Rio Olympic organizers change mind, will provide free air conditioning

Rio 2016
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Throw away the floor fans.

Rio de Janeiro Olympic organizers have changed their minds and said Friday that athletes will have free air conditioning in their bedrooms at the athletes village.

The decision to have free air conditioning comes after The Associated Press reported this week that about 10,000 Olympic athletes would have to pay for it because of budget cuts.

“The sports department found a solution that could allow us to have the air conditioning,” said Mario Andrada, the spokesman for the 2016 Games. “So were buying air conditioning for all the athletes’ bedrooms and social rooms.”

Rio organizers are making severe cuts to try to balance their operating budget of 7.4 billion reals ($1.9 billion). Andrada said they are cutting “fat” that could reach 2 billion reals ($520 million), which is almost 30 percent of the operating budget.

Andrada termed the reversal “an evolution and not a change” in planning for the Olympics, which run Aug. 5-21.

The decision will be welcomed, and it’s apparently a surprise to many.

Kitty Chiller, the team chief for the Australian Olympic team, said Friday in an email that she was expecting not to have air conditioning.

“Rio organizers have told us they will be providing a fan in each of the bedrooms and the lounge room of each apartment,” she said in a statement. “This was also confirmed in a meeting with the organizing committee in Brazil this week.”

Chiller said she did not expect the heat to be a problem in the South American winter.

“We do not anticipate any athletes suffering from any heat stress in the village or anywhere in Rio,” Chiller wrote.

Though it is winter, the temperature soared on Aug. 19 this year to 35.4 degrees C (95.7 degrees F).

Rio Olympic organizers are being buffeted by a deep recession in the country. The local currency has collapsed in value against the dollar and inflation is running at 10 percent.

There is also a growing corruption scandal involving state-run oil giant Petrobras that has helped trigger impeachment proceedings against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Officials say the Olympic cuts involve “back stage” elements unseen on television or by ticket-paying customers. This could involve organizers buying cheaper products and services, cutting signage, or using more temporary structures.

The games were to have 5,000 employees when they open on Aug. 5. That’s been scaled back by 500.

MORE: Rio 2016 day-by-day schedule highlights

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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