Jacques Rogge

Key information for IOC session in Buenos Aires

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Three major Olympic decisions will come down in the coming week at the 125th International Olympic Committee session in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here’s what you need to know:

1. The host city for the 2020 Olympics will be named Saturday. Remember four years ago, when Chicago was a finalist to host the 2016 Olympics? On that Friday morning (U.S. time) in October 2009, Chicago was surprisingly eliminated in the first round of voting in Copenhagen. Of course, Rio de Janeiro went on to win the bidding to become the first South American host of the Games.

The other two finalists from four years ago, Madrid and Tokyo, are the two favorites from this year’s final list of three. The other candidate is Istanbul, which was seen as a much more popular pick nine months to a year ago, before it began dealing with anti-government protests and massive doping issues.

Madrid would give Spain its first Olympics since Barcelona 1992. Tokyo would bring the Olympics to Japan for the first time since Nagano 1998. Turkey has never hosted the Olympics.

Tokyo may hold the slight lead going into the session, where each city will make 45-minute presentations to the IOC followed by a question-and-answer session. Here’s how the voting will go down, via The Associated Press:

Voting begins at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday. Nearly 100 IOC members will vote by secret ballot until one city gets at least 50 percent of the vote, so there could be two rounds of voting. IOC president Jacques Rogge, who opts not to vote, will open a sealed envelope and announce the winners shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday.

City previews: Istanbul | Madrid | Tokyo

Here are the promotional videos from the three cities published by the IOC on YouTube two months ago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI3ErDjr4BY

2. Baseball/softball, squash or wrestling will be added for 2020 in a vote Sunday. The vote for which sport to include in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics became a major issue in February, when wrestling was dropped from the program.

In May, wrestling was given hope, along with a baseball-softball joint bid and squash, as the finalists for one available spot. Wrestling is still in the 2016 Olympics and the heavy favorite from the trio, so it’s likely the sport won’t miss any Games at all.

Baseball and softball were medal sports in 1992 (baseball only), 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 and cut from the Olympics beginning with the 2012 Games. Squash has never been part of the Olympics, though it made failed attempts for inclusion beginning in 2012 and 2016.

The sports will begin presentations (a half-hour each) at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. The vote will be held from 11-11:45 a.m.

Sport previews: Baseball-softballSquash | Wrestling

3. A new IOC president will be elected Tuesday. Jacques Rogge, the current president and eighth overall, is stepping down after 12 years at the helm. These are the six candidates to replace Rogge:

Thomas Bach (Germany)
Sergei Bubka (Ukraine) 
Richard Carrion (Puerto Rico)
C.K. Wu (Taiwan)
Ng Ser Miang (Singapore)
Denis Oswald (Switzerland)

Bach, a fencing gold medalist at the 1976 Olympics and IOC member since 1991, is seen as the favorite. The election will take place from 10-11 a.m. — voting the same format as with the host city, so there could be multiple rounds — with an announcement due at 11:30.

Video: Messi promotes Madrid 2020

Sam Mikulak to retire from gymnastics after Tokyo Olympics

Sam Mikulak
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Sam Mikulak, the U.S.’ top male gymnast, said he will retire after the Tokyo Olympics, citing a wrist injury and emotional health revelations during a forced break from the sport due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It does sound like some pretty crazy news, but there’s a lot of factors that go into it,” Mikulak said in a YouTube video published Sunday night. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about it during quarantine.”

The 27-year-old is a two-time Olympian, six-time U.S. all-around champion and the only active U.S. male gymnast with Olympic experience.

Mikulak said he noticed significant wrist inflammation last year that was temporarily healed by a November cortisone shot. But during quarantine, the wrist worsened even though he wasn’t doing gymnastics. He took a month off from working out, but the wrist didn’t heal.

He thought for a time that he might not return to gymnastics at all. A doctor told him he would need cortisone shots for the rest of his career.

“At that point, it was really made for me that this has to be my final year of gymnastics because I don’t want to ruin myself beyond this sport,” Mikulak said.

Mikulak also noted realizations from the forced time out of the gym. He learned that he’s much less stressed while not doing gymnastics, a sport he began at age 2. Mikulak’s parents were gymnasts at Cal.

“For so long, I’ve been sacrificing, and I’m sick of it,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to be free from gymnastics and being able to do all these things that I’ve been putting off in my life for so long.”

Mikulak realized a career goal in 2018 when he earned his first individual world championships medal, a bronze on high bar. He wants to cap his career with a first Olympic medal in Tokyo, then, perhaps, become a coach or open his own gym.

Mikulak recently got engaged to Mia Atkins, and they got another puppy, Barney.

“Everything I’ve done in gymnastics is enough for me right now,” said Mikulak, who plans to document the next year on YouTube. “I was actually somewhat happy that I was able to come to that type of decision because for so long I felt like gymnastics really wasn’t going to be fulfilling until I’ve gotten my Olympic medal. And during quarantine, I had this whole revelation where, you know what, I am happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life, and I’m not doing gymnastics, so even if I don’t accomplish these goals, I am still going to be so damn happy.”

MORE: Simone Biles’ closest rival chases comeback

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April Ross, Alix Klineman complete perfect, abbreviated AVP season

April Ross, Alix Klineman
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April Ross and Alix Klineman consolidated their position as the U.S.’ top beach volleyball team, completing a sweep of the three-tournament AVP Champions Cup on Sunday.

Ross, a two-time Olympic medalist, and Klineman won the finale, the Porsche Cup. They won all 12 matches over the last three weekends, including the last 14 sets in a row, capped with a 21-18, 21-17 win over Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil in Sunday’s final.

“It feels like we’re midseason in a normal year,” Ross said on Amazon Prime. “I can’t believe it’s over.”

The AVP Champions Cup marked the first three top-level beach volleyball tournaments since March, and a replacement for a typical AVP season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The setting: on the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center parking lot without fans and with many health and safety measures.

AVP is not part of Olympic qualifying. It’s unknown when those top-level international tournaments will resume, but Ross and Klineman, ranked No. 2 in the world, are just about assured of one of the two U.S. Olympic spots.

According to BVBinfo.com, they’re 10-0 combined against the other top U.S. teams — Claes and Sponcil and triple Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, who are likely battling for the last U.S. Olympic spot.

Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who do not play on the AVP tour, have a lead for the last spot more than halfway through qualifying, which runs into June.

Earlier in the men’s final, Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb kept 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena from sweeping the Champions Cup. Bourne and Crabb prevailed 21-17, 15-21, 15-12 for their first AVP title since teaming in 2018.

Bourne, who went nearly two years between tournaments from 2016-18 due to an autoimmune disease, and Crabb redeemed after straight-set losses to Dalhausser and Lucena the previous two weekends. Crabb guaranteed a title on Instagram days before the tournament.

“Those guys are the best in the world, and they make you look bad at times, but we’re relentless,” Bourne said on Amazon Prime. “You’re going to have to play the best volleyball in the world to beat us every time.”

Bourne and Crabb, Dalhausser and Lucena and Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb (Trevor’s younger brother) are battling for two available U.S. Olympic spots in Tokyo.

MORE: Team Slaes looks to end Kerri Walsh Jennings’ Olympic career

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