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Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi rejects city’s 2024 Olympic bid

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ROME (AP) — Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi rejected the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympics on Wednesday, effectively dooming the capital’s candidacy for the second time in four years.

If approved by the city assembly, Raggi’s rejection would leave only Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest, Hungary, in the running for the 2024 Games. The International Olympic Committee will decide on the host city in September 2017.

At a news conference in city hall, Raggi said it would be financially “irresponsible” to pursue the bid any further given the city is barely able to get its trash picked up. She also noted the debts that previous Olympic host cities have incurred.

“In light of the data we have, these Olympics are not sustainable. They will bring only debt,” Raggi said.

Raggi drew up a motion to withdraw the bid and put it before the city assembly Wednesday.

“It will be the city assembly, the sovereign body and democratically elected organ, that will express its position,” Raggi said. “We have illustrated our political position today. If it’s accepted by the assembly we’ll deal with the ensuing consequences (to formalize it.)”

Raggi had been scheduled to meet with Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago before going public with her decision. But 45 minutes after the meeting was scheduled to begin, Malago and the rest of the delegation left city hall saying Raggi hadn’t shown up. Malago was planning a news conference later at CONI headquarters.

Raggi, who was elected in June representing the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, campaigned with the message that an Olympic bid was unsustainable for a city struggling to emerge from years of corruption and poor public services. She said she was merely being consistent with her campaign position.

Her rejection marks Rome’s second withdrawal in four years after then-Premier Mario Monti stopped the city’s plans to bid for the 2020 Olympics because of financial problems.

The Rome bid was approved by the city assembly last year with 38 votes in favor and only six against – meaning Raggi may have to put the issue up for another vote to officially end the candidacy.

The IOC requires bidders to have support from the government and city.

Previous Mayor Ignazio Marino, who was forced out over an expense account scandal, had supported the bid. And Premier Matteo Renzi has been a big fan of the candidacy since he helped launch it in 2014. He has said the bid would be doomed if Rome’s mayor doesn’t support it.

A budget of 24 million euros ($27 million) has already been allotted – much of it spent – to the bid committee, even though candidacy head Luca Cordero di Montezemolo has no salary.

The bid is slated to be centered around Rome’s historic monuments: a cycling sprint alongside the Roman Forum, beach volleyball at the Circus Maximus and the marathon passing through St. Peter’s Square and finishing under the Arch of Constantine. Plus, a nightly parade of athletes at the Colosseum.

Relying on many venues that were used for the 1960 Olympics in Rome, the candidacy proposes using existing structures for 70 percent of the required sites. The budget is projected at 5.3 billion euros ($6 billion) – 2.1 billion euros for the construction of permanent venues and the balance for temporary venues.

The bid is based on three clusters: the existing Stadio Olimpico and surrounding Foro Italico complex for athletics and swimming; the Fiera convention center near the airport for indoor sports; and an athletes village and multi-sports arena at the Tor Vergata University on the city’s outskirts.

A withdrawal would be another clear signal that the IOC still has a lot of work to do to convince cities that hosting the games is a boon and not a burden.

Voters in Hamburg rejected the German city’s 2024 bid in a referendum. Boston also dropped out last year amid a lack of public and political support and was replaced by Los Angeles.

It could also be another stinging blow for the IOC’s “Olympic Agenda 2020” program, which was designed to make bidding for and hosting the games more flexible and more affordable.

The reforms were aimed at avoiding a repeat of the bidding for the 2022 Winter Games, which was depleted by the withdrawal of four cities – Stockholm; Oslo; Lviv, Ukraine; and Krakow, Poland – for political or financial reasons. Many politicians and taxpayers were scared off by the billions spent by Russia on the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Planned 2022 bids by Munich and St. Moritz-Davos in Switzerland were dropped earlier. With only two final contenders for 2022, Beijing defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the IOC vote last year.

Raggi, a 38-year-old lawyer who is Rome’s first female mayor, said during her candidacy that the city needed to focus on ordinary issues before it should consider “extraordinary events” like the Olympics.

Raggi has had a rough start since taking office, with her administration falling into disarray over a spate of resignations and judicial inquiries.

During her campaign, Raggi promised to fix Rome’s transport, garbage and corruption scandals.

MORE: 2024 Olympic bidding news

Gymnastics doctor’s lawyers want trial moved, cite media coverage

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Attorneys for a former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor accused of molesting dozens of athletes are pushing to have his trial moved out of the Lansing area.

The Lansing State Journal reports that attorneys representing Larry Nassar filed a change-of-venue request because of what they called “inflammatory and sustained media coverage” that they say has made it difficult for Nassar to get a fair trial in the area.

The media attention grew more intense this week when 21-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medal gymnast McKayla Maroney wrote on Twitter that Nassar started assaulting her when she was 13.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to nearly two dozen charges in Michigan. He has pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges in an unrelated case but has not been sentenced.

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MORE: Aly Raisman speaks out about USA Gymnastics scndal

Nathan Chen holds off Yuzuru Hanyu to win first Grand Prix

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen opened the Grand Prix season by beating Olympic gold-medal favorite Yuzuru Hanyu.

Chen, 18, held off Hanyu at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, totaling 293.79 points to win by 3.02 over the Japanese megastar.

Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva easily won the women’s title despite a rare fall in her free skate. Medvedeva is undefeated since 2015 Rostelecom Cup.

Full scores are here.

Chen landed four quadruple jumps in a strong but imperfect free skate for his first Grand Prix title in his second senior international season.

“I got a little tired halfway through the program and started faltering a little bit on the second quad toe – that was a big mistake,” Chen said, according to the International Skating Union .”I can’t let things like that happen in the future. But this is my first Grand Prix win, and I’m very happy with that.”

Hanyu outscored Chen in the free skate, but the American benefited from his 5.69-point lead from Friday’s short program.

Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world champion, has never won his opening Grand Prix start in eight tries.

He did three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate rather than the planned five, but did not fall as he did in the short program.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu in three of their last four head-to-head events dating to February. Hanyu got the better of Chen at the most important event — winning the world championships, where the American was sixth.

Also Saturday, two-time world medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance with 189.24 points, sweeping both the short and free programs.

The siblings and U.S. champions have now won four straight Grand Prix titles (not counting the Grand Prix Final).

They won by 4.5 points over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev.

The world’s top two couples were not in the field — Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Russia swept the pairs podium, led by world bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

The top pairs teams from the rest of the world — including world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong — were not in the field.

The Rostelecom Cup women’s free skate is later Saturday.

The Grand Prix season continues next weekend with Skate Canada, headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 293.79
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 290.77
3. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 271.06
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 206.09

Women
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 231.21
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 215.98
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 207.17
6. Mariah Bell (USA) — 188.56
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 178.25

Ice Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 189.24
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 184.74
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 179.35
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 148.75

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 224.25
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 204.43
3. Kristina Astakhova/Aleksey Rogonov (RUS) — 199.11
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 170.53