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IOC: Rio Olympics were ‘perfect imperfect Games’

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A few months after the closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, IOC officials have a new tagline for South America’s first Olympics: “The most perfect imperfect Games.”

The International Olympic Committee held a news conference on Tuesday to accentuate the positives of the Rio Games, which were held amid Brazil’s political and economic crisis and experienced problems with empty seats, budget cuts, green water and other organizational issues.

“The Games worked,” said Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s executive director of the Olympic Games. “Were they perfect? No. The organizers faced immense difficulties. But, in the end, you have to take your hat off. It’s extraordinary what they have delivered.”

The IOC has been going out of its way to publicly defend the Rio Games, seeking to blunt any lasting criticism and encourage potential future host cities at a time when many have been turning away because of concerns over high costs.

“As you remember in the lead-up to the Games, we are all going to die of Zika or poisoned water or we were all going to be mugged in the streets,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “As it turns out we find out that the Games were the most universal, the most consumed ever.”

“Were they perfect Games?” he added. “No. Someone described them as the most perfect imperfect Games, which I think is actually quite a good characterization. There were problems, but what is fantastic is the way those problems were overcome.”

The IOC released a stream of facts and figures to showcase the success of the Games, including global broadcast figures, record number of national Olympic committees, the first ever refugee team and performances by stars such as Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Mo Farah.

Dubi insisted the Olympic venues would all have long-term use and that the city had been transformed with a new transport system and other infrastructure improvements.

Dubi said the organizing committee’s final operational budget — the cost of running the Games, not the construction or infrastructure spending — would be announced in the next few weeks and would come in close to the original $2.9 billion figure.

“We had glitches,” Dubi said. “But when everyone comes back with a big smile, you know the Games have been a success.”

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Michael Phelps still has ‘no desire’ to come back

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Michael Phelps says he has “no desire” to return to competitive swimming, but he is eager to stay involved with the sport and cheer on those who follow in his enormous wake.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press while promoting a healthy pet food campaign, Phelps said he is excited about the birth of his second child and numerous opportunities away from the pool.

It was around this time four years ago when Phelps got serious about ending his first retirement, but he now seems content with his decision to step away again after the Rio Olympics.

His wife, Nicole, is about four months pregnant. The couple already has a 16-month-old son, Boomer.

“I’ve got no desire, no desire to come back,” the 32-year-old Phelps said flatly.

Phelps has attended a handful of swimming meets since the Rio Games, where the winningest athlete in Olympic history added to his already massive career haul by claiming five gold medals plus a silver. A few months ago, he conceded to the AP that he was eager to see how he would feel about a possible comeback after this year’s world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Turns out, it had no impact.

Phelps said watching others compete “truly didn’t kick anything off or spike any more interest in coming out of retirement again.”

He is eager to follow the development of his heir apparent, Caeleb Dressel, who emerged as the sport’s newest star by winning seven gold medals at Budapest. The 21-year-old Floridian joined Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to accomplish that feat at a major international meet.

“I’m happy Caeleb decided to go off this year instead of last year,” Phelps joked. “I’m kind of happy to see him swimming so well when I’m not there.”

With Dressel and Katie Ledecky now leading the American team, the U.S. is expected to remain the world’s dominant swimming country heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Even without Phelps.

“It’s time to kind of move on,” he said, “and watch other people come into their own.”

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Dutch cyclist returns from horrific Rio crash to win world title

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Dutch road cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten came back from this dramatic Rio Olympic crash to win her first world title on Tuesday, taking the time trial in Bergen, Norway.

“This one is really beautiful without the crash in Rio, but this makes the story really, really special,” an emotional van Vleuten said. “Actually, I still cannot believe it. … This season I’m surprising myself what I can do. To be world champion in the time trial, I never thought I’d be able of this.”

Van Vleuten, 34, covered the 13-mile course in 28 minutes, 50.35 seconds, topping countrywoman Anna ven der Breggen by 12 seconds.

Australian Katrin Garfoot took bronze, 19.02 seconds ahead of Chloe Dygert, a U.S. Olympic silver medalist in track cycling. American Amber Neben, the defending champion, was 11th.

Full results are here.

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title.

Van Vleuten wasn’t out long. She raced at last October’s world championships, placing a career-high fifth in the time trial. She then won La Course in France, a two-day race, in July.

“To be an athlete is to have really ups and downs,” van Vleuten said Tuesday. “Sometimes really downs, but the downs make the ups even more beautiful, I think.”

Van Vleuten’s first celebratory act Tuesday was to climb past two barriers and into her mother’s arms.

“Last year my mum watched the Rio race on television, it was her birthday and she was with lots of my family, so it was a really hard day for her,” Van Vleuten said in a news conference, according to Cyclingnews.com. “My father died in 2008, and so it was really special to have her here and celebrate the good things of cycling together. We’ve dealt with bad things together in the past, so it’s important to be really happy and proud to celebrate and to also remember my father.”

The world championships continue Wednesday with the men’s time trial at 7 a.m. ET on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live.

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