Hello all, here’s another post on the 2020 Olympics overall and basketball, but it’s not on just one topic. There are three I have, one on fans going to the games and the other two are on 3x3 basketball.
No fans are allowed in the Tokyo Olympics.
Yesterday, the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government announced that there will be no fans allowed at the Olympics this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Japan is under a state of emergency that will go through Aug. 22, well after the games end.
This is not a surprise, because Japan recently had a surge of coronavirus cases. And ultimately, why can’t fans go to the Olympics in Tokyo? Vaccinations.
While Japan is a rich country, like the United States, Canada and the European Union’s group of 27, vaccinations there lag well behind their American and European peers. Currently, only 16.9 percent of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated and 28.6 percent are partially vaccinated (since most vaccines are of two doses anyway) against COVID-19.
So why is Japan doing worse with vaccinations, which is also preventing them from having an Olympics with fans? It’s due to a combination of issues like some vaccine hesitancy and that most vaccines are made in the USA, UK and/or the EU.
Comparatively speaking, 47.8 percent of the American population is vaccinated and 55.3 percent are partially vaccinated. The USA is now doing better than most of the world with vaccine rollouts, but Canada and the European Union in particular have surpassed us because their populations aren’t as vaccine-hesitant as we are. Today, per The Washington Post:
- Canada now has 69.4 percent of their population partially vaccinated and over 40 percent are fully protected.
- The UK is also better than the USA in both metrics with 68.2 percent of people getting at least one dose, and 51.2 percent fully vaccinated.
- Israel, one of the world’s early leaders in this area is still well above the United States with a fully vaccinated rate of 57.3 percent.
- Malta, one of the EU’s 27 countries, is now the world’s leader in vaccination rates with 78.1 percent FULLY VACCINATED. Belgium and the Netherlands are the next two EU countries with the best vaccination rates at 65.2% partial/38.9% full and 64.5% partial/38.7% full, respectively. While the Belgian and Dutch full vaccination rates are lower than ours right now, expect that to change in the coming weeks.
This topic has devolved from the fact that the games won’t have fans to a PSA about vaccines. But I don’t regret that since they are the key to opening up society. If you haven’t already, please do so here.
Locally, D.C.’s, Maryland’s and Virginia’s vaccination rates are higher than the national average and on par with the world’s vaccination leaders like Canada, the UK, Israel Malta, Belgium, and the Netherlands. However, every vaccine counts.
(End of PSA)
Former Mystics center Stefanie Dolson is going to the Olympics on the USA Basketball women’s national 3x3 team!
With so much news going on about the Washington Wizards’ head coaching search last month and the team’s postseason run in the month before that, I just didn’t have time to focus on some other topics like the Olympics. So this is late news, but better late than never.
The 2020 Olympics won’t just have traditional 5x5 basketball for both men’s and women’s teams. There will also be 3x3 basketball, again for both men’s and women’s teams. There will be eight countries represented in the Olympics for both tournaments, and the United States will be in the women’s tournament. I’ll get to the men’s tournament later.
The 3x3 roster includes Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum, Dallas Wings guard Allisha Gray, Seattle Storm forward Katie Lou Samuelson and Chicago Sky center Stefanie Dolson.
Of the four players, Dolson is the most familiar to us, because she was drafted by the Washington Mystics in 2014 with the No. 6 overall and played three seasons here where she made an All-Star team in 2015. Dolson was traded for Elena Delle Donne before the 2017 season to the Chicago Sky and Dolson made a second All-Star appearance in 2017, where she averaged a career-high 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. And she is making 45.5 percent of her three point shots (about 0.8 makes per game) this season, so she will stretch defenses in the 3x3 game.
The Americans made the Olympics after winning a semifinals game against Spain in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria on May 30. There was no championship game since the tournament’s purpose was to give out Olympic bids.
The Americans’ first game is against France on July 24 at 4:55 a.m. ET. Since games are played to 21 and have a 12 second shot clock, the games are much shorter and they will play their second game against Mongolia later that day.
The teams in the Olympics besides the USA, France and Mongolia are China, Italy, Romania, Russia (as the Russian Olympic Committee) and Japan.
The USA men’s 3x3 team was eliminated from Olympic contention after a loss to the Netherlands in the qualifiers last May.
The USA is the world’s best country in basketball. But that headline above must also be a joke, right?
The American men were in the same tournament in Austria that the women were in. Team USA lost to the Dutch in the quarterfinals, 21-16. If the Americans won, they would have played in the semifinals where a win in that round would have given them a spot.
So who was on the team? Unlike the women’s 3x3 squad which is made of starter and All-Star caliber active WNBA players, the men’s team is made of former professional players, but with extensive college experience.
- Joey King: Played at Minnesota for college where he averaged 11.6 ppg as a senior in 2015-16 and in Finland professionally.
- Robbie Hummel: Played at Purdue from 2007-12 and averaged 13.1 ppg during his career there. He played two NBA seasons for the Minnesota Timberwolves and additionally in Europe. Today, he’s better known as an ESPN and Big Ten Network analyst.
- Dominique Jones: Played Division II basketball at Fort Hays State fom 2009-11. He played briefly in Europe and for the Harlem Globetrotters but now works for Rising Ground, a juvenile justice program in the Bronx according to his USA Basketball profile.
- Kareem Maddox: Played four years at Princeton from 2007-11 and was the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Year in his senior season. After college he played professionally in the Netherlands and UK. Today, he works in media as a producer and once worked at Gimlet Media, a podcast company. Rodger Sherman of The Ringer had a feature on him and Hummel when the Americans were about to play in the 2019 FIBA 3x3 World Cup in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
So contrary to popular belief, it’s not like USA Basketball just took four “random dudes at the gym” and had them play against other squads that had a lot of training. Maddox and Hummel have also been long-time veterans of the FIBA 3x3 game. When they went to the World Cup in Amsterdam, Team USA won the Gold Medal in men’s basketball which gave them a spot to this year’s qualifier.
It’s unfortunate that the American men didn’t win an Olympic berth in Austria like their female counterparts, but there are only eight Olympic spots, which almost always forces some very good countries out of the running, unfortunately. But it’s also interesting to see what the future holds for the USA in 3x3, especially since two members from this squad were part of a World Cup-winning team just two years ago.
The next 3x3 World Cup will be held in Antwerp, Belgium in June 2022 when we’ll see whether the Americans can keep the title there.
As for the Olympics, the eight teams in the Olympic men’s 3x3 competition are Japan, China, Russia (as the Russian Olympic Committee), Serbia, Poland, the Netherlands, Latvia and Belgium.