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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The 2020 Summer Olympics will open in Tokyo, Japan, exactly one year from today.
Here's what's happening on the ground as a nation prepares to welcome the world...
1. The last of a dying breed: After years of coaxing host cities to splurge on stadiums and other expenses, the International Olympic Committee is trying to rebrand the Olympics as "cost-sensitive."
2. Sponsorship success: Local sponsorship revenue has already surpassed $3 billion, three times the previous record set by London in 2012. How'd they do it? By tapping into Japan's strong sense of national pride.
"There's definitely a culture in Japan where, if it's in the country's best interest, signing up [as a sponsor] is almost required. ... I mean, the guy who runs Tokyo 2020 is a former prime minister, so there's very much a sense of loyalty to making sure that this national event goes as well as possible."— Freelance Olympics journalist Aaron Bauer (read his newsletter)
3. Weather threat: Organizers are worried that an extreme heatwave could hit the Olympics following record temperatures last year that killed almost 100 people.
4. Preventing congestion: There is a fear that the arrival of over half a million foreign and domestic tourists will overload Tokyo's notoriously strained public transit system.
5. Huge ticket demand: Last month's lottery saw 7.5 million people register for the chance to buy 3.2 million tickets. Demand is so high that one analyst estimates 80%–90% of Japan residents who applied for tickets could end up with nothing.
"This is probably going to be the most popular Olympics, and possibly one of the most popular events of all time. I'm interested in seeing ... how the organizing committee addresses this. It's good news for the demand, and bad news [for] the public."— Ken Hanscom, COO of TicketManager, per AP
July 23, 2019. What a night to be a baseball fan...
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith (left) and NFLPA executive members. Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The NFL and the NFLPA are in the midst of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, and reports indicate that owners are pushing for an 18-game regular season, with each player limited to 16 games.
What they're saying: Despite pushback from players and even some of the owners, SI's Andrew Brandt believes an 18-game season is the only way a new CBA gets signed.
Brandt: "Negotiations, by necessity, require concessions by both sides — 'gives' [and] 'gets.' The NFLPA's wish list of 'gets' would include, but is not be limited to:"
Reality check: "This wish list is great," writes Brandt, "but raises the question: What, exactly, is the NFLPA going to offer the NFL to achieve any of these desired outcomes? I can't think of a single thing, except … 18 games."
The other side: CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora disagrees: "Looks like the ultimate stalking horse to me, and, actually, yet another sign that things continue to progress well towards a new labor deal. ... [D]on't lose any sleep over this."
Zion Williamson signed a multiyear deal with Nike's Jordan Brand yesterday, concluding one of the highest profile sneaker bidding wars we've ever seen.
"Zion's incredible determination, character and play are inspiring. He's an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future. He told us he would 'shock the world,' and asked us to believe him. We do."— Michael Jordan
By the numbers:
The backdrop: Here are the top three picks from the past five NBA drafts, and the company each player signed with as a rookie...
ESPN "dug deep into the numbers" and created a formula to determine which college football programs are the best at producing stars at each position.
Results: According to ESPN, the following programs are the best at recruiting and developing elite talent and then shipping it off to stardom in the NFL.
Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
14 years ago today, Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for the seventh and final time before retiring at 33 years old.
Answer at the bottom.
Sun Yang celebrates his gold medal in the men's 400m freestyle. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images
“A doping cloud has long hung over this sport and one of the world's best swimmers, and at the world championships this week, it finally burst, submerging the event in silent and sullen protests directed at Sun Yang of China," writes NYT’s Karen Crouse.
P.S. … Katie Ledecky's world championships have not gone as planned. The American superstar was beaten in one event and had to withdraw from two races yesterday due to an illness.
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "Newsletter U" Baker
Trivia answer: Jerry Rice, Tom Brady, Brett Favre