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A look inside Tokyo's Ariake Gymnastics Centre just before the men's team final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Photo: ina Fried/Axios

TOKYO – The men's gymnastics team final kicks off shortly, so here's a quick guide to help get you started, whether you are watching live or waiting for NBC to show it later tonight.

Why it matters: The U.S. is among eight countries going for the gold today. Other competitors are China, Japan, Ukraine, Switzerland, Great Britain, Germany and athletes from Russia.

How it works:

  • The men compete on six different apparatus: Floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar (aka the high bar). Each country will be paired with one other through the six rotations.
  • The United States team is paired with the Russian athletes, who are competing under the Olympic flag and not their own due to a doping ban.

How to watch: The action kicks off at 6 a.m. ET, though NBC is airing it in prime time, because they have to pay off those pricey TV rights some how, 13 hour time difference or not.

Be smart: Remember when Nadia Comaneci got the first 10 in 1976? (Me either, I was 18 months old.) But I do remember the scoring system going up to 10, including when Mary Lou Retton got the perfect score on the floor exercise in the 1984 Olympics.

  • That’s no longer the way things work. Athletes can still get a perfect 10 for execution, but the overall score ends up being something like 14 or 15. (More details here.)

Fun fact: Ariake Gymnastics Centre, the site of the gymnastics competition, is a temporary venue, eventually to be replaced with a 12,000 seat sports arena. That explains the unfinished wood seats which make this look like the worlds biggest (and most complicated) IKEA set.

Go deeper

Tokyo Paralympics kick off amid COVID state of emergency

Three torchbearers wave after lighting the cauldron during the opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 24, 2021. Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

The Tokyo Paralympics officially began on Tuesday as athletes representing 162 countries and a delegation of refugees processed in the parade of nations before the cauldron was lit.

Driving the news: The opening ceremony for the 16th Summer Paralympics took place in a spectator-less stadium and featured a smaller number of athletes compared to years prior as COVID-19 restrictions prohibit athletes from entering the Paralympic Village until five days before their competitions, per the New York Times.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID-19 complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.