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Want Tokyo Olympic tickets? No problem if you have $60,000

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TOKYO (AP) — Having trouble getting tickets for next year’s Tokyo Olympics?

That’s no problem if you have $60,000 to spare.

Tokyo Olympic organizers are offering high-end hospitality packages to Japan residents with prices soaring to 6.35 million yen — about $60,000. This is good for the opening and closing ceremony, nine days of track and field with luxury seating and sumptuous dining. Low-end packages dip down to about $1,500 for one session at a less popular event.

Tokyo is shaping up as a very pricey Olympics.

Ticket demand is unprecedented, so unofficial re-selling likely will flourish. Hotel rates are soaring. And getting here will be costly, particularly for people traveling from the Americas and Europe.

“I don’t know if I can afford to go to the Olympics,” Brant Feldman, a Los Angeles-based sports agent, told The Associated Press. He’s attended seven straight Olympics and represents American and Canadian athletes for AGM Sports. “For the average family right now to head to the Olympics, it’s going to be the most expensive in history.”

Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics say the luxurious hospitality packages are an “opportunity for family, friends and business contacts” to enjoy the games. In the words of organizers, here’s what’s included with the tickets:

— specially selected Champagne, sake and beers

— gourmet dining menu prepared by top international chefs

— fine wines chosen by our sommelier

— elegant commemorative souvenir VIP access pass

— first-class personal service capable of dealing with any request

— event host and celebrity guests appearances.

Hospitality packages, of course, are aimed at the wealthy, targeting executives who treat the Olympics as a venue for doing business and schmoozing with sports as an alluring sideshow.

There’s also an old-fashioned way for residents of Japan to get scarce tickets: a so-called “second-chance” lottery that closed Monday. Results will be announced next month, and another lottery for Japan residents will be held in the fall.

For now, those living outside Japan must go through Authorized Ticket Resellers , which are deluged with unprecedented demand. They also offer high-end packages and are allowed to tack on a 20% service charge to each ticket. And many of the best tickets are tied to expensive hotels.

A random search of well-known hotel booking sites by AP found prices for most 3-4-star hotels between $1,000-1,500 per night with few available. There have been complaints that many hotels are canceling previous reservations to secure the markup.

Even Japan’s famous capsule hotels — or sleep pods — will cost more to crawl inside with prices up three or four times on booking sites.

In a statement to AP, Tokyo organizers said they are working with “the government and the accommodation industry and travel industry in order to control prices.”

Quoting a government report, organizers say there are 300,000 rooms “in different classes” in Tokyo and in neighboring prefectures.

Olympic athletes are guaranteed housing and have access to a few tickets for event sessions in which they participate. After that, family and friends are on their own.

“If your son or daughter qualifies for the Olympics in 2020, I don’t know how any of those families are going to be able to afford the airline tickets, the Airbnb, the hotels, or get the tickets,” Feldman said.

Those planning to wait until the last minute to book rooms, which sometimes become available because organizers typically overestimate the number of rooms needed and the number of foreign visitors, could miss out.

It may not happen this time.

Tokyo’s demand is driven partly by a giant metropolitan area of 35 million, its safe streets, and long-time support for the Olympics.

Australia-based Kingdom Sports Group, an official reseller that deals primarily with Asia and Africa, said on a social media site that Tokyo is “30 times more popular” than London was in 2012. London is often seen as the benchmark for Olympic interest.

Ken Hanscom, a ticketing expert who runs Los Angeles-based TicketManager, told AP “this is the biggest (Olympic) demand ever — by far.”

The big winner could be the Paralympics, which open a few weeks after the Olympics close on Aug. 9, 2020. The lottery in Japan for the Paralympics started on Thursday with 2.3 million tickets available.

Just over 80% of Japan residents who applied got nothing in the first Olympic ticket lottery earlier this year. Of those who landed tickets in June, many got far fewer than they expected.

Organizers say 3.22 million tickets were sold in the first phase. Demand appears to exceed supply by at least 10 times. Another 680,000 tickets are available in this lottery, but only for those who were shut out the first time.

Tokyo organizers say there are 7.8 million tickets for the Olympics. They estimate between 70-80% will go to the general public in Japan. The difference between the larger and smaller percentage is 780,000 tickets, giving organizers flexibility in how tickets are distributed.

The remaining tickets are sold abroad, or go to sponsors, national Olympic committees, and sports federations.

