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IOC closer to 2024, 2028 Olympic double vote

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — The International Olympic Committee has moved closer toward picking both Los Angeles and Paris to host a Summer Games in an unprecedented double vote this year.

IOC President Thomas Bach has repeatedly hinted at awarding the hosting rights for both the 2024 and 2028 Games at the IOC Session on Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru. Only the 2024 Games is currently scheduled to be voted on in Lima.

“All the options are on the table, and this includes also the ’24-’28 procedure and vote,” Bach said Friday when announcing a working group to study changing the candidate process.

The IOC executive board asked its four vice presidents to “explore changes” in Olympic bidding and report back in July.

“We have two excellent candidates there from two major Olympic countries,” Bach said at a news conference after a two-day board meeting. “This is a position you like to be in.”

Bach said the four-man working group will make proposals to the board and full membership. They meet from July 9-12 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where LA and Paris will make formal presentations of their 2024 hosting plans.

A full IOC meeting can change the Olympic Charter, which currently says host cities must be picked seven years in advance.

“You must always have room for interpretation to adapt to changing times,” said Bach, who noted that he co-wrote the current book of Olympic rules. “The charter is flexible enough also in this respect.”

Los Angeles and Paris are in a two-candidate race after several rivals dropped out facing public opposition to expected spiraling costs and doubts about the long-term value of being an Olympic host.

Since December, Bach has repeated warnings about a bid process that produces “too many losers,” suggesting concerns that the city which lost a 2024 vote would not return with a candidacy for the 2028 Olympics.

“We are in a comfortable situation. Now it will be up to the working group how to best explore, how to best exploit, the positive situation,” Bach said. “We should not miss the opportunity to explore this opportunity.”

The four vice presidents are John Coates of Australia, Yu Zaiqing of China, Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. of Spain and Ugur Erdener of Turkey.

Bach returned his focus to curbing excessive spending by hosts by welcoming budget cuts by organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Talks between government and Olympic officials have reduced the expected costs to $15.2 billion from an initial $30 billion estimate, Bach said, adding that “even more savings can be made.”

A discrimination issue for the Tokyo Games could be resolved this weekend, Bach said.

The Kasumigaseki Country Club, which was picked to stage men’s and women’s golf tournaments, will have a board meeting to review its policy of not allowing women as full members.

“The Olympic Games are about non-discrimination in every respect,” Bach said, adding he hoped the club will “grant the same rights to women as for men.”

Also, Kenya avoided being suspended by the IOC after its national Olympic committee officials backtracked and agreed to pass a new constitution and hold elections.

Kenya had its funding from the IOC cut last week and faced a ban after refusing to make the changes the IOC called for. But the National Olympic Committee of Kenya wrote to the IOC this week promising to “rectify the situation,” the IOC said in a statement to The Associated Press.

NOCK must now adopt the new constitution at a meeting on March 28 and then organize elections.

The IOC executive board decided funding to Kenya would continue to be on hold “until further notice.”

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MORE: LA 2024 Olympic venue map, projected ticket prices

USA Gymnastics closes Karolyi Ranch

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USA Gymnastics said it will no longer use the Karolyi Ranch in Texas as its training center, where athletes said Larry Nassar sexually abused gymnasts.

“USA Gymnastics has terminated its agreement with the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas,” USA Gymnastics CEO and president Kerry Perry said in a press release Thursday. “It will no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center.

“It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December. Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes.

“We have cancelled next week’s training camp for the U.S. Women’s National Team. We are exploring alternative sites to host training activities and camps until a permanent location is determined. We thank all those in the gymnastics community assisting in these efforts.”

MORE: Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

World champions Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols said that Nassar sexually abused gymnasts at the ranch.

“When I was 15 I started to have back problems while at a National Team Camp at the Karolyi Ranch,” Nichols wrote in a victim impact statement read at one of Nassar’s sentencing hearings on Wednesday and published last week. “This is when the changes in his medical treatments occurred.

“I trusted what he was doing at first, but then he started touching me in places I really didn’t think he should. He didn’t have gloves on and he didn’t tell me what he was doing. There was no one else in the room and I accepted what he was doing because I was told by adults that he was the best doctor and he could help relieve my pain.

“He did this ‘treatment’ on me, on numerous occasions.”

Raisman, a three-time Olympic champion, urged USA Gymnastics to close the ranch in a Tuesday interview on ESPN.

“I hope USA Gymnastics listens because they haven’t listened to us so far,” she said. “I hope they listen, and I hope they don’t make any of the girls go back to the ranch. No one should have to go back there after, you know, so many of us were abused there.”

Simone Biles did not specifically name the Karolyi Ranch in her Monday statement, but Raisman said Tuesday that Biles was referring to that site.

“It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing at Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused,” was posted on Biles’ social media.

Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympian, said Nassar was alone with her in her bed at the ranch.

“There was no one else sent with him,” she said on CBS last year. “The treatment was in the bed, in my bed that I slept on at the ranch.”

USA Gymnastics said in July 2016 that it reached an agreement with former national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi to purchase the training facility the couple owned.

The national governing body backed out of the purchase in May “for a variety of reasons” but continued under its current lease agreement while exploring alternative locations for camps. It held national team camps there in September and November.

The Karolyis established the ranch in 1983 after defecting from Romania. It had been a national team training center since 2001.

Larry Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A statement from McKayla Maroney read Thursday repeated that sexual assault by Larry Nassar “left scars” in her mind that may never fade as a judge heard a third day of testimony from victims.

Nassar could be sentenced Friday in Lansing. Since Tuesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has been listening to dozens of young women who were molested after seeking his help for injuries.

Aquilina started the hearing Thursday by saying Nassar had written a letter fearing that his mental health wasn’t strong enough to sit and listen to a parade of victims. He called the hearing “a media circus.”

The judge dismissed it as “mumbo jumbo.”

“Spending four or five days listening to them is minor, considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense, ruining their lives,” Aquilina said.

Nassar, 54, faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison for molesting girls as a doctor for Michigan State University and at his home.

He also was a team doctor at USA Gymnastics for nearly two decades. He’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.

“Dr. Nassar was not a doctor,” Maroney said in a statement read by a prosecutor (Maroney’s statement was previously posted in the fall). “He left scars on my psyche that may never go away.”

USA Gymnastics in 2016 reached a financial settlement with Maroney that barred her from making disparaging remarks. But the organization this week said it would not seek any money for her “brave statements.”

A 2000 Olympian, Jamie Dantzscher, looked at Nassar and said, “How dare you ask any of us for forgiveness.”

“Your days of manipulation are over,” she said. “We have a voice. We have the power now.”

Nassar wasn’t the only target. Victims also criticized Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon attended part of the session Wednesday. The school is being sued by dozens of women, who say campus officials wrote off complaints about the popular doctor.

“Guess what? You’re a coward, too,” current student and former gymnast Lindsey Lemke said Thursday, referring to Simon.

The judge has been praising each speaker and criticizing Nassar.

It’s “about their control over other human beings and feeling like God and they can do anything,” Aquilina said of sex offenders.

On Jan. 31, Nassar will get another sentence for sexual assaults at a Lansing-area gymnastics club in a different county.