Astronauts on the space station held their own Olympics, complete with synchronized air swimming – watch the videos

four astronauts touch feet in mid-air on space station
“Team Dragon” touches feet during their synchronized space swimming routine. Left to right: Akihiko Hoshide, Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet, and Shane Kimbrough.

While Olympians on Earth were sprinting, sparring, and contending with misbehaving horses, astronauts on the International Space Station held their own friendly competitions in microgravity.

In the first-ever “Space Olympics,” the seven-person ISS crew faced off last week in ball games, target practice, and flipping and floating routines.

“We did give medals to each other, but it was always unanimous,” NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei told Insider in a recent call from the space station.

Thomas Pesquet, a European Space Agency astronaut, posted videos of each competition on Twitter. The main event was synchronized space swimming, in which the astronauts used their weightlessness to perform coordinated dances that would be impossible on Earth. For the full effect, turn the volume up on the video below.

The crew split up into two teams – Soyuz and Dragon – named for the spacecraft that carried them to the ISS.

Team Soyuz members launched to space aboard Russia’s Soyuz rocket; the group included Vande Hei and cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy. Team Dragon is the second full crew to launch aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship: NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, along with Pesquet and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Team Dragon took the gold for their synchronized space-swimming routine, in which they shimmied, leapfrogged, summersaulted, and touched feet in mid-air.

“It was really, really impressive,” Vande Hei said.

Ball games and target practice work differently in space

seven astronauts crowded together smiling on space station
Left to right: Mark Vande Hei, Thomas Pesquet, Oleg Novitskiy, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough, Akihiko Hoshide, and Pyotr Dubrov.

Having a little fun is crucial for making it through a six-month stint on the football-field sized orbiting laboratory.

“We deal with frustration with humor,” McArthur told Insider.

Laughter came easily when the astronauts played “no-handball,” in which they used only their breath to move a ping-pong ball into nearby doorways, or “hatches,” that served as goals.

The game looked difficult.

“We had to adapt the rules a bit during the match,” Pesquet said on Twitter.

They also competed in “sharpshooting,” using their thumbs to slingshot stretchy bands at a black-and-white target.

The astronauts even took inspiration from Olympic gymnasts with a “lack-of-floor routine.” Each crew member showed off their best flips, twists, handstands, wall crawls, and other stunts (while bumping into a few things along the way).

The crew wrapped up their competitions with a little ceremony. Hoshide, who is Japanese, passed a printout of the Olympic rings to Pesquet, who is French, symbolizing the end of the Tokyo games on Earth and looking forward to the Paris games in 2024.

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Biden told the US Olympic athletes over a Zoom call that he is ‘so damn proud’ of them for their ‘grace’ and ‘decency’

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk on the South Lawn of the White House after stepping off Marine One, Sunday, July 18, 2021, in Washington. The Bidens are returning to Washington after spending the weekend at Camp David.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk on the South Lawn of the White House after stepping off Marine One, Sunday, July 18, 2021, in Washington. The Bidens are returning to Washington after spending the weekend at Camp David.

  • President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden met with Team USA on a Zoom call Saturday.
  • The president told the olympians he was proud and that they “represent the soul of the country.”
  • He also praised specific athletes, including swimmer Katie Ledecky and gymnast Simone Biles.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden praised the US Olympic athletes over a Zoom call on Saturday as the Tokyo Games are coming to a close.

Tuning in from their home in Delaware, Biden and First Lady Jill Biden met with Team USA on a call that was livestreamed by the White House.

“You handle yourself with such grace, and such decency, just – you made me so damn proud,” Biden told the olympians.

Read more: 2 Olympic gold medalists share how they managed their mental health at this year’s games

He specifically called out swimmer Katie Ledecky, who won two golds and two silvers, saying she “can probably swim a mile quicker than most people could run a mile.”

He also praised gymnast Simone Biles for the “courage” she showed by competing in a final event on the balance beam after previously pulling out of five medal events, citing struggles with her mental health, and still taking home the bronze.

Biden told the olympians that in addition to their athletic performances, he was proud of the way they carried themselves.

“You really represented America, you represent the soul of the country,” the president said. “It wasn’t just your athletic ability, it was your moral courage.”

The closing ceremony is on Sunday morning. As of Saturday evening, the US had more medals than any other country.

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Megan Rapinoe responds to Trump over criticism of US women’s soccer team: ‘You’re rooting for people to do bad?’

Megan Rapinoe.
Megan Rapinoe, left, is pictured with other members of the US women’s soccer team.

  • Megan Rapinoe called Trump’s criticism of the US women’s soccer team a “sad dig.”
  • Trump accused the team of being “woke” and not focused on winning during their Olympic run.
  • Rapinoe has publicly clashed with Trump in the past, spurning a 2019 invite to visit the White House.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

American soccer star Megan Rapinoe on Friday responded to former President Donald Trump’s assertion that the women’s national team would have captured a gold medal instead of bronze at the Tokyo Olympics if they weren’t “woke.”