Organizers hope to earn $800 million from ticket sales, a big chuck of income for the privately funded, $5.6 billion operating budget.

A report released last year by the national government’s Board of Audit said Japan is likely to spend $25 billion overall to prepare the games. This is public money, except for the operating budget. Organizers dispute the figure and say it’s about $12 billion, though what are Olympics costs — and what are not — is subject to heated debate.

Tokyo projected total costs of about $7.5 billion in its winning bid for the games in 2013.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP





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5 Players to Watch – NBC Chicago

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With the Chicago Blackhawks still eight points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with 22 games left to play, Monday’s trade deadline will likely see the team in sell-mode rather than trying to bring in players for the stretch run.

The Blackhawks, who are 2-6-2 in their last
10 games and have lost seven of their last eight contests, were hoping to get
back to the postseason after missing out on the playoffs the last two years,
but with their recent struggles, it would appear that the team’s window of
opportunity is closing for a third consecutive year.

With that reality coming into sharper
focus, Monday’s trade deadline could represent an opportunity for the
Blackhawks to acquire assets for the future, rather than trying to bring in
short-term rentals to help for the remainder of this season.

With that in mind, here are some of the players
that could be on the move before Monday’s deadline:

Corey Crawford

The long-time Blackhawks goaltender will be
a free agent at season’s end, so in spite of a $6 million cap hit, he could be
an intriguing rental option for a team looking for an upgrade at goaltender ahead
of the deadline.

In 30 games this season, Crawford has a
2.89 goals against average, with a 10-16-3 record. He has played much better in
recent weeks, so if the Blackhawks decide they aren’t interest in retaining his
services moving forward, he could be a name to watch ahead of the deadline.

Erik Gustafsson

Speaking of rental players, Gustafsson has
been on the trade radar throughout the season, as he’s in the final year of his
contract with the Blackhawks.

After a 2018-19 season that saw him rack up
60 points, Gustafsson has fallen off a bit, with six goals and 20 assists in 59
games so far this season. Even still, teams like the Vegas Golden Knights have
expressed interest in potentially acquiring him, and he could be on the move in
the days leading up to the deadline.

Robin Lehner

Another soon-to-be-free-agent, Lehner has
had a solid season for the Blackhawks, with a 16-10-5 record and a .918 save
percentage. His goals against average has ballooned up to 3.01 after a strong
start to the campaign, but with a reasonable cap hit and free agency looming
after the season, teams in need of goaltending help could look to the veteran
netminder for a boost between the pipes.

Brandon Saad

In terms of players who aren’t heading for
free agency, a player like Saad could intrigue teams who are looking for a two-way
player with upside on both offense and defense.

With a cap hit of $6 million for next
season, Saad is a player the Blackhawks could look to move in order to clear
some salary cap space. According to reports, Saad could be on the radar for a
few teams, including the Boston Bruins, and his recent run of quality play
could help boost his trade value with the deadline approaching.

Dylan Strome

Strome, acquired last season from the
Arizona Coyotes, is due a big pay raise going into next season, but unlike Alex
DeBrincat he has not agreed to a new deal prior to his restricted free agency.

Whatever factors are going into the
decision on Strome’s contract, the Blackhawks could conceivably try to move him.
The team likes what it has seen from Kirby Dach in his rookie season, and
although losing Strome would hurt the club in terms of its center depth, they
do still have Zack Smith, Ryan Carpenter, David Kampf and Matthew Highmore
moving forward, potentially cushioning the blow if Dach slides into a full-time
second line center role next season.





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New London and southeastern Connecticut News, Sports, Business, Entertainment and Video

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Mohegan — Courtney Williams opted for the old “disrespect” narrative — amusing, if not disingenuous — to portray her departure from the Connecticut Sun.

Williams took her musings to Instagram, that hallowed portal of principle, where her words were fully substantiated by her own opinions. And then supported by all her groupies.

Sayeth young Ms. Williams:

“This process was definitely not an easy one for me, and it truly showed me that it’s all about business, and that loyalty and emotion has no place in these type of negotiations. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt throughout this process. … Don’t get caught up in all the rumors that you may hear about why I left. I never intended nor wanted to leave CT and I hope the Connecticut fans and my teammates really understand that. The word loyalty is thrown around so loosely these days, and maybe I was raised differently, but genuine loyalty is shown through the good or the bad. At the bare minimum I could have gotten a ‘thank you’ like every other player that decided not to rejoin the team.”

