Screencap via NASA

Olympic torch goes on spacewalk (video, photos)

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An Olympic torch went on a spacewalk for the first time on Saturday morning.

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy took the torch outside the International Space Station just before 10 a.m. ET, about 261 miles above Earth.

“OK, shall we start taking this symbol of partnership and friendship and good competition into space?” one of the cosmonauts said, according to a NASA stream translator.

They handed off the red and silver aluminum torch, which was tethered, from one to the other at 10:14.

A commentator on the NASA stream said the International Space Station was orbiting above the northern U.S. and southern Canada and made it to space above Africa by the time the torch spacewalk finished around 10:30.

The torch portion was part of a spacewalk that began at 9:34 a.m. and was scheduled to last about six hours. The torch was unlit for safety reasons.

An Olympic torch has reportedly gone to space before — prior to the 1996 and 2000 Olympics — but this marked its first spacewalk.

Here are images from Saturday morning:

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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA

The torch is expected to return to Earth at 9:50 p.m. ET on Sunday, landing in Kazakhstan.

The crew that will stay at the International Space Station for six months will be able to watch the Olympics (on a delay), according to Interfax.

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NASA screencap

Olympic torch relay visits Russian diamond mine

Photos: Team USA at the White House

Twitter: @TeamUSA
Twitter: @TeamUSA
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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams at the White House on Thursday.

Below are some of the best photos of Team USA from inside the White House:

Rome’s city council votes down 2024 Olympics bid

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ROME (AP) — As far as city leaders are concerned, Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympics is finished.

The city council voted in favor of scrapping the bid on Thursday, a week after Mayor Virginia Raggi rejected the candidacy, citing concerns over costs.

The anti-bid motion passed easily as expected, since Raggi’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement holds a majority on the city council. There were 30 votes in favor of withdrawing the bid, and 12 votes against the motion.

The 5-Star Movement holds 29 of the 48 council places, and all 29 voted in support of the mayor’s rejection. There was also one supporting vote from an opposition party. Six council members were absent.

The rejection leaves only Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest, Hungary, in the running for the 2024 Games. The International Olympic Committee will decide on the host city in September 2017.

However, Rome bid leaders and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) are hanging onto hope that the bid can somehow be revived — perhaps if Raggi is ousted from office.

IOC President Thomas Bach will be in Rome next Tuesday for a sports and faith conference at the Vatican.

“We’ll decide what to do after meeting Bach on Tuesday,” CONI president Giovanni Malago said.

It’s the second time in four years that a Rome Olympic bid has been rejected. In 2012, then-premier Mario Monti scrapped the city’s bid for the 2020 Olympics because of financial concerns.

Under previous mayor Ignazio Marino, Rome’s 2024 bid was approved by the city assembly last year with 38 votes in favor and only six against. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi was a strong supporter of the bid.

But Raggi, a 38-year-old lawyer who was elected in June as Rome’s first female mayor, cited worries over costs and budget overruns as reasons for rejecting the bid. She called the candidacy “irresponsible” for a city that can barely collect its trash and keep up other basic public services.

The latest rejection is another signal that the IOC still has a lot of work to do to convince cities that hosting the games is a boon and not a burden. Earlier Thursday, a city government panel in Tokyo warned that the cost of the 2020 Olympics could exceed $30 billion — more than four times the initial estimates.

Voters in Hamburg rejected the German city’s 2024 bid in a referendum. Boston also dropped out last year amid a lack of public and political support and was replaced as the U.S. candidate by Los Angeles.

Four cities withdrew during the bidding for the 2022 Winter Games, leaving only two candidates in the field. Beijing, hardly known as a winter sports destination, defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan.

MORE: Tokyo Olympics costs could top $30 billion, experts warn