Kenenisa Bekele
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Kenenisa Bekele rips Ethiopia Olympic marathon selection procedures

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Kenenisa Bekele took a swipe at the Ethiopian Athletics Federation on Wednesday after he was left off the marathon team for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, calling his exclusion “unjust” and claiming the selection criteria is “biased.”

In an interview with The Associated Press after the EAF confirmed Bekele wasn’t part of the four-man team for Rio, Bekele said athletes were informed way too late that they must run in at least two major marathons in the 12 months before the team was picked to be eligible.

“I am very disappointed by the announcement that the Ethiopian Athletics Federation made about the selection of athletes competing in [the] marathon,” Bekele said in an interview at his office in Addis Ababa. “The selection process was biased and the result unjust.”

The federation’s decision to leave out Bekele, the world-record holder and three-time Olympic champion in the 5000m and 10,000m, was a major surprise.

EAF secretary general Bililign Mekoya told Ethiopian television on Tuesday, when Bekele’s absence was confirmed, that “the requirements we set are clear.”

“In Kenenisa’s case, he hasn’t met the requirements, so he couldn’t make it to Rio,” he said.

Bekele missed most of the last year with an Achilles injury. He returned from that lengthy layoff to finish third at the London Marathon in April. That’s the only marathon he’s run in the last year, although he won the Great Manchester Run 10km last month.

“We were told of the selection criteria too late in the year for us to try and meet any one of them,” Bekele said. “This affected me and a number of other fellow athletes. I cannot get the chance to compete [at the Olympics] now, and there is nothing I can do about it.”

At least 12 athletes have protested to the federation over the selection criteria, although Bekele isn’t one of those yet. Bililign, the EAF secretary general, said athletes are able to lodge protests.

Bekele was one of the greats at 5000m and 10,000m. He has followed in the footsteps of another of Ethiopia’s favