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Badminton changes rules after “regrettable spectacle”

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The Badminton World Federation announced rule changes to the Olympic doubles format Friday in Bangkok after eight players were expelled from the Olympics for giving less than a valiant effort to win matches during London’s round robin stage.

The new rules, which will take effect in Rio, place all pairs finishing second in their group into an additional draw to determine which teams will face off in the knockout stage, which the BWF says will “ensure such a regrettable spectacle is never witnessed in badminton again.”

The top group finishers will have a fixed position similar to seeding for the final round.

“This will eliminate any player’s thoughts about actively trying to lose a match or matches, irrespective of other match results,” the BWF said in a statement. “Such a draw process can easily and effectively be made just after all group matches have been concluded.”

The federation also stated that they won’t take any more action against the players or coaches involved in the scandal, mostly because it’s not “legally feasible,” but added that the specific organizations had already done their part to punish the offenders, and that the BWF had strengthened its code of conduct to sanction coaches in the future.

Korea attempted to ban its two coaches for life, but the suspension was reduced to only two years. As for Chinese star Yu Yang – who was kicked out along with her teammate, two teams from South Korea, and one from Indonesia – she has since started playing again and won a tournament in Shanghai earlier this month.

Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas headline Secret Classic; Maggie Nichols out

Maggie Nichols
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World all-around champion Simone Biles and Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas are expected to compete at the Secret U.S. Classic on June 4, while World Championships teammate Maggie Nichols remains out after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery several weeks ago.

USA Gymnastics announced the field Thursday for the tune-up meet for the P&G Championships later in June and U.S. Olympic Trials in July.

Nichols is the only member of the seven-woman World Championships team who isn’t scheduled to compete at the Secret Classic in Hartford, Conn.

She is expected to be ready for the P&G Championships in St. Louis from June 23-26, an official from her gym said Thursday.

In early April, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Nichols was expected to be out four to six weeks, putting her in line to be ready in late May. Participation in the Secret Classic is not mandatory to be eligible for the Olympic team.

Nichols suffered the injury, a meniscus tear, on an Amanar vault landing in training, according to multiple reports.

The five-woman U.S. Olympic team will be named after the trials from July 8-10. The all-around champion at trials will clinch one of those five berths.

Nichols, an 18-year-old from Little Canada, Minn., is a favorite to make the Olympic team if healthy.

She was the only U.S. gymnast who competed in all four events in the World Championships team final Oct. 27. She earned a floor exercise bronze medal five days later.

Nichols opened her Olympic year by finishing second in the AT&T American Cup all-around behind Gabby Douglas on March 5.

Nichols was on the roster to compete at the Pacific Rim Championships from April 8-10 but was removed before the meet due to a slight knee injury, USA Gymnastics said.

She previously dislocated her left kneecap in summer 2014.

The men’s P&G Championships will also be held in Hartford, Conn., next week, with every major U.S. Olympic hopeful in the expected field. That includes London Olympians Danell LeyvaJohn OrozcoSam Mikulak and Jacob Dalton.

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Manny Pacquiao will not pursue Rio Olympics, reports say

Manny Pacquiao
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Manny Pacquiao has decided not to pursue boxing at the Rio Olympics, according to multiple reports.

Pacquiao chose to “prioritize his legislative duties,” the Philippines boxing federation’s executive director reportedly said Thursday. Pacquiao won a Philippine Senate seat earlier this month.

Pacquiao, the 37-year-old who may have fought for the last time April 9, reportedly previously said he was “thinking about” boxing in the Rio Games, that it would be “my honor” to do so and that he needed to ask the Filipino people about it.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) could create a path for professional boxers to compete in the Olympics starting in Rio.

Pacquiao never boxed in previous Olympics, but he did carry the Philippines’ flag into the Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony.

The Philippines has won nine Olympic medals, none gold.

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