During an interview with NBC, Rapinoe, who helped lead the team to a 4-3 win over Australia to win the bronze medal, was asked if she had seen Trump’s statement castigating the team. The former president, in a statement issued by his Save America PAC, accused the soccer players of being “woke” and not focused on winning.

“Woke means you lose, everything that is woke goes bad, and our soccer team certainly has,” he said. “If our soccer team, headed by a radical group of Leftist Maniacs, wasn’t woke, they would have won the Gold Medal instead of the Bronze.”

On Monday, the US team was upset by Canada 1-0 in a semifinals match, putting them out of contention for the Olympic gold medal. The Canadian team went on to defeat Sweden and win gold.

Rapinoe, who in 2019 tussled with Trump after spurning an invite to visit the White House to mark the team’s FIFA World Cup victory, said that she heard about the former president’s statement but did not have much to offer in response.

“It’s a real sad dig into an old bag,” she said of Trump’s comments. “I’m just like, ‘You’re rooting for people to do bad?’ Yikes.”

Read more: How Jen Psaki can cash in on her White House experience

In his statement, Trump took direct aim at Rapinoe, who helped lead the team to a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics and was a key team member during its 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament victories.

“The woman with the purple hair played terribly and spends too much time thinking about Radical Left politics and not doing her job!” he said.

Rapinoe, who scored a rare corner-kick goal known as an “Olimpico” during the match against Australia, expressed that while the team did not experience “the tournament we wanted” while in Tokyo, she was proud of the team’s efforts during the final game.

“The performance we had in the last game, that’s who we want to be and that’s who we are,” she said.

In 2019, Rapinoe deemed herself a “walking protest” to Trump’s agenda, and as the team was working toward its eventual World Cup win that year, she dismissed any sort of White House invite and said she was “not going to the f—— White House’ to celebrate.

While Rapinoe later apologized for her language, she did not back down from her criticism of Trump.

Trump responded to her at the time on Twitter by saying she “should win before she talks.”

Rapinoe has been highly outspoken on issues surrounding equity, including tackling the gender pay gap and strong support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

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Epic wildfires threaten Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games in Greece

Greece wildfires
Wildfires continue to rage in Greece.

  • Wildfires continue to rage across Greece, as well as Turkey, Italy, and Spain.
  • Thousands of residents have been evacuated, with their homes destroyed.
  • Ancient Olympia is under threat from the fires, with over 250 wildfires sparked in recent days.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, is under threat by the wildfires that continue to rage on in Greece.

The fires, which started in late July and have been burning for over two weeks now, are raging towards archaeological sites in Olympia.

Under threat are some of Olympia’s most fabulous monuments, including the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Zeus. Meanwhile, the original site of the Olympics where the games were held from 776 BC to 393 AD, is also in danger from the infernos.

Firefighters had previously stopped three fires from reaching the site on Wednesday, but it is now under threat again. More than 250 wildfires have been blazing in the last few days, with 154 documented on Friday alone.

Ancient Olympia
The birthplace of the Olympic Games.

Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes, with around 20 houses destroyed in the fires yesterday alone. Over 50 firetrucks, six helicopters, 170 firefighters, and a water-bombing aircraft have been utilized in the battle to wrangle the fires under control.

As reported by Sky News, one of the volunteer firefighters was killed in the fires while thousands were evacuated from the island of Evia, which lies near to Athens. The volunteer died after a utility pole hit his head, officials said.

At least 20 people have been left needing hospital treatment across Greece, according to Sky News, while various farm animals have been killed and multiple business and homes destroyed.

Greece wildfires destroyed house
Greece has been ravaged by wildfires.

On the island of Evia, residents and holidaymakers staying in the village of Limni were forced to flee to the harbour after all other exit routes from the village were cut off by the fires.

“Our priority is always the protection of human life followed by the protection of property, the natural environment and critical infrastructure. Unfortunately, under these circumstances, achieving all these aims at the same time is simply impossible,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the prime minister, said in an address to the nation on TV.

In total, an estimate of 5,000 acres has burned, with temperatures reaching 107.6F – the highest temperature in Greece since 1987.

The worst, however, may still be yet to come.

Strong winds are predicted to arrive in Greece, which will only fan and increase the fires.

In a statement to broadcaster ERT, head of the coast guard of Aidipsos, Evia, Sotiris Danikas, said: “We’re talking about the apocalypse, I don’t know how to describe it.”

Extreme weather has been hitting several countries worldwide, with Turkey, Italy, and Spain also engulfed in battles against wildfires as southern Europe deals with record-breaking temperatures.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to watch the Tokyo Olympics – the closing ceremony streams live this Sunday on Peacock

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Simone Biles
Simone Biles won the bronze medal in the balance beam final at the Tokyo Olympics.

  • The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo began on July 23 and will run through August 8.
  • NBC is providing live coverage of the games on its networks, along with select events on Peacock.
  • Check out our schedule breakdowns for track and field, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, and swimming.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The Tokyo Olympics held its opening ceremonies on July 23 after a one-year delay, welcoming thousands of athletes from 205 countries and states. The international competition will continue through August 8 with events from 33 different sports.

