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

Canada names Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearers

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Figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are Canada’s flag bearers for the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9.

It’s the first time Canada will have multiple flag bearers at an Opening Ceremony.

Virtue and Moir won ice dance gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and silver in Sochi in 2014.

After a two-year break, they went undefeated last season and won their third world championship.

They lost for the first time in their comeback at last month’s Grand Prix Final to French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Canada finished in the top three in the total medal standings at the last three Winter Olympics, including topping the gold-medal standings at the 2010 Vancouver Games with a record 14.

Recent Canadian Winter Olympic flag bearers
2014 Opening: Hayley Wickenheiser, Hockey
2014 Closing: Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, Bobsled
2010 Opening: Clara Hughes, Speed Skating
2010 Closing: Joannie Rochette, Figure Skating
2006 Opening: Danielle Goyette, Hockey
2006 Closing: Cindy Klassen, Speed Skating
2002 Opening: Catriona Le May Doan, Speed Skating
2002 Closing: Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Figure Skating

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MORE: Canada’s Olympic figure skating team roster

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to cover Super Bowl LII, Olympics for NBC

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will cover Super Bowl LII and the PyeongChang Olympics as a contributor for NBC.

Earnhardt will spend the first weekend in February covering the outdoor activities in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl Pre-Game Show (NBC, Feb. 4).

Then he will travel to South Korea for the Winter Games.

From NBC Sports PR:

“Earnhardt will travel to PyeongChang, where he will explore the culture, people, and traditions in South Korea, and experience Olympic competitions first hand. Earnhardt will visit the speed skating venue at Gangneung Ice Arena, and through the lens of a racer will view the speed, close contact, and tight turns on the short track speed skating oval, which so closely mirror Earnhardt’s racing days and nights at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Following a recent invite on social media from his new friends on the U.S. bobsled team, including U.S. bobsled team pilot Nick Cunningham, Earnhardt will also travel to Alpensia Sliding Center, where he will test the true speed of the bobsled track and live out his post-retirement dream of riding in an Olympic bobsled.”

Earnhardt, 43, retired last year after 19 NASCAR seasons, which included Daytona 500 wins in 2004 and 2014.

He is now a NASCAR on NBC analyst.

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MORE: Breakdown of NBC Olympics record 2,400 hours of programming