On the next episode of Dr. Phil: The perils of youth mixed with entitlement, all on social media.

So here’s the deal: The Sun’s “thank you” came in the form of a max contract offer. No, it didn’t begin that way. But as negotiations progressed, the Sun offered Williams max money. This is called “salary negotiation.” You know. Real world stuff. It comes with being an adult.

Maximum money on a team that came within an eyelash of the championship — all while signing a jewel of a free agent in DeWanna Bonner, theoretically making the team even better.

Hmmm. Why would one want to leave such a situation?

I’ve spent the last day or two talking to people who know Williams. Their refrains have been mysteriously consistent about her departure: We’ve known about this for a while, they said, like before free agency negotiations even began. Hence, Williams’ Instagram bluster aside, she wanted out of here all along.

I asked Sun officials, given that Williams would be a commodity on the trade market, why it had to be Atlanta, not the most talented team in the league. Answer: Williams didn’t want to go anywhere else. It’s “home” for her. Which, again, underscores the idea that she had a specific target in mind for the summer of 2020. It wasn’t Connecticut.

The “disrespect” theme is about maintaining image. I doubt her groupies will change their minds. But I believe it’s important for the people who pay the money to watch the Sun play — honestly, the most loyal fans in the WNBA — to know the truth.

The franchise just dispelled the notion that free agents don’t want to come here. They got a two-time WNBA Champion, three-time all-star and three-time Sixth Woman of the Year in Bonner, illustrating that if you pay people and give them a chance to win, they’ll come here like everywhere else. Provided, that is, winning is important to them.

Courtney Williams’ actions show she’s more interested in Courtney Williams than anything else.

In many ways, Williams espouses the same ideals of many other young athletes now. It’s the James Harden-ization of sports: It’s all about you. Forty shots per game, 30 points per game, crowd adulation and no possibility of a championship because it’s all about one player. Doesn’t matter to them, though, because the checks don’t bounce and there’s always Instagram to craft your message.

It makes no sense to many of us older sports people, who honestly don’t care about salaries, playing time or number of shots. Just that our team has one more point at the end of the game.

The Sun’s addition of Bonner gave Courtney Williams a significantly better chance to win a championship than Atlanta. She could have max money, too. Ah, but would Bonner’s presence mean fewer shots? Fewer points per game? Can’t have that.

So Courtney Williams left.

Because she wanted to.

Know what? Free country. Enjoy Atlanta, kid. You were fun to watch here. But in the end, you weren’t about the Connecticut Sun, your teammates or your fans. You were about Courtney Williams.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro





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Creative Scoring, High Drama and Zion Williamson: All-Star Takeaways

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On a frigid Friday night in Chicago, before the annual Rising Stars Game, Pau Gasol joined the W.N.B.A. star Sue Bird at midcourt to pay homage to Kobe Bryant and the former N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern.

Gasol, one of Bryant’s favorite former teammates with the Los Angeles Lakers, told the story of how “my older brother Kobe used to say, ‘Do epic things always.’”

“So let’s have an epic weekend,” Gasol urged the United Center crowd.

Epic, in truth, was probably not a realistic target so soon after the deaths of Bryant and Stern, both last month. The leaguewide sense of loss is too great.

Yet the various All-Star events did manage to produce an array of memorable moments amid all the grieving. So as regular-season play resumes, here are my five biggest takeaways from what we saw (and didn’t see) in Chicago:

The Anthony Davis free throw that clinched the All-Star Game was not the biggest problem with the “Elam” scoring system.

The biggest names in the game, playing as hard as they did, is what basketball romantics like myself have always hoped the All-Star Game could be. But “Elam” scoring will become the scourge of the league as soon as such intense play leads to an injury. Sad but true.

Improbable as this sounds, we’re not talking enough about Zion Williamson.

So much happened in Chicago that the rim Williamson bent in Friday night’s Rising Stars Game featuring first- and second-year players was easily forgotten. We repeat: Zion bent the rim in an actual game.

Guard depth in the Western Conference is such that Memphis’s Ja Morant will have to be even better than he has been in a brilliant rookie season to become an All-Star in Year 2, like Doncic and Atlanta’s Trae Young. But I think we can safely say that Williamson, if healthy, is a lock to make it to the big game in Indianapolis next February.

