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IOC identifies 43 potential refugee Rio Olympic athletes

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic officials have identified 43 candidates for a team of refugee athletes who will compete in the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro in a “message of hope” for millions of refugees around the world, the IOC said Wednesday.

IOC President Thomas Bach said he expects between five and 10 athletes to be selected for a team that will compete under the Olympic flag as “Team Refugee Olympic Athletes.”

The final list of athletes will be named by the International Olympic Committee executive board in June.

The team will march in the Opening Ceremony in Rio on Aug. 5 just before the athletes from host Brazil.

“By welcoming this team of refugee athletes to Rio, we want to send a message of hope for all refugees of the world,” Bach said at the close of a two-day IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne.

The IOC said in December that three potential Olympic athletes had been identified from among the wave of refugees and migrants from Syria and other troubled regions coming into Europe. Dozens of others have now been discovered in various refugee camps.

“These athletes have no national team to belong to, they have no flag to march behind, no national anthem to be played,” Bach said. “We will welcome these refugee athletes with the Olympic flag and with the Olympic anthem.”

No details were given on where the potential team members come from or which sports they compete in.

The IOC had already pledged $2 million to help refugees, and asked authorities in refugee camps to identify any top-level international athletes.

Bach said candidates for the Olympic team will be checked for their eligibility, nationality and refugee status.

“We will have to see what qualifications they can achieve,” he said. “My gut feeling is this team will end up with between five and 10 athletes.”

Bach said the IOC will appoint officials, coaches and other personnel for the team. The IOC will also provide team uniforms for the athletes.

Bach stressed the refugees will be treated like all other teams that are represented by national Olympic committees. They will live together with other athletes in the Olympic Village.

The refugees receive financial and other assistance from the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity program. The IOC is covering all their travel and other expenses.

Athletes chosen for the Olympic team will go through drug-testing procedures administered by the World Anti-Doping Agency, Bach said.

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2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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