Copa América contemplates a last-minute switch to Brazil, Japan considers allowing domestic spectators at Olympics, Australian women’s softball team among the first to arrive for Olympic Games, LA Lakers top social media charts, Lou Gehrig and MLB launch into NFTs, and spending on sports ads takes a dip. For these stories and more, check out the Red Phoenix Global Sports Update:

Japan to Allow Domestic Spectators at the Olympics

Athletes compete during an athletics test event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the National Stadium in Tokyo on May 9.
(Photo Credit: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)

According to media reports, Japan is preparing to hold next month’s Olympics with some domestic spectators present, despite the pace of infections in Tokyo.  Those allowed in will be required to provide a negative COVID test or a vaccination certificate. Overseas tourists are still banned from entering Japan, leaving only domestic fans potentially able to attend. Full Story Bloomberg (5/31)

Australian National Women’s Softball Team First To Arrive for Japanese Olympics

Members of Australia’s Olympic softball team arriving at Narita International Airport in Japan on Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Issei Kato)

Players from Australia’s national women’s softball team and staff, all vaccinated, recently arrived in Japan ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, indicating a show of confidence in Japan which recently has struggled against a COVID outbreak and growing public opposition. They are among the first international competitors to enter the country before the Summer Games. Known as the Aussie Spirit, the team must strictly limit its movements as Japan tries to contain a prolonged fourth wave of the coronavirus. Full Story The New York Times (6/1)

LA Lakers top NBA Social Media Charts for 2021 Regular Season

(Photo Credit: Getty Image)

A survey by Conviva found that the reigning NBA champions LA Lakers achieved 185.6 million engagements across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, which was around 20 million more than the Golden State Warriors, who recorded 165.1 million engagements. The Top Five also included the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat. Full Story SportProMedia (6/1)

MLB and Fanatics Recruit Lou Gehrig to Launch into NFT Space

Tyler Wade #14 of the New York Yankees turns a double play (Photo Credit: Sarah Stier – Getty Image)

::Major League Baseball is entering the NFT space with the help of Fanatics and a new company called Candy Digital. The first digital collectible will be an exclusive Lou Gehrig NFT, which will be available for bidding on the Fourth of July. It will honor Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech on July 4, 1939, when the ironman New York Yankees’ first baseman retired after contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Full Story CNBC (6/1)

Sports Ad Spending Takes a Big Dip – Why?

Spending on NASCAR was up 31% in first quarter, one of very few sports to see ad dollars rise.
(Photo Credit: Associated Press)

During the first quarter of 2021, all TV advertising spending during NFL, NASCAR, NBA, MLB, and NHL games and events fell 28% compared to 2020. This reflects a sports economy that remains in flux, rescheduling, shortened seasons, and shifting attendance protocols, resulting in lower viewership as the world recovers from the pandemic. Full Story Forbes (5/31)

Copa América ­­– Shell Game or Field Time in Brazil?

The Copa America was set to be jointly hosted for the first time in its history. (Photo Credit: Getty Image)

With millions of dollars(USD) at stake, skeptics wonder if the organizers of Copa América are playing a shell game or if the games will actually occur. This year’s Copa América, postponed from 2020, was supposed to be in Colombia and Argentina, but civil unrest and out-of-control COVID infections intervened. Now organizers say Brazil, which has similar challenges, is tagged as the new location. With no final plans or venues announced, many are questioning the safety, logistics, and possible financial risks of such a hastily put-together tournament. Full Story CNN (5/31)

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