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Paris Olympic athletes’ village key issue in fight with LA

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PARIS (AP) — Paris leaders of their latest Olympic bid stressed to IOC inspectors on Monday that their planned 1.7 billion euros ($1.86 billion) athletes’ village had guaranteed funding only for the 2024 Games and not 2028.

The International Olympic Council is assessing the possibility of giving Paris and Los Angeles the next two Olympics in September, and the athletes’ village has become a hot topic because Paris officials say their site will not be available after 2024.

“We are committed with the public authorities on this project for 2024, after that it’s not guaranteed,” bid leader Tony Estanguet said on Monday.

Michael Aloisio, the deputy general director of the Paris bid, added it would be difficult for Paris to freeze the project for four extra years “because there’s a need for the people around this area for housing.”

“All these projects have now been launched, and so they will take place before 2024, and so we can’t just freeze them and kind of sideline them for four years.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo insisted the village in the Seine-Saint-Denis will help develop an area where unemployment remains high. A total of 3,000 new homes should be built in the district after the Olympics.

“We believe in the regeneration of this area,” Hidalgo said.

Bid officials showed inspectors the planned village site in the Pleyel area, a 50-hectare (125-acre) site next to the river Seine. They said 84 percent of the athletes would be able to reach their competition venues in less than 25 minutes, and the Olympic stadium and aquatics center were within two kilometers (1.2 miles) of the proposed village.

MORE: With new president on board, Paris 2024 bid is ‘ready right now’

In addition, the bid committee said new public transport infrastructure will make the village more accessible, with the creation of a new train station, and a road interchange that should make it accessible from the center of Paris in about 20 minutes by car.

The inspectors were impressed by the village plans.

“This site is extremely well located and (close) to all competition venues,” said Patrick Baumann, the head of the IOC evaluation commission. “We received all the necessary information to understand how the site will be developed. We also spoke with the architect, who told us how the future housing project will be done.”

The other main construction requirements include an aquatics center close to the Stade de France, and the media center.

Because existing infrastructure was at the heart of the project, Paris leaders promise to limit spending, with an infrastructure budget of 3 billion euros and operational costs of 3.2 billion euros. They estimate 70 percent of the village costs will come from private funds.

“We have received all the guarantees we needed,” Baumann said.

On the second day of their visit, the IOC inspectors divided in three groups and toured the proposed venues, including the Eiffel Tower, Roland Garros, the National Velodrome, and the Stade de France.

Many Parisian landmarks including the Grand Palais and Champ de Mars will be used if Paris wins. The road cycling races would finish at the Arc de Triomphe, equestrian next to the Versailles Castle, and beach volleyball at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

Asked to compare the Paris planned venues with those of Los Angeles, Baumann dodged the question.

“The venues have a different history, but they are equally mind-blowing,” he said.

Evaluation commission members will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday for breakfast at the Elysee Palace before final discussions with Paris bid leaders.

Paris and Los Angeles will have another opportunity to present their bids to IOC members in Lausanne in July after they receive the evaluation commission report. The host city election will take place on Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru.

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MORE: Paris 2024 bid welcomes new French president Emmanuel Macron

Yuzuru Hanyu to miss Japan Figure Skating Championships

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world figure skating champion, will miss his national championships this week after suffering ankle and knee injuries this fall, according to Japanese media citing the Japan Skating Federation.

Hanyu can (and very likely will) be named to Japan’s three-man Olympic team despite missing nationals.

Hanyu has reportedly been off the ice for more than one month since a Nov. 9 practice fall.

“It is an important selection competition, and the Olympics are a big goal, so with that in mind we would like to think things through together,” Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi said last week, according to Kyodo News.

Hanyu, who turned 23 on Dec. 7, fell on a quadruple Lutz attempted and then favored his right ankle in a Nov. 9 practice at a Grand Prix event (video here).

He skated the run-through for his free skate, although he elected not to do any more jumps.

“I have been told by the doctor that I need 10 days of complete rest,” Hanyu said in a statement on Nov. 12, according to Kyodo. “Following that, it will take three to four weeks to return and get back to where I was.”

Hanyu and world silver medalist Shoma Uno are favored to lead Japan’s Olympic men’s figure skating team. The third spot is likely to go to Takahito Mura or Keiji Tanaka.

Hanyu competed twice this season.

He posted a world-record short program score in his debut at a small September event in Canada, but struggled to fifth place in the free skate and finished second overall behind two-time world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.

He then finished second to U.S. champion Nathan Chen at the first Grand Prix event of the season in Moscow in October.

Chen is the only undefeated male singles skater this season.

Hanyu won four straight national titles before missing last season’s event with the flu.

He was still named to Japan’s team for worlds, where he won his second title in four years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Figure skating season TV schedule

Green Bay Packers pull another Olympic sport TD celebration

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We’re halfway to a decathlon of Olympic sport touchdown celebrations over the last two seasons.

After the hurdles, the long jump, the bobsled and the relay came the race walk on Sunday.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, once part of a three-man bobsled team, led three other teammates in a race walk after scoring in Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. (Adams later left the game with a concussion.)

Adams won the race walk, which was much, much shorter than the standard Olympic distances of 20km and 50km, over teammates Jordy NelsonRandall Cobb and Geronimo Allison.

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