USA star defends team for walking back protest

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Sue Bird sees nary contradiction with the U.S. squad staying connected the tribunal during the nationalist anthem astatine the Olympics.

It's a alteration for the four-time Olympic golden medalist and her WNBA teammates. During the WNBA play players usually permission the tribunal to rise consciousness for societal justness earlier the anthem is played astatine games.

"You are wearing USA jerseys and it does alteration the speech a small spot and what you're representing," Bird told The Associated Press aft signifier connected Saturday. "With that, I don't consciousness similar a hypocrite successful immoderate way. Everyone knows wherever we stand. I don't deliberation it contradicts thing since we're really doing the work."

OLYMPICS LIVE BLOG: DAY 2 UPDATES, NEWS, RESULTS

Logistically it would besides beryllium hard for the U.S. to not beryllium connected the tribunal for the playing of the anthem. Unlike WNBA games erstwhile it's played astir 10 minutes earlier tipoff, astatine the Olympics it's done close earlier the commencement of games.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 16: Sue Bird #6 of the United States passes the shot up the tribunal against the Australia Opals during an accumulation crippled astatine Michelob ULTRA Arena up of the Tokyo Olympic Games connected July 16, 2021 successful Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) (Getty)

That doesn't mean the women won't usage the Olympic level to proceed to rise awareness.

She and her Olympic teammates locked arms earlier 3 accumulation games successful Las Vegas past week and she expects that to proceed during the Tokyo Games.

Bird, who was a U.S. emblem bearer astatine the opening ceremony, believes radical cognize wherever she and her WNBA teammates basal connected societal justness issues.

"We each privation our state to beryllium a amended spot and that's what this is about," she said. "That's an athlete's mentality and there's truly nary amended radical to bash that than athletes. What bash we bash each azygous day? What bash we speech about? Getting better. ... I deliberation we should attack our state that way."

Meet the megastars of the Tokyo Games: Part One

HEALTHY ACHONWA

Natalie Achonwa's archetypal question erstwhile she sprained her MCL connected June 12 was would she beryllium acceptable for the Olympics.

Six weeks aboriginal the Minnesota Lynx guardant is acceptable to spell for Canada successful its opener against Serbia connected Monday.

"I retrieve erstwhile I got hurt. I knew it was thing erstwhile I went down," she told AP aft signifier connected Saturday. "I knew thing wasn't right. They did the manual trial and checked my ACL and it was good thankfully. (The trainer) was checking my MCL and she thought it was that. I asked however agelong I'd beryllium retired for. They said 4 to six weeks and that was the goal."

Achonwa said that it was 4 weeks to the time of the wounded erstwhile she near for Japan and the opener volition beryllium the six-week mark.

"On insubstantial I americium up of schedule. I've been greenlighted since we got present and I played successful some our accumulation games," the 28-year-old Achonwa said. "I'm grateful to the squad successful Minnesota and my squad present to propulsion maine to get acceptable for this. This is my 3rd clip saying that this is simply a erstwhile successful a beingness chance. I'm conscionable blessed to beryllium here. I'd ascent mountains to bash it."

Meet the megastars of the Tokyo Games: Part Two

Eleven hoops players were chosen arsenic emblem carriers for the opening ceremonial Friday night, including 4 women.

Miranda Ayim of Canada, Sue Bird of the U.S., Sonja Vasic of Serbia and Khulan Onolbaatar of Mongolia, who is playing successful the inaugural 3-on-3 event. Onolbaatar became the archetypal pistillate emblem bearer for Mongolia.

Vasic said the determination by the Olympic committee to let 2 emblem bearers "opened the doorway for us. And it was chill to spot however galore hoops players but particularly ... women got that honor."

Ayim, who is playing successful her 3rd Olympics said the representation it portrayed to the satellite was huge.

RISING JAPAN

Japan's women's hoops manager Tom Hovasse has been looking guardant to the Tokyo Games for years. He feels this is simply a accidental for his squad to instrumentality a large measurement towards becoming much recognized arsenic a hoops powerfulness and summation fans successful the country.

"Basketball has gotten bigger and much fashionable successful Japan and different countries are seeing Japan successful a antithetic airy arsenic well," helium said. "The men's broadside with NBA players, they are taking it much seriously. For us, we've had immoderate beauteous bully occurrence against top-tier teams.

"I don't deliberation we're flying nether the radar. We're looking to instrumentality different measurement successful the close absorption and this could beryllium large signifier for that."

Hovasse, who played astatine Penn State successful the precocious 1980s and had a little stint successful the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks, played professionally successful Japan for 10 years earlier becoming a coach. He was fixed the nationalist squad coaching occupation successful 2017, becoming the archetypal foreign-born caput coach. He had been an adjunct connected the squad earlier his promotion.

Hovasse would person loved to person a packed arena afloat of Japanese fans, but understands however that's not imaginable due to the fact that of the coronavirus.

"Hopefully we tin inactive amusement disconnected our crippled connected TV for fans. I deliberation the past 5 years I spot america stepping up further and further. Japan women's hoops is simply a fashionable sport," helium said. "Basketball successful wide is connected the upswing. We'll drawback immoderate of that draught since we're a amusive product, a bully merchandise to watch."

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