Paris is Rome’s main rival for 2024 Olympics, Italian Premier says

Matteo Renzi
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ROME (AP) — Forget Los Angeles and Budapest. Italy believes Paris is Rome’s main rival for the 2024 Olympics.

“We will win the Olympics,” Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said Tuesday. “I say we can do it. We know the rival is Paris, but I believe in us. I think all the conditions are in place to do it.”

As well as Paris, Rome is competing against Los Angeles and Budapest, Hungary, for the games.

The German port city of Hamburg withdrew its 2024 bid last month after it was defeated in a referendum. Boston dropped out in August amid a lack of public and political support, and was replaced by Los Angeles.

The International Olympic Committee will select the host city in September 2017.

Paris and Los Angeles have been viewed as the early favorites. But Renzi was bullish on his city’s chances.

“We haven’t won anything yet but some of our rivals have already pulled out,” he said at a sports awards ceremony. “Last year the problem was Boston and now it’s not there anymore.”

Rome is trying to bring the Olympics back to the Italian capital for the first time since 1960. Rome withdrew its bid for the 2020 Olympics after the government of then Premier Mario Monti declined to provide financial backing.

But Renzi is fully behind the 2024 effort.

“We’re going to play this match on all levels,” Renzi said. “We really want to win. If we don’t however, we will still have restored important plans to this sector. If we all do our part together the Olympics will be valuable for the country and the Italians as well as for the sport.”

Renzi spoke on the same day that IOC President Thomas Bach was visiting Budapest to take part in the 120th anniversary celebrations of the Hungarian Olympic Committee. Bach described Budapest, which has been seen as the outsider in the race, as a “strong contender,” the IOC said.

Renzi also said that sport should serve as a vehicle against the fear of terrorism, following the recent attacks in Paris that claimed 130 lives.

“Italy does not want to resign itself to be shut up at home due to fear,” Renzi said. “It wants to live with joy and sport is a way to say no to fear.”

Also present at the awards ceremony were Rome bid chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo and Italian Olympic Committee chief Giovanni Malago, who said the premier’s support “was fundamental” to Rome’s candidacy.

“We’re expecting the premier to give us support on all his international duties, as he is doing.” Montezemolo said. “We need to believe in ourselves and know that Rome can win this challenge. We are capable of winning these Olympics.”

MORE: Complete 2024 Olympic bidding coverage

Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Olympic 400m champion, announces pregnancy

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Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the two-time reigning Olympic 400m champion, announced she is pregnant with her first child.

“New Year, New Blessing,” she posted on social media with husband Maicel Uibo, the 2019 World Championships silver medalist in the decathlon for Estonia. “We can’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy.”

Miller-Uibo, 28, followed her repeat Olympic title in Tokyo by winning her first world indoor and outdoor titles last year.

Also last year, Miller-Uibo said she planned to drop the 400m and focus on the 200m going into the 2024 Paris Games rather than possibly bid to become the first woman to win the same individual Olympic running event three times.

She has plenty of experience in the 200m, making her world championships debut in that event in 2013 and placing fourth. She earned 200m bronze at the 2017 Worlds, was the world’s fastest woman in the event in 2019 and petitioned for a Tokyo Olympic schedule change to make a 200m-400m double easier. The petition was unsuccessful.

She did both races anyway, finishing last in the 200m final, 1.7 seconds behind the penultimate finisher on the same day of the 400m first round.

She did not race the 200m at last July’s worlds, where the 200m and 400m overlapped.

Notable moms to win individual Olympic sprint titles include American Wilma Rudolph, who swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1960 Rome Olympics two years after having daughter Yolanda.

And Dutchwoman Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, when the mother of two also held world records in the high jump and long jump, two events in which she didn’t compete at those Games.

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