Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 4 - Russia v Japan

Women’s hockey: Team Japan scores first Olympic goal in 16 years

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After a 16-year drought, the Japanese women’s hockey team finally got back on the Olympic scoreboard today against Russia in round-robin play.

Just 33 seconds into the third period, Ayaka Toko launched a long-range shot through heavy traffic and past Russia goalie Anna Prugova to tie the contest at 1-1.

You can check out the long, or rather, very long-anticipated goal from Japan over on NBCOlympics.com.

Until Toko’s goal today, the most recent Japanese goal in an Olympics had come in a 6-1 loss to China on Feb. 11, 1998 during the Nagano Games (which they qualified for as the team from the host nation).

That was the last time the team – popularly known as “Smile Japan” – had been in Olympic competition prior to Sochi.

But it can be argued that Toko’s goal should have been more than an equalizer versus the Russians, who took the game, 2-1, and eliminated Japan from medal contention.

Earlier, toward the end of the first period, Japan appeared to have pulled even when Prugova mishandled the puck following a shot and it wound up crossing the goal line.

But the referees whistled the play dead, apparently believing that Prugova had covered the puck, and didn’t award Japan a goal. You can also visit NBCOlympics.com to see the controversial call.

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