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Ilya Kovalchuk urges Russia hockey players to go to Olympics

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Ilya Kovalchuk, a four-time Olympian and three-time NHL All-Star, hopes to compete in Pyeongchang. And he hopes other Russians will join him as neutral athletes.

“It will unite the country,” he said, according to a Reuters translation of an R-Sport report. “All clean athletes must go.”

The 34-year-old Kovalchuk, who is eligible for the Olympics since he now plays in the KHL, was earlier Tuesday named to the Russian roster for a pre-Olympic tournament that starts next week.

“Patriotism and love for your country, it’s in your heart,” Kovalchuk said, according to The Associated Press. “For that you don’t have to shout or even wear the flag on your chest. And if, I hope to God, we manage to compete well, then we’ll definitely sing the anthem.”

The Russian national hockey team addressed a letter to president Vladimir Putin requesting that he allow Russian athletes to go to Pyeongchang as neutral athletes, according to Sport-Express.

Putin is expected to make his first public comments Wednesday on the IOC decision to ban Russia.

Kovalchuk chose to stay in the KHL this season rather than explore an NHL return due largely to the NHL not participating in the Olympics.

Kovalchuk shares the Russian men’s record of four Olympic hockey appearances with Sergei Gonchar and Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk, a 39-year-old, four-time NHL All-Star, is also eligible for the Olympics as he plays in the KHL.

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Usain Bolt says he will work out for Borussia Dortmund on Thursday

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Usain Bolt said he will work out for German soccer club Borussia Dortmund on Thursday. At the very least, it will aid in Bolt’s preparation for a June 10 charity match.

Bolt confirmed the date of the training in an Italian TV interview on Wednesday in Basel, Switzerland, after he kicked the ball around with retired soccer stars in front of Diego Maradona and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

“We’re going there to be serious,” Bolt said on Jamaican TV two weeks ago of his trip to Germany. “I want to go there to test my skills.”

Bolt said two weeks ago that his two-day trial will include a public session and a more serious private session. He recently trained three days a week with one of the club’s in Jamaica’s top domestic league, Harbour View.

“I’ve done enough to keep a semblance of fitness,” said Bolt, who tore his left hamstring in the final race of his career at the world championships on Aug. 12.

Bolt added that he could easily make any team in Jamaica’s top division, but that he needs more time to reach a fitness level required to play serious minutes.

Bolt previously said he could easily make Jamaica’s national team, according to Reuters.

Bolt has dreamed of playing for his favorite club, Manchester United.

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Ichiro: No plan for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

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Ichiro said he does not plan to play for Japan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, according to The Athletic.

The 44-year-old noted that MLB players have historically not been in the Olympics and that he plans to still be playing for an MLB team in 2020, according to the report.

Ichiro’s comments agree with what he reportedly said in 2000, the last time he could have played in the Olympics, one year before debuting with the Seattle Mariners.

“As I said before, I’m not interested in the Olympics, and I don’t know what all the commotion is about,” he said in January 2000 at a temple in Kobe where his Japanese team went to pray for victory in the upcoming season, according to Kyodo News.

Baseball was an Olympic medal sport from 1992 through 2008 with no MLB participation. It was out of the Olympic program for 2012 and 2016 but is back in for 2020 only with the potential for future Games.

While it’s not official yet, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said last year that he “can’t imagine a situation” where MLB would take a break in its season to have its best players at the Olympics.

Japan made the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments but never took gold.

Ichiro did help Japan to World Baseball Classic titles in 2006 and 2009 before choosing not to play in 2013 (when Japan had zero MLB players on its WBC roster) and again not being on Japan’s team in 2017 (when Japan had one MLB player).

In 2020, Ichiro will be more than two years older than the oldest previous Olympic baseball player — South African Alan Phillips in 2000.

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