RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — It’s match point at the Copacabana beach volleyball venue, and a spike catches the line for the winning point.
Or does it?
While one side celebrates an apparent victory, the would-be losers turn to the first referee and form a “C” with their fingers to challenge whether the ball was in or out. The ref signals to the replay booth by tracing out a TV screen with his index fingers and everyone — the players, the fans, the viewers at home — waits for the result.
The Olympics are using a replay system in volleyball and beach volleyball for the first time in Rio de Janeiro, and so far it has accomplished the goal of cleaning up calls that have the potential to influence the outcome of a match.
“We want the game to be more transparent,” said Angelo Squeo, the director of beach volleyball for the international federation. “We want the players to be happy with the decisions. We want the game to reflect what happens on the field of play.”
Although in use for a couple of years in indoor volleyball, the challenge system was first brought to the beach at the Rio de Janeiro test event last year. This is the sixth FIVB beach event with the Hawkeye system, the same one used at major tennis tournaments.
“I cannot imagine now for a moment going back,” Squeo said on Monday. “For sure, players are happy, spectators are happy, because the match doesn’t end on a mistake. It’s an essential device.”
While replay challenges have been known to slow other sports to a crawl — imagine a major league baseball manager on the top step of the dugout, waiting for the signal from his video people — volleyball seems to have it under control, for now.
Teams get two unsuccessful challenges per match. They have five seconds to challenge, and only a handful of line and net calls are eligible. (Notably excluded are judgment calls, like whether a player has lifted or double-hit the ball on a set.) The decision is made by an official with a monitor in a booth behind the players’ benches.
“We think it’s great,” Dutch player Madelein Meppelink said after beating Costa Rica 21-16, 21-16 on Monday to improve to 2-0 in pool play. “For the referee, it’s hard to see everything.”
Squeo said about 25 percent of calls are overturned; the average time for a review is about 30 seconds. While they wait, the fans at the indoor volleyball in Maracanazinho arena chant and clap in unison and then cheer or boo the decisions.
Meppelink said her only complaint is that the system could go even faster. But there also have been a couple of times where the replay took some of the excitement out of a finish.
On the first day, China called for a review on a net fault on a match point against Switzerland in the third set and appeared to win the challenge. The Chinese women celebrated and took the microphone to thank the crowd, but the Swiss continued to argue with first referee Lucie Guillemette.
After several minutes, the officials called everyone back to the court and resumed play because the Chinese had finished out the point instead of stopping play to challenge the call immediately.
“I didn’t think she (the referee) was going to listen to us, but we knew we were super-right” because it had happened to them before, said Switzerland’s Isabelle Forrer, who lost the match to China anyway a couple of points later.
When Casey Patterson and Jake Gibb played Austria on Monday, Gibb hit the net on the final point, a spike that went out and otherwise would have kept the Americans alive. Gibb appealed to the referee that the ball had hit the sand before he faulted, to no avail.
“That’s just us not giving up,” Patterson said after the 21-18, 21-18 dropped them to 1-1 in pool play.
Patterson hasn’t had the opportunity to use the challenge system yet, because it’s only been at a half-dozen events, and even then only on the championship court that’s wired for it. Those are usually reserved for the hometown favorites and other marquee teams.
Squeo said the FIVB plans to expand the system to a dozen or more of the top-tier events next year. It costs about $30,000 per tournament to have the system, and the FIVB is looking for a sponsor to pay for it.
But they won’t be able to do what Meppelink wants: go back in time and fix some of the calls that went against her in the past.
“I can think of points that I wished we had the challenge system,” she said.
AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and AP Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this story.
Jimmy Golen also covered beach volleyball in Beijing and London. Follow him on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/jgolen .
NEW YORK (AP) — “Ghostbusters” star and “Saturday Night Live” cast member Leslie Jones is bringing her enthusiasm for the Olympic games to Rio itself.
NBC said Monday that Jones will join the networks’ Olympic coverage team on Friday. After seeing a series of tweets the comic had sent about the Olympics, including a video where she was wrapped in an American flag and wearing plastic gold medals, NBC Olympics Executive Producer Jim Bell invited her to join the team.
NBC says Jones will attend Olympic events, meet athletes and talk about the Games on the air and online.
Jones has moved up fast at NBC, joining “SNL” as a writer two years ago and becoming a cast member last year. She starred with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon in “Ghostbusters.”
DALLAS (AP) — At least half of all Delta Air Lines flights Monday were delayed or canceled after a power outage knocked out the airline’s computer systems worldwide.
About 17 hours after the outage at one of its facilities, Delta was struggling to resume normal operations and clear a backlog of stranded passengers. It sought to appease frustrated customers by offering refunds and $200 travel vouchers.
By 7 p.m., Delta said it had canceled more than 740 flights, although its computer systems were fully functioning again.
