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Thomas Bach reminds Tokyo 2020 to stick with venue plans

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TOKYO (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach expressed willingness Tuesday to work with Tokyo officials to achieve a “significant reduction” in costs for the 2020 Olympics, but suggested the effort should stick to the current venue plans.

Bach arrived in Japan amid growing tension between Olympic organizers and recently elected Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who is pushing to cut costs. A preliminary report from a city expert panel late last month proposed moving three sports from planned new venues to existing ones — including relocating rowing to a site hundreds of miles outside the capital.

Bach reminded the governor that Tokyo should respect the agreement it signed when it was awarded the Games three years ago.

“I think it is in the interest of Japan, Tokyo and IOC that we do not change the rules of the competition after the election,” Bach said. “By respecting these principles we can very well look into the budget of Tokyo 2020 and we can look at the cost. We can see together how we can make it even more feasible.”

Bach proposed four-party talks among the International Olympic Committee, Tokyo organizers, the city government and Japan’s central government to agree on additional cost reductions, starting as early as November after Tokyo releases a final report. Bach declined to discuss specific proposals, saying he only knew about them from media reports.

“The Tokyo metropolitan government will finalize its internal study, then we’ll discuss it with the other stakeholders … and then I am confident that you will see a significant reduction in the cost compared to what we have seen so far from the press,” Bach told reporters after a 40-minute televised meeting with Koike.

The Tokyo panel’s preliminary report said the overall cost of the Olympics could exceed $30 billion — four times the initial estimate — unless drastic cuts are made.

The review focuses on whether each venue can be cost-effective while also contribute to the reconstruction of the area hit by the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima disaster.

“That’s how we have promoted to attract the Games,” Koike said. “We need understanding of the residents of Tokyo as we are relying on their money.”

The IOC has suggested the possibility of moving rowing to an existing site in South Korea in case there is no resolution over the Japanese venue, the Asahi newspaper reported, quoting unidentified Japanese sources as saying. The South Korean venue in Chungiu City hosted the 2013 world championships and rowing at the 2014 Asian Games.

Asked about the report at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, Bach said: “I will not comment on any kind of rumors.” Japanese Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters she could not confirm the report.

Tokyo won the right to host the Games in 2013 by promising a compact bid with 28 of the 31 competition venues within a five-mile (eight-kilometer) radius of the Olympic Village. Originally, only shooting, modern pentathlon and one soccer venue were to be outside the radius.

Already, the venues for basketball, taekwondo and cycling have been moved outside of Tokyo to reduce costs by using existing facilities. Cycling was moved to Izu, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of the capital.

After her election at the end of July, Koike convened a panel of independent experts to review Olympic venues and costs.

Its most drastic proposal has been to suggest moving the rowing and canoeing venue to an existing facility about 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of Tokyo, after the projected cost for a new venue in Tokyo Bay rose to 49 billion yen ($490 million), seven times the initial estimate.

John Coates, an IOC vice president and former rower who heads the coordination commission for the Tokyo Games, was asked about the costs of the rowing site in Tokyo.

“The figures are very large to us,” he said. “We can certainly reduce those numbers.”

Meanwhile, the Japan Rowing Association and Japan Canoe Federation issued separate statements calling for the venue to stay in Tokyo.

The local organizing committee in Tokyo has objected to the possible move, arguing the competition should remain at the planned Sea Forest Waterway.

It said the existing facility that Koike is exploring in northern Japan’s Miyagi prefecture lacks infrastructure, accommodation for spectators and will be inconvenient for athletes.

Tokyo organizers also said the final construction cost for the Sea Forest Waterway will likely be lower than estimated, while additional costs for transportation, security and infrastructure to move the events to Miyagi would add up.

The expert panel has also suggested sticking with the planned venues, but reducing their scale to save money.

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Gus Kenworthy’s hard crash dents Olympic double hope (video)

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Gus Kenworthy‘s goal of making the Olympic team in two events may have disintegrated as he tumbled to the bottom of the halfpipe in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., on Friday night.

He crashed on the lip of the pipe on his last run to finish ninth at the fifth and final Olympic ski halfpipe qualifier. Kenworthy needed at least a runner-up to automatically qualify for PyeongChang.