Live broadcasts and streamed events continue this weekend on NBC and other NBC affiliate networks. Free highlights and select live events are also available on Peacock, NBC’s streaming service. You can find full channel details and schedules for track and field, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, and soccer events in our individual articles for each sport.

The Closing Ceremony will be streamed live on Peacock, NBCOlympics.com, and the NBC Sports app at 7 a.m. ET on August 8. Following the live streaming coverage, the Closing Ceremony will be rebroadcast in primetime on NBC at 8 p.m. ET.

How to watch the Olympics

megan rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe and the US Women’s Soccer team will no longer be eligible for a gold medal at Tokyo 2020 after suffering losses to Sweden and Canada.

To watch the Olympics you’ll need access to NBC and its affiliated networks. Olympic coverage is spread across multiple NBC channels, including NBC Sports Network, CNBC, the Olympic Channel, the Golf Channel, and USA; Telemundo and Universo carry Spanish language coverage. You can find channel details and schedules for track and field, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, and soccer in our breakdowns for each sport.

If you have a pay-TV provider with access to NBC’s various channels, you can use your account information to stream every Olympic event online via the NBC Sports app or the NBCOlympics website. You can also visit NBCOlympics.com to view the daily Olympics schedule with specific network information for every event.

NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, also features daily highlights, docuseries, commentary, and a limited selection of live events for free. Peacock is available on iOS and Android devices, Roku, Amazon Fire, Xbox, web browsers, and select smart TVs.

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Live TV services with NBC coverage of the Olympics

If you don’t already have a cable or TV provider, you can use a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, or FuboTV to watch the Olympics live on channels like NBC, NBC Sports, and USA.

Of those options, Sling’s Blue plan is the most affordable at $35 a month ($10 for your first month) for NBC, USA, and NBC Sports. However, to watch all of NBC’s live Olympic coverage on Sling, you’ll need to add the $11 sports package to get access to the Olympic Channel and Golf Channel, as well as the $6 news package for CNBC.

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How to watch the Olympics Closing Ceremony

The Tokyo Olympics Closing Ceremony will be streamed live on Peacock, NBCOlympics.com, and the NBC Sports app at 7 a.m. ET on August 8. To watch on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app you’ll need an authenticated pay-TV account with access to NBC.

If you can’t tune in for the live coverage, the Closing Ceremony will be rebroadcast in primetime on NBC at 8 p.m. ET.

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Key dates for the Tokyo Olympics

Katie Ledecky
US swimming star Katie Ledecky won two gold medals and two silver medals at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Athletes wearing ‘super spikes’ are dominating Olympic track and field, and Nike’s shoes lead the way

USA's Sydney McLaughlin on the way to winning the gold medal in the Women's 400m Hurdles
US sprinter Sydney McLaughlin in the women’s 400-meter hurdle final at the Tokyo Olympics on August 4, 2021.

During the Olympic trials in June, US sprinter Sydney McLaughlin broke the world record in the women’s 400-meter hurdle event, finishing in less than 52 seconds. Then on Wednesday, McLaughlin broke her own record by almost half a second at the Tokyo Olympics. The next runner to cross the finish line also broke McLaughlin’s June record, yet had to settle for silver.

It was the same story on the men’s side: The winner and runner-up of the 400-meter hurdle final both smashed the previous world record.

All four of these runners, as well as many others this year, were wearing a relatively new type of shoe technology known as super spikes.

“If we look at the whole landscape, most people are convinced these ‘super spikes’ are definitely a factor,” Laura Healey, a researcher in Puma’s footwear innovation department, told Insider.

Super spikes are any track and field shoes that utilize the combination of a stiff plate and pliable foam to give runners more energy back with each footfall. Nike debuted the first such spikes in 2019, forcing companies like Adidas, Puma, New Balance, and Saucony to design their own versions.

These new spikes are changing what’s possible on the track, though that’s leading some former and current track stars to worry about the integrity of the sport. Here’s how super spikes work.

Lightweight, resilient foam is the key to energetic efficiency

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly shoe
Nike’s ZoomX Dragonfly shoe.

In the past, spikes were designed simply to protect the bottom of a runner’s feet and give traction (spikes, in this case, refers to shoes, not the tiny pointed pieces of metal of the same name). They were made to be as light as possible, with almost no foam – “kind of like functional sandals,” Geoff Burns, a sport performance researcher at the University of Michigan, told Insider.

That’s because older types of foam were heavy; think of the ethylene vinyl acetate that’s used in exercise mats, for example. So every 100 grams of foam meant about a 1% loss in energetic efficiency. But then came new foam formulations like Nike’s ZoomX, which uses polyether block amide, or Pebax, foam. Pebax is almost miraculously lightweight.

“It was mind-blowing, and allowed shoe companies and scientists to rethink their assumptions,” Burns said. “What a shoe could do for the body changed.”

