IOC official: Brazil’s World Cup points to success for Rio 2016

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Brazil’s historic, humiliating 7-1 loss against Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup will leave a bad taste in its fans mouths for years – generations, really – to come.

But the successful preparation and execution of the World Cup by its host nation shows that the country is more than capable of delivering a similarly successful experience shows when Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2016 Olympics, IOC Executive Director Gilbert Felli told the Associated Press.

Brazil will become the first South American nation to host an Olympics in 2016. Felli said that concerns about Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic preparations, including reports of construction delays, have been contradicted by the World Cup’s success, which shows Brazil is prepared to host the world again in two years.

“The perception of the Brazilians is much more positive,” Felli told AP. “It’s good for the Games. They have better trust in themselves to deliver the Games.”

Past Olympic host nations have endured similar concerns about preparation and construction timelines, including Sochi in the runup to the 2014 Winter Olympics, but Felli said that while such concerns are natural, Brazil is on the right track.

“Until the games are delivered I’m always concerned. But it’s not the case to say we’re not going to make it. … My view is we will make it and the Brazilians will deliver excellent Games,” Felli said.

Construction begins on Rio’s second biggest cluster

U.S., Great Britain to hold track and field dual meet

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The U.S. and Great Britain go head-to-head in a track and field meet on July 21 at the London Olympic Stadium.

“The Meet” will include nine running, jumping, hurdles and relay events and last two hours. Specific events and athletes will be announced early next year.

The U.S. topped the overall medal standings at every Olympics and world outdoor championships since 2004.

Great Britain is one of three countries to earn at least five medals at every Olympics and worlds since 2007, joining the U.S. and Kenya.

British athletes made six podiums at the just-completed worlds at the London Olympic Stadium, including in all four relays. The other two medals came from Mo Farah, who is moving to road racing and marathons after this season.

“The Meet” is similar to swimming’s “Duel in the Pool,” a biennial head-to-head competition between the U.S. and rival Australia from 2003 through 2007 and between the U.S. and Europe between 2009 and 2015.

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Maria Sharapova gets U.S. Open wild card

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NEW YORK (AP) — Maria Sharapova was granted a wild-card invitation for the U.S. Open’s main draw on Tuesday and will take part in a Grand Slam event for the first time in more than 1 ½ years.

Sharapova is among eight women given entry into the 128-player field by the U.S. Tennis Association — and by far the most noteworthy.

The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, has not entered a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium.

That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April. She returned to the tour, but her ranking — currently 148th — was too low to allow entry into major tournaments, and the French Open denied her a wild card. Sharapova planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon, but the 30-year-old Russian wound up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh.

Sharapova has been participating in tournaments via wild-card invitations, beginning in April on red clay at Stuttgart, Germany. She’s only played nine matches this season.

Sharapova was 19 when she won her U.S. Open trophy. Two years before, at 17, Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. She has since completed a career Grand Slam and become one of the most recognizable — and marketable — athletes in the world.

The U.S. Open starts in Flushing Meadows on Aug. 28.

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