Sue Bird doesn't see any contradiction in the U.S. team remaining on the court during national anthem at Olympics.
This is a big change for the four-time Olympic gold winner and her WNBA teammates. Players often leave the court during the WNBA season to help raise awareness about social justice before the anthem.
Bird said that wearing USA jerseys does not change the conversation about what you are representing. "With that, it doesn't make me feel hypocritical in any way. Everyone knows exactly where we stand. It doesn't contradict anything, since we are actually doing the work."
It would be logistically impossible for the U.S. not to be present on the court during the performance of the national anthem. Unlike WNBA games, where it is played approximately 10 minutes before tipoff time, the Olympics has it right before kickoff.
However, this doesn't mean that women won't continue to use the Olympic platform for raising awareness.
She and her Olympic teammates fought in Las Vegas' three exhibition games last week, and she hopes that the relationship will continue at the Tokyo Games.
Bird, who was a U.S. flag bearer at the opening ceremonies, believes people know where she and her WNBA teammates stand on social justice issues.
She said, "We all want to make our country a better place. That's what this is all about." "That's the mentality of an athlete, and there are no better people than athletes to help achieve that." What are we doing every day? What do we talk about every day? Getting better. ... "I believe we should approach our country this way."
Natalie Achonwa was asked her first question after she injured her MCL on June 12. She wanted to know if she would be ready for the Olympics.
Six weeks later, the forward of the Minnesota Lynx is ready to face Canada in its first match against Serbia on Monday.
"I can still remember the time I was hurt. After practice on Saturday, she said that she knew it was something after she fell. "I knew something was wrong. They performed a manual test on me and checked my ACL. It was good news! (The trainer) checked my MCL, and it was fine. I wanted to know how long I would be out. I asked them how long they would be out. They replied that it was between four and six weeks.
Achonwa stated that she was only four weeks away from the date of her injury when she left Japan. The six-week mark will be the opening week.
"On paper, I am ahead of schedule. "I've been given greenlight since we arrived and I have played in both of our exhibition games," Achonwa, 28, said. "I am grateful to my team in Minnesota and to my team here for pushing me to be ready for this. This is the third time I have said that this is an opportunity of a lifetime. It's a great feeling to be here. I'd climb mountains to do it."
On Friday night, eleven basketball players were selected to carry the flags of their countries in the opening ceremonies. Four women were also included.
Miranda Ayim from Canada, Sue Bird from the U.S. and Sonja Vasic, both of Serbia, are playing in the first 3-on-3 event. Onolbaatar was the first female flag-bearer for Mongolia.
Vasic stated that the Olympic committee allowed two flag bearers and made it possible for women and men to be represented equally. It was amazing to see how many basketball players, but especially... women, were given this honor."
Ayim, who is participating in her third Olympics, said that the image it created for the world was enormous.
Tom Hovasse, Japan's women's basketball coach, has been anticipating the Tokyo Games since years. This is an opportunity for his team to make a significant step in becoming a national basketball power and to gain more fans.
He said that basketball has become more popular in Japan, and other countries see Japan in a new light. The men's side of NBA players is taking it more seriously. We've seen some impressive success against top-tier players.
"I don’t believe we’re flying under radar. This could be a great stage to help us take another step in the right direction.
Hovasse played for Penn State in the 1980s. He also briefly played in the NBA with Atlanta Hawks. Hovasse was a professional basketball player in Japan for ten years before becoming a coach. In 2017, he was appointed as the head coach of the national team, becoming the first foreign-born coach. Before his promotion, he was an assistant to the team.
Hovasse would love to see a packed arena of Japanese fans but Hovasse understands that this is not possible due to the coronavirus.
"Hopefully, we can still show our game on TV for fans. In the past five years, I can see us growing more and more. He said that Japan women's basketball was a very popular sport. "Basketball is on the rise. We'll be able to catch some of the draft because we're a great product and a great product to watch.