Tulsa 2024 bid leader: ‘We’re going to stay in the race’

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The New York Times profiled the surprise 2024 Olympic bid from Tulsa, Okla., where bid leader Neil Mavis delivered this money quote:

“We don’t have an answer yet for water polo,” he said. “But one thing we do have is plenty of land out here in Oklahoma.”

The Times reported at least eight of the 35 cities the United States Olympic Committee reached out to in February have expressed a desire to submit a bid for 2024. They include major metros such as Los Angeles and Boston. And then there’s Tulsa, somewhere around the 50th most populous city in the U.S. with about 400,000 residents.

The U.S. hasn’t hosted an Olympics since 2002 (since 1996 for Summer Games) and is in the middle of its longest stretch between hosting Olympics since 1932 to 1960. A revenue-sharing agreement between the USOC and IOC last year will help U.S. bid prospects, but it will not host its next Olympics until at least 2024.

The USOC will decide by the end of 2014 if it will make a bid for 2024, and, if so, which city it will choose. The International Olympic Committee will choose the host of the 2024 Games in 2017.

Some details from the story:

• The Olympic torch would be carried through the Trail of Tears route.

• Mavis, an electrical engineer, bought copies of Atlanta’s 1996 bid on eBay for research.

• The main media center would sit at the feet of Tulsa’s famous “Golden Driller,” with medals hanging from the statue’s neck.

• Tulsa would aim to host the Games before July, earlier than any Olympics since 1924.

“Some people think I’m the village idiot,” Mavis told The Times. “We’re going to stay in the race. There’s no reason to give up.”

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Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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