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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IOC expects decisions on Russian doping cases next month

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Investigators at the International Olympic Committee expect to have “a number” of doping cases involving Russians at the Sochi Olympics resolved by the end of November, but they have no plans to dictate the eligibility of these athletes for next year’s Winter Games in PyeongChang.

The leader of an IOC delegation in charge of reviewing 28 cases involving athletes at Sochi wrote to the head of the IOC Athletes Commission this week to update the timeline of cases stemming from a report detailing a Russian doping scheme at the 2014 Olympics and beforehand.

Denis Oswald said that of the cases his committee is reviewing, priority has been given to those involving athletes looking to compete in PyeongChang. Top priority goes to six cross-country skiers whose provisional suspensions expire Oct. 31.

Oswald also said his committee would rule on these athletes’ results for Sochi, but will not determine their eligibility for PyeongChang, instead handing over evidence to their respective sports federations to decide.

The IOC also appointed a task force to look at the Russian doping scandal as a whole, the results of which could have wider repercussions on the country’s eligibility at next year’s Olympics.

In a separate letter sent to worldwide sports leaders, IOC President Thomas Bach said only that the Schmid Commission is continuing its evaluation and that “I hope that the IOC Executive Board will still be able to take a decision this year because none of us want this serious issue to overshadow” the upcoming Olympics.

The updates come amid a growing chorus of calls for a timely decision and for Russia’s ouster from PyeongChang.

The IOC commissions are operating off information from the McLaren Report, the first part of which was released in July 2016.

In explaining the timeline, Oswald wrote that because the Russian scheme involved exchanging dirty urine samples with clean ones, it took time to adopt methods to verify that samples had been tampered with — in part by finding evidence of scratch marks on collection bottles that had been opened and re-sealed.

“The task has not been easy in both establishing a methodology in an area in which there are no established protocols,” he wrote, “and then moving through the necessary scientific analysis of each individual sample in a way which would withstand legal challenge.”

MORE: USOC boss calls for immediate action on Russian doping

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Two-time Olympian becomes first woman to lead U.S. national swim team

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Two-time Olympian Lindsay Mintenko has been picked to lead the U.S. national swimming team. She is the first woman to hold the title.

USA Swimming made the announcement Wednesday.

Mintenko replaces Frank Busch, who retired Oct. 1 as managing director. She has been a member of the national team staff since 2006.

During her swimming career, Mintenko won gold medals as a U.S. team captain at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics 800m freestyle relay and added a silver in 2004 on the 400m freestyle relay.

USA Swimming also announced an organizational restructuring that will place all technical divisions, including the national team, under the oversight of chief operating officer Mike Unger.

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