3-on-3 basketball favored to be added to Olympics next week

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GENEVA (AP) — A full list of 2020 Tokyo Olympics medal events will be finalized by the IOC executive board next week, one month ahead of schedule.

Among more than 60 proposals, 3-on-3 basketball is an expected favorite after all were analyzed by an International Olympic Committee advisory panel.

The decision is due on Friday at a board meeting in Lausanne called at short notice to discuss awarding the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games hosting rights to Los Angeles and Paris at the same time later this year.

“Now that we have an (executive board) meeting on June 9 it makes sense to use this opportunity,” the IOC said on Friday. “In addition, an early decision is clearly beneficial to all the parties involved.”

The half-court basketball format — close in spirit to neighborhood park pick-up games — once seemed set for the 2016 Olympics. Its bid for inclusion was curbed when organizers in Rio de Janeiro were stretched preparing for just the regular program.

Now, FIBA believes men’s and women’s tournaments in 3-on-3 are even better suited after skateboarding and sport climbing joined the Tokyo lineup last year.

“Now there is an urban cluster that has been created,” FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann told The Associated Press. “The best urban team sport is 3-on-3 street basketball. It would certainly be a perfect fit.”

Still, don’t expect two-time Olympic gold medalist LeBron James to seek a third title in the three-a-side game which already has a global tournament circuit.

“That’s probably a nice dream to have,” Baumann said in a recent interview, adding: “Our objective is to have similar and fantastic stars that come out of 3-on-3.”

Baumann singled out the famed Rucker Park street court in Harlem, N.Y., when expressing hope “to see them in the Olympic Games two years down the road.”

Adjusting from the NBA game would also be tough, he said: “It’s a different skill set. It’s really a 10-minute sprint, no coach, so you need to take the right decisions.”

Adding 3-on-3 tournaments should add 96 athletes to basketball’s quota for the 2020 Olympics, a key test for the proposals next week.

The IOC wants to better appeal to young audiences and promote gender equality, but also stay within the limits of around 310 medal events and 11,000 athletes who must have housing and training venues.

Some proposals are for mixed-gender team events and relays — an IOC favorite — using the existing pool of athletes.

Canoeing, rowing, and shooting federations would drop some men’s events to add more for women.

Cycling wants to bolster its track program which was moved to a velodrome in Izu, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) outside Tokyo.

By setting the Tokyo lineup earlier, the IOC also clears a long-scheduled July 9-10 board meeting in Lausanne to focus more on the expected dual hosting award.

Paris seems favored to get the 2024 Olympics, with Los Angeles striking a deal to wait until 2028.

MORE: LeBron James considers Olympic return under new coach

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Team USA Opening Ceremony uniforms have heaters

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The U.S. Olympic team uniforms for the PyeongChang Opening Ceremony contain heating components that will last up to 11 hours.

Ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani and bobsledder Aja Evans wore the uniforms on TODAY on Monday.

The heat technology will come in handy.

The PyeongChang Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9 (live streaming on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app) will be in an outdoor stadium, likely in below-freezing temperatures.

From USA Today:

“The athletes can set the temperature (there are three settings) via their cellphones. The heat can last up to five hours on the high setting and 11 hours on the low setting, fully charged.”

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MORE: PyeongChang Olympic schedule daily highlights

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Jamaica misses Olympic men’s bobsled by one spot

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The only Jamaican bobsled team in PyeongChang will be its women’s bobsled team.

Jamaica missed qualifying a two-man bobsled team for the Olympics by one spot in rankings finalized last week.

Jamaica still had a chance to sneak into the 30-sled Olympic field if one of the qualified nations declined a spot, but that didn’t happen.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation made it official Monday, publishing the Olympic fields for each event.

At least one Jamaican men’s sled competed in every Olympics from 1988 through 2002, then again in 2014.

Sochi driver Winston Watts retired, but a new team was formed in this Olympic cycle that included former Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals running back Michael Blair.

New driver Seldwyn Morgan competed on the lower-level North American Cup the last three seasons with a top finish of seventh.

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MORE: Would Usain Bolt make a good bobsledder?