Anchorage exploring 2026 Olympics bid

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A 23-member exploratory committee met in Anchorage, Alaska Tuesday to discuss the logistics of hosting the 2026 Winter Games and debate whether the city would be willing and able to put in a bid with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“We still feel, in fact more confidently than ever, that Anchorage has the capability, the facilities and, most of all, the spirit and the willingness to be the host city,” Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan said.

“When you host these kinds of national events, it really just increases our resume, our capacity to put in this bid for the 2026 Olympics.”

But the biggest question on the table was, as always, how do you pay for the venues and other city improvements, and what do you do with them when the Games are over? Alaska has been struggling through the same economic issues as most other cities, and Olympic officials would need to build a new just-about-everything to accommodate the thousands of international spectators flooding to the city.

Sullivan suggests that the costs could ideally be covered by TV revenues, merchandising, and private contributions from corporations, and that spearheading a bid this early could help to alleviate the pressure.

Beyond those all important questions, Sullivan believes his city is otherwise well-equipped, with enough lodging and accommodations already, and the perfect location for prime-time TV audiences worldwide. Now he intends to spend the next eight months detailing everything from finances to venues and transportation so they have a clear plan to present to the USOC when initial bidding starts in 2015.

“I think we’re back on the right track,” he explained. “And you’re talking about Games in 2026, so it’s 13 years from now. You’d like to think we’ll be even better positioned than we are today.”

Anchorage has actually been a finalist to host the Olympics twice, finishing sixth in voting for the 1992 Games that went to Albertville, France, and third for the 1994 Games that ended up in Lillehammer, Norway.

Syria-born Olympian takes advocacy role at U.N. refugee agency

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency has chosen as a goodwill ambassador a Syrian teenage girl who helped save a boat carrying fellow refugees and later became an Olympic swimmer.

Yusra Mardini was appointed as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on Thursday, joining other notables like actress Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini in the unpaid advocacy role.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Mardini “represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped overboard and swam for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

She swam on the first Refugee Olympic team in Rio last year and has discussed refugees’ challenges with leaders like Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

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Rafael Nadal recreates famous 1992 Olympic cauldron lighting

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Rafael Nadal, owner of two Olympic gold medals, recently parroted arguably the most famous moment in Spanish Olympic history.

Nadal and Marc Lopez, the 2016 Olympic doubles champions, took up bows and arrows and joined archer Antonio Rebollo on Monday at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium. It brought back memories of Rebollo’s unforgettable cauldron lighting from the only Olympics held in Spain.

Nadal is in Barcelona for an ATP Tour event as he prepares to vie for a 10th French Open title next month.

Rebollo, now 61 years old, was one of 200 hundred archers considered to light the cauldron in 1992. He learned that he was chosen for the role over four other finalists two hours ahead of time, according to an NBC Olympics profile in 1996.

The cauldron would be 195 feet away. Fearing Rebollo would miss the target, organizers instructed him to fire his arrow beyond the stadium walls. As the arrow soared, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control.

The illusion worked. The true story wasn’t revealed for another 20 years.

“There were no fears,” Rebollo, a Barcelona native who contracted polio at age 8, told NBC two decades ago. “I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. That was all. … My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.”

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