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Updated July 23, 2021 at 11:27 AM ET

Cleveland's Major League Baseball team has changed its name to the Guardians, ridding itself of a previous name that many found highly offensive.

The team announced the name change Friday morning on Twitter, posting a two-minute video narrated by actor Tom Hanks.

As expected, viewers who woke up early in America to watch NBC's first live morning telecast of an Olympics opening ceremony Friday were greeted with a subdued presentation, kicked off by an explosion of fireworks erupting around a nearly empty Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

Fireworks soared above Tokyo's new Olympic Stadium Friday, as the delayed Summer Games finally held its opening ceremony — an event that culminates in lighting the Olympic cauldron.

Athletes marched in front of thousands of empty seats, as only a sparse crowd was admitted due to COVID-19 restrictions. Those attending included first lady Jill Biden, who chatted with French President Emmanuel Macron.

It's 2021, but the policing of female athletes' bodies is a practice that continues to thrive.

Updated July 23, 2021 at 9:50 AM ET

TOKYO — In some ways, the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics looks very normal. Delegations of athletes decked out in clothes representing their countries march triumphantly into the stadium, waving flags. A beautifully choreographed spectacle from the host country, Japan, celebrates its art and traditions.

As the security situation devolves, the CIA will remain in Afghanistan to gather intelligence. There's a funeral mass for Haiti's assassinated president. Also on Friday, the Olympics officially begin.

TOKYO — What do speed skating and baseball have in common?

U.S. Olympian and flag bearer Eddy Alvarez. He won a silver medal in speed skating at the Winter Games in Sochi in 2014, and is competing on the U.S. baseball team at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Otherwise, not much, as Alvarez joked in a recent interview: "I would say the only link is the fact that we go left. There's really nothing similar about them."

TOKYO — The COVID-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics officially begins with a parade of athletes (more than 200 of them from Team USA), waving flags and marching inside a mostly-empty stadium. It's not clear yet what else will happen during the opening ceremony which is usually a chance to showcase the host country and inspire pride from countries throughout the world.

It's Opening Ceremony day in Tokyo, heralding the official start to another Olympics. Although we've already had two days of sports competition, there's the knowledge that once the smoke settles after tonight's ceremony-ending fireworks, the gates are flung open to 16 straight days of unprecedented drama.

As a reporter, it'll be fine to have a daily plan — but as always, I'll be ready to wad it up and throw it away as unforeseen stories capture the imagination.

So at this point, there is a sameness about these Tokyo Games.

In a major escalation of pressure on NFL teams to vaccinate as many players as possible before the start of this fall's season, the NFL says that teams will forfeit and be slapped with a loss if a game is cancelled because of a COVID-19 outbreak among their unvaccinated players — and neither team's players will be paid.

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Czech Olympic officials are looking into a cluster of coronavirus cases that are linked to a charter flight that brought a contingent of athletes and staff to Japan. The country's team has six coronavirus cases in total.

A doctor who was on the flight was reportedly among the first to test positive. As of late Thursday, four athletes had also tested positive for the coronavirus.

Australian Olympics chief John Coates is being criticized after lecturing Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and ordering her to attend the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. Palaszczuk had previously said she wouldn't be attending Friday's ceremony.

"I was reading some questions about you going to the opening ceremony," Coates told Palaszczuk. "You are going to the opening ceremony," he then said, crossing his arms as he spoke.

At an Olympics where journalists are largely sealed off from the host country due to strict COVID-19 protocols, a group of young Japanese volunteers is offering tiny presents that showcase an art form of their country.

In a corner of the convention center where journalists from around the world are working, the volunteers diligently fold origami paper into beautiful and elaborate designs.

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Plans for a House select committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are moving ahead.

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Emiliano Bosso gets into the elevator of his Tokyo hotel with a Japanese newspaper tucked under his arm. He has a translation app on his phone and tonight the paper will be the field hockey player's companion.

TOKYO — Just a day before the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, Japanese organizers have dismissed the show's director over past comments about the Holocaust. It's yet another setback for the troubled event on the same week that the ceremony's composer was forced out.

It's not clear yet how the last-minute departure of director Kentaro Kobayashi is going to affect the ceremony, which is expected to be an elaborate production unfolding over the course of three hours on Friday morning ET.

Updated July 22, 2021 at 12:38 PM ET

The first U.S. athlete expected to compete in the Tokyo Summer Olympics has tested positive for the coronavirus while in Japan. Beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb will be replaced on the top U.S. men's team by Tri Bourne, who will now play with Jake Gibb this weekend.

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Last night, the city of Milwaukee celebrated the number 50, the Milwaukee Bucks' first NBA title in 50 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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A lot of us made it through the worst of COVID isolation by spending time with a guy named Ted Lasso.

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The University of North Carolina has become the first college athletics program to organize group licensing deals for its current student athletes, in the latest development of the sea change transforming college athletics.

Two days before the Olympics' opening ceremony, Tokyo is reporting new COVID-19 cases at levels not seen since January — when Japan was enduring a record spike in coronavirus infections.

The 1,832 new cases represent a sharp rise from last Wednesday, when the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 1,149 cases.

Organizers of this year's Olympics in Tokyo are putting a new meaning behind "look, but don't touch."

The Games are ordinarily a place where many young athletes mix, mingle and, naturally, get very close.

Updated July 22, 2021 at 3:14 PM ET

ESPN host Maria Taylor has announced she is leaving the sports network just weeks after remarks by a colleague suggesting that Taylor was promoted because she is Black became public.

Taylor and ESPN announced the departure in a statement Wednesday, saying "that after much discussion, an agreement on a contract extension could not be reached."

According to ESPN, Taylor's final appearance for the network was Tuesday night's NBA Finals telecast.

British women's soccer players took a knee on the first day of competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, in a protest against discrimination and racism that was quickly reciprocated by their opponents from Chile.

It was the first time Olympians in Japan utilized newly relaxed rules on athletes expressing their views.

When Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop came out this week, it was the first time an active player under contract to an NHL team had ever publicly acknowledged they were gay.

Updated July 21, 2021 at 8:21 AM ET

TOKYO — It was a devastating start to the Tokyo Olympics for the U.S. women's soccer team. The U.S., ranked No. 1 and the reigning World Cup champions, played a familiar foe: Sweden. And unfortunately for the U.S., it was a familiar result. Sweden beat them 3-0.

In summer 2032, the world's largest sporting event will head to Brisbane, Australia.

The International Olympic Committee announced Wednesday in Tokyo that Australia will host the Summer Olympic games for the third time.

Brisbane will also host the Paralympic Games.

Adrian Schrinner, the lord mayor of Brisbane, said the effort to make Brisbane a host city began six years ago under his predecessor.

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Just about a month ago, President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators stood outside of the White House...

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