Thomas Bach

Thomas Bach hopes mixed-gender events in Nanjing impact Olympics (video)

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International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach sat down with Lewis Johnson in Nanjing to discuss the Youth Olympics, their potential impact on the Olympics and Rio de Janeiro’s preparation for the Games in 2016.

The Nanjing Youth Olympics marked the third edition of an idea coined by Bach’s predecessor, Jacques Rogge. The first Youth Olympics were held in Singapore in 2010, followed by the first Youth Winter Olympics in Austria in 2012.

“[Rogge] thought we have to do something for the younger athletes to make them familiar with the Olympic values, Olympic environment at an earlier stage than at the Olympic Games and to inspire more kids around the world to play sports,” Bach said.

Bach said he hoped that all of the mixed-gender events in Nanjing would serve as a test for men and women competing on the same teams in more sports at the Olympics.

Currently, badminton, equestrian and tennis have mixed-gender events in the Olympics. Figure skating, with pairs and ice dancing, has long been mixed gender. The Winter Games added mixed biathlon and luge relays for 2014.

“This is one of my darling subjects,” Bach said. “They are a great opportunity to develop women’s sports in smaller countries.”

Bach also expressed confidence in preparations for the Rio Olympics in two years.

“We see now things getting off the ground,” Bach said. “I’m sure Brazil will make it, because they know that they have no time to lose. But they see now the progress. They have confidence from having organized a good World Cup, and I’m sure in two years from now, we will enjoy an Olympic festival in Brazil.”

NBCSN coverage of the Youth Olympics continues Wednesday (7-8 p.m. ET) and concludes Thursday with the Closing Ceremony (6:30-8).

Youth Olympics broadcast schedule

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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