Kenworthy is still very likely to make the Olympic ski slopestyle team for a second straight time, but he wanted to be the first American to contest slope and pipe at the Games. That’s likely gone.

What we know: The three automatic Olympic halfpipe spots went to Sochi gold medalist David Wise, fellow Sochi Olympian Torin Yater-Wallace and first-time Olympian Alex Ferreira.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard can add a fourth man to the team via discretionary selection. It’s unlikely to be Kenworthy based on qualifying results. Kenworthy ranks sixth in the standings overall.

The man with the best credentials is Aaron Blunck, a Sochi Olympian and reigning X Games champ who made two podiums among the five selection events.

Another strong option is Kyle Smaine, the surprise winner of the fifth and final qualifier Friday night. But Smaine doesn’t have a finish better than seventh from the other four qualifiers.

Kenworthy has two ski slopestyle qualifiers Saturday and Sunday in Mammoth, after which the Olympic team will be named.

He is stronger in slopestyle than halfpipe, earning silver in Sochi and at the 2017 World Championships in the former. Kenworthy missed the Sochi team in halfpipe.

In women’s ski halfpipe on Friday, Devin Logan and Brita Sigourney joined Sochi gold medalist Maddie Bowman on the Olympic team.

Sigourney won the fifth and final Olympic selection event with a 91.20-point run, edging Bowman (89.80) and Logan (83.80).

Logan, the Sochi ski slopestyle silver medalist, is very likely to make the Olympic team in both halfpipe and slopestyle, which no man or woman did in Sochi.

One more discretionary Olympic women’s halfpipe spot could be awarded, likely to Sochi Olympian Annalisa Drew or Carly Margulies, who both missed the podium Friday night.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Ski Halfpipe 
(through five of five events)
Three skiers can auto qualify per gender; up to four named to Olympic team
1. David Wise — 200** QUALIFIED
2. Alex Ferreira — 180** QUALIFIED
3. Torin Yater-Wallace — 160** QUALIFIED

4. Aaron Blunck — 140** (2nd and 3rd)
5. Kyle Smaine — 136* (1st and 7th)
6. Gus Kenworthy — 116* (2nd and 7th)

1. Brita Sigourney — 180** QUALIFIED
2. Maddie Bowman — 160** QUALIFIED

3. Devin Logan — 140** QUALIFIED

4. Annalisa Drew — 95 (4th and 5th)
5. Carly Margulies — 90 (4th and 6th)
**Has automatic qualifying minimum of two top-three results.
*Has one top-three result.

Mammoth Finals (all times Eastern)
Friday

Ski Halfpipe — 9:30-11 p.m. (NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app)

Saturday
Ski Slopestyle (#1) — 12:30-2 p.m. (NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app)
Snowboard Slopestyle — 5-6 p.m. (NBC, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app)
Snowboard Halfpipe — 9:30-11 p.m. (NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app)

Sunday
Ski Slopestyle (#2) — 4:30-6 p.m. (NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app)

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VIDEO: Shaun White scores perfect 100 to qualify for Olympics

Christian Coleman breaks world indoor 60m record (video)

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Christian Coleman is the fastest man of all time — indoors.

The 21-year-old U.S. sprinter broke the world indoor 60m record by clocking 6.37 seconds at his first meet of 2018 in South Carolina on Friday night.

Maurice Greene, the 2000 Olympic 100m champion, held the previous record of 6.39, which he clocked in 1998 and 2001.

The record must still go through ratification procedures, which requires a drug test at the meet.

The 60m is the indoor equivalent of the outdoor 100m. They are the shortest sprints contested at their respective world championships.

Coleman, a 4x100m prelim relay runner at the Rio Olympics, has blossomed into arguably the early 2020 Olympic 100m favorite.

He most memorably clocked a 40-yard dash of 4.12 seconds last spring, which is one tenth faster than the NFL Combine record.

Then in August, Coleman took 100m silver behind Justin Gatlin at the world outdoor championships, beating Usain Bolt in the Jamaican’s final individual race.

There are no world outdoor championships this year, but Coleman could go for the world indoor 60m title in Birmingham, Great Britain, in March.

Coleman’s mark is the first men’s world record in an event contested at a world championships since Wayde van Niekerk broke Michael Johnson‘s 400m world record at the Rio Olympics.

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