Thank you, Tokyo Olympics, for bringing us the ‘beast mode’ we all needed

Many wanted the Tokyo Olympics cancelled, but in the end, they were incredible.

The best.

Pushing past the flimsiest steel barrier ever constructed, into a restricted area he clearly shouldn’t have had access to, Boxall ripped off his required mask and proceeded to… dry hump a fence like The Ultimate Warrior circa Wrestlemania 6?

Like I said. Beast Mode.

The best part: In the background, a Japanese Olympic official, doing her level best to provide resistance, raises her hands like a frightened gazelle and then succumbs. Slowly those raised hands are lowered, evolving into confused claps. OK, she seems to say. You’re here now. There’s nothing I can do about this. I’m just going to try and enjoy this front row seat to Beast Mode, starring Dean Boxall.

In this metaphor, Boxall is the Tokyo Olympics. Both as an event and an idea. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic both probably shouldn’t be here. As the world reels from the effects of the delta strain and global vaccine hesitancy, this is the Olympics no one asked for. Dean, what are you doing here? Bugger off, Dean. Now is not the time.

High jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi gave each other their gold medals. This is too much.

Me? I’m the Japanese official. We’re all the Japanese official. Nervous, unsure how to react, ultimately acquiescing to this moment completely out of our control. Even in Japan, the host country, people were protesting the Olympics. First we collectively raised our hands in passive resistance. Seconds later we were all clapping.

And we were clapping because Dean Boxall is awesome. Reckless, sure. But so awesome. The Olympics were reckless too — but also awesome.

This is what the Olympics delivers: Beast Mode direct to your screen and your heart. It’s in the business of providing iconic moments like Boxall’s. Moments that simultaneously inspire and subvert our sense of what’s possible. Weird shit, displays of pure athleticism.

Two men collapsing into one another’s arms when they realize they can share a gold medal instead of duelling to the death for it. Skateboarding girls cheering each other on, making quick friends in the face of fierce competition. Runners stumbling, falling over in potentially race-ending collisions, miraculously recovering to win races.

Incredible, awe-inspiring moments.

Maybe it’s because we live in a universe where moments like these are worshipped, contorted and shaped into GIFs, tweets and memes in an infinite social media content spiral, but it somehow feels like we’ve had more of these moments compared to previous Olympics. That these Olympic Games have meant more than we ever could have expected when we cynically, reluctantly invited them into our homes.

Personally, as a man living in Sydney, a city wrestling with strict lockdowns that could potentially last for months, the Olympics was been a salve I didn’t realize I needed. It was a welcome distraction as I juggled home-schooling, work and a near-permanent dread at the daily ritual of waiting for Sydney case numbers to drop so we can all go back outside and live relatively normal lives.

There were a million reasons why the Olympic Games shouldn’t have happened in 2021. A million reasons why we shouldn’t have watched and supported what is arguably an irresponsible event run for the wrong reasons. But it’s also equally possible that — this year — the Olympics were more useful than ever.

The Tokyo Olympics probably shouldn’t have happened because of COVID-19. But I’m also happy it happened — because of COVID-19. If that makes sense.

None of it makes sense.

But right now, sport — with its simple rules and digestible outcomes, with its warm blanket of normalcy and straightforward narratives of triumph over adversity — is maybe the only thing that makes sense.

The Olympics, much like Dean Boxall, busted its way into our homes and televisions and refused to leave. An unwelcome guest. But, like the uncertain Olympics official dealing with the uncontainable Boxall as he dry humped a fence, I’m glad the Olympics forced their way into my life. I couldn’t have done lockdown without it.

Tokyo Olympics to be held under state of emergency, won’t allow spectators

Rising COVID-19 cases in Japan’s capital have led to a third state of emergency for the city, one that will last throughout the Olympic Games.

The Olympics were postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“New cases in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area have been rising since June,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was reported as saying in the Japan Times. “Stronger measures have become necessary in those areas, but could be lifted early if we see evidence of the positive impact of the vaccine rollout.”

Tokyo’s COVID-19 cases peaked with the new year, with over 2,392 new cases on Jan. 8. Numbers have fallen since, but they’ve been rising since the middle of June. Tokyo recorded 337 new COVID-19 cases on June 15, but July has seen new cases fluctuate between 500 and 920. It’s the third state of emergency the city has endured since the pandemic’s onset, following similar precautions in April and January.

Around 15% of Japan’s 126 million citizens have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

A worldwide death toll from the virus had risen to more than 4 million as of Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In Japan, nearly 15,000 people have died of the virus.

