DC 2024

Washington, D.C., group wants to bid for 2024 Summer Olympics

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The U.S. is in the middle of its longest break between hosting Olympics in more than 50 years. The nation’s capital could end that drought.

A non-profit organization called DC 2024 announced its intention to enter the bidding for the 2024 Olympics on Tuesday morning. The bid would include not only D.C., but also areas in Virginia and Maryland. D.C. has never hosted an Olympics.

The United States Olympic Committee sent letters to more than 30 U.S. cities earlier this year to gauge interest in a potential 2024 Olympic bid. It hasn’t announced if it will definitely bid for 2024, and it might not decide for another year. The U.S. wouldn’t have to submit a bid until 2015. The host city for the 2024 Games will be chosen in 2017.

“With more state-of-the-art sports infrastructure in a 40-mile radius than any other U.S. city, thousands of hotels and lodging options, and a vast and expanding transportation system, the Greater Washington region is one of the best and most qualified in the world to host an event of this magnitude,” said Bob Sweeney, the president of the group, in a statement. “And, most importantly, we offer all this against America’s most historic backdrop.

The U.S., which hasn’t hosted an Olympics since 2002, last submitted a bid for the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago lost out to Rio in a vote four years ago. In 2012, New York was the U.S. bid that lost to London. Both Chicago and New York finished in fourth place in voting. A D.C./Baltimore group expressed interest in bidding for the 2012 Games, too.

Sweeney said the group has spoken with elected officials and business leaders in the region.

“We are confident that the U.S. Olympic Committee — and the world — will be won over by all that our wonderful region has to offer,” Sweeney said. “DC 2024 promises that Greater Washington can provide a magnificent experience during the games and a sustaining legacy for both residents and visitors long after the closing ceremony.”

Other U.S. cities that have seen organizations express interest in a possible bid include Tulsa, Okla., Los Angeles, Philadelphia and a San Diego-Tijuana, Mexico, joint bid.

Sweeney has said he sees D.C. as the front-runner. He received supportive feedback from Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and the office of Mayor Vincent Gray, according to the Washington Post.

“We look forward to assisting the Washington Olympic Committee in presenting the nation’s capital and fabulous surrounding region to the Olympic sporting world,” Snyder said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have most of the venues needed in an internationally recognized city that is accustomed to staging high-profile events.”

Last year, the organizer for the D.C.-Baltimore failed bid for 2012 said he was expressing interest in a 2024 bid, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Like for the 2012 bid, RFK Stadium could play a key role in a bid, according to the Washington Business Journal. The 2012 proposal included an Olympic village at the University of Maryland, but this bid would put an Olympic village in downtown D.C., according to USA Today.

Sweeney, head of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, said he hopes to raise $3 million to $5 million by the end of 2014, according to reports, and estimated the cost of hosting the Games would be $4 billion to $6 billion.

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Curling siblings secure mixed doubles Olympic quota spot for U.S.

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The United States will be represented when mixed doubles curling makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang, thanks, in part, to the performance of siblings Becca and Matt Hamilton at the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.

Although the Hamiltons finished well off the podium in 10th, their work, coupled with a third place finish at the 2016 World Championships by Joe Polo and Tabitha Peterson, is all the U.S. needed to lock in an Olympic spot for 2018. The bronze won by Polo and Peterson in 2016 was the first time the United States had won a world championship medal in mixed doubles curling, according to TeamUSA.org.

The Hamiltons opened the 2017 World Championships with a perfect 7-0 record through pool play, but a 6-5 loss to Finland in a match that needed extra ends took them out of contention for a medal. Wins against Hungary and Italy moved them into position to get the necessary points to land the Olympic quota spot. In their final match at the 2017 Worlds the Hamiltons fell to Russia, 5-7.

At the top of the 2017 World Championship final standings, Switzerland won the gold, Canada took silver and China left with bronze.

The eight mixed doubles team field set to compete in PyeongChang includes China, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, United States, Norway, Finland and hosts Korea. Curling begins in PyeongChang on February 8, 2018, one day ahead of the Opening Ceremony, with competition lasting throughout the entire span of the Olympic Games.

