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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.

WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET

Fenway Big Air
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Fenway Park will host some of the world’s best freeskiers in the one-of-a-kind Big Air at Fenway, live on NBC Sports Live Extra on Friday night.

Big air skiers will descend from a ramp that’s four times higher than the Green Monster inside the hallowed Boston Red Sox home.

Ski big air is most like slopestyle of the current Olympic disciplines, except skiers get one jump per run.

WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET

On Thursday, Canadian Max Parrot and American Julia Marino won the snowboard big air competitions at Fenway Park.

Big Air at Fenway coverage will conclude with an NBC show on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.

MORE: Olympic champ suffers concussion at Big Air at Fenway practice

Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympics open with homages to 1994

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In an homage to the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics, Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway lit the Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympic cauldron to cap the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.

The princess’ father, Crown Prince Haakon, lit the 1994 Olympic cauldron in a very similar fashion (video here). Princess Ingrid Alexandra was born in 2004.

The Opening Ceremony, held outdoors at a ski jump (same venue as 1994) in sub-freezing temperatures, included a speech from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“I’m just a little bit too old to compete in the YOG,” Bach said, urging listeners to use the hashtag #IloveYOG during the nine-day Winter Games.

The ceremony included Olympic legends, such as 2010 figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim and eight-time Olympic cross-country champion Bjorn Daehlie carrying the Olympic flag.

Marit Bjoergen, a 10-time Olympic medalist cross-country skier, handed the Olympic flame to the princess.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. ET, plus daily coverage throughout the Winter Games. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: Two years to Pyeongchang: Updates on U.S. Olympic medalists from Sochi