Although his New Orleans Pelicans may run out of time to make up the 5 ½ games by which they trail Morant’s Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the West, Williamson has been an absolute force in his first 10 regular-season games. In 27.4 minutes per game, Williamson is averaging 22.1 points (on 57.6 percent shooting) and 7.5 rebounds.

Get ready to enjoy him on the All-Star stage for years — health permitting.

I can’t wait for March 25.

The Milwaukee Bucks play host to the Houston Rockets that night. It will be their teams’ first meeting since Milwaukee won at Houston on Oct. 24 in the season opener for both.

It will also be the first time Giannis Antetokounmpo squares off against James Harden after a couple of recent shots from Antetokounmpo about The Beard.

To watch it, click here. To disagree with me, click elsewhere.

For the record: I also loved the modestly snowy Chicago weather for much of the weekend — once we got past a truly arctic Valentine’s Day on Friday — but don’t @ me about that, either.

Michael Jordan’s steadfast insistence on avoiding the spotlight, even for a few minutes, will never make sense to me.

The team Michael Jordan owns played host to the 2019 All-Star Game in Charlotte, N.C. The team Jordan led to six championships in the 1990s just played host to the 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago.

Jordan made the briefest of public appearances last year, when he was essentially considered the All-Star grand marshal, and then stayed completely out of public view this year.

Jordan defenders always tell me, when I bring this stuff up, that I cannot possibly understand how hard it is for His Airness to put himself out there. He’s a very private person, they always say, and makes it his mission to avoid the spotlight.

But Jordan had such direct ties to these last two All-Star Games. This has nothing to do with an ink-stained wretch from the news media like me wanting to interview him; this is about Hornets fans a year ago and Bulls fans worldwide this year who were desperate to see him.

The natural instinct Sunday night, when you saw Scottie Pippen being introduced to a roaring United Center audience, was obviously to ask: Where’s Michael?

One Jordan defender asked me why I haven’t made an issue of the fact that we never saw the Bulls’ team owner Jerry Reinsdorf over the past few days. Fair point. But who is really clamoring to see Reinsdorf except Bulls fans frustrated with the direction of their team?

Mortals like me will never be able to understand what it’s like for Jordan to put himself out there, true, but Barack Obama was an omnipresent figure throughout All-Star festivities. If arrangements can be made to allow the former president of the United States to comfortably serve as such an integral part of the weekend, surely there’s a way for Jordan to let himself be seen for the briefest of glimpses.

The only sure way to see Jordan at the first All-Star Game in Chicago since 1988 was to score an invitation to his exclusive annual party Friday night. Monday is when it really hit me how far behind the scenes he stayed all weekend, because the day after Sunday’s All-Star Game was Jordan’s 57th birthday.

Just as the whole party was leaving town, social media was awash with Jordan tributes and factoids. It’s hard not to be disappointed that Monday’s discourse was as close as the masses got to him.


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The roster still has holes — playmaking beyond James, shooting, wing depth — but Lakers management can certainly celebrate its decision to hire Frank Vogel as coach. Although the search was as messy as possible in the moment, Rob Pelinka’s decision to go with Vogel after talks with Tyronn Lue collapsed — with a strong nudge from the team adviser Kurt Rambis — has been a hit.

Worry all you want about the health of James and Davis, but I try not to spend too much time fretting about injuries that haven’t happened yet. What good does that do?

The Lakers are obviously relying heavily on their two studs, but it’s the way it has to be this season. The Clippers have many of the same worries, too, so it’s not exclusively a Lakers problem.

The Lakers appear to have much stronger team chemistry than outsiders imagined, too, which is also largely attributed to James’s influence. Factor in how James has missed only two of Los Angeles’s 53 games, and it must be said that his 17th N.B.A. season is shaping up to be one of his best.

Q: Who was it named for before? — @joesanders33 from Twitter

Stein: Joe is asking about the N.B.A.’s All-Star Most Valuable Player trophy, which has been named in Kobe Bryant’s honor in the wake of Bryant’s death.

Before the change, which the league made official Saturday, its All-Star M.V. P. trophy did not bear a former player’s name. The N.B.A. finals M.V.P. award was named after Bill Russell in 2009.

Q: How far did N.B.A. players run in each decade? As a 72-year-old lifelong fan of the game, I am frustrated hearing about “load management” and how much harder players worked “back in the day” without any data to back up these claims. Where is the data? — William Briggs (Nalcrest, Fla.)





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