By Jack Tarrant, Akira TomoshigeTOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee, who is battling back from leukaemia, provided a glimmer of hope for embattled Tokyo Olympics organisers during a sombre yet poignant ceremony to mark one year to go until the rearranged Games on Thursday.The Olympics were due to begin on Friday with an extravagant opening ceremony in the National Stadium but the Games have instead been delayed until July 23, 2021 because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.A subdued 15-minute ceremony took place in an empty and dark National Stadium, where footage was shown to highlight next year’s Games.Ikee, who won six titles at the 2018 Asian Games and was considered a strong medal contender for the Olympics before her illness, stood under a spotlight dressed in all white as she represented a figure of hope for Tokyo. “Imagine the world a year from now,” she said while holding the Olympic flame in a lantern.“How wonderful it will be to see the curtain raising on the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We are currently living in a world of ups and downs. I sincerely hope that the peace and calm of daily life returns as soon as possible.”Various venues that will host Olympics events next year, including the newly-built Ariake Arena, were lit up in the Olympic colours to mark the occasion. Last year, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach presided over a glitzy ceremony to mark the occasion in the Japanese capital and declared Tokyo the best prepared host city he had ever seen.This time around the atmosphere was much more subdued and Thursday’s small ceremony is a sign of things to come in the lead-up to the Games next year.“We have to prepare for multiple scenarios of the Games,” Bach told broadcaster Eurosport, the Games’ official broadcaster in Europe, on Thursday.“We don’t know how the world will look like in one year. So we are preparing for all the different scenarios. The top priority is that these Olympic Games will only take place in a safe environment for everybody,” he said. Asked whether the Games could go ahead even without fans, Bach said the organisation needed to adapt to the circumstances.“In this world you have to adapt yourself. We are working to optimize the Games, to simplify the Games, to adapt it to the time we are living in. We are not living on a spacecraft, we are in the middle of the world society.”The head of the IOC’s Coordination Commission John Coates has said rearranging the Games meant focusing on the “must haves” in a simplified event.In response, Tokyo 2020 Chief Executive Toshiro Muto said over 200 simplification measures were under consideration. Thursday’s landmark comes as the Japanese capital reported 366 new coronavirus cases, a new daily record, fuelling fears of a second round of infections.
BILL NEAL :10 Curtis Martin will go into the NFL Hall of Fame as quiet and soft spoken as any man can and for those of us that had the pleasure of knowing him you know two things about Curtis is true. No. 1 He is a soft spoken man and No. 2 he was a tough, quick, no excuse, get it done, never say die, consistent, durable running back. Who among us, who can think back to his days at Allderdice or for that matter at Pitt, thought that he would become one of the top five running backs in Pro Football history? Congratulations Curtis, you deserve all you’ve achieved; and Congrats to you too “Mama Rochella” you played a major role in your son’s success.:09 I am rolling this in at #9 because… If it ain’t the Steelers it don’t matter…but I told ya the Giants would beat New England. Oh shut up and just check your Courier last week and you’ll see it. New York won the game not because of Eli Manning but because they have a tough hardnosed defense and you all know defense wins championships.:08 Speaking of the Super Bowl, I don’t know where you watched the game but you should have been at J.T’s Restaurant at “The Club” in Monroeville. We kicked it off with a special two hour taping of “Champions Live” sports talk show followed up by a great crowd enjoying the game with the best soul food money can buy.:07 Speaking of the club…are you starting to see the flow here? Artistree blew up the Champions First Friday old School Par-tay with their classic old school style, great stage presence and second to none vocals. Then you throw in the unbelievable voice of veteran performer “Chico,” a super talent who got the crowd heated up…not warmed up, the craziness of Pittsburgh comedian “Frog” and of course the fabulous Diamond Models. Now you mix that all together with 250 of our best First Friday supporters and MAN you got a PAR-TAY!!!:06 There’s one way and one way only to stop Lebron James but it’s not legal and you will get jail time. Another 30-point game…Lebron C’MON MAN!:05 It’s a shame that I have to keep reminding you all of this but I do what I have to do. Get out and support your local high school basketball team. The playoffs are coming and “OUR KIDS” need your support so stop with your excuses and get off your “BUTT” and go to the games. And not just one…keep going until they are done!!!:04 Eli Manning now joins a super group of elite quarterbacks that have won two or more Super Bowl MVP’S including Terry Bradshaw, Bart Star, Joe Montana and Tom Brady. What’s wrong with this picture? And for the record I could challenge if Eli was the MVP of the Super Bowl. It could have been running back Ahmad Bradshaw or punter Steve Weatherford.:03 If Coach Herman Edwards knows so much about football how come he didn’t show it when he was coaching. I don’t usually do this but here’s your second… C’MON MAN!!!:02 Pitt Basketball is back, that’s it, I told you they would be.:01 AT THE BUZZER:•Don’t’ miss “Champions Live” sports talk show on PCTV channel 21.•Five Starr Corporation/Champion Enterprises “Tip-Off” Reception at the Cambria Suites Hotel Feb. 17, 6-10 p.m. Meet and greet Pittsburgh’s African-American authors, Artistree and The Fabulous Diamond Models. Cash bar, cash kitchen, free parking, photos with your favorite star. $20 donation celebrating Black History Month.•“Volley With The Stars” volleyball tournament coming soon. Get your team ready for more fun than you can stand. More info coming next week.~Game Over~
Facebook0Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Harlequin ProductionsI was lucky enough to sit down with the mysterious Harlowe Reed for an exclusive interview with the author of the Stardust Musical.Where do you find your inspiration for story lines?Inspiration is everywhere, but largely it comes from having watched actors work in other projects and beginning to see Stardust characters emerge. These are situation comedies, so the next step is finding a situation. The ideas for the situations or problems are one percent pure luck that must be supported with the ninety-nine percent hard work.Do you ever decide to abandon plot concepts mid-way through writing?If a plot will be abandoned, it needs to happen right at the beginning. That’s the place you have to recognize that you’re headed to a dead end. Not half-way through. Once you are committed to a storyline, you tend to make it the story you want even if it requires a staple gun, a shoe horn, and bailing wire. If a sledgehammer is needed to get you to the finish line, you’ll know better next time.Any particularly strange Stardusts we almost had?They are all strange. We joke about various concepts like setting the show in the Star Wars Cantina or in a remote future where all the performers are robots or clones. These ideas are unlikely to be explored anytime soon; however, the Cantina version has its attractions. I always loved the jazz combo in that scene.Do you have any favorite Stardusts past?Naturally the shows I like the best are the shows that audiences like the best: Stardust for Christmas, Operation Stardust, The Stardust Serenade, and last year’s Stardust Christmas Blizzard rank high. But, as you know, the real favorite is always the one you are working on at the moment.Do you find that your original vision usually comes to fruition in the final product, or does the vision tend to evolve during a process?It has absolutely got to evolve in the process. It can’t be helped. The performers bring their own brilliance to the project and new and irresistible possibilities come to life. And that is what makes the “original vision” viable. You have to begin with raw eggs to end up with an omelet. The ideas are the raw eggs BTW …not the actors. With an original script, you can’t go in thinking it’s already cooked. That’s a formula for disaster. You might get a disaster anyway, but the chances are greatly reduced by letting it morph organically into its true potential. This does, however, require knowing what and what not to keep. You have got to know a speed bump for what it is. How has your writing style changed over these 19 years?Writing comedy is trial by fire. You learn the hard way what has a chance of working and what makes it work when it does. I’ve learned a lot about tempo and phrasing. I like broken and overlapping lines because it’s the way people actually banter with each other. Smart actors can do that, but the tempo has to be correctly balanced in the line. Also, consonants are vital. Finding the clear words that help actors communicate a feeling or situation to the audience can be the difference between keeping them with you or confusing them. I’ve done the confusion part and now attempt to do something else. I also used to be much more sentimental. We still want a happy ending, but keeping it terse actually seems to make that more rewarding.What led to your decision to move from the 1940’s to the 1950’s?We spent seventeen Christmases in the 1940s, mostly the war years. We covered well over 200 songs from the period. Most of them were ballads. It’s time to move it to the 1950s and the more upbeat popular music of that decade. It was an optimistic time, maybe the last non-cynically optimistic period in American history.What do you love about this year’s feature?The homeless youth element and the way it resonates with contemporary problems. His situation is a catalyst for a sequence of crazy events that (I hope) keep us engaged and rooting for everyone concerned.What would you say is the thesis of this entire body of work?Simple: The Stardust Series is really a collection of big noisy Christmas cards. These are alternative holiday shows that provide a bit of added cheer and entertainment. I have nothing as lofty as a “thesis,” but the intention to reach out to the community with a happy offering has endured.Do you have any relation to Fletcher Reed, Jim Carry’s character from the 1997 smash Liar, Liar?Sadly, no. That was one of Jim’s better roles. I am, however, tangentially connected to the journalist John “Jack” Reed (1887 – 1920). He was born in Portland, Oregon, lived for a time in Greenwich Village. He had Communist leanings and wrote prodigiously about the Russian Revolution and was given a hero’s funeral when he died in Moscow. Obviously he got in lots of trouble. I’m nothing like that.Do you spend much time with the Director, the fabulous Linda Whitney?Collaboration is required to pull these things together. Time is an imaginary concept.