Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps scratches first two events of Pan Pacs

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Michael Phelps won’t compete on the first day of the Pan Pacific Championships, pulling out of the 200m freestyle and 100m backstroke. The most decorated swimmer of all time will debut at the Australian meet in the 100m free on Friday, according to reports.

It’s not a shocking move for Phelps, whose best shots at individual victories at the meet appear to be in the 100m butterfly Saturday and 200m individual medley Sunday. Phelps is also swimming to make the U.S. team for the 2015 World Championships.

He said he spent time “working on the basics” in training after not winning any events at the U.S. Championships two weeks ago, though he did swim the fastest 100m fly time in the world this year (in prelims).

Phelps said he committed mistakes at Nationals that a swimmer would make at age 11 or 12. Those mistakes included misjudging his turns and finishes at walls.

It’s Phelps’ first international meet after a 20-month competitive retirement following the London Olympics. He is not yet committed to attempting a run to the Rio 2016 Olympics. This meet, the biggest competition of the year, is another building block.

“Taking it with me for the next season,” Phelps said. “Then back to the drawing board.”

Phelps a vocal leader in Australia

Blake Griffin will miss Olympics, report says

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For the second straight Olympics, Blake Griffin will not be able to join Team USA due to injury, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Clippers power forward will be out several months due to his left quad injury, according to the newspaper.

Griffin was originally chosen for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team but withdrew due to a torn meniscus, opening a spot for Anthony Davis.

Davis is also expected to miss the Rio Games due to injury.

Other power forwards on the U.S. finalist list released in January are LaMarcus Aldridge, Kenneth Faried, Draymond Green and Kevin Love.

Love is the only name from that list of healthy players with Olympic experience. Faried is the only player from that list who suited up at the 2014 World Cup, starting all nine games.

At London 2012, the U.S. started NBA small forwards LeBron James and Kevin Durant at the forward spots in all eight games, with another small forward, Carmelo Anthony, bringing similar versatility off the bench.

MORE: Why Candace Parker was left off Olympic team

Rio Olympic cauldron likely to be located near Plaza Maua

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Mayor Eduardo Paes says he wants the Olympic cauldron to burn in Rio de Janeiro’s revitalized port area.

The cauldron will be lit at Maracana Stadium during the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5, and will spend the night there before traveling to a permanent home.

Mario Andrada, spokesman for the Rio organizing committee, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the cauldron will be placed in the port area, but not in the heart of the renovated port area known as Plaza Maua.

“It will be close to Plaza Maua, but not exactly in Plaza Maua,” Andrada said. He said it was likely to be located near the Candelaria Church, which is near the plaza.

“Don’t get me into a fight with the mayor,” Andrada added.

Paes said he hoped the new plaza would be a center for outdoor entertainment during the Games, including performance stages, musical attractions, and large-screen televisions.

“It seems that the Maracana Stadium has limitations,” Paes said, adding that moving out of the Maracana “is good because it democratizes the access to the cauldron.”

The new plaza and downtown Rio are far from the heart of the Games in suburban Barra da Tijuca. It is also an area not usually visited by tourists.

The Olympic flame arrives from Greece and Switzerland on Tuesday in the capital Brasilia, to be carried off the plane by IOC member Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Rio organizing committee.

The flame then goes to the Planalto presidential palace where it is expected to be greeted by President Dilma Rousseff.

Andrada said IOC President Thomas Bach and other top IOC officials would not be at the ceremony.

Rousseff is facing impeachment charges and could be suspended from office as early as May 11, turning over authority to Vice President Michel Temer.

Temer, himself, could also face impeachment proceedings and has a scandal-tainted career.

PHOTOS: Olympic flame visits Acropolis, 1896 Olympic Stadium