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L.A., Paris Olympic bids await meeting on 2024-2028 hosting

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GENEVA (AP) — Los Angeles and Paris should edge closer Friday to both getting Olympic hosting rights.

Ahead of a key meeting of the International Olympic Committee executive board, the French capital is now seen as the favorite to host the 2024 Games. But that doesn’t mean that L.A. will get left out in the cold.

The strangest Olympic bidding race in four decades will take clearer shape when the IOC board weighs opening up the 2024 contest to also include the 2028 award in September.

The expected agreement would fulfil IOC President Thomas Bach’s wish to avoid making a loser of either world-class candidate, though it must be ratified by the Olympic body’s voting members.

By meeting on Friday, the IOC can give the required month notice to upgrade an already scheduled 2024 campaign event in Lausanne into a formal session with rule-changing power. On July 11, up to 95 members are due in Lausanne to see L.A. and Paris bid leaders present their projects.

The likely process lets IOC members retain their most important job of voting for Olympic hosts on Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru, to open the regular session. That’s because the issue of which city gets 2024 and which must wait four more years will not be resolved Friday.

Still, L.A. officials have set a tone suggesting they could accept 2028. That would help give the IOC clarity and security for the next decade after a turbulent period of cost overruns by Olympic host cities and local voters sinking potential bids, including some former rivals in the current contest.

“To be blunt, LA 2024 has never been only about L.A. or 2024,” Casey Wasserman, chairman of the LA 2024 bid, said in a statement Wednesday. “Even when the issue of a dual award for the 2024 and 2028 Games was initially raised, we didn’t say it’s ‘LA first’ or it’s ‘now or never’ for LA: that sounds like an ultimatum.”

Paris, however, has stood by its claim that land to build a 1.7 billion euro ($1.9 billion) athletes village is guaranteed only for 2024.

Los Angeles, Wasserman suggested, declined a similar strategy “because we thought it was presumptuous to tell the IOC what to do and how to think. We’re better partners than that.”

The Paris bid declined requests to react to Wasserman’s comments.

The IOC would prefer a consensus to emerge rather than impose a deal on the cities, and L.A. could be rewarded for being the most flexible.

“My dream is not so much just to bring the Olympics here, but is to bring youth sports for free to every zip code,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week in confirming talks with the IOC to explore “what it would take” to agree which city would host first.

Both seek to follow London as three-time Olympic hosts. Paris hosted in 1900 and 1924, and Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984. Almost 40 years ago, L.A. was left as the only candidate when the Olympic hosting brand suffered in the 1970s.

Bach has sought to protect the IOC by driving the double award idea since December, though he asked his four vice presidents to draft a proposal for Friday’s meeting.

The IOC president “has done an excellent job of managing the process so far,” Michael Payne, the Olympic body’s former marketing director and a consultant to L.A., told The Associated Press in Lausanne this week.

“I think you will get three winners out of it — the IOC and the two cities,” Payne said, predicting that members would support a 2024-2028 award next month because “there is increasing recognition that this is what has got to be done.”

The 13-member board chaired by Bach has two American members — Anita DeFrantz and Angela Ruggiero. They should leave the room during the debate.

In other business Friday, the upcoming 2026 Winter Games bidding rules will be reviewed, with 2030 now also seeming in play if two strong candidates enter.

New medal events, led by 3-on-3 basketball, are also set to be added to the final 2020 Tokyo Olympic program. Some existing events could be dropped to make space after consultation with Olympic sports federations.

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Alysia Montano races pregnant again at USATF Outdoor Championships

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U.S. Olympic 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced four months pregnant in 110-degree heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Montaño, who raced eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoors also in Sacramento, finished last in her 800m first-round heat in 2:21.40. She was 10 seconds faster than her time three years ago.

In a Wonder Woman top, she gritted her teeth on the final straightaway and raised her arms crossing the finish line.

“[In 2014] women let me know that my journey and my story had inspired them in so many different ways,” Montaño told media in Sacramento, standing next to 2-year-old daughter Linnea. “I think there’s something about coming out to any venue, not really expecting to win, but just going along with the journey and seeing what comes out of it. And that’s the most beautiful part for me, being a track and field athlete, the platform that I have, I feel so responsible to be a representative for people who don’t have the same platform, don’t have the same voice that I do.

“I represent so many different people. I represent women. I represent black women. I represent pregnant women. … I think it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m a voice and advocate for them.”

Athletes are looking for top-three finishes to qualify for the world championships in London in August. Finals are later this weekend.

In the men’s 800m, two-time Olympian and 2013 World silver medalist Nick Symmonds was eliminated, 32nd-fastest of 33 runners in the first round.

Symmonds, in his final season, said he has one more race left — the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 10.

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Lilly King to be less vocal on Yuliya Efimova topic this summer

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Expect to see Lilly King and Yuliya Efimova resume their breaststroke rivalry at the world championships next month.

It will look very different than in Rio, when King became a vocal opponent of doping and directed some of her words at the formerly suspended Russian Efimova.

“This summer, I’m not going to talk about everything that happened last summer,” King said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “I spoke my piece. I’ve said everything I need to say.”

Her focus needs to stay in the pool, where she must finish first or second at the USA Swimming National Championships next week to make it to worlds (broadcast schedule here).

King said in May her goal is to break world records at worlds in Budapest in July.

She may need to in order to defeat Efimova like in Rio.

Efimova has the fastest 100m breast time in the world this year, a 1:04.82 set on Sunday. The national record put her No. 3 on the all-time list (and .09 faster than King’s winning time in Rio).

King is in third place this year at 1:06.20, though she spent all winter focusing on NCAA competition in 25-yard pools.

In Rio, King said Efimova shouldn’t have been allowed to compete given her doping history.

Efimova served a 16-month ban for testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013. She again tested positive in February 2016 for meldonium, though she said she stopped taking it before it became a banned substance Jan. 1, 2016, and was absolved along with other athletes.

King memorably finger-wagged at an image of Efimova on a TV in the ready room before her 100m breast semifinal and relegated the Russian to silver the following the night.

“You’ve been caught for drug cheating, I’m just not a fan,” King memorably said in Rio, adding last November, “[Doping] was on all of our minds. We had team meetings talking about what it was going to be like. We were going to be racing dopers, and we all knew it.”

King struggled with her newfound fame after she returned home last summer, sobbing in a winter meeting with her University of Indiana coach, Ray Looze, according to the Indianapolis Star:

It was so hard to do normal activities in her hometown – go to the grocery store or eat at a restaurant – that she considered wearing a wig to disguise herself. Her likeness was on a bingo card at a fall festival, so people purposely looked for her. When in Evansville now, she said, she looks at the ground so no one will recognize her. After an initial wave of attention on IU’s campus, she can walk around without interruption.

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