👻: How the no-spectator Olympics could affect the athletes
🇺🇸: "What an honor it is to watch you soar," first lady tells U.S. Olympians
🌏: Meet the underdogs from Latin America
🥇: The six new sports at Tokyo 2020
💉 About 100 U.S. Olympic athletes are unvaccinated
✍️ Axios at the Olympics: What it's like inside the opening ceremony
Go deeper: Full Axios coverage
First lady Jill Biden sent Team USA an extra boost of encouragement on Friday, cheering them on in an open letter that highlighted the Olympics' power to bring people together.
What she's saying: "In these moments [of rooting for our country], we are more than our cities or states or backgrounds. We are more than our jobs or our political parties," Biden wrote in a letter published on NBC News. "We are united. We are all, first and foremost, Team USA."
U.S. lawmakers have joined activists and Chinese ethnic minorities calling on the International Olympic Committee to move or postpone the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics unless the Chinese government ends its Uyghur genocide.
Why it matters: Politicians and human rights groups have increasingly urged the Chinese government to halt its abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, which reportedly include forced labor, sexual violence and torture.
Why it matters: The journalist, who worked for ESPN since 2014, had been renegotiating her contract for serval months when the New York Times published leaked audio of basketball reporter Rachel Nichols suggesting Taylor, who is Black, had been promoted because ESPN was "feeling pressure" on diversity.
Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka kicked off the Tokyo Games Friday by lighting the Olympic cauldron — "undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life," she tweeted after the ceremony.
The big picture: The women's world No. 2-ranked player is set to return to the court for the first time at the Olympics after withdrawing from the French Open and Wimbledon earlier this year, triggering global conversations about mental health in sports.
When the Summer Olympics debuted in 1896, 14 nations participated in the 42-competition event.
Why it matters: Those numbers have risen steadily over time, with the U.S. dominating the Games as the Olympics expanded. Now, there are 339 events with 206 nations competing.
The U.S. women's national soccer team filed an opening brief Friday in the appeal of their lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender-based pay discrimination.
The big picture: The brief, filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, seeks to reverse a prior district court decision "based on a flawed analysis of the team’s compensation, despite the abundant evidence of unequal pay," per a press release.
After a year-long delay, the Olympics finally got underway Friday as tennis star Naomi Osaka, who is competing for Japan, lit the cauldron, formally kicking off the Tokyo Games.
The big picture: Friday's opening ceremony looked, like many things over the last year, different than normal — multicolored seats replaced cheering fans, masks were a central part of the athletes' uniforms and a subdued, somber tone marked the occasion.
The Olympics opening ceremony kicked off Friday in a near-empty stadium in Tokyo.
The big picture: The ceremony, which featured fewer performers than usual, started with the idea of being apart but not alone, "recognizing and conveying the emotional connection for athletes training around the globe for the last 17 months, doing much of that in isolation," NBC's Mike Tirico said.
The Cleveland Indians baseball team announced Friday that it will change its name to the "Guardians," following years of activism and protests against a moniker considered offensive by many Native Americans.
Why it matters: It's the first time the team will change its name since 1915, a move that comes in the wake of the nationwide racial reckoning that began with the murder of George Floyd.
In the latest attempt to encourage players to get vaccinated, the NFL is threatening forfeits and the loss of game checks if an outbreak occurs.
Driving the news: If a game can't be played due to an outbreak among unvaccinated players/staff this upcoming season — and the NFL can't find "a suitable date to reschedule" — the team responsible will forfeit and both teams will lose their game checks.
About 100 of the total 613 Team USA competing athletes have not been vaccinated, NBC News reports, citing the team's top doctor.
State of play: The estimate comes from the health histories submitted by 567 athletes prior to the team's departure to Japan, Jonathan Finnoff, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s medical chief, told NBC News. He estimated that 83% of the competitors were fully vaccinated — a higher rate than the national average.
613 Olympians, plus a handful of alternates ready to step in at a moment's notice, will represent the U.S. in Tokyo over the next two weeks.
Why it matters: That's the largest contingent ever for a non-host nation, and the second largest in Team USA history (648 at Atlanta 1996). This is also the third straight Olympics in which women (329) outnumber men (284).
When there was no WNBA in the early 1990s, a then-teenaged Sue Bird looked to Olympic women basketball players for inspiration. Decades later, Bird — one of the greatest WNBA players of all time — will enter the Tokyo Olympics chasing her fifth gold medal.
The big picture: Bird, 40, began her Olympic journey in 2004 in Athens. She has since helped Team USA win four gold medals. The Seattle Storm point guard will likely wrap up her Olympic career in Tokyo, according to TIME.
TOKYO -- On television, this year's Olympics opening ceremony may not look that different from years past. But pan back just a bit from the action on the field, and things feel more like a dress rehearsal than the real thing.
Why it matters: Already delayed a year due to COVID-19, little about the Tokyo Olympic Games is normal. Cheering is banned, as are most of the spectators, leaving the athletes to enter a largely empty Olympic Stadium.
For Americans, the Tokyo Olympics that officially begin with today's opening ceremony will be a test of what patriotism looks like in 2021.
The big picture: Americans who disagree on everything else will still be rallying around the same team, as a new Axios/Momentive poll makes clear. But they're sharply divided over whether athletes should use the Olympic stage to protest, with young adults more likely than older adults to approve of protests and less likely to feel pride in the U.S. flag.
In the days leading up to the Tokyo Games, journalists had two big concerns — whether the Olympics would really happen, and if they would ever get access to all the mobile apps and websites required to get into the country and do their jobs.
Why it matters: Battling COVID-19 is crucial, of course. But most of the challenges faced by media and other Olympics participants were technical obstacles that had little to do with preventing the virus' spread.
An amended sexual assault lawsuit against former Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Brad Aldrich contains new allegations that Aldrich threatened a former player with a souvenir baseball bat before forcing nonconsensual sex, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Why it matters: Aldrich, who worked as an assistant high school hockey coach after leaving the Blackhawks, was convicted on criminal sexual conduct charges involving a student in 2013, per AP. The unnamed player sued the team earlier this year, alleging a pattern of inaction that enabled Aldrich to continue his behavior for years and later abuse the student.