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USOC chooses 4 finalists for possible 2024 Olympic bid

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The U.S. Olympic Committee will choose from among Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington if it decides to bid for the 2024 Olympics.

“We’re extremely pleased with the level of interest U.S. cities have shown in hosting the Games,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said, according to TeamUSA.org. “Boston, L.A., San Francisco and Washington have each given us reason to believe they can deliver a compelling and successful bid, and we look forward to continuing to explore the possibilities as we consider 2024.”

Dallas and San Diego were also thought to be in the running for the potential U.S. bid. The USOC has said it hopes to decide if it will bid and which city by the end of the year. Other bids could come from places such as Paris, Rome and a South African city.

“We would like to express our gratitude to the cities of Dallas and San Diego, which will not be moving forward in the bid process,” said USOC chairman Larry Probst said. “Dallas had a great bid and matching leadership, along with a well-established sporting community. We have no doubt about the ability of Dallas to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and look forward to working with them in the future to enhance the international awareness of the city. Also, we very much appreciate the high-quality proposal from San Diego, a city that truly embraces sport and has a long history of supporting Team USA.”

The International Olympic Committee will vote on the 2024 Olympic host city in 2017.

The USOC’s 2024 process began with letters sent to 35 mayors in February 2013 and has been kept private to encourage participation from the cities.

The U.S. has not hosted an Olympics since the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games (its last Summer Games were Atlanta 1996) and is in the midst of its largest gap between hosting since the 28-year stretch between 1932 and 1960.

Los Angeles is the only city among the four finalists to have hosted an Olympics, in 1932 and 1984. The USOC chose New York over San Francisco for its 2012 bid that ended up losing to London. A 2016 Chicago bid fell to Rio de Janeiro.

The next steps for a USOC bid team will be to perform deeper due diligence on the short list of cities. The USOC wants to make sure each city can deliver Games essentials and big-ticket items such as an Olympic Stadium, Olympic Village and media centers.

The bid team will visit the short list of cities and provide an update to the board of directors at a September meeting.

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What to watch at Drake Relays, Penn Relays

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Olympic gold medalists ramp up their track and field seasons at the Penn Relays and Drake Relays, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold this weekend.

Athletes are working toward the U.S. Championships in June and the world championships in August.

First, the historic Penn Relays will air on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Friday (5:30-6:30 p.m. ET) and Saturday (12:30-3 p.m. ET).

USA vs. The World in men’s and women’s 4x100m, 4x400m and sprint medley relays will air live on Saturday from Franklin Field in Philadelphia. A full schedule is here.

The U.S. teams are led by Olympic relay champions English Gardner and Natasha Hastings. The full roster is here.

Rio Olympic rematches highlight the individual-event fields at the Drake Relays in Des Moines on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold from 3-5 p.m ET on Saturday. A full schedule is here.

Perhaps no field is deeper than the 100m hurdles. World-record holder Keni Harrison takes on Rio silver and bronze medalists Kristi Castlin and Nia Ali, plus 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson.

The 110m hurdles contingent is strong as well. It features the last two Olympic champions, Jamaican Omar McLeod and American Aries Merritt, plus 2013 World champion David Oliver.

Grenada’s Kirani James and American LaShawn Merritt, who earned silver and bronze in Rio, go head-to-head again in the 400m at Drake.

The men’s 1500m is headlined by Rio Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy and London Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano.

Rio bronze medalist Jenny Simpson races individually for the first time this year in the women’s 1500m.

That field also includes New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin, who gained fame of her own in Rio. Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino fell in an Olympic 5000m heat and helped each other make it to the finish line. Both were praised for their sportsmanship.

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IOC president unsure whether esports should be considered sport

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Esports are gaining momentum in the international sports movement, but they are not close to becoming an Olympic sport.

“We are not yet 100 percent clear whether esports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport,” IOC president Thomas Bach said Tuesday, according to insidethegames. “We do not see an organization or a structure that will give us confidence, or guarantee, that in this area the Olympic rules and values of sport are respected and in place, and that the implementation of these rules are monitored and secured.”

The first clear step (of many) to become an Olympic sport is for the IOC to recognize the sport’s international governing body.

Esports will be added as a medal sport to the Asian Games in 2022, and has been praised by LA 2024 Olympic bid chairman Casey Wasserman, but it is not yet IOC recognized.

“We are watching it, we see the differences, we see the lack of organisation,” Bach said, according to the report. “But we also see the high engagement of youth in esports. Therefore, we have to carefully consider how this could be consolidated.”

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