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Another Rio Olympic venue struggling to find a use

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Almost five months after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics ended, another venue is struggling to find a use.

Rio de Janeiro’s city hall said Tuesday that the Deodoro Olympic Park, which was to be used as a park and recreation area after the Games, has been closed.

Deodoro was the second-largest venue cluster during the Olympics and is located in Rio’s impoverished north, far from the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. It held events that included equestrian, rugby and field hockey.

“Measures are being taken to ensure that the space is reopened as soon as possible,” the city said in a statement to The Associated Press. It did not say when that might happen. It said a contract had been terminated at the end of the year with a company operating the park.

Rio’s new Mayor Marcelo Crivella took over on Jan. 1, replacing Eduardo Paes who served his two-term limit and was credited as the driving force behind the Games by the International Olympic Committee.

The park’s main attraction is a public swimming area, which is now unavailable — at a time when temperatures in the South American summer in Rio soar daily to 35C (95F).

In another setback, Rio de Janeiro last month handed over responsibility to the federal government for sports venues in the main Olympic Park after a bid to auction them failed.

Officials said only one bidder participated, and failed to provide required assurances for a 25-year concession.

Brazil’s Sports Minister Leonardo Picciani said at the time that the federal government would operate the two arenas, the velodrome, and the tennis stadium.

A $20-million golf course built for the Olympics is also struggling to find players and funds to take care of upkeep.

The state of Rio de Janeiro has declared a “financial calamity” and is several months behind in paying teachers and public employees. The country itself is in the deepest recession in decades, with unemployment at 12 percent.

This stands in stark relief to the $10-12 billion Brazil spent to organize the Olympics. It spent a similar amount organizing the 2014 World Cup.

MORE: Neymar reflects on Rio Olympic shootout

Max Aaron retires from figure skating

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Max Aaron, a national champion and Skate America winner, has retired from competitive figure skating.

Aaron, 26, ends his career as the only Skate America men’s winner not to compete in an Olympics. He is one of three U.S. men’s champions in the last 55 years not to compete in an Olympics, along with Ryan Bradley and Rudy Galindo.

“Of course, becoming an Olympian, or having an Olympic medal would have been great to say, ride off on my white horse, but having the ability to say that I have no regrets in my entire career of figure skating, for me that is my gold medal,” Aaron said Thursday night.

Aaron, a former top USA Hockey developmental player, also figure skated growing up to help with his skating skills as one of the smaller players on his team.

He stopped playing hockey at 16 due to a broken vertebra but continued full-time with figure skating. By 2012, Aaron considered quitting figure skating after placing eighth at nationals (one year after being U.S. junior champion) and being told he wasn’t artistic enough.

But Aaron kept with it and completed a remarkable bounce back the next year, winning the U.S. title and setting himself up as a favorite to make the 2014 Olympic team.

But Aaron ended up third at the 2014 U.S. Championships. The two Sochi Olympic spots went to Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.

Aaron continued, becoming the first U.S. man to win Skate America in six years in 2015 and topping the short program at the 2016 U.S. Championships before ultimately finishing second to Adam Rippon.

Aaron plummeted to ninth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, coming back from offseason hernia surgery, but returned to the Olympic team radar last fall with a personal-best free skate at Cup of China, including three landed quadruple jumps. He went into the 2018 U.S. Championships ranking third among American men for the season.

But Aaron was again ninth at nationals, missing the Olympic team. He was called on to compete at last month’s world championships as the third alternate after Rippon, Ross Miner and Brown all passed.

Aaron had stopped skating and instead was training for a triathlon. He went to worlds in Milan on two weeks of training and finished 11th, a result that helped the U.S. keep three men’s spots for 2019 Worlds. Nathan Chen won the world title, but Vincent Zhou was 14th. The U.S. needed its second man to be 12th or better to go along with Chen’s first place to ensure three spots next year. Aaron reportedly said at worlds that it may have been his last competition.

Aaron said he’s started a job with Merrill Lynch.

“It’s really been a great ride. I have no regrets,” he said. “That’s one thing that I always told myself, in sport, in life, I want to have no regrets, and I can honestly say, with the help from my coaches and friends, that I have no regrets in the sport.”

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MORE: Rippon among Olympians in Time 100

Martha, Bela Karolyi speak on Larry Nassar case (video)

Martha Karolyi, Bela Karolyi
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Former USA Gymnastics national team coordinators Martha and Bela Karolyi said they knew nothing about Larry Nassar‘s alleged abuse in an interview that airs on an hourlong NBC News “Dateline” special Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

Star U.S. gymnasts, among more than 100 who said they were sexually abused by the convicted Nassar, said they were abused at the Karolyi’s ranch in Texas during national-team training camps.

“That’s awful, but I would say even if they have big names or they have no names, any child who was violated by Nassar, it’s a crime and it’s so sad,” Martha Karolyi told Savannah Guthrie in part of the interview that aired on TODAY on Friday.

How could the Karolyis not have known about the alleged abuses committed at their property?

“Yes, but if you couldn’t suspect anything, I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents were in therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this — and the parent couldn’t see. How I could see?” Martha Karolyi said.

“The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding, boom,” Bela Karolyi said.

Martha Karolyi led the national team for 15 years before retiring after the Rio Olympics. She told Guthrie that in “no way” did she suspect Nassar was sexually abusing athletes.

The Karolyis have been named as co-defendants in several civil lawsuits filed against Nassar and USA Gymnastics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Full transcript of McKayla Maroney’s first comments since Larry Nassar case