After being postponed more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics are scheduled to begin July 23 in Tokyo. They’ll run through to Aug. 8. Though many experts cautioned against holding the games, Japan’s government has pressed on — albeit with increasing restrictions as the games approached.

Officials last month said local fans would be allowed to physically attend the games, but with venues limited to 50% capacity or up to 10,000 spectators max. In March, officials banned overseas spectators from the Olympics.

March Madness Championship: How to stream Baylor vs. Gonzaga tonight on CBS

The final showdown in the NCAA’s men’s March Madness tournament takes place tonight.

The biggest game of the Big Dance airs tonight on CBS at 9:20 p.m. ET (6:20 p.m. PT). Here’s what you need to know about the 2021 men’s tournament.

Jalen Suggs, No. 1, celebrates with his Gonzaga teammates after making a game-winning three-pointer in overtime during the 2021 NCAA Final Four semifinal.

Tip-off for tonight’s contest is set for 9:20 p.m. ET (6:20 p.m. PT) on CBS.

Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan and Illinois were the top teams in the tournament, each a No. 1 seed in their respective regions. After Illinois was knocked out early in the tourney, Michigan lost to UCLA in the Elite Eight, leaving just Gonzaga and Baylor as the only top seeds standing heading into the Final Four.

Those two teams will play for the title Monday night, but those looking to relive the tourney can find the full bracket on the NCAA’s website.

Yes, you can.

Live TV streaming services YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, FuboTV and AT&T TV all offer CBS, which is what you’ll need to catch the final game. They start at $65 per month ($70 per month for AT&T). Cheaper streaming services like Sling TV’s $35 per month Orange and Blue packages do not have CBS.

You can also get CBS with an antenna or with Paramount Plus, the new name for CBS All Access, a streaming service that runs $6 per month.

The game will be available to stream on the NCAA’s March Madness Live website and app, with the tournament’s CBS-broadcasted games — including tonight’s championship decider — available for free without needing to first authenticate with a cable provider.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes CBS. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see what live, local networks are available where you live.

Hulu With Live TV costs $65 a month and includes CBS. Click the “View all channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

AT&T TV’s basic, $70-a-month package includes CBS. You can use its channel lookup tool to see if you get a live feed of CBS and the other local networks in your ZIP code.

You can watch the CBS games on Paramount Plus (formerly known as CBS All Access), if you live in one of these 206 markets where the service offers live TV. Paramount Plus costs $6 a month or $10 a month for no commercials.

FuboTV costs $60 a month and includes CBS. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Outside the US? Consider using a VPN: CNET editors choose the best VPN

The NCAA took a number of precautions to protect players, coaches and fans and to reduce the potential for COVID-19 to disrupt play. Usually, the tournament is spread all across the country in various venues, but this year, to reduce travel, all 67 men’s games are taking place in Indiana with the bulk of the action happening in Indianapolis. Teams were also required to quarantine upon arrival, and in-person attendance by fans is limited to 25% capacity to allow physical distancing.

COVID-19 also has impacted some games, with Oregon advancing past VCU in the first round due to the Rams’ having multiple positive tests.

Per the NCAA, this year’s tournament was played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts) plus Bankers Life Fieldhouse (home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers), Hinkle Fieldhouse (Butler’s stadium), Indiana Farmers Coliseum (home of the IUPUI Jaguars), Mackey Arena in West Lafayette (Purdue’s arena) and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington (home of the Indiana Hoosiers).

The National Championship will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium.

On March 18, the NCAA tweeted out more images of this year’s floor layout for the courts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

How to watch the All-Star Game 2021 tonight without cable

Baseball’s best will be on stage in Denver this evening.

Here’s how you can watch all of the All-Star action without cable.

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels will be the first player in baseball history to hit and pitch in the All-Star Game.

For the National League, the starters are:

For the American League, the starters are:

Mike Trout was voted to his ninth All-Star Game but is recovering from an injured calf and will not play, so Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins will start in his place. Ronald Acuña Jr. tore his ACL on Saturday and will miss the rest of the season. Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds will take his place. Buster Posey was voted to start his seventh All-Star Game behind the plate for the National League but will miss the game with a hand injury. J.T. Realmuto of the Marlins will start at catcher.

Meanwhile, Shohei Ohtani will do it all. The Major League leader in home runs at the break, and the owner of a 3.49 ERA as a starting pitcher, made history by becoming the first player to be selected to the All-Star Game as both a position player and a pitcher. He’ll hit and pitch in the All-Star Game (and he also took part in last night’s Home Run Derby).

