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After Friday's smoothly executed opening ceremony and the first batch of inspiring gold medals, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are once again mired in controversy. But rather than Brazil's own local battles with corruption and Zika, it's the athletes themselves undermining the Games.


Sparks flew poolside as Rio's Olympic swimmers traded insults and accusations over doping. Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova was allowed to compete despite receiving previous bans for doping, and her Irish rival Fiona Foyle claimed Efimova "got away with it again" after failing to qualify for the semifinals in her event. In the men's competition, Australian gold medalist Mack Horton called Chinese runner-up and defending champion Sun Yang a "drug cheat" for his three-month suspension in 2014.


The episode enraged supporters in China, prompting the state-run daily Global Times to label Australia an "offshore prison … on the fringes of civilization." Chinese netizens also demanded apologies, with one hoping that Horton would be "killed by a kangaroo."


Meanwhile, the allegations of "state-sponsored" doping by Russia featured a new twist as all its athletes were banned from next month's Paralympic Games. The punishment was a departure from the more lenient punishment for Russia's Olympians, which as noted above did nothing to prevent the Foyle-Efimova swimming spat. Only three days in, and cold water is already risking to snuff out Rio's Olympic spirit.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY

  • Third day of the 2016 Rio Olympics: swimming, tennis, basketball, volleyball, and archery, among others.
  • Walmart expected to finalize $3 billion purchase of Jet.com to help the retail giant compete with Amazon.
  • Donald Trump in Detroit for major economic speech.


JAPANESE EMPEROR HINTS AT ABDICATION

Japan's 82-year-old Emperor Akihito expressed concerns about his age during an unprecedented video message to his country today, feeding rumors of his impending abdication. According to the Japan Times, the Japanese Imperial succession does not allow for abdications, meaning parliament would have to pass new laws for Akihito to step down.


HOSPITAL BOMBING IN PAKISTAN KILLS 53

A bomb tore through a hospital in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta today, killing 53 people and injuring dozens. The attackers, still unidentified, fired gunshots after the explosion at the entrance of the hospital's emergency room department.


— ON THIS DAY

The most famous zebra crossing in the world and arguably the best tennis player ever are part of today's 57-second shot of History.


MASSIVE PRO-ERDOGAN RALLY IN ISTANBUL

Millions of supporters thronged the Yenikapi district of Istanbul yesterday in a rally called by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish daily Hürriyet reports that the leaders of Turkey's three largest political parties jointly organized the rally, in a rare show of unity to demonstrate their opposition to the coup attempt on July 15. See how the impressive rally was featured on another Turkish daily's front page here.


JETS STRIKE SYRIAN REBELS IN ALEPPO

Syrian Air Force jets intensified their raids today on rebel-held positions in Aleppo. Rebel forces made gains over the weekend in their efforts to break the government's siege, which had been advancing for weeks.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Not many people in the southeast African nation of Malawi smoke tobacco. They can't afford it. But the country is hooked on growing it and turns a blind eye to the associated risks, especially for child laborers. For Süddeutsche Zeitung, Tobias Zick writes: "Malawi earns roughly $400 million a year from tobacco exports, a habit it's unwilling to kick. member of the Malawi parliament Jumbe takes the opportunity, for that reason, to make a plea for solidarity. His message to the people of Europe? ‘Smoke!' he says. ‘It's cold in your countries. It will warm you. Do it for Malawi.'"

Read the full article, State Of Denial: Malawi's Tobacco Farming Addiction.


AS TROPICAL STORM EARL BATTERS MEXICO ...

Tropical Storm Earl made landfall on Mexico's eastern coast over the weekend, bringing intense rain and mudslides that left 41 people dead. According to this morning's edition of Mexico City-based El Universal, the three hardest-hit states of Veracruz, Puebla, and Hidalgo were devastated by flash floods caused by the storm.


… "FREAK" FLASH FLOOD HITS MACEDONIA

The death toll from flooding in Macedonia this morning stood at 21 after torrential rains struck in and around the capital of Skopje that the mayor described as a "water bomb." Read more from the Weather Channel.


SWIMMERS BREAK OLYMPIC RECORDS

Michael Phelps extended his lead as the most successful Olympian in history with his 19th Olympic gold medal, as his fellow swimmers broke numerous world records over the weekend in Rio de Janeiro. American Katie Ledecky, Briton Adam Peaty, and Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom also set new world bests in their events.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Among The Hmong — Chiang Rai, 1993


THAIS APPROVE NEW CONSTITUTION

Voters in Thailand approved a new constitution drafted by the country's military government in a referendum yesterday, with unofficial results showing the "Yes" camp winning with 61.4% of the vote. Analysts had predicted a tighter contest, but the military achieved large margins of victory in the more populous central regions of the country. Read more from the Bangkok Post.


MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH

"SHOE OF SUPPORT" FOR MELANIA TRUMP

Donald Trump may be generating controversy in the United States, but his wife Melania has received some long-distance support from a shoemaker in Bosnia and Herzegovina's ethnic Serbian region. Criticizing the "dirty campaign" against Trump, the Bema footwear company crafted special "White House shoes" for the couple: a pair with memory foam soles for Donald, and leather high heels for Melania.

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Coronavirus

Xi's Burden — Why China Is Sticking With Zero COVID

Too much has been put in to the state-sponsored truth that minimal spread of the virus is the at-all-cost objective. But if the Chinese economy continues to suffer, Xi Jinping may have no choice but to second guess himself.

COVID testing in Guiyang, China

Cfoto/DDP via ZUMA
Deng Yuwen

The tragic bus accident in Guiyang last month — in which 27 people being sent to quarantine were killed — was one of the worst examples of collateral damage since the COVID-19 pandemic began in China nearly three years ago. While the crash can ultimately be traced back to bad government policy, the local authorities did not register it as a Zero COVID related casualty. It was, for them, a simple traffic accident.

The officials in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou, of course, had no alternative. Drawing a link between the deadly crash and the strict policy of Zero COVID, touted by President Xi Jinping, would have revealed the absurdity of the government's choices.

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