The stars are out this Summer! So many sporting events are either happening right now or are in the headlines, and celebrities are out and about this July enjoying their favorite sports – or participating in them. CELEB is taking a look at some of the biggest celebrity sports headline makers, from Wimbledon and UEFA Euro 2020, to UFC in Las Vegas and Tokyo Olympics 2021 with a slew of controversy.
Tokyo Olympics 2020/2021
When the pandemic struck last year and the long-anticipated Tokyo Olympics were postponed, athletes and their fans everywhere were heartbroken. When the postponement was announced, the IOC-Tokyo Organising Committee promised that they would be rescheduled for a date after 2020, but no later than Summer 2021. Now that Summer 2021 has arrived, organizers have faced a slew of issues trying to plan events. Namely, the fact that the pandemic is ongoing. In order to maximize safety for athletes and the Olympics staff, and prevent the possibility of creating super-spreader events, the committee opted to ban spectators for Tokyo-area events, which will occur between July 23 and August 8th. The spectator ban will cover all events held in Tokyo as well as nearby prefectures Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba. Some events held farther afield like baseball and softball will be allowed spectators with a 50% capacity cap.
Organizers cite concerns about rising cases in Tokyo and surrounding areas, and although they had initially hoped to allow domestic spectators, they no longer feel it’s safe to do so. Washington Post shares, “‘This is a sorry message that we have to announce,’ Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, said at a news conference. ‘I am very sorry for those people who will be disappointed. But in order to prevent the spread, this was the only choice available for us to take. I hope that you understand the difficult choice that we made.’” The announcement has been met with mixed reviews; some people are relieved as they see this the only safe way forward. Others are frustrated and disappointed. One Australian athlete, a tennis player named Nick Kyrgios, even withdrew from the Olympics directly because of the spectator ban saying it, “… just doesn’t sit right with me.”
Kyrgios won’t be the only athlete not attending the Olympics amid a controversy. Black American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson is going to miss the Tokyo Olympics due to a suspension. The suspension came in response to a positive drug test which showed Richardson was positive for Marijuana, a drug that the World Anti-Doping Agency lists as “performance-enhancing.” Currently the US Anti-Doping Agency considers it the same way, but officials have signaled that they believe the policy should be re-examined. However, they won’t be re-examined in time for Richardson to make it to Tokyo. Richardson stole hearts across the United States as she blazed through the pre-Olympic trials, boldly wearing a fiery orange wig, then dashed into the stands to hug her grandmother in triumph.
Richardson’s ban has been called racist, unjust, and problematic; the internet is full of jokes about how anyone who can run a 100-meter while high on Marijuana and win should be given extra credit. Richardson revealed that she had smoked Marijuana days before competing in the trials, to deal with the sudden and unexpected news that her biological mom had died. The US Track and Field team could have conceivably suspended her but still kept her on the team for Tokyo; however, they opted not to include her. The entire incident has sparked a raging debate in the United States about Marijuana as a so-called performance-enhancing drug and whether the policies against it are in fact racist and unjust. It’s conceivable that by the next time the Summer Olympics roll around, popping positive for Marijuana will no longer be a bannable offense.
Elsewhere in the world, things are slightly less heated. Wimbledon 2021 has been the playground of the stars and royals alike this year. All eyes are on Novak Djokovic, a Serbian tennis star who is halfway to achieving the notable Grand Slam – winning all four major world tennis tournaments. Djokovic has already won two of the four required tournaments to achieve the Grand Slam, and with 5 career Wimbledon wins under his belt already, he has a good chance to make it 3 of 4.
And watching history in the making, England’s royals and these stars are showing up to see it first hand:
- Kate Middleton and Prince William: The Duchess of Cambridge was in self-isolation due to COVID exposure this week, but completed her isolation just in time to be able to attend Wimbledon’s finals Saturday with Prince William. On Sunday, she is expected to attend alone as William heads to EURO 2020 to cheer on England.
- Carole and Michael Middleton: Kate’s parents were seen at Wimbledon as well. Princess Beatrice and Sophie, Countess of Wessex also attended to represent the royals.
- Alexa Chung: Well-known model Chung was seen in the audience at Wimbledon on Friday.
- Phoebe Dynevor and Pete Davidson: The couple made their first public appearance together at Wimbledon on July 3rd.
- Benedict Cumberbatch: The movie star brought his father along to attend.
- David Beckham: A sports star himself, this one is no surprise; Beckham is known for showing up at the finest sports events his country has to offer. Also seen with Beckham was Miami’s King of Hospitality David Grutman. The pair are old pals and Beckham often appears as a guest lecturer at Grutman’s Groot Hospitality course at FIU.
Other stars who made the rounds include Hugh Grant, Jessie J, FKA twigs, Eddie Redmayne and Sienna Miller.
UEFA Euro 2020
After attending Wimbledon on Saturday with his wife, Prince William will be heading to Euro 2020 to cheer on his country. England has made it to the final tournament this year for the first time since 1966, a praiseworthy achievement. Just a few weeks ago, Prince William was spotted at an earlier Euro tournament with Beckham and wife Kate. Kate and William’s 7-year-old son George also attended, adorably matching outfits with his father. Beckham and Grutman were pictured together again at the Euro finals, another proof of their enduring friendship.
And famed British TV host Piers Morgan stirred controversy after being spotted at a Euro semi-final. Piers has recently blasted the choice for England to lift certain pandemic restrictions. His presence at the 60,000-spectator tournament, unmasked, invited criticism. Piers shot back that outdoor events where people are vaccinated is safe.
UFC in Las Vegas July 10th and 11th
Across the pond, Las Vegas is gearing up for a big fight this weekend between UFC champ Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Potential rival and peer Tyson Fury made headlines when he praised McGregor this week; MSN shares, “Though the two European combat sports icons never have spoken (at least not as of early 2020), mutual admiration was still presented through an interview Monday when Fury revealed he’s picking McGregor (22-5 MMA, 10-3 UFC) to defeat Dustin Poirier in their UFC 264 trilogy fight.
‘My prediction for the McGregor-Poirier fight is that I think McGregor will win this time,’ Fury told UFC’s social team. ‘I think he’s trained hard, and he’s got it all to prove. It will be a great event and one to watch. Tune in.’”
A Summer of Sports
This weekend also brings other notable celebrity sports news. The NBA finals continue this weekend, and a celebrity golf tournament kicks off. UPI reports, “The 2021 American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament runs from Friday through Sunday in Stateline, Nev. Fans can watch 15 former Cy Young Award winners, several football Hall of Famers, current NFL stars and other celebrities at the annual event on NBC.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, NBA legend Charles Barkley, singer/actor Justin Timberlake and comedian Larry the Cable Guy are among the competitors in the 90-player field.”
It’s clear that if you’re a fan of celebrities and sports, July 2021 is your month.