Rio Olympic flame will live downtown — not in stadium

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Olympic flame will have an unusual home for the Rio de Janeiro Games.

The flame will burn somewhere in downtown Rio during the Games, and not in a stadium as has been traditional at the Summer Olympics.

The cauldron will be lit at the Maracana Stadium during the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5, and will spend the night there before traveling to a permanent home.

“The cauldron will go from the Maracana to downtown,” Rio spokesman Mario Andrada told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “But exactly where remains a secret.”

Unlike recent Olympics, Rio will have two stadiums: the Maracana for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and soccer, and the Olympic Stadium across town, which will be used for track and field.

“We had our share of thoughts before coming to this,” Andrada said. “It’s impossible to have two cauldrons, and it’s impossible to have the same cauldron in two places.”

Downtown Rio is not typically visited by tourists, who usually flock to the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches in the southern part of the city. Downtown is also remote from the Olympic Park in the western suburb of Barra da Tijuca.

The mystery surrounding the cauldron is one of several regarding the flame, which arrives in the capital Brasilia on May 3. The flame will be lit at a traditional ceremony in Greece on Thursday.

Some of the confusion centers on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who will skip Thursday’s ceremony in Ancient Olympia.

Brazil will be represented in Greece by Sports Minister Ricardo Leyser, and Marcelo Pedroso, the head of the Olympic Public Authority.

Rousseff is fighting impeachment and could be suspended from office in the next few weeks if the Brazilian senate votes to hear the charges against her.

Plans call for Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Rio organizing committee, to get off the plane early on May 3 and be greeted at the airport by celebrating athletes.

The flame then goes to the Planalto presidential palace. Even if Rousseff is still in office, it’s unclear if she will light the first torch for the three-month-long torch relay around the country of 200 million.

A spokesman for the president’s office told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the plans for the ceremony were not set.

If Rousseff is suspended by May 3, Vice President Michel Temer would take over, putting him in the Olympic picture. He would also be set to preside over the Opening Ceremony with Rousseff sidelined.

IOC President Thomas Bach and local organizers hope the flame’s arrival will generate enthusiasm for South America’s first games, which have been touched by political corruption scandals, a deep recession and the Zika virus.

Local organizers have also trimmed about $500 million in spending on the games, cutting 20,000 volunteers, food services and transportation. Ticket sales have also been slow and a few venues are behind schedule.

MORE: Cauldron may move during the Olympics

Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

Oleksandr Abramenko
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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

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Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

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