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IOC: Tokyo Olympics’ huge cost could give wrong message

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TOKYO (AP) — A top IOC official renewed his demand Thursday that Japanese organizers further reduce their $18 billion budget ceiling for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saying the figure could scare off cities considering bids for future Games.

IOC vice president John Coates, who heads the coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics, was referring to the announcement by local organizers this week of a 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) cap on the overall cost.

Coates told the coordination meeting in Tokyo on Thursday that the International Olympic Committee has not accepted the figure. He said all cities seeking to host future Games are watching Tokyo and officials should avoid making a “wrong impression” about what it costs to host the Olympics, according to Kyodo News.

Coates said he expected “significant further savings” to be made.

Japanese organizers have yet to compile a total cost estimate, though their first official budget is expected by the end of the year.

Tokyo’s Olympic costs have soared amid Japan’s reconstruction from the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the year Tokyo launched its bid for the Games. The city secured the Games in 2013.

A Tokyo government panel has also accused local organizers of allowing big public works spending for the Olympics without a long-term vision for legacy use. The panel has said the cost of the Olympics could exceed $30 billion — four times the initial estimate — unless drastic cuts are made.

The IOC also has come under pressure to reduce costs in order to lure cities to bid for future Games. The $51 billion price tag associated with the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi led numerous cities to drop out of bidding for the 2022 and 2024 Olympics. The IOC is now encouraging cities to make maximum use of existing and temporary facilities.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has spearheaded the cost-cutting effort, proposing a review of the three costly venues.

Koike agreed Tuesday to keep the rowing, canoe sprint and swimming venues at their planned sites in Tokyo, rather than moving them to existing venues outside the capital, while securing commitments for substantial cost reductions.

A decision on a possible switch of the volleyball venue was delayed until late December.

Yoshiro Mori, head of Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee, said he wanted to see volleyball held in Tokyo’s Ariake Arena as planned, instead of Yokohama — considered as an alternate option — so the venue can serve as a long-term legacy.

MORE: Tokyo 2020: A look at the rising costs

Gwen Jorgensen pregnant, to sit out 2017 triathlon season

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20: USA's Gwen Jorgensen followed by Switzerland's Nicola Spirig Hug (L) compete in the running portion of the women's triathlon at Fort Copacabana during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016.(Photo by Jeff Pachoud-Pool/Getty Images)
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Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen is pregnant and will not compete this year.

“Just kind of take this year a little bit easier,” Jorgensen said in a video posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The baby is due Aug. 3, according to Jorgensen’s social media.

Jorgensen, 30, became the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion in Rio after going in as the heavy favorite. She has said for months that she planned to take time off to have a baby before returning to defend her Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

Swiss Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 silver medalist, is reportedly expecting a child in May.

In Jorgensen and Spirig’s absences, the top triathletes going into the season are defending world champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda, U.S. Olympians Katie Zaferes and Sarah True and Britons Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins.

Jorgensen’s last competition was the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, when she finished 14th in her first running race longer than 10 miles.

The World Triathlon Series kicks off in Abu Dhabi the first weekend of March.

MORE: Triathlon federation boss wants Olympic races shortened

Watch NBC’s lookahead to 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics

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The PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the first Winter Games in South Korea, are a little more than one year away.

A number of U.S. stars are establishing themselves in this winter sports season as medal contenders.

NBC Sports takes a look at some of those names to watch, as the U.S. looks to return to the top of the medal standings.

Russia earned the most medals at home in Sochi in 2014 with 33 medals, with the U.S. coming in second with 28. Those standings could change if Russian results are stripped due to its ongoing doping scandal.

The U.S. has never topped the total medal standings at a Winter Olympics outside of North America. It led the way at Lake Placid 1932 and Vancouver 2010.

VIDEO: PyeongChang 2018 Olympic venue tour