Ted Leonsis

Wizards, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis reportedly vice chair of DC 2024 Olympic group

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A group trying to bring the 2024 Olympics to the Washington and Baltimore area named Washington businessmen Russ Ramsey and Ted Leonsis as leaders of its campaign, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

Ramsey will be the chair and Leonsis the vice chair, according to the report. Leonsis is the owner of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals.

Leonsis and Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder backed D.C.’s effort when it was first announced in August.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has not said it will definitely bid for the 2024 Olympics, but it reportedly visited potential bid cities in the months before the Sochi Olympics. USOC Chairman Larry Probst said “it is our intention to bid for 2024” if elements are in place to facilitate a bid.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in December that the USOC was in discussions with less than 10 cities. Blackmun did not name specific cities, but visits to Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco were scheduled, according to Around the Rings.

The USOC said late last year that it would focus on a potential 2024 Olympic bid after the Sochi Olympics.

“We’re on track to make our decision by the end of 2014, whether we want to bid, and if we do, who our city would be,” Blackmun said in December.

The U.S. hasn’t hosted an Olympics since the 2002 Winter Games and is in the middle of its longest stretch between hosting Olympics since a 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960. The USOC sent letters to more than three dozen cities in 2013 to gauge interest in potentially hosting the Olympics.

Other potential 2024 bids could come from South Africa, Paris, Rome and Berlin.

Soccer superstar named 2018 Youth Olympics ambassador

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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