The new foam is softer than its predecessors – offering athletes more comfort as it’s compressed – and remarkably resilient. After ZoomX foam gets squished, it bounces back to its original shape, returning 85% of the energy that the runner used to compress the foam. (By comparison, ethylene foam gives back between 60% and 70%.)

“That’s why we didn’t see super spikes until now,” Healey said. “Previously, the foam wasn’t resilient enough to merit adding it into the shoe.”

Karsten Warholm hurdling at the Tokyo Olympics.
Karsten Warholm in the men’s 400-meter hurdles final at the Tokyo Olympics on August 3, 2021.

The super spikes’ other key component, stiff plates made of carbon fiber or hard plastic, help sprinters run on their toes. Most people run heel-to-toe, striking the ground with the back of their foot then rolling forward to push off with their toes. But that’s an energetically costly process that involves slowing down with each step, according to Kyle Barnes, a marathoner and movement-science researcher at Grand Valley State University in Missouri.

Barnes told Insider that when he tried Nike’s ZoomX Dragonflys, a super spike Nike released a year ago, the shoes instead “teeter-tottered” forward, keeping him running solely on his toes and midfeet.

“Like a glorified version of falling down a hill,” he said.

Are super spikes fair?

nike air zoom maxfly
A shot of the underside of a Nike Air Zoom Maxfly shoe.

Since Nike released its first super-spike prototypes in 2019, runners using the shoes have broken records in the 1,500-meter, 5,000-meter, and 10,000-meter events, Outside Online reported. Although other brands now utilize similar designs, some athletes are still concerned that Nike shoes confer an unfair advantage.

After Norwegian sprinter Karsten Warholm won the men’s 400-meter hurdle event in Tokyo, he criticized his US opponent Rai Benjamin – who placed second – for wearing Nike Air Zoom Maxfly super spikes. Maxflys have a component that Nike calls a “Zoom Air unit” under the forefoot: a springy, pliable cushion that helps runners conserve more energy per footfall.

Warholm, who is sponsored by Puma, called the technology “bulls—,” comparing the soles to trampolines and saying the shoes take credibility away from the sport.

Healey said that although Warholm’s Puma super spike has a carbon-fiber plate similar to Nike’s, Nike’s air unit “has a higher energy return than foams, and Nike has patented this tech.”

Nike, meanwhile, told Insider that the same three components – carbon fiber, foam, and air – have all been used in running shoes for decades, both Nike’s and others.

“We’re just smarter about how we engineer and assemble them,” the company said.

Usain Bolt, too, has complained about super spikes, though he did not call out Nike specifically. Bolt, who won the men’s 100-meter and 200-meter sprints at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics, said super spikes give current runners an advantage over previous record-holders.

Nike Air Zoom Maxfly
Nike’s Air Zoom Maxfly shoe.

“It’s weird and unfair for a lot of athletes,” Bolt told Reuters.

None of the super spikes in use at the Tokyo Games violate any rules, according to guidelines from World Athletics, the international governing body of track and field.

Burns said super-spike technology probably matters less for shorter races, including the 400-meter, since energetic efficiency is less of a factor when a race is over in under a minute.

“Sprinting is constrained by absolute power output,” he said.

Nike’s spikes could be 2% more efficient – but other shoes are in the same ballpark

According to Burns, Nike’s super spikes are essentially pared down versions of the company’s successful Vaporfly shoe, which have changed the marathon world over the last five years.

“It’s the same basic recipe,” he said. “They’ve taken their lessons from the road shoe and adapted them to the track.”

Vaporflys are the road-running versions of super spikes – they also have a stiff plate and resilient foam. A Nike-funded study by independent researchers found the shoes confer about 4% more energy efficiency per footfall. Athletes using Vaporflys dominated the Rio Olympics in 2016, as well as every major long-distance road race thereafter.

Competing companies scrambled to catch up to the Vaporfly tech, then had to do so again after Nike debuted its first super spikes Burns thinks the Olympics’ year-long delay bought those competitors time to catch up.

“Had the Olympics happened last summer, this would’ve been a joke,” he said.

Karsten Warholm Rai Benjamin Tokyo Olympics
Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin compete in the 400-meter hurdles final in Tokyo on August 3, 2021.

Nike’s spikes don’t come with a neat number like the Vaporfly’s 4% energy savings, since that figure was calculated based on how much oxygen athletes suck in and carbon dioxide they let out. That measure becomes meaningless when runners cross from aerobic exercise – which uses oxygen – into anaerobic work, which doesn’t. Almost all sprinting is anaerobic.

Still, Burns estimated Nike’s super spikes might confer about an energy advantage of 1.5% to 2%.

“When I look at the 1,500-meter result, in the back of my mind I’m thinking two to three seconds faster,” he said, adding, “I hate to say it, it’s sort of become an arms race.”

mens 100m final tokyo
Sprinters compete in the final of the men’s 100-meter sprint at the Tokyo Olympics, August 1, 2021.

Nike, for its part, said runners’ achievements are never about their shoes alone.

