Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon finish line security visibility increased after backpack incident

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Security visibility will increase near the finish of the Boston Marathon after a man carrying a backpack with a rice cooker was arrested there Tuesday night.

“We are going to increase visibility over the next couple days because of that incident,” Boston police commissioner William Evans said Wednesday. “We’ll have bike patrols down there. Nobody should be afraid to come to Copley Square, and nobody should be afraid to run the 118th Boston Marathon.”

The race Monday was already scheduled to have more than double the security presence of last year, when two pressure cooker bombs in backpacks exploded near the finish line, killing three and injuring more than 260.

The man who walked barefoot down Boylston Street in pouring rain Tuesday night was stopped by an officer who saw him acting suspiciously and taken to a local hotel for questioning. He dropped the backpack on the street and told the officer it contained a rice cooker. A bomb squad blew up the backpack.

Evans said that incident was not a breach of security because Boylston Street was open, as it will remain all week. A second unattended backpack was found Tuesday, belonging to a media member.

“That [arrested] individual, like anyone, had the right to basically walk up the street,” Evans said. “He had a backpack, and within that minute, our officers were on him, and we had the backpack back down on the ground. Based on what he said and what was in the bag, that’s why we went to the precautions that we did. You can never be too safe nowadays.”

Officials expressed confidence in the “comprehensive” race security plan Wednesday.

“Unfortunately last night we had an incident that you can see what the anxiety level goes out when an unattended backpack is left on the street,” Evans said. “I think it really set the tone last night how important it is to ask you not to bring those type of items.”

Backpacks are not forbidden, but spectators — some one million expected — are asked not to bring them and to place items in clear plastic bags if they must.

Evans also said there will be a limit on crowds near the finish on Boylston Street on Monday and that they will be subject to possible searches getting into the area. Once security’s movement is impeded, they will ask people to move to another location.

“Don’t everyone flock to Boylston Street,” Evans said. “The less we have on Boylston Street, the better.”

Security statistics include over 3,000 uniformed police officers and National Guard soldiers deployed along the course, up to 500 plain clothes officers in the crowd and over 100 video cameras along the eight cities and towns that will all have emergency operation centers.

Officials re-emphasized their goal among those staggering statistics — to maintain the traditional character of the Patriots’ Day event, the world’s oldest annual marathon.

“We’re not going to scare people,” Evans said. “Runners should be very confident coming to this race that it’s going to be safe and secure. … I don’t want everybody’s anxiety to be put up. That’s what troubles me about what happened last night.”

Boston Marathon tribute, moment of silence held near finish line

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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