You can see the full MLB All-Star Game rosters here, including reserves and pitchers.

The MLB All-Star Game starts tonight at 5:30 p.m. MT (7:30 p.m. ET) on Fox. Cable TV cord-cutters have a number of options for watching the All-Star Game via a live TV streaming service, detailed below. The catch is that not every service carries every local network, so check each one using the links below to make sure it carries Fox in your area.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue plan includes Fox. Sling TV offers Fox in only a handful of areas.

Read our Sling TV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes Fox. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 per month and includes Fox. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes Fox. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

AT&T TV’s basic $70-a-month package includes Fox. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.

Sling TV’s new Barstool Sports Channel arrives just in time for kickoff

The channel will incorporate existing programming from the franchise as well as an exclusive college football show.

The channel will incorporate shows such as Barstool College Football Show, The Pro Football Football Show and the Sling-exclusive The Brandon Walker College Football Show, which “will debut tonight at 6 p.m. ET, and will be live each Monday-Thursday at 6,” Walker said in a blog post.

This week the Locast service, which also offered free, over-the-air to Sling TV subscribers, suspended its service following a court case. As a budget live TV streaming provider Sling TV offers only limited access to broadcast TV.

Read more: How to watch, stream the NFL in 2021 without cable

Preakness Stakes 2021: Post time, TV schedule, how to watch horse racing without cable

You don’t need cable to watch the second leg of the Triple Crown today on NBC.

The 2021 Preakness Stakes takes place later today and will be broadcast on NBC. Here’s how you can watch live without cable.

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit will attempt to capture the second leg of the Triple Crown at the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

The Preakness Stakes takes place today, Saturday, May 15. TV coverage starts at 5 p.m. ET on NBC. Post time is set for 6:50 p.m. ET (3:50 p.m. PT).

If you don’t have cable, you still have plenty of options. The least expensive that doesn’t require streaming is to connect an over-the-air antenna to your TV and watch your local NBC station. You could also check out a live TV streaming service, all of which offer free trials and offer NBC. Not every service carries your local NBC station, however, so check the links below to make sure it’s available in your area.

Shandful of marketsling TV’s $35-a-month Sling Blue package includes local NBC stations but only in a handful of markets.

Read our Sling TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

AT&T Now TVs $70-a-month Plus package includes NBC in most markets. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

Olympics opening ceremony memes: Tonga still doesn’t give a shirt

But this year the shirtless, glossy Tongan taekwondo athlete has competition from Vanuatu. Plus: What’s with the team entrance order?

Malia and Pita lead Team Tonga during the opening ceremony. Um, yes, some viewers did in fact notice Pita’s shiny torso.

Things were a little different this year: Taufatofua wore a face mask, and he was joined by Malia Paseka, Tonga’s first female Olympian to compete in taekwondo. He congratulated his teammate and fellow flag bearer.

“A special congratulations to our Flag Bearer, Malia Paseka,” Taufatofua tweeted. “She did an amazing job leading the way for more participation of females and youth in sport in Tonga. So proud to walk along side our first ever female taekwondo Olympian!”

Fans were drawn to the Tonga team.

“Clearly the best pair of flag bearers in the Parade of Nations,” wrote one Twitter user. “You both are amazing!”

Wrote another, “**BREAKING** TONGA HAS WON THE OLYMPICS. We can all go home now.”

This year, Tonga wasn’t alone in the oiled-up athlete arena. Rower Riilio Rii from Vanuatu also pulled off the shirtless and glossy look.

“Pita, we see you and we raise you,” the official Olympics Twitter account wrote.

The countries usually file into the stadium in alphabetical order. But when you watch this year, you may wonder if you even know the alphabet. That’s because it’s in the order used in Japan.

There are also some other variations. Greece, home of the original Olympics, leads the pack, followed by the Refugee Team, athletes from troubled countries who’ve mostly been training in Kenya. The USA marches in near the end, followed by France and then Japan, the host country. (If you want to follow along, Wikipedia has the order.)

Many who were expecting the teams to march in ABC order were thrown.

“This order is bonkers,” wrote one Twitter user. “I clearly need to revisit the alphabet.”

The various sports were also displayed by performers dressed in white and blue and dubbed “human pictograms,” who re-create the icons used to depict each sport.

Wrote one Twitter user, “This live action Wii sports menu was unexpected but very much appreciated.”

Said another, “Give the pictogram team a GOLD.”