Tracking service FlightStats Inc. counted more than 2,400 delayed flights.
Delta representatives said the airline was investigating the cause of the meltdown. They declined to describe whether the airline’s information-technology system had enough built-in redundancies to recover quickly from a hiccup like a power outage.
For passengers, hardship from the early morning meltdown was compounded by the fact that Delta’s flight-status updates weren’t working either. Instead of being able to stay home, many passengers only learned about the flight problems when they arrived at the airport.
“By the time I showed up at the gate the employees were already disgruntled, and it was really difficult to get anybody to speak to me or get any information,” said Ashley Roache, whose flight from Lexington, Kentucky, to New York’s LaGuardia Airport was delayed. “The company could have done a better job of explaining … what was happening.”
Delta said that about 3,300 of its nearly 6,000 scheduled flights had operated by 7 p.m. Eastern time. The airline posted a video apology by CEO Ed Bastian.
A power outage at an Atlanta facility at around 2:30 a.m. local time initiated a cascading meltdown, according to the airline, which is also based in Atlanta.
A spokesman for Georgia Power said that the company believes a failure of Delta equipment caused the airline’s power outage. He said no other customers lost power.
Delta spokesman Eric O’Brien said he had no information on the report and that the airline was still investigating.
Flights that were already in the air when the outage occurred continued to their destinations, but flights on the ground remained there.
Airlines depend on huge, overlapping and complicated systems to operate flights, schedule crews and run ticketing, boarding, airport kiosks, websites and mobile phone apps. Even brief outages can snarl traffic and cause long delays.
That has afflicted airlines in the U.S. and abroad.
Last month, Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights over four days after an outage that it blamed on a faulty network router.
United Airlines suffered a series of massive IT meltdowns after combining its technology systems with those of merger partner Continental Airlines.
Lines for British Airways at some airports have grown longer as the carrier updates its systems.
On Monday in Richmond, Virginia, Delta gate agents were writing out boarding passes by hand. In Tokyo, a dot-matrix printer was resurrected to keep track of passengers on a flight to Shanghai.
“Not only are their flights delayed, but in the case of Delta the website and other places are all saying that the flights are on time because the airline has been so crippled from a technical standpoint,” said Daniel Baker, CEO of tracking service FlightAware.com.
Many passengers, like Bryan Kopsick, 20, from Richmond, were shocked that computer glitches could cause such turmoil.
“It does feel like the old days,” Kopsick said. “Maybe they will let us smoke on the plane, and give us five-star meals in-flight too!”
In Las Vegas, stranded passengers were sleeping on the floor, covered in red blankets. When boarding finally began for a Minneapolis flight — the first to take off — a Delta worker urged people to find other travelers who had wandered away from the gate area, or who might be sleeping off the delays.
Tanzie Bodeen, 22, a software company intern from Beaverton, Oregon, left home at 4 a.m. to catch a flight from Minneapolis and learned about the delays only when she reached the airport and saw media trucks and news crews.
Bodeen said that passengers were taking the matter in stride. “It doesn’t seem really hostile yet,” she said.
The company said customers whose flights were canceled or delayed more than three hours could get a refund and $200 in travel vouchers. Travelers on some routes can also make a one-time change to the ticket without paying Delta’s usual change fee of $200 for domestic flights and up to $500 for international flights.
Kirka reported from London. Matt Small with AP Radio in Washington, Bree Fowler in Las Vegas, Joseph Pisani in New York, and Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.
Delta resumes some service after extended global outage
LONDON (AP) — Delta Air Lines struggled to resume normal operations and clear backlogs of stranded passengers Monday after a power outage knocked out its computer systems worldwide.
By early afternoon, Delta said it had canceled 451 flights. Tracking service FlightStats Inc. counted 2,000 delayed flights — about one third of the airline’s entire schedule.
Wal-Mart buying online retailer newcomer Jet.com
NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart is buying fast-growing online retailer Jet.com for $3 billion in cash plus $300 million in stock, scooping up a newcomer that launched a year ago with the intention of challenging online leader Amazon.
The deal announced Monday shows Wal-Mart is trying to compete more aggressively and effectively as it has seen its online business growth slow, even with big investments in distribution centers and expanding services. In June, it announced it was forming a partnership with JD.com in China to bolster its presence in that market.
US stock indexes close slightly lower; oil rises
A mostly listless day of trading left U.S. stock indexes little changed Monday, hovering just below the record highs they set late last week.
Drug company and consumer-focused stocks weighed on the market, while energy companies surged, getting a lift from a pickup in crude oil prices.
The slight pullback came as investors took advantage of the milestones reached Friday by the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Nasdaq composite to pocket some gains. Strong U.S. jobs data left traders feeling more confident in the economy heading into this week.