“Time and again, we’ve proven in our labs that Nike racing shoes and spikes provide measurable benefits – but ultimately, it’s the athletes on the track and on the roads who validate our work,” the company said.

Plenty of athletes are winning medals wearing non-Nike shoes. In the men’s 110-meter hurdle race on Thursday, runners wearing Puma, Adidas, and Nike took the the top three spots – in that order. The men’s 400-meter winner was wearing Adidas spikes, and the 200-meter winner wore Pumas. When she broke the 400-meter hurdle world record, McLaughlin was wearing New Balance.

Healey said a lot of new super spikes confer an advantage that’s in the same ballpark as Nike’s.

“It doesn’t seem to be all Nike shoes on the podium,” she said. “We’re in a new era of super spikes.”

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How to watch the Tokyo Olympics – live track and field, basketball, and soccer events continue this week

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Simone Biles
Simone Biles won the bronze medal in the balance beam final at the Tokyo Olympics.

  • The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo began on July 23 and will run through August 8.
  • NBC is providing live coverage of the games on its networks, along with select events on Peacock.
  • Check out our schedule breakdowns for track and field, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, and swimming.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The Tokyo Olympics held its opening ceremonies on July 23 after a one-year delay, welcoming thousands of athletes from 205 countries and states. The international competition will continue through August 8 with events from 33 different sports.

Live broadcasts and streamed events from Tokyo are available every day on NBC and other NBC affiliate networks. Free highlights and select live events are also available on Peacock, NBC’s streaming service. You can find full channel details and schedules for track and field, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, and soccer events in our individual articles for each sport.

Because the event was originally planned for last year, this year’s Summer Olympics are still being called the Tokyo 2020 Games. Japan hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998, and last hosted the summer games in 1964. New sports at this year’s Olympics include skateboarding, karate, and 3-on-3 basketball.

How to watch the Olympics

megan rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe and the US Women’s Soccer team will no longer be eligible for a gold medal at Tokyo 2020 after suffering losses to Sweden and Canada.

To watch the Olympics you’ll need access to NBC and its affiliated networks. Olympic coverage is spread across multiple NBC channels, including NBC Sports Network, CNBC, the Olympic Channel, the Golf Channel, and USA; Telemundo and Universo carry Spanish language coverage. You can find channel details and schedules for track and field, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, and soccer in our breakdowns for each sport.

If you have a pay-TV provider with access to NBC’s various channels, you can use your account information to stream every Olympic event online via the NBC Sports app or the NBCOlympics website. You can also visit NBCOlympics.com to view the daily Olympics schedule with specific network information for every event.

NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, also features daily highlights, docuseries, commentary, and a limited selection of live events for free. Peacock is available on iOS and Android devices, Roku, Amazon Fire, Xbox, web browsers, and select smart TVs.

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Live TV services with NBC coverage of the Olympics

If you don’t already have a cable or TV provider, you can use a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, or FuboTV to watch the Olympics live on channels like NBC, NBC Sports, and USA.

Of those options, Sling’s Blue plan is the most affordable at $35 a month ($10 for your first month) for NBC, USA, and NBC Sports. However, to watch all of NBC’s live Olympic coverage on Sling, you’ll need to add the $11 sports package to get access to the Olympic Channel and Golf Channel, as well as the $6 news package for CNBC.

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How to watch the Olympics opening ceremony

The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics was broadcast live on July 23 at 6:55 a.m. ET on NBC. If you have a pay-TV provider with access to NBC, you can stream a replay of the opening ceremony via NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app, or any live TV streaming service with access to NBC.

The opening ceremony is also available to watch on-demand via Peacock, NBC’s standalone streaming service.

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Key dates for the Tokyo Olympics

Katie Ledecky
US swimming star Katie Ledecky won two gold medals and two silver medals at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Simone Biles returns to compete in the Tokyo Olympics tomorrow morning – here’s how to watch the gymnastics finals live

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Simone Biles at Tokyo 2020.
Simone Biles at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

  • The 2020 Olympic gymnastics competition started on July 23 and concludes this Tuesday.
  • The balance beam final featuring Simone Biles and Sunisa Lee can be streamed for free via Peacock.
  • NBC is rebroadcasting portions of its gymnastics coverage during primetime.

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Gymnastics is one of the most popular sports at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The qualification subdivisions started on July 23 and the last gymnastics final is on August 3. Coverage will be rebroadcast during primetime on NBC, and you can stream select events live on Peacock for free.

Women compete on four apparatuses: balance beam, floor exercise, uneven bars, and vault. Men compete on six apparatuses: floor exercise, horizontal bar, parallel bars, pommel horse, rings, and vault.

So far, Team USA has earned two gold medals in women’s gymnastics events. Sunisa Lee won gold for her performance in the individual all-around, and Jade Carey earned the top podium spot during the floor exercise final.

On Monday morning, USA Gymnastics announced on Twitter that Simone Biles and Suni Lee will compete in the women’s balance beam final. You can stream the event live on August 3 at 4 a.m. ET through the Peacock streaming service. The highly anticipated Olympic event will replay that night in primetime at 9:30 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. ET on NBC.

