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Mexico’s Rio Olympics participation under threat

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s participation in next year’s Olympics could be in jeopardy because of a conflict between the government and national sports federations.

The sports bodies are facing financial inspections by a national government agency, which is questioning how funds are being spent.

The International Olympic Committee opposes political interference in national sports bodies. Last month, it suspended Kuwait’s national Olympic committee over government interference, leaving the country’s athletes in limbo for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“It would be a tragedy if Mexico does not participate in the Olympics, although I hope it doesn’t come to that,” said Carlos Padilla Becerra, president of Mexico’s national Olympic committee. “I’m sure this will not happen. Higher-ranking national officials will not prohibit our athletes from competing.”

The Rio Olympics open on Aug. 5, 2016, and close on Aug. 21.

Alfredo Castillo, head of the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports, has been critical of the Olympic Charter, which among many other things spells out the non-interference rules.

“The Olympic Charter is the best invention that has been created to avoid monitoring of how public money is spent and what it yields,” Castillo said.

Castillo has focused on the national federations that run archery, boxing and basketball, and has looked into others.

Padilla said he met with Castillo but failed to find an agreement. He said he subsequently traveled to Switzerland and met recently with IOC President Thomas Bach. He said he showed Bach documents that he said showed government interference.

“For me the unconditional respect of the Olympic Charter is important,” Padilla said. “All I did was make the facts known to the IOC.”

The IOC did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press.

In a statement, Castillo said he would not permit outside forces to meddle in Mexican affairs.

“What’s at stake is not the Olympics but rather the future of sports in the country,” said Castillo, who was appointed earlier this year by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

If Mexico is suspended, its athletes would be barred from representing their country at the Olympics. The IOC could consider giving them special permission to compete as individuals under the Olympic flag, which it has done before for athletes from other countries under suspension.

Boglarka Kapas, world champion swimmer, tests positive for coronavirus

Boglarka Kapas
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Boglarka Kapas, the Hungarian swimmer and world 200m butterfly champion, said she tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I don’t have any symptoms yet, and that’s why it’s important for you to know that even if you feel healthy you can spread the virus,” was posted on her social media. “Please be careful, stay at home and stay healthy.”

Nine total members of the Hungarian national team — including swimmers and staff — have tested positive, according to the federation.

Kapas said her first test was negative but a second test showed she had the virus. She was staying in quarantine at home for two weeks.

Kapas, 26, won the 200m fly at last summer’s world championships by passing Americans Hali Flickinger and Katie Drabot in the last 25 meters. She clocked 2:06.78 to prevail by .17 of a second.

Kapas also took bronze in the Rio Olympic 800m freestyle won by Katie Ledecky.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NHL players: Marie-Philip Poulin is world’s best female hockey player

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The U.S. may have the world’s best women’s hockey team, but NHL players believe Canadian Marie-Philip Poulin is the world’s best player.

Poulin received the most votes out of 496 responses in the 2019-20 NHLPA Player Poll, conducted before the season was suspended. The tally:

Poulin: 39.92%
Hilary Knight (USA): 36.29%
Kendall Coyne Schofield (USA): 15.52%
Emily Pfalzer Matheson (USA): 1.41%
Other: 6.85%

Last year, Knight received the highest percentage of votes from 203 NHL players (27.59), edging Poulin (24.14) with Amanda Kessel third (12.81) and Coyne Schofield and Pfalzer Matheson each receiving 5.91 percent.

Why were Poulin and Knight swapped this year? Perhaps Poulin’s Canadian team winning the debut of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition women’s 3-on-3 game on Jan. 24, even though Knight scored and Poulin did not.

Poulin, now 29, scored both goals in the 2010 Olympic final and the game-tying and -winning goals in the 2014 Olympic final. Even before her Olympic debut at age 18, the daughter of Quebec hospital workers was dubbed “the female Sidney Crosby.”

Knight, 30, led last April’s world championship tournament with seven goals as the U.S. won a fifth straight title. Poulin played 4 minutes, 44 seconds, total at the tournament, missing time with a knee injury.

This spring’s tournament, which was to start Tuesday, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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