The opening ceremonies will be rebroadcast in the US on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT. The Olympics run through Aug. 8.

Tokyo Olympics memes: Snoop’s hilarious horse commentary, diver’s relatable flop

Rapper Snoop Dogg and comedian Kevin Hart are offering uncensored Olympics commentary on NBC’s Peacock network, and it’s a win.

Rapper Snoop Dogg and comedian Kevin Hart are offering uncensored Olympics commentary on NBC’s Peacock network, and they were especially entertained by a horse doing some fancy sideways walking in an equestrian event. (Note: Plenty of swearing ahead.)

“Horses. I like this,” declared Snoop. “This is equestrian… Oh, the horse crip-walking, cuh! You see that? On the set! That’s gangsta as a motherf—–!”

(Crip-walking is a dance move popularized in Compton, California, and associated with the Crips street gang.)

“Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart commenting on the Olympics is the best content NBC Peacock has put out yet,” wrote one Twitter user.

Canadian diver Pamela Ware messed up her dive at the last minute, ending up jumping feet-first and receiving a score of 0. Viewers understood that she had to bail out of the dive to avoid injury, but there was still a sense that here, finally, was a relatable athletic move.

“One of the few times in the Olympics where I have thought ‘Well I could do THAAT,'” wrote one Twitter user.

Ware posted an emotional video on Instagram thanking those who supported and encouraged her after her failed dive.

“My dream is still very much alive!” she wrote in the post’s caption. “This competition will NOT defeat me. This will only make me 10x stronger!”

British gold-medal Tom Daley knits and crochets, even making a little knitted case for his gold medal.

And fans loved it when Daley was spotted knitting away while sitting in the stands watching other athletes compete.

“Nothing to see here – just @TomDaley1994 having a knit at the diving,” tweeted Team GB, the British Olympic team, from its official Twitter account.

“When you gotta win a gold medal at 7, but finish your niece’s hat by 8,” wrote another Twitter user.

Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus won gold, beating legendary American Katie Ledecky in the 400-meter freestyle. But it was Titmus’ coach, Dean Boxall, who made the meme list. When Titmus won, Boxall tore off his face mark, screamed and, uh, mimed intimacy with a guardrail. You do you, coach.

Even NBC Sports’ official Twitter account got in on the joke, tweeting, “THAT’S MY SONG, TURN IT UP” with a video of Boxall’s reaction.

And some people felt sorry for the poor Olympics staffer seen in the background, writing, “Thoughts & prayers to the woman trying to keep Ariarne Titmus’s coach from falling over the barrier during his celebration.”

Skateboarding made its Olympics debut, and Peruvian skateboarder Angelo Caro Narvaez took an early fall, landing groin-first into a rail. No medal, but lots of sympathy.

“And he made it to the finals after doing this in the prelims,” one Twitter user wrote. “I would not have made it to the finals after doing that in the prelims, I’ll tell you that. I would have made it to the hospital.”

The US basketball team is packed with pros but still lost to France, 83-76, snapping a 25-game win streak that it had kept rolling since 2004. And while it might not seem fair to make fun of amateur athletes, all bets are off when it comes to poking fun at the professionals.

Wrote one Twitter user, “American teams win an NBA championship and call themselves World Champions until they actually have to play against the world.”

But as one Twitter user pointed out, it wasn’t as if only the US used pro players, tweeting, “You realize these dudes on the other teams are NBA players too, right?”

The memes will keep on medaling; the Olympics run through Aug. 8.

England storms into Euro 2020 final, memes say it’s coming home

Get a kick out of the reaction to the big win. Also, are we seeing double, or were there two balls on the pitch at the same time?

Liam Gallagher, lead singer of the band Oasis, was one of many to tweet the line after the victory.

Since England now moves on to play Italy, Italian fans had a twist on the slogan, arguing that, “It’s coming to Rome.”

It wouldn’t be soccer (er, football) without controversy, and this game had some too. Raheem Sterling of England drew a penalty on a foul that, USA Today notes, “really didn’t look like a foul at all.” That led to the hashtag #DivingHome.

There also appeared to be two balls on the pitch at the time of the controversial penalty. Whoops. Some fans pointed out that when this same thing happened later in the match, play was stopped, but that didn’t happen earlier.

“England invented football so they can do what they want apparently,” said one Twitter user.

The game was played in London, and some tweets suggested that Queen Elizabeth II was working some royal magic with VAR, aka video assistant referees.

There’ll be plenty more social reaction come Sunday, when England meets Italy at noon PT at London’s Wembley Stadium.