Free Rio Olympic tickets will be offered to diversify crowds, reports say

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Rio de Janeiro’s mayor said some 2016 Olympic tickets will be given away, to make crowds more diverse than at the World Cup, according to reports.

“What we will do is give some subsidies for some of the tickets,” mayor Eduardo Paes told reporters in Rio on Friday, according to Bloomberg. “We will try to do something more democratic.”

Bloomberg cited a poll stating that 90 percent of the crowd at Brazil’s round of 16 win over Chile on June 28 came from the nation’s top two economic classes, which make up 15 percent of the population.

Paes also updated Olympic preparations, saying 55 percent of venues were ready or being adapted, according to Agence France-Presse.

“I think all the criticism that we faced before the World Cup helped a lot to smooth concerns about the Olympic Games,” Paes said, according to AFP. “This mistrust that we had two months ago, we don’t face anymore.

“I’m not saying that we have an easy task ahead of us. It’s not easy to do the Olympics. We still have lots of work ahead of us, but we are confident that we will deliver things on time.”

Paes said work was being accelerated on Guanabara Bay, whose water pollution levels came under scrutiny in May. A test event is scheduled there in August.

“It’s going to be clean, there’s no risk for the athletes,” Paes said. “There are some problems far away from the Olympic space.”

Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, said the 2016 Olympics will be the nation’s “top priority” come Monday, the day after the World Cup final in Rio. Rousseff met with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach on Friday.

“I was pleased to hear the confidence President Rousseff has in the Games and what they will deliver, and it was good to hear that the Games and their legacy will be a top priority,” Bach said, according to a press release. “The IOC will contribute $1.5 billion to the Games, which will leave a huge sporting, economic and social legacy.”

Bach will be at the Maracanã Stadium on Sunday to watch Argentina face his native Germany. In 2016, the Maracanã will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in addition to the gold-medal soccer games.

IOC president: ‘Still no time to lose’

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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