How to watch Olympic gymnastics

Complete coverage of the 2020 Olympic gymnastics competition is available to stream live on the NBCOlympics website or NBC sports app if you have a pay-TV provider with access to NBC. Since most of the gymnastics events occur early in the morning, NBC is rebroadcasting select portions during its primetime coverage.

Outside of NBC, Peacock is streaming the gymnastics finals live for free. You can sign up for a free plan at the Peacock website.

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If you’re looking to watch NBC’s primetime coverage without cable, you can use a live TV streaming service like Sling TV, FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, or YouTube TV. Sling’s Blue plan is the most budget-friendly of the bunch at $35/month, and new customers can get their first month for only $10. That said, NBC is only available in select markets, so be sure to check Sling’s website for availability first.

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Women’s Olympic gymnastics schedule

Simone Biles
Simone Biles.

August 2

Event Time Where to watch
Floor exercise final 9:30 p.m. ET (replay) NBC

August 3

Event Time Where to watch
Balance beam final 4 a.m. ET

Peacock, NBCOlympics.com, NBC Sports App

Balance beam final 9:30 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. ET (replay) NBC

Men’s Olympic gymnastics schedule

sam mikulak
Sam Mikulak.

August 2

Event Time Where to watch
Rings and vault finals 4 p.m. ET (replay) NBC

August 3

Event Time Where to watch
Parallel and horizontal bar finals 4 a.m. ET

Peacock, NBCOlympics.com, NBC Sports App

Parallel bar final 2:30 p.m. ET (replay) NBC
Horizontal bar final 9:30 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. ET (replay) NBC
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Republicans want to prevent future Olympians like Laurel Hubbard – so they’re banning trans kids from school sports

The Olympic rings logo with the Transgender and Intersex flag colors on top of the first openly trans woman to compete in the Olympics, Laurel Hubbard, and Olympian and middle-distance runner Caster Semenya on a black background.
Hormone restrictions have created barriers to trans and intersex athletes like Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard (left) and gold medalist Caster Semenya (right).

All Becky Pepper-Jackson ever wanted to do in middle school was to run alongside her classmates on the girls’ cross-country team. Coming from a family of runners, Becky literally grew up with her feet in running shoes. After COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in her home state of West Virginia and her school reopened, she was ecstatic to try out for the team.

But if Republicans have their way, Becky will be barred from fulfilling her dream. In February, GOP lawmakers in West Virginia passed a bill that would bar Becky and other transgender children from participating in any school sports. Legislators argue that innate hormonal differences – particularly, higher natural levels of testosterone – give trans girls an inherent physical advantage over cisgender girls. This year, lawmakers in 28 states are voting on more than 100 anti-trans bills, many of which aim to bar trans kids from school sports.

It’s deeply ironic that Republicans who have rejected the science around everything from climate change to COVID-19 vaccines are attempting to use medical “evidence” to gin up a new culture war. But when it comes to sports, the GOP is relying on science that simply doesn’t exist. There are no studies that indicate that trans women’s levels of testosterone – which vary widely – afford them an advantage over their cis competitors. What’s more, many cis women have testosterone levels higher than what many consider to be the “female” average, meaning that wide hormonal variations are already an intrinsic element of women’s sports.

Indeed, far from dominating sports, trans athletes remain woefully underrepresented in elite competitions. Of the 10,000 athletes in Tokyo for this year’s Olympics, only three are trans – even though trans people make up approximately 1% of the world’s population. When the New Zealand powerlifter Laurel Hubbard qualified for the games earlier this year, she became the first openly trans woman to earn the right to compete in the Olympics.

“The question shouldn’t be ‘Why are there three trans athletes in Tokyo?’,” Joanna Harper, a medical physicist who has authored two studies on trans women in sports, told me. “The question should be ‘Why aren’t there a hundred?'”

The magical strength hormone

In the debate over trans athletes, testosterone is typically framed as the masculine sex hormone. The more testosterone someone is perceived to have, the stronger they’re assumed to be. Often, the GOP ties this assertion to the age-old belief that men are stronger than women.

microdosing hormones trans
Science now understands that people of all sexes, not just cis men, have varying amounts of testosterone.

In fact, the study of sex hormones – including this assumption about testosterone – is relatively new. One of the first mentions of testosterone as a masculine hormone dates to 1889, when the physiologist Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard claimed he had created a strength elixir using “juice extracted from a testicle.” It wasn’t until 1931 that testosterone was synthesized, making it available for scientific study. But by then, the idea that testosterone was a male sex hormone tied to vitality and strength had taken hold. In the popular imagination, there appeared to be a modern, scientific basis for the centuries-old assumption that women were the weaker sex.

There’s one problem with this belief, according to Katrina Karkazis, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Amherst and co-author of “Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography.” “The root belief that testosterone is the miracle molecule of athleticism,” Karkazis told me, “isn’t supported by the science.”

