Tokyo Stadium

Tokyo Olympic Stadium hosts final sporting event

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The 1964 Olympic Stadium held its final sporting event Sunday before it’s to be demolished in July, making way for a larger stadium for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics.

Japan beat Hong Kong 49-8 to qualify for its eighth straight Rugby World Cup in the final event in Tokyo’s 54,000-seat stadium that opened in 1958.

The Olympic Stadium was the stage for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and iconic track and field moments of the 1964 Games, including Bob Hayes winning the 100m eight years before he would win a Super Bowl as a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver.

Ethiopian Abebe Bikila completed his second straight Olympic marathon triumph inside the stadium, becoming the first man to win consecutive titles.

Later, in 1991, Carl Lewis and Mike Powell held one of the greatest head-to-head duels in track and field history at the World Championships in Tokyo, both breaking Bob Beamon‘s 23-year-old world record in the long jump.

Powell, who won Olympic silver behind Lewis twice, bettered his rival with a leap of 8.95 meters, a record that still stands.

The new 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, with a retractable roof work, is set to begin construction in October 2015. It’s plans have faced criticism after Tokyo won the vote to host the 2020 Olympics in September.

In response, builders agreed to downsize it in November by 25 percent, to 220,000 square meters, but not affecting the seating capacity. That cut the construction cost from $3 billion to reportedly between $1.3 billion and $1.8 billion, still more than initial estimates.

Other Japanese architects have been leading the uproar over the new stadium, so much so that they started a petition to keep the old stadium.

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U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
Getty Images
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

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Bob Costas’ report 100 days out from Rio (video)

Bob Costas
NBC News
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Bob Costas reported from Rio de Janeiro for NBC News on Wednesday, 100 days out from the Opening Ceremony.

In the clip below, Michael PhelpsSimone Biles and even Brazil soccer legend Pelé comment on preparing for the first Games in South America.

Costas finished the clip with a stand-up from Copacabana Beach, where beach volleyball will take place in August.

VIDEO: Bob Costas picks biggest storyline of Rio Olympics