Ilya Kovalchuk

Ilya Kovalchuk should be Russia flagbearer, Vladislav Tretiak says

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A candidate to light the Sochi Olympic cauldron has one man in mind to carry another Russian honor at the Opening Ceremony.

Vladislav Tretiak, the legendary, three-time Olympic champion Soviet goalie, said current Russian hockey star forward Ilya Kovalchuk should be the Russian flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony.

“When people have come up to me and asked who could carry the Russian flag, I named Kovalchuk,” said Tretiak, 61, president of the Russian Hockey Federation, according to R-Sport. “He deserves it. I don’t want to offend the other players like [Pavel] Datsyuk, [Evgeni] Malkin or [Alex] Ovechkin, but they’ll be in Sochi later.”

He’s right. There might not be any NHL players at the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 7 because the NHL season does not begin its Olympic break until Feb. 9.

Kovalchuk, 30, does not play in the NHL anymore. He signed a 15-year, $100 million deal with the New Jersey Devils in September 2010 but now plays for SKA St. Petersburg after retiring from the NHL in July 2013.

He’s a three-time Olympian for Russia, winning bronze with the 2002 team.

Russia’s other top athletes seen as candidates to carry its flag in the Parade of Nations include three-time Olympic medalist figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko, two-time medalist bobsled driver Aleksander Zubkov and 2006 silver medalist luger Albert Demtchenko.

In 2010, Russia’s Opening Ceremony flagbearer was also a KHL player, former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Aleksey Morozov.

Plushenko was the Closing Ceremony flagbearer in 2006.

Openly gay athletes part of White House delegation to Sochi Olympics

Canadian Olympic Committee president quits amid sexual harassment inquiry

Marcel Aubut
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MONTREAL (AP) — Marcel Aubut has resigned as president of the Canadian Olympic Committee while under investigation for a sexual harassment complaint.

The committee said in a statement Saturday its investigation now ends. Since the original complaint, two other women made allegations against Aubut.

The committee calls the matter “deeply concerning,” saying it has had a “profound impact on our Olympic family.” The committee adds that its board will begin the process of appointing an interim president in the coming days.

Aubut already had temporarily stepped aside as committee president and chairman of the Canadian Olympic Foundation. The committee had retained a former chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court to investigate the initial complaint.

The 67-year-old Aubut was CEO of the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques until the team moved to Colorado in 1995. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

MORE CANADA: Canada’s return to Olympic basketball on hold after heartbreaking loss

China becomes ninth team in Olympic men’s basketball field

Yi Jianlian
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China is set to play in its ninth straight Olympic men’s basketball tournament after beating the Philippines 78-67 in the FIBA Asia Championship on Saturday.

The Chinese were guided by former NBA power forward Yi Jianlian, a three-time Olympian who led the team in scoring and rebounding at the last Olympics. Yi scored 11 points with 15 rebounds Saturday.

Yi and company kept the Philippines, with former NBA forward Andray Blatche, from qualifying for the Olympics for the first time since 1972. Blatche scored a team-leading 17 points.

China went 0-5 at London 2012, failing to win a game at an Olympics for the first time since 1992. Now-retired Yao Ming led the team in 2000, 2004 and 2008, but the nation has never reached the Olympic semifinals.

The 2016 Olympic men’s basketball field:

Brazil — Host nation
U.S. — 2014 World champion
Australia — Oceania champion
Nigeria — Africa champion
Argentina — Americas finalist
Venezuela — Americas finalist
Spain — Europe finalist
Lithuania — Europe finalist
China — Asia champion
Three winners of three July global, last-chance qualifying tournaments

The three last-chance qualifying tournament fields will be six nations each, including three to-be-named, wild-card nations, plus these 15 nations:

Serbia — 2014 World silver medalist
— 2014 World bronze medalist
Greece — last Olympics: 2008
Italy — last Olympics: 2004
Czech Republic — last Olympics: Never
Puerto Rico — last Olympics: 2004
Canada — last Olympics: 2000
Mexico — last Olympics: 1976
Iran — last Olympics: 2008
Japan — last Olympics: 1976
Philippines — last Olympics: 1972
Tunisia — only Olympic appearance was 2012
Angola — last Olympics: 2008
Senegal — last Olympics: 1980
New Zealand — last Olympics: 2004

MORE BASKETBALL: Lithuania is second European nation to make Rio hoops field