Hulu dropping free video as it prepares cable TV alternative
NEW YORK (AP) — Hulu is dropping the free TV episodes that it was initially known for as it works on an online television service to rival cable TV.
Free episodes — typically the most recent four or five episodes from a show’s current season — will be gone from the site within a few weeks. Instead, Hulu is making free episodes available through Yahoo.
While Hulu started as a free site, supported by advertising, free video has become increasingly more difficult to find as Hulu tries to lure viewers into a subscription — $8 a month for a plan with ads, and $12 without.
Major resort operator buying largest North American ski area
DENVER (AP) — Vail Resorts Inc. announced Monday that it was purchasing Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. for $1.06 billion, adding to its aggressive expansion.
The deal brings together the largest resort operator in North America and the continent’s biggest ski area.
It also adds to Vail Resorts’ growing portfolio. Two years ago, Vail Resorts bought Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort for $182.5 million and merged it with a neighboring resort. It operates nine mountain resorts and two ski areas in the U.S. and Australia.
Some states reach $100M settlement with Barclays Bank
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Barclays Bank has agreed to pay $100 million to 43 states and the District of Columbia to settle allegations it improperly set key interest rates almost a decade ago, affecting payments on investments.
Monday’s settlement includes $93.5 million in restitution and costs of the investigation led by the New York and Connecticut attorneys general.
Authorities said that during the global financial crisis from 2007 to 2009 the British bank lowered rates to avoid the appearance that Barclays was in financial trouble. They also said that from 2005 to 2009 Barclays traders requested rates to benefit their trading positions.
Reports: Egypt has proposed 18-month reform program to IMF
CAIRO (AP) — Three Egyptian newspapers said Monday that Cairo was proposing to IMF delegates an 18-month reform program in return for a $12 billion loan over three years to shore up its economy, but that differences remained between the two sides on how to proceed.
The reports by the privately-owned Al-Shorouk, Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Watan said the two sides were at odds over the size of a proposed devaluation of the Egyptian pound and the timetable for implementing some of the more politically sensitive reforms, like reducing or removing state subsidies on fuel, electricity and food staples.
China’s imports, exports fall again in July
BEIJING (AP) — China’s exports fell again in July by an unexpectedly wide margin while a decline in imports accelerated in a possible sign of weakness in the world’s second-largest economy.
Exports contracted 4.4 percent to $184.7 billion, a slight improvement over June, customs data showed Monday. Imports fell 12.5 percent to $132.4 billion, accelerating from a decline of 8.4 percent.
Weak global demand has hampered efforts to shore up Chinese trade and stave off job losses in export industries. The contraction in imports reflects possible weakness in the domestic economy, but the figures also are depressed by a decline in prices of oil and other commodities.
Investor suits against Volkswagen move ahead in Germany
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Investor lawsuits claiming up to 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) in damages against Volkswagen over its diesel emissions scandal are moving ahead in German courts.
Investors claim that Volkswagen did not inform them in a timely way of the impending scandal over cars with software that enabled them to cheat on emissions tests in the United States, depriving them of a chance to decide whether to sell the stock.
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 14.24 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,529.29. The S&P 500 index dipped 1.98 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,180.89. The Nasdaq shed 7.98 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,213.14.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.22, or 2.9 percent, to close at $43.02 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.12, or 2.5 percent, to close at $45.39 per barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline slipped a penny to $1.36 a gallon, while heating oil rose 3 cents to $1.34 a gallon. Natural gas fell 2 cents to $2.75 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The hefty price underscores how Wal-Mart is trying to compete more aggressively and effectively for younger and more affluent customers as it has seen its online business growth slow, even with big investments in distribution centers and expanding services.
As part of the deal, Jet.com co-founder and CEO Marc Lore will oversee both that site and walmart.com, and will report to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Chief Executive Doug McMillon. Lore brings to the role a rich e-commerce resume as founder of Quidsi, the parent of Diapers.com, which was bought by Amazon for $500 million in 2010.
Analysts say the acquisition still won’t enable Wal-Mart to catch up to Amazon in sales, but it will help narrow that gap and should widen the distance between Wal-Mart and other online retailers. The deal also reflects the difficulties for startups like Jet.com of making it on their own in a sphere Amazon dominates with its network of distribution hubs and the powerful asset of its Prime membership program.
The move follows a series of acquisitions by major traditional retailers of online startups, with Hudson’s Bay, which owns Saks Fifth Avenue, purchasing flash-sales site Gilt Group and Bed, Bath & Beyond buying One Kings Lane. While not a startup, Wal-Mart itself announced in June that it announced it was forming a partnership with JD.com in China to bolster its presence in that market.
