Rome 2024
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Rome 2024 Olympic bid puts Colosseum, Circus Maximus to use

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ROME (AP) — A cycling sprint alongside the Roman Forum. Beach volleyball at the Circus Maximus. The marathon passing through St. Peter’s Square and finishing under the Arch of Constantine. A nightly parade of athletes at the Colosseum.

Rome’s historic monuments are at the center of the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, details of which were revealed Wednesday as four candidates including the Italian capital submitted their first detailed bid files to the International Olympic Committee.

“Customer satisfaction is fundamental for the athletes, their families and the spectators,” bid chief and former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said. “Here they will be able to take in the culture and touch things with their hands that maybe they have only seen on TV or studied in school.”

At an extravagant presentation produced by the same company handling ceremonies for this year’s Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Rome organizers also revealed their bid theme – “The Italian art of the welcome.”

“We want to offer athletes’ families the chance to travel by train to Florence and admire the Uffizi Gallery and then go to Naples and Pompeii the next day – for free,” Montezemolo said. “Who else can offer that?”

The IOC will select the 2024 host city in September 2017. Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest, Hungary, are the other bidders.

Promoting Italy’s artistic heritage, Montezemolo announced that composer Ennio Morricone – of “Spaghetti Western” fame – would create the bid’s anthem.

Relying on many venues that were used for the 1960 Games in Rome, the candidacy proposes using existing structures for 70 percent of the required sites. The games budget is projected at 5.3 billion euros ($6 billion) – 2.1 billion euros for the construction of permanent venues and the balance for temporary venues.

Permanent venues would include an athletes village and multi-sports arena at the Tor Vergata University on the city’s outskirts, media facilities and a cycling velodrome.

The temporary venues could largely be covered by IOC contributions, organizers said.

Rome has already signed sponsorship contracts with Etihad-Alitalia airlines, the banks BNL-BNP Paribas and insurer UnipolSai , said Montezemolo, who’s also president of Alitalia.

Organizers said the games would create 177,000 jobs and contribute 2.9 billion euros in economic benefits for the area.

The bid is based on three clusters: the existing Stadio Olimpico and surrounding Foro Italico complex for athletics and swimming; the Fiera convention center near the airport for indoor sports; and Tor Vergata.

“If we had the opening ceremony tomorrow at the Stadio Olimpico, we could then host athletics or swimming immediately,” Montezemolo said. “We’re ready.”

Diving would be held in the statue-studded Pietrangeli tennis arena while tennis is slated for a temporary hard-court facility in Tor Vergata.

The media centers would be built in Saxa Rubra, headquarters of Italian state TV Rai.

The small, left-wing movement Radicali Italiani is calling for a public referendum on the bid, citing spiraling costs of recent games.

Nino Benvenuti, a boxing gold medalist in 1960, was a guest of honor at the presentation, which drew a crowd of thousands that also included Marcello Lippi, coach of the Italy team that won the 2006 World Cup.

PHOTOS: Paris 2024 Olympic bid venue renderings include Eiffel Tower

Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

MORE: How Gracie Gold landed in Philadelphia, thoughts competitive return

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