The idea that testosterone, or “T,” is the main determinant of strength in a person stems from a time when scientists believed that estrogen was produced by only women and testosterone was produced by only men. Scientists have since found that people of all sexes have varying amounts of testosterone and estrogen. And frequently their amounts fall outside the bounds of what is considered “male” or “female.”

Intersex people – an umbrella term for those born with bodies that don’t fit neatly into traditional sex designations – are as common as people with red hair. In addition, certain medical conditions can alter a person’s hormone levels throughout their life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 12% of cisgender women in the US have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can produce testosterone levels higher than the “female” average.

The GOP’s argument against trans athletes is founded almost entirely on false beliefs about testosterone. In the Republican worldview, trans women are trying to “trick” the general public about their gender in order to have an advantage in women’s sports. If a trans woman athlete happens to have a naturally high level of testosterone, the thinking goes, she is essentially no different from Lance Armstrong or Barry Bonds, who both took performance enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents.

“What we see is they base their information on myths, misconceptions, and stereotypes about the trans community,” said Chris Mosier, an advocate and the first out trans member of Team USA. “They’re largely comparing trans women to cisgender men.”

The testosterone rule

The first time athletes were tested for testosterone was at the Pan American Games in 1983. Officials were looking for teams that were doping with unnatural levels of testosterone or anabolic steroids to improve their chances of winning. But in 2003, as part of its effort to verify the sex of athletes, the International Olympics Committee began imposing explicit restrictions on trans athletes, requiring anyone attempting to qualify outside of the sex they were assigned at birth to go through bottom surgery and hormone-replacement therapy.

caster semenya
Caster Semenya celebrates after winning the women’s 800 meters in Doha, Qatar in 2019.

In 2011, when controversy arose over Caster Semenya, the South Africa runner who is intersex and has elevated levels of natural testosterone, international sports organizations began subjecting athletes, particularly intersex women, to testosterone testing. If they had too much of the magical “strength elixir,” they would not be eligible to compete as women. What had begun as a means of identifying cheaters had morphed into a tool for excluding trans and intersex athletes.

After Mosier pushed back against the regulations during his bid to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the IOC eliminated the requirement for bottom surgery. But it kept the hormone requirement for trans women, requiring them to be on estrogen and on testosterone blockers for two years in order to compete. World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field, passed similar regulations in 2018 that require intersex women, who often have naturally higher levels of T, to lower their natural testosterone levels to compete.

At this year’s Olympics, the regulations were used to bar several world-class athletes from competing. Semenya, a two-time gold medalist who exceeded the allowable limit for T, spoke out against the decision, saying that the medication required to suppress her testosterone level had made her “constantly sick.”

The rules contain a clear bias against trans women. Mosier, a who takes testosterone-based hormone replacement therapy, told me that he wasn’t scrutinized in the same way that trans and intersex women are. “My experience largely was very easy,” he said. “I think it was certainly because I was someone assigned female at birth competing with men. People didn’t think I’d be competitive, so I was not seen as a threat.”

The rules, and the anti-trans legislation being pushed by Republicans, aren’t backed up by the science. The only two large-scale studies that measured testosterone in elite athletes actually undercut the idea that T is a reliable measure of gender differences. One showed a large overlap in testosterone levels between men and women: 16.5% of men exhibited “female” levels, and 13.7% of women had “male” levels. “The IOC definition of a woman as one who has a normal testosterone level,” the researchers concluded, “is untenable.” The other study excluded women with naturally higher levels of testosterone because of medical conditions, skewing the results.

Laurel Hubbard is the first transgender athlete ever to be selected for the Olympic Games
Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand, who competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2013, is the first openly trans athlete to qualify for the Olympics.

Almost all the research on testosterone, in fact, is based not on trans women but on cis men. “We don’t really have data that supports any sort of findings about transgender athletes,” Mosier said. Karkazis, the cultural anthropologist, told me there’s yet to be a conclusive study of athletes that includes a statistically significant sample of trans women to analyze whether they have an advantage in sports.

Harper, the medical physicist and a trans runner herself, is one of the few researchers who have studied trans women in sports. The idea that trans athletes have an insurmountable advantage, she told me, is statistically false. “The real question is ‘Can trans women and cis women compete against one another in meaningful sport?’ These population studies are pretty good evidence that, yes, we can have meaningful sport between trans women and cis women.”

The harm caused by discrimination

The attempts to regulate trans women in sports strike at the heart of society’s deep-seated assumptions about gender. After all, the reason we separate cis men and women in athletic competitions is because men are held to be physically superior. In the name of making sports fair and entertaining, we practice an overt form of gender segregation, enshrined in law and upheld by “sex tests” at the highest levels of professional sports.

But even if higher levels of testosterone provide some level of competitive advantage, that wouldn’t justify the exclusion of trans women from elite sports. We already permit plenty of “natural” advantages in athletic competition: think left-handed pitchers in baseball, or 7-foot centers in basketball. The real risk isn’t that cis men will pose as trans women and undergo hormone therapy to trounce cis women on the field of play. The real risk is that our misplaced fixation on testosterone will cause serious harm to the trans women and girls being excluded from sports.

Becky Pepper-Jackson
Becky Pepper-Jackson, 11, sued the state of West Virginia from trying to block her and other trans kids from playing sports at school.

Dr. Deanna Adkins, a pediatric endocrinologist and professor at Duke University, told me there is simply no basis for barring trans youth from school sports. Regardless of what sex someone is assigned at birth, there are minimal hormonal differences among children before puberty. And even after children start to produce estrogen and testosterone, there’s no conclusive evidence that either hormone offers a physical advantage.

“Everybody deserves to be able to participate in sports,” Adkins said. “School sports are not there to make Olympic athletes. School sports are there so that we all learn to love, to exercise, and are healthier adults.”

On July 21, a federal court agreed. Judge Joseph Goodwin issued an injunction preventing West Virginia from barring trans athletes from school sports. Becky Pepper-Jackson, the 11-year-old who brought the suit, will be allowed to try out for the girls’ cross-country team at her school. “When the government distinguishes between different groups of people, those distinctions must be supported by compelling reasons,” Goodwin ruled, adding, “At this point, I have been provided with scant evidence that this law addresses any problem at all, let alone an important problem.”

Avatara Smith-Carrigan, an attorney for Lambda Legal and the lead attorney on Becky’s case, hailed the injunction as a temporary victory on behalf of trans children. Studies have found that suicide rates increase dramatically among trans youth who face discrimination or harassment in their communities, and advocates are concerned that the GOP’s push to bar trans kids from school sports will cause real and lasting harm. “They’re impacting kids who just want to be out there playing with their peers,” Smith-Carrigan said.

In the end, they added, the GOP’s willingness to put children at risk exposes the true nature of its campaign over school sports. It’s not about keeping sports competitive – it’s about defending a narrow and hurtful definition of who is considered female.

“The messaging from these legislators who are trying to pass these really horrible and discriminatory laws is that they’re advocating for fairness in sports,” Smith-Carrigan said. “We know that that’s not the case.”

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How to watch the Tokyo Olympics – live gymnastics, swimming, and basketball events continue this weekend

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Simone Biles
Simone Biles withdrew from the team and individual all-around competitions, but she could still compete in other gymnastics events.

  • The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will run from July 23 to August 8 after a one-year delay.
  • NBC is providing live coverage of the games on its networks, along with select events on Peacock.
  • Check out our schedule breakdowns for track and field, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, and soccer.

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The Tokyo Olympics held its opening ceremonies on July 23 after a one-year delay, welcoming thousands of athletes from 205 countries and states. The international competition will continue through August 8 with events from 33 different sports.

Live broadcasts and streamed events from Tokyo are available every day on NBC and other NBC affiliate networks. Free highlights and select live events are also available on Peacock, NBC’s streaming service. You can find full channel details and schedules for upcoming track and field, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, and soccer events in our individual articles for each sport.

Because the event was originally planned for last year, this year’s Summer Olympics are still being called the Tokyo 2020 Games. Japan hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998, and last hosted the summer games in 1964.

How to watch the Olympics

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Megan Rapinoe and the US Women’s Soccer team defeated Japan to win the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.

To watch the Olympics you’ll need access to NBC and its affiliated networks. Olympic coverage is spread across multiple NBC channels, including NBC Sports Network, CNBC, the Olympic Channel, the Golf Channel, and USA; Telemundo and Universo carry Spanish language coverage. You can find channel details and schedules for track and field, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, and soccer in our breakdowns for each sport.

If you have a pay-TV provider with access to NBC’s various channels, you can use your account information to stream every Olympic event online via the NBC Sports app or the NBCOlympics website. You can also visit NBCOlympics.com to view the daily Olympics schedule with specific network information for every event.

NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, also features daily highlights, docuseries, commentary, and a limited selection of live events for free. Peacock is available on iOS and Android devices, Roku, Amazon Fire, Xbox, web browsers, and select smart TVs.

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Live TV services with NBC coverage of the Olympics

If you don’t already have a cable or TV provider, you can use a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, or FuboTV to watch the Olympics live on channels like NBC, NBC Sports, and USA.

Of those options, Sling’s Blue plan is the most affordable at $35 a month ($10 for your first month) for NBC, USA, and NBC Sports. However, to watch all of NBC’s live Olympic coverage on Sling, you’ll need to add the $11 sports package to get access to the Olympic Channel and Golf Channel, as well as the $6 news package for CNBC.

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How to watch the Olympics opening ceremony

The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics was broadcast live on July 23 at 6:55 a.m. ET on NBC. If you have a pay-TV provider with access to NBC, you can stream a replay of the opening ceremony via NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app, or any live TV streaming service with access to NBC.

The opening ceremony is also available to watch on-demand via Peacock, NBC’s standalone streaming service.

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Key dates for the Tokyo Olympics

Katie Ledecky
US swimming star Katie Ledecky goes into the Tokyo Games with five Olympic gold medals.

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