“This acquisition in tandem with its joint venture in China with JD.com, demonstrates that Wal-Mart is attacking online retail with significant zeal,” said Moody’s lead retail analyst Charlie O’Shea. “As we believe ‘catching’ Amazon online is an unrealistic goal for any brick-and-mortar retailer, Wal-Mart now has a definite leg up on its competitors in the very important race to be No. 2 online.”
As part of the deal, which Wal-Mart expects to close this year upon regulatory approval, Wal-Mart and Jet.com will maintain separate brands — for now. Walmart.com will stay focused on the company’s low price strategy and Jet.com will still provide a curated assortment of products. The acquisition will help Wal-Mart grab a higher-income customer who typically is younger than its own shoppers. Jet.com, launched in July 2015, sells 12 million products, from jeans to diapers and has been growing fast. It has more than 400,000 new shoppers added monthly and an average of 25,000 daily processed orders.
Wal-Mart says it will incorporate some of Jet.com’s “smart” technology that lowers prices in real time by looking for ways to cut costs. It is built on a pricing algorithm that determines which sellers are the most efficient in value and shipping and adjusts prices based on what items are in the checkout cart, as well as how far the desired products are from the shopper’s home. So shoppers are encouraged to add more to build a more efficient cart and buy items labeled “smart cart” for more savings. For Jet.com, which has been pouring money into splashy TV ads and other marketing, the deal should help accelerate its path to profitability.
McMillon said Wal-Mart customers likely will see lower prices and new brands aimed at millennials that have been carried by Jet.com. Wal-Mart customers may also have more control over creating their own basket to save money.
“We have some cool ideas on how the two brands can work together over time,” he said. As for perhaps merging the two sites eventually, McMillon said Wal-Mart wants to be thoughtful about how it approaches that. “This is about winning over time,” he said.
Lore cited the benefits of Wal-Mart’s purchasing scale, sourcing capabilities, distribution footprint and digital assets together with Jet.com’s team and technology. Jet.com, which touts its service, delivers to two-thirds of the country overnight in its purple boxes. In some high-density regions such as New York City, Jet often can offer same-day delivery at no additional cost.
Lore told The Associated Press that he can see helping Wal-Mart with speeding up shipping, among other things.
“I’m definitely in this for the long haul,” Lore said. He said he was introduced to McMillon this past spring.
In its fiscal year ended in January, Wal-Mart had online sales of $13.7 billion, a fraction of its total revenue of $482.1 billion. And its online figure pales in comparison to Amazon.com’s annual net revenue of $107 billion.
O’Shea noted that Apple.com is the only brick-and-mortar retailer that outranks Wal-Mart in online sales in the U.S. But Wal-Mart reported in May that global e-commerce sales rose 7 percent in the first quarter, weaker than the 8 percent in the previous quarter and far below the 20 percent increases seen less than two years ago.
So it trimmed its free-shipping pilot program ShippingPass to two-day delivery from three and cut a dollar off the membership to $49 a year in an attempt to answer Amazon’s Prime program. But while Amazon’s Prime membership costs $99 a year, it comes with a lot of perks like streaming music and video and household subscriptions.
O’Shea noted Wal-Mart is “paying a lot” for Jet.com, but it was too soon to say if it overpaid. Shares of Wal-Mart slipped 42 cents to close at $73.34 Monday. Its shares are up 3 percent over the past year.
Follow Anne D’Innocenzio on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.com/adinnocenzio
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A skydiving plane caught fire shortly after taking off from a small Colorado airport, and the 13 trained jumpers aboard parachuted to safety before it made an emergency landing, authorities said.
Officials with Out of the Blue Skydiving said they believe the plane struck a bird after leaving Colorado Springs East Airport on Sunday afternoon. Passenger Trent Reese said they heard a pop on board.
“The pilot took a few seconds to assess the situation and he said, ‘Everybody out,'” Reese told Colorado Springs TV station KRDO (http://bit.ly/2aM76oL ).
The skydivers jumped from the plane and were picked up by company workers, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said. No injuries were reported, and the plane landed safety back at the airport. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.
Rusty Wardlow, a videographer with Out of the Blue Skydiving, said some skydivers had to use their reserve parachutes because they were jumping too close to the ground. The skydivers normally parachute at 12,000 feet but they jumped Sunday from under 3,000 feet.
“I wouldn’t say it was a routine exit, but everyone did what they were supposed to do,” he told TV station KOAA (http://bit.ly/2b3x9cM ). “This is just a normal part of skydiving — there is no such thing as a perfectly good airplane, and we were all glad we were wearing parachutes.”
Blue Skydiving co-owner John Mahan said once everyone landed, it took a little while to track everyone down because they were scattered in the area.
“It’s an unfortunate event,” Mahan told KRDO-TV. “Everyone is safe. We are very happy everyone is accounted for.”
It came the same weekend two tandem skydivers plummeted to their deaths in California after their parachute failed to open.