Eugene 2021 World Track and Field Championships winning bid being investigated


PARIS (AP) — French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the IAAF’s decision to award the 2021 World Track and Field Championships to Eugene, Ore., without an open bidding process.

The financial prosecutors’ office in Paris aims to determine whether corruption, money laundering or other crimes may have been committed in the IAAF’s decision and, if so, whether prosecuting them might fall within French jurisdiction.

The office said Thursday that its probe, opened Dec. 1, does not target any specific individuals at this stage. It is also separate from another, more advanced criminal investigation being led by French magistrates into suspected corruption by former IAAF president Lamine Diack and two other people who worked for the sport’s governing body: lawyer Habib Cisse and former anti-doping chief Gabriel Dolle.

In France, preliminary probes that uncover wrongdoing can lead to a more formal criminal investigation or prosecutors can later close them down if they find no evidence.

“We have suspicions, otherwise we wouldn’t open an investigation,” a prosecutor said, speaking on condition of anonymity per his office’s requirement. “We are within our rights to have a look. But there may be normal reasons (for the Eugene award) that will lift the suspicions.”

Diack’s successor, Sebastian Coe, on Thursday again defended the selection of Eugene. Speaking to the BBC, he said it wasn’t the first city the IAAF has picked without open bidding. He also said the IAAF’s ruling council saw the first world championships to be held in the United States as a chance to break into that market.

“That’s not without precedent,” Coe said. “We have selected cities before not within a bidding cycle.

“By 23 to 25 votes my council decided that this was, for the foreseeable future, the best opportunity to get the world athletics championships into the United States,” Coe added. “Every sport is falling over itself to get into the largest sports market in the world.”

The prosecutors’ probe follows intense media scrutiny of Coe’s role in the Eugene decision. The 1980 and 1984 Olympic 1500m champion was, until last month, a long-time ambassador for Nike, which is headquartered outside Portland, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Eugene.

His dual roles for Nike and the IAAF led to questions about conflicts of interest, particularly after the BBC last month published an email in which a Nike executive wrote that he discussed Eugene with Coe three months before the surprise IAAF selection of the small Oregon city without a bidding process.

Coe “made clear his support for 2021 in Eugene,” wrote the Nike executive, Craig Masback. Coe has insisted he “did not lobby anyone.” The Swedish city of Gothenburg, which was also vying for the 2021 worlds, has called for the whole process to be investigated.

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

Delta LA 2028
LA 2028

Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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