Madrid 2020

Madrid’s chances of hosting 2020 Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee will make the first of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday.

Nearly 100 IOC members will choose the host city of the 2020 Olympics — Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo — via secret ballot beginning at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time with the winner scheduled to be announced between 4 and 4:30. For more on what happens Saturday, click here.

OlympicTalk will look at the chances each city has of winning the vote. Here is a rundown of Madrid:

Madrid hopes it has the experience, influence and star power to avoid its fate of four and eight years ago.

Spain hosted the Olympics once before, the praised Barcelona 1992 Summer Games. The seventh IOC president — Juan Antonio Samaranch — was Spanish, and his son is an IOC executive board member.

This is the Spanish capital’s third straight time as a finalist to host the Summer Olympics. It came in third behind London and Paris for 2012 and second to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. How badly does Spain want the Games? It’s talked about a Barcelona bid for the 2022 Winter Games.

“They know this stuff inside out,” said Robert Livingstone, the producer of GamesBids.com, covering Olympic host city bidding. “The IOC knows them well. They know the IOC well. They have a lot of influence in the IOC. It’s such a huge positive to have all that going for them.”

Madrid’s slogan is “Illuminate the Future,” and it plans to do so with the most cost-efficient bid with many existing venues (28 of the 35, including its iconic bullring for basketball, according to The Associated Press). The thrift angle is key for a nation in an economic crisis with more than 26 percent unemployment.

“Madrid’s vision focuses on social and economic development,” the IOC wrote in its evaluation commission report in April. “Taking advantage of its existing, modern infrastructure, Madrid 2020 seeks to demonstrate that the Olympic Games can be organised with low financial investment without compromising the delivery of a high quality Olympic experience.”

Istanbul’s chances of hosting 2020 Olympics

Madrid has received more star backing than Istanbul or Tokyo. Its greatest all-time basketball player (Pau Gasol), tennis player (Rafael Nadal) and cyclist (Miguel Indurain) lent support, as have members of its World Cup-winning soccer team, Xavi and Iker Casillas. Not to mention the world’s two greatest soccer players, who happen to play club soccer in La Liga — Argentina’s Lionel Messi (in a video here) and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Spanish sport and the people of Madrid need the boost the Olympic Games would provide, and Madrid is ready to face this challenge,” Gasol, who is in Buenos Aires, told the AP.

The downsides? The potential loss of votes from Italian and French members, who might want to see a non-European bid win to better the chances of Rome and Paris for 2024. The poor economy as well, but Livingstone doesn’t see it as much of a problem.

“Several years down the road, economies can flip around,” Livingstone said. “They (the IOC) know that. And (Spain) is recovering a bit now. The fact that it’s weak right now is negligible.”

The AP described Madrid’s bid as “climbing.” Public support is at 91 percent, according to a Madrid bid committee poll.

“We are all in high spirits, we all have a good feeling about it, but we also realize that there is a vote and the result could go any way,” Spanish Olympic Committee president Alejandro Blanco said, according to Agence France-Presse. “You have to be optimistic, fight to the last and wait for the decision.”

GamesBids.com ranks Madrid third out of the three cities, but Livingstone said it has enough concrete votes to get through a first round of voting, if there are multiple rounds.

“If I had to pick the safest bid, that’s probably the one,” Livingstone said.

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Key information for IOC session in Buenos Aires

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Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

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