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Time running out for deal between NHL, IOC

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During his annual quasi-State of the Union address Wednesday before the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that time is running out on locking up a deal between the NHL and the Olympics.

The talks between the NHL, IOC, and IIHF have been ongoing since January, after the NHL finally worked out a deal to save themselves from a lockout. But there hasn’t been much movement on either side of the table in the six months since, and it’s now threatening next season’s schedule.

The issues now are the same as they ever were: namely media rights and travel and hospitality for NHL players, owners, officials, and families, and determining which party will pay to insure roughly $3 billion worth of professional players contracts during the two-week Olympic hiatus.

With media rights, the NHL hopes the use the IOC’s Olympic brand to help promote the sport worldwide, since many of its players stem from European countries and Russia, host of the 2014 Winter Games.

Regardless of whether the NHL releases all its players, the Washington Capitals have already given their blessing to perennial MVP candidate Alex Ovechkin of Russia to compete in the Olympics on his home soil, which will no doubt set a precedent that the rest of the owners will feel pressured to follow.

But Bettman made it clear that, beyond the end of the already tumultuous lockout-shortened season, the Olympics is a priority for the NHL, so they can move forward with the other business at hand.

“Once we get the Olympics figured out we will start focusing on a long term, Olympic, World Cup, world championship international competition calendar,” Bettman said. “These are all things we are intrigued by and think are great opportunities for hockey worldwide.”

No Zika cases from Olympics, WHO says

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 12:  An aerial view of the Christ The Redeemer statue (F) and the Maracana Stadium (B) on November 12, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
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There have been zero Zika virus cases stemming from the Rio Olympics, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

“From the reports WHO received from national health authorities, there have so far been no laboratory confirmed cases of Zika virus in anyone associated with the Olympics,” the organization said in an online update Thursday.

Earlier this summer, several athletes cited Zika concerns in skipping the Olympics.

The World Health Organization said before the Rio Games that the Olympics posed “a very low risk” of accelerating the Zika virus spread around the world.

Thousands of athletes will come to Rio for the Paralympics that run from Sept. 7-18, which is still during Brazil’s winter, lessening the Zika risk.

MORE: Hope Solo banned 6 months after Olympic comments

Devon Allen weighs turning pro in track and field

Devon Allen
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University of Oregon hurdler and wide receiver Devon Allen said he “thinks” he’s turning pro in track, but also said he hasn’t really decided if his NCAA track career is finished Thursday.

“There’s not really much more I can do in college track other than break the collegiate record,” Allen said.

Allen, a University of Oregon junior, finished fifth in the Rio Olympic 110m hurdles on Aug. 16 after winning the Olympic Trials on July 9.

Allen can turn pro in track and field and still play football for the Ducks, so long as he keeps his track and field profits to prize money and not endorsement deals.

He’s definitely planning on playing for Oregon’s football team this season, perhaps even in the season opener Sept. 3.

As for track season next winter and spring, that’s looking unlikely. Allen noted that he has won NCAA individual and team titles.

The only missing piece is the NCAA record of 13.00 set by former world-record holder Renaldo Nehemiah. Allen’s personal best is 13.03.

It’s clear that Allen would like to be a professional in both track and football.

“The NFL is something I’ve been dreaming about doing, just like I dreamed about running in the Olympics,” said Allen, who caught nine passes for 94 yards last season, coming back from tearing knee ligaments in the Rose Bowl. “I kind of accomplished that Olympic dream, obviously, in four years, I want to win a gold medal, so that’s one more step to that dream. Now my next dream is to play in the NFL.”

VIDEO: Top track and field moments from Rio Olympics