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President of National Olympic Committees association leaves FIFA post amid bribery claims

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GENEVA (AP) — FIFA Council member Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah of Kuwait is resigning from his soccer roles under pressure from allegations in an American federal court that he bribed Asian officials.

Sheikh Ahmad said Sunday in a statement he will withdraw from a May 8 election in Bahrain for the FIFA seat representing Asia, which he currently holds.

“I do not want these allegations to create divisions or distract attention from the upcoming AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and FIFA Congresses,” said the Kuwaiti royal, who denies any wrongdoing.

“Therefore, after careful consideration, I have decided it is in the best interests of FIFA and the AFC, for me to withdraw my candidacy for the FIFA Council and resign from my current football positions,” he said.

The long-time Olympic Council of Asia president contacted the ethics panels of FIFA and the IOC after the allegations were made in Brooklyn federal courthouse on Thursday.

FIFA audit committee member Richard Lai, an American citizen from Guam, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges related to taking around $1 million in bribes, including from Kuwaiti officials. The cash was to buy influence and help recruit other Asian soccer officials prepared to take bribes, Lai said in court.

Sheikh Ahmad resigned his candidacy ahead of a FIFA panel deciding whether to remove him on ethical grounds.

The FIFA Review Committee, which rules on the integrity of people seeking senior FIFA positions, has been studying the sheikh’s candidacy since the allegations emerged, The Associated Press reported on Saturday.

The FIFA ethics committee is making a separate assessment of whether to provisionally suspend the sheikh, a long-time leader of Kuwait’s soccer federation who was elected to FIFA’s ruling committee in 2015.

Resigning from his soccer positions does not necessarily put Sheikh Ahmad out of reach of FIFA ethics prosecutors and judges if any action was taken.

In 2012, former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar was banned for life by the ethics committee days after he resigned.

Bin Hammam was also clearly identified in Lai’s court hearing for having paid Lai a total of $100,000 in bribes to support the Qatari’s failed challenge to FIFA’s then-president Sepp Blatter in 2011. Bin Hammam was removed from that election contest in a Caribbean bribery case.

Sheikh Ahmad has also contacted the IOC’s ethics commission about the allegations against him, the IOC said on Saturday.

As president since 2012 of the global group of national Olympic bodies, known as ANOC, Sheikh Ahmad’s support has often been cited as key to winning Olympic election and hosting awards. The sheikh was widely credited for helping Thomas Bach win the IOC presidency in 2013.

Although Sheikh Ahmad was not named in Department of Justice and court documents last week, he has become one of the most significant casualties of the sprawling U.S. federal investigation of bribery and corruption in international soccer revealed two years ago.

The sheikh could be identified in a transcript of Lai’s court hearing which said “co-conspirator #2 was also the president of Olympic Council of Asia.” Sheikh Ahmad has been OCA president since 1991.

Co-conspirator #3 was described as having a “high-ranking” role at OCA, and also linked to the Kuwait soccer federation.

According to the published transcript, Lai claimed he “received at least $770,000 in wire transfers from accounts associated with Co-Conspirator #3 and the OCA between November of 2009 and about the fall of 2014.”

“I understood that the source of this money was ultimately Co-Conspirator #2 and on some occasion Co-Conspirator #3 told me to send him an email saying that I need funds so he could show the email to Co-Conspirator #2,” Lai said in court.

Lai admitted that he agreed to help recruit other Asian officials that voted in FIFA elections who would help Kuwait’s interests.

The Guam soccer federation leader since 2001, Lai pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. He agreed to pay more than $1.1 million in forfeiture and penalties, and will be sentenced at a later date.

The American federal investigation of corruption linked to FIFA has indicted or taken guilty pleas from more than 40 people and marketing agencies linked to soccer in the Americas since 2015.

Lai’s case marked the first major step into Asia, and suggests other soccer officials potentially recruited by the Kuwait faction could be targeted.

The Asian election for FIFA seats on May 8 in Manama, Bahrain, is the same day as a FIFA Council meeting which the sheik will not attend. The FIFA congress is held in the city three days later.

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