Japan won’t send government ministers

TOKYO (AP) — Japan says it won’t send a delegation of ministers to represent the government at the Beijing Games but three Olympic officials will attend.

The decision follows a U.S.-led move to diplomatically boycott the Games to protest China’s human rights conditions.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno says “we have no plans to send a government delegation.” Matsuno says the decision is Japan’s own and not to join earlier moves by the United States and others. Matsuno also declined to call it a diplomatic boycott.


Goodbye Staples Center

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers have played their last game at Staples Center.

They’ll still be in the same arena when they host the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day. But it will have a new name — Crypto.com Arena — in what’s believed to be the richest naming rights agreement in sports history. The cryptocurrency platform and exchange is paying more than $700 million over 20 years to put its name on an arena that has hosted countless major sports and entertainment events since it opened in 1999.

The Lakers may be hoping that the name change will somehow give them a boost. They’ve lost four straight for the first time this season amid COVID-19 roster chaos.


Top two teams prepare for Christmas Day matchup

PHOENIX (AP) — A Christmas Day matchup will determine which team emerges with the best record in the NBA. The Golden State Warriors trail the Phoenix Suns by a half-game, with the two teams scheduled to meet in Phoenix.

They’ve met twice already this year, splitting the two games as the home team won each time.


COVID-19 contributes to bowl game cancellation

HONOLULU (AP) — There was supposed to be a Christmas Eve bowl game in Hawaii, but it’s been canceled. Hawaii withdrew from the Hawaii Bowl against Memphis on the eve of the contest because of COVID-19, season-ending injuries and transfers.

An athletic department spokesman says about 30 players and staff recently tested positive for COVID-19. Cases have been surging in Honolulu for the past two weeks. Oahu’s seven-day average of new cases was 11 times higher on Thursday compared to Dec. 8.


Another Boxing Day match postponed

LONDON (AP) — England’s top-level soccer league continues to feel the brunt of the latest coronavirus surge. An outbreak at Everton has forced the postponement of Sunday’s match at Everton.

It’s the third match to be postponed as part of a Sunday program that still features six games. The Premier League has now called off 13 matches because of coronavirus issues in two weeks with players having to isolate after testing positive or if they are unvaccinated and a close contact of a COVID-19 case.

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