Chen Ruolin
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Chen Roulin could stand alone in Olympic diving history after Rio 2016

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China’s Chen Ruolin could finish the Rio Olympics with an unmatched diving record, and she could continue on to Tokyo 2020, but her platform prowess is in doubt after this past season.

Chen has entered four career Olympic events and won all of them. She took gold in the platform and synchronized platform at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, debuting at the Olympics as a 15-year-old.

Chen, now 22, lit the cauldron at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, in August 2014, but she suffered a setback this year.

Chen underperformed at the Chinese diving trials and did not make the World Championships team in the individual platform, where she had taken gold or silver at the previous four Worlds dating to 2007.

At Worlds, North Korean Kim Kuk-hyang came away with the platform title, followed by Chen’s countrywoman Ren Qian, who is 14, and Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong for an unusual all-Asian podium. North Korea owns zero Olympic diving medals.

Chen still competed, taking her fourth straight World title in the synchro platform.

If Chen can make her third Olympic team next year, she will go to Rio looking to break the record for most career Olympic diving gold medals.

She shares it with retired Americans Greg Louganis and Pat McCormick and retired Chinese Guo Jingjing and Fu Mingxia and an active teammate, Wu Minxia. Of those divers, only McCormick joined Chen in going undefeated at the Olympics, sweeping the individual platform and springboard in 1952 and 1956.

Wu, a three-time Olympian on the springboard and seven years older than Chen, also competed only in synchro at Worlds in July, earning gold.

Chen said at Worlds in Kazan, Russia, that she has no interest in the springboard, which platform divers have been known to switch to late in their careers.

Chen, who was raised by grandparents, started diving at age 4 and has shied away from talk of being China’s next great diver, also wouldn’t say if Rio would be her last Olympic run.

As for the best divers of all time, Chen named Guo and Wu as role models.

Chen said a fifth Olympic gold medal would be a highlight — but not necessarily the end — of one of the greatest diving careers, perhaps the greatest ever.

NBC Olympics researcher Amanda Doyle contributed to this report.

MORE DIVING: Men’s platform sets up for more drama in Rio

FIFA says soccer clubs don’t have to release players for Rio Olympics

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Soccer clubs are under no obligation to allow their players to play in the Rio Olympic men’s tournament, FIFA said Friday.

“The event is not part of the international match calendar,” FIFA said in a press release. “However, FIFA is asking for support from the clubs to allow players who are called up by their national teams to be given the chance to be part of the Olympic experience.”

The move could impact Brazil’s biggest sports star, Barcelona striker Neymar, who has said he’s made his intentions to play in the Olympic soccer tournament known to his club.

In 2012, FIFA ordered club teams to allow under-23 players to compete in the Olympics. In 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Barcelona did not have to release Lionel Messi to compete in the Olympics, though Messi did end up winning gold with Argentina anyway.

In May, Brazil national team coach Dunga, who is also the under-23 Olympic team coach after the firing of Alexandre Gallo, said Neymar’s participation in the Rio Olympics was dependent on talks with Barcelona, according to O Globo.

Neymar may be the 2016 Olympic host nation’s most famous potential Olympian, but there is at least some question of whether he will suit up at the Rio Games.

Copa America Centenario is slated to take place from June 3-26. Soccer at the 2016 Olympics takes place from Aug. 3-20. Neymar plays for Barcelona in La Liga, whose season usually begins in late August. That would be a busy summer of national team duty, which may not sit well with Barcelona.

Three of the world’s other top players — Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Messi — also play internationally for nations that qualified for Rio 2016 (Portugal, Sweden and Argentina).

World Cup winner Germany also qualified for Rio.

Olympic soccer teams are made up of players aged 23 and under. There’s also an option of having three over-age players, which is where Neymar, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic and Messi would come in.

Some nations take greater advantage of the Olympic rule that allows three over-age players more than others. In 2012, Brazil used its exceptions on three exceptional players —HulkMarcelo and Thiago Silva — who started for Brazil in the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil, which has won five World Cups, has never won Olympic gold in soccer. It won silver in 1984, 1988 and 2012 and bronze in 1996 and 2008.

Neymar, then 20, was part of the 2012 Olympic team that lost to Mexico in the final.

Also Friday, FIFA confirmed that the Qatar 2022 World Cup would not interfere with the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, as the IOC has said for months.

The 2022 World Cup dates are Nov. 21-Dec. 18, which will coincide with various winter sports seasons.

MORE SOCCER: World Cup players left off U.S. Olympic soccer qualifying roster

Japan sports minister to quit over Olympic woes

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium
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TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s sports and education minister, Hakubun Shimomura, has submitted his resignation due to troubles with planning for Tokyo’s National Stadium, a main venue for the 2020 Olympic games.

Shimomura said Friday that he told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he wanted to resign and take responsibility for the problems. He said Abe asked him to stay in office until a Cabinet reshuffle that is expected soon.

Shimomura heads the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which is in charge of overseeing the Olympic Games. He was speaking after an independent panel found he and other officials shared responsibility for problems with planning for the 2020 games.

“It is true that this has caused much concern and inconvenience, and thus I submitted my resignation to Prime Minister Abe,” Shimomura said.

Local media said the report found that decision-making was hindered partly by a council of senior officials, including former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who is president of Tokyo’s organizing committee.

Abe scrapped the original plan for a new stadium to replace one used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in July, saying it was too costly. The design by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid raised protests from many in Tokyo who objected to its massive size, cost and ultra-modern shape.

The selection of a new stadium design is due in November. The delays in starting construction have raised the risk the structure may not be ready by early 2020 as promised.

Olympic organizers are also seeking a new logo to replace one that was abandoned amid plagiarism allegations against its designer.

MORE: Tokyo 2020 set to announce new proposed Olympic sports