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Skateboarders’ petition against Olympic inclusion likely a misunderstanding, IOC official says

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TOKYO (AP) — IOC vice president John Coates is pleased with the “balanced package” of proposed additional sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and expects that skateboarding will soon be represented by a single international federation to push its case for inclusion in the games.

Baseball-softball, surfing, skateboarding, karate and sports climbing were recommended for inclusion last month by the Tokyo organizing committee.

A final decision on which sport or sports to add to the Tokyo program will be made by the International Olympic Committee next August. Under new IOC rules, a host city can propose the addition of one or more sports to their games.

“Our reaction is that it’s a very good balanced package,” Coates said Wednesday. “We have traditional sports, innovative new sports that appeal to the youth of the world. We have outdoor sports, indoor sports. It’s the assessment of the package as a whole that is very important.”

Coates was in Tokyo as head of an IOC “project review” of the city’s Olympic preparations.

In response to media reports citing opposition among some skateboarding groups to be recognized as an Olympic event, Coates said the IOC will recognize a separate skateboarding federation independent of the International Roller Sports Federation.

“Skateboarding is a comparatively new sport,” Coates said. “There are a number of federations that conduct skateboarding events internationally, and we are in discussion with them, and I would expect that one of the federations will be identified in the near future that we will work with and recognize.”

Coates said that a petition by skateboarders not to have their sport included was likely the result of a misunderstanding.

“I’ve seen tremendous support from international and national skateboarders on the basis that there will be a new federation representing them,” Coates added.

Baseball and softball have been out of the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Games, and their proposed inclusion as a joint bid had been considered a virtual certainty because of the high popularity of those sports in Japan.

A recent gambling scandal has tarnished the image of baseball in Japan, but Coates said it was unlikely that would hurt the sport’s chances to get back on the Olympic program.

A pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s most popular baseball team, was suspended for betting on games, including those involving his own team.

“Certainly Illegal betting on games, the IOC has zero tolerance for that,” Coates said. “In drafting the rules for participation of athletes in the games, we make it quite clear that athletes are not allowed to bet on games. … This s a problem that is frowned on in sports in Japan and it’s not going to effect the decision to be taken with baseball.”

MORE SKATEBOARDING: Tony Hawk’s thoughts on skateboarding in the Olympics

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang gets rare open hearing in doping case

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said Monday it will hear the World Anti-Doping Agency’s case against three-time Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang on Nov. 15 in front of reporters — possibly even live-streamed — at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace in Montreux, Switzerland.

The hearing won’t be completely open. Registration will be required, and photographers and videographers “will be invited to leave the hearing room after the opening,” CAS said in a statement. But those outside the room may still get a glimpse of the proceedings.

“With the agreement of all parties, it is intended to live stream all or parts of the hearing on the CAS website,” CAS said.

CAS noted that it has only held one prior hearing that wasn’t in a private setting — the 1999 case involving Irish swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin, who won three gold medals in the 1996 Olympics but was banned for four years for tampering with a urine sample, a case that still prompts soul-searching in the Irish media. De Bruin lost the appeal.

Sun is accused of smashing a vial of blood at a drug test last fall. FINA allowed him to continue to compete, but the WADA has appealed, seeking a substantial suspension.

The Chinese swimmer won two gold medals at the world championships this summer and snubbed by some rivals at each medal ceremony, leading to a confrontation with British swimmer Duncan Scott.

RECAP AND VIDEO: Sun taunts Scott after medal ceremony

Sun has won 11 world individual titles in several freestyle distances but also has a long history of controversies ranging from a prior positive drug test and confrontations with other swimmers.

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U.S. women’s volleyball team ends year with surprise loss to Dominican Republic

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The Dominican Republic surprised the U.S. women’s volleyball team in the final of the NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean) women’s continental championship Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico, winning the first two sets and regrouping after a U.S. rally to win the fifth set.

The final score of the back-and-forth match: 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 15-9. The U.S. women had defeated the Dominican Republic in three previous finals: 2011, 2013 and 2015. The Dominican Republic won a semifinal matchup on its way to the 2009 title.

In group play, the U.S. team had beaten the Dominican Republic in straight sets. The U.S. also breezed past Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico in group play and swept past Canada in the semifinals.

The loss doesn’t affect Olympic qualification. The U.S. women had already qualified for the 2020 Olympics by winning a qualification tournament in August in Bossier City, La.

MORE: U.S. women rally to qualify

Semifinalists Canada and Puerto Rico qualified for a last-chance Olympic qualifier that the Dominican Republic will host in January. Mexico defeated Cuba in the NORCECA fifth-place game to be the last of the four teams vying for one spot.

The Dominican Republic has had some success in women’s volleyball, finishing fifth in the 2014 world championships and reaching the 2012 Olympic quarterfinals before falling to the U.S. The team also won this year’s Pan Am Games, to which the U.S. did not send its top players. Currently, the team is ranked 10th in the world.

Earlier this year, the U.S. women had defeated the Dominican Republic in two tournament finals — the Pan American Cup and the NORCECA Champions Cup. The U.S. also won a matchup in the World Cup last month, but the Dominican Republic won another five-set match in the Nations League preliminary round in Italy.

The U.S. finishes the year with a 44-7 record in tournament play, including a first-place finish in the Nations League and second place in the World Cup.

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