in Tokyo a cross between Jordan River and the Great Salt Lake
Kathleen Noble, of Salt Lake City, placed third in her repechage heat of the women’s single sculls event Friday evening while racing for Uganda. She called the race “bad” but said even a good race probably wouldn’t have improved her position, allowing her to reach the quarterfinals.
“I would put today in the category of bad race,” she said, noting it started with being blown into the buoys. “In terms of quarterfinals, I think if I had raced my best, I could have gotten it. Even at my best, it would have had to take a really good race.”
Noble finished the 2,000-meter on the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo in 8 minutes, 36.01 seconds. That was 18.71 seconds behind Cuba’s Milena Venega Cancio, who won the heat. Venega Cancio will advance to the quarterfinals along with runner-up Wing Yan Winne Hung of Hong Kong (8:23.58).
Noble will move on to the E/F semifinal, which will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. MST. The fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the heat, Claire Ayivon of Togo and Esraa Khogali of Sudan, will also move on to the E/F semifinal.
Noble said the conditions in the waterway were much calmer than she expected, somewhere between the flat of the Jordan River Surplus Canal and the whitecaps of the Great Salt Lake, both of which she trained upon with Utah Crew for more than a year before the Games.
She credited the generally smooth waters to barriers organizers set up to reduce chop on the water. Those same barriers had to be cleared of oysters just prior to the races after they unexpectedly started to sink under the creatures’ weight.
“I didn’t see any mussels,” Noble said.
Well, at least not any of the bivalve kind.