King Juan Carlos

Spain King Juan Carlos I and the Olympics

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King Juan Carlos I of Spain, who said Monday he was abdicating in favor of son Prince Felipe, has quite a history with the Olympics.

As a prince, he placed 15th in sailing’s Dragon class event at the 1972 Munich Olympics, according to sports-reference.com, which lists his full name as Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias.

He took over as king in 1975, and in that role, officially opened the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, regarded by many as one of the greatest Games ever. He is the only Olympian to officially open a Summer Olympics, as noted by OlympStats.com.

But it doesn’t end there.

His wife, Queen Sofia, represented Greece at the 1960 Rome Olympics, also in sailing’s Dragon class. Greece won gold, but she did not compete as an unused reserve.

His son and soon-to-be king, Prince Felipe, was a 1992 Spanish sailing Olympian, taking sixth in the Soling class.

OlympStats also highlights the Olympic careers of King Juan Carlos’ daughter, son-in-law, brother-in-law, sister and the son of his great grandfather who won cycling silver at the 1900 Paris Games.

The king was also part of the Madrid bid delegation that traveled to Copenhagen in 2009, when it came in second to Rio de Janeiro in the 2016 Olympic host city voting.

King Juan Carlos I was also a fixture at Spanish sporting triumphs in soccer and tennis. He handed Miguel Angel Nadal the 2003 Copa del Rey soccer trophy and, two years later, was at Roland Garros to watch and congratulate Nadal’s nephew, Rafael, on the first of his eight French Open titles. He and the younger Nadal met many more times over the next nine years.

“He was a wonderful person, a great representative of our country everywhere in the world, and Spain should thank him for everything he did during his reign,” Rafael Nadal said after winning his French Open round of 16 match Monday. “I just want to thank him for everything he did for my country.”

Kerri Walsh Jennings breaks another beach volleyball record

Italian curler roars after hitting shot to qualify for Olympics (video)

Italy curling
World Curling
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Forgive Amos Mosaner for shouting, for he clinched Italy’s first Olympic curling qualification.

Mosaner’s double takeout in an extra end put Italy past Denmark 6-5 in the last-chance Olympic qualification tournament in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on Sunday.

He rushed down the ice after that last stone, tossed his broom aside, pumped his fist and roared into a group hug with teammates.

Skip Joël Retornaz returns to the Olympics after a 12-year absence. He skipped Italy’s team at the 2006 Olympics, where they earned an automatic berth as host nation.

“This has such a different taste,” the 34-year-old Retornaz said, according to World Curling. “Earning the right on the ice feels great. It feels like a dream for me.”

Denmark later did make the Olympic field as the last nation, beating the Czechs for the spot.

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MORE: List of Russia Olympic medals stripped; new Sochi medal standings

The Pyeongchang Olympic curling fields:

Men
Canada
Sweden
U.S.
Japan
Switzerland
Great Britain
Norway
Italy
Denmark
South Korea

Women
Canada
Russia
Switzerland
Great Britain
U.S.
Sweden
Japan
China
Denmark
South Korea

Mixed Doubles
China
Canada
Russia
U.S.
Switzerland
Norway
Finland
South Korea

Russia says its athletes want to compete at Pyeongchang Olympics

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian athletes are overwhelmingly in favor of competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Games despite a ban on the national team, the country’s Olympic committee said Monday.

Sofia Velikaya said the Russian Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission, which she chairs, has heard from “all the athletes in all sports” on the Olympic program, with a majority in favor of competing.

Velikaya said no athletes have told the ROC they would rather boycott.

“At the current moment, everyone’s training and everyone’s hoping to take part in the Olympics,” Velikaya said.

The International Olympic Committee last week barred the Russian team from Pyeongchang because of doping offenses at the Sochi Olympics, but is allowing Russians to compete under a neutral flag as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the government won’t stand in their way.

ROC spokesman Konstantin Vybornov said teams from biathlon and snowboard had recorded videos affirming their desire to compete, while the men’s hockey team has written “a collective letter.”

Some Russian hardliners believe it is shameful for athletes to compete at the Olympics without their national flag. But Velikaya defended the athletes, saying everyone watching will know who is from Russia.

“The choice of competing at the Olympics is strictly individual,” Velikaya said. “I call on Russian society to treat athletes’ decisions with understanding and respect.”

With the IOC due to send out invitations to individual Russians over the next two months, Velikaya said Russian sports officials would put together lists of their preferred teams.

Those rosters, she said, would stop the IOC from inviting “numbers five and six” in the Russian team while leaving out genuine medal contenders.

Russia is pushing back against some IOC conditions, however, backing appeals by Russian athletes banned for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Velikaya also said her commission will ask the IOC to remove a condition stopping athletes from being invited to Pyeongchang if they have been suspended for doping in the past.

That affects a few athletes with earlier offenses unconnected to the Sochi Olympics, including biathletes banned for using the blood-booster EPO and speed skating world champion Denis Yuskov, who was suspended in 2008 after testing positive for marijuana.

Forcing the Russians to compete as neutral athletes puts the IOC in the uncomfortable position of regulating how they celebrate.

The Russian flag won’t be flown at medal ceremonies, but what happens if a Russian winner accepts a flag or a gift from a spectator for a victory lap? Can Russian athletes fly the flag from their windows in the athletes village?

Those are on a list of questions Vybornov said Russia will ask of the IOC.

“A figure skater wins, let’s say, and they throw her a teddy bear in Russian uniform onto the ice,” Vybornov said. “She picks it up. Can she do that? Or is that an offense?”

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MORE: List of Russia Olympic medals stripped; new Sochi medal standings