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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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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.