Thursday, July 07, 2022

July 21, 2021  Grace Luczak had left competitive rowing and taken a job in the private sector when a move toward gender equity at the Tokyo Games lured her back into a boat. A women’s rowing event was added to create a more inclusive Olympics, which meant four additional seats on the U.S. team and a spot for Luczak.

“It’s really hard to make the decision to come back, to plan financially to be out of work for a year,” Luczak said. She thought a second consecutive Games wasn’t possible for a veteran until the seats were added.

“There are four more seats. Four. And it’s the first gender-equal Olympics. How can you not try?”

Most of the public attention goes to the big sports — gymnastics, swimming, track and field — but away from the spotlight, women from niche sports are being recognized and given an Olympics chance.

The International Olympic Committee added 18 new events to the Tokyo Games in a push toward gender equity. There are an equal number of women and men for every sport, excluding baseball and softball because of differing roster sizes.

The IOC said women’s participation in Tokyo will be 49%, up from 45% at Rio, a nearly even split with the men. The committee also noted that when women made their Olympic debut at the Paris Games in 1900, there were only 22 females out of 997 total athletes. Those pioneers competed across five sports, among them croquet and equestrian.

“Tokyo 2020 is predicted to be the most gender-equal yet with female participation,” the IOC said.

The new opportunities come in several sports and several sizes: Great Britain, for example, is sending more women than men to the Olympics for the first time. In water polo, two additional teams were added, for a total of 10. It’s still two shy of the men’s tournament, but a win for the women’s movement.

Gains for women in many cases meant fewer opportunities for men. Boxing will feature 100 women in five classes, up from 36 fighters over three classes in Rio. But two men’s classes were dropped.

Weightlifting this year is equal at seven teams for both men and women, but reached the mark by dropping a men’s team. Women’s canoeing was added, but the men’s 200 and men’s kayak double 200 were dropped — a decision met with unfavorable reaction from male athletes when it was announced in 2016.

Erik Vlcek, who took silver with Slovakia in Rio, argued when women’s canoe was added that females should only kayak because females canoeing “doesn’t look good.” A Czech paddler joked canoeing is harmful to a woman’s posture.

The changes went through, to multiple sports, with rifle probably undergoing the most change. The sport lost men’s prone rifle, men’s free pistol and men’s double trap, all replaced by mixed team events in air rifle, air pistol and trap.

Luczak, now 32, knows she benefited at the expense of male teammates. The women’s coxless four returns to competition for the first time since 1992, but it replaces the men’s lightweight coxless four.

“It’s not great when you have to take something away from the men’s side to add to the women’s. It’s never fun seeing people find out their opportunity is gone,” Luczak said. “But in creating an equal number of opportunities, it shows there is a pathway for female athletes.”

Luczak left her fiancé behind at home and moved in with a host family in Princeton, New Jersey, while she trained. She also traded a paycheck for a stipend, simply because the four additional seats were too tantalizing for her to not even try.

Tightening the gender gap was a cause for many women. The equality issues were heightened when discrepancies for men and women were exposed at this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. Images shared on social media of the women’s grossly underequipped weight room became the symbol for the injustices all female athletes have suffered in the shadow of men.

Former Stanford water polo player Maggie Steffens said the gender inequality at the NCAA tournament “hurt my heart to see” but was also an eye-opener. Steffens is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time Olympic MVP and captain of the U.S. women’s team, but she had always assumed the better-known women’s sports received better treatment than water polo.

“The women’s basketball teams are in the tournament, they have all these fans, they’re on TV and you think ‘Look how lucky they are,’” Steffens said. “But the behind-the-scenes stuff comes out and you find out they have it just the same as you.

“For it to all come out and see it from the athletes’ point of view, for what people don’t see to now be visible, maybe it showed that women can get it done. We don’t need all the fancy stuff, we don’t care. We’ll do it anyway.”

Not every addition was a blow to men’s sports. Swimming added the 1,500-meter freestyle for women for the first time, while the men’s 800 free was returned to competition for the first time since 1904. The mixed-gender relay makes its Olympic debut.

Five new sports were added this year — baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing — and the IOC demanded they have equal numbers of men and women.

There are still large gaps to close, particularly in funding and prize money outside of the Olympics. Steffens this year saw a long push for equal pay at one particular tournament come to fruition and posted a photo of the triumph labeled #equalpay. Pioneer women’s water polo player Maureen O’Toole commented, “Wait what. You get paid!! That must be nice!!!” on the social media post.

“It made me think, who in 20 years am I going to comment on and say, ‘Look at what you’re getting now?’” Steffens said. “It’s just amazing that this doorway is open and little girls who have dreams like I had can stand on my shoulders and make it farther and make it better.”

SXM Radio Online

Entertainment

September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

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