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IOC officially opens bidding for 2022 Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee officially opened up the two-year, three-phase bidding process for hosting the 2022 Winter Games Thursday, with many cities already declaring intentions of bringing the event home.

Oslo, Norway immediately threw its hat into the proverbial ring and is expected to be a strong contender, while Poland and Slovakia are expected to send in a joint bid soon, and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych called for four cities to prepare proposals for the Games.

Other cities considering a bid are Almaty, Kazakhstan, which helped host the 1997 Asian Winter Games; Sarajevo, which hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics; Munich, which hosted the Summer Games in 1972 and lost in its bid for the 2018 Winters to Pyeongchang, South Korea; and Stockholm, which hasn’t hosted the Olympics in more than a century.

American cities like Denver, Reno, Bozeman, and Salt Lake City all expressed interest in hosting the 2022 Games. But the USOC has decided to focus on the Summers in 2024 and recently whittled down its list of potential hosts from thirty to ten, including Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

All bids are due in by November 14, so that the IOC can look them over before a meeting at the headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland this December. Finalists will be determined next summer, and those cities will be evaluated early in 2015 before the final vote on July 31, 2015.

Check out the full bidding schedule here.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic venues approved for new sports

Yokohama Stadium
Tokyo 2020
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Tokyo 2020 venues for the new Olympic sports of baseball, softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday.

That brings the total number of Tokyo 2020 venues to 39, with the potential for more.

The venues for new sports:

Baseball/softball — Yokohama Stadium (20 miles south of Tokyo)
Karate — Nippon Budokan
Skateboarding and Sport Climbing — Aomi Urban Sports Venue
Surfing — Tsurigasaki Beach

All of the new sports do not currently have a spot on the Olympic program beyond 2020 (baseball and softball were previously on the Olympic program before being taken off after Beijing 2008).

Agenda 2020 reforms allowed Olympic host cities to propose the addition of sports for their Games only, which is what Tokyo 2020 did to get them on the program.

The Tokyo Olympic venues are split between two zones — the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone — that are separated by the Olympic Village.

Tokyo 2020 and FIFA are still discussing the finalization of soccer venues. There are currently six, including two in Tokyo and one as far away as Sapporo (650 miles north).

Tokyo 2020 and the World Baseball Softball Confederation are still discussing the potential of adding a second baseball-softball venue in Fukushima prefecture, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami. Fukushima is about 150 miles north of Tokyo.

The Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants and several MLB and World Baseball Classic games, is not a 2020 Olympic venue.

MORE: Tokyo 2020 Olympic volleyball venue could be moved

Tokyo Olympic venues

Comcast, U.S. Olympic Committee sign partnership through 2020 Olympics

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Comcast and the U.S. Olympic Committee signed an agreement making Comcast an official partner of the USOC through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The deal allows Comcast and its brands to use Team USA marks in advertising and marketing, including the Olympic Rings.

More information is in this Comcast press release.

Comcast NBC Universal holds the U.S. media rights for the Olympics through 2032.

MORE: NBC Sports to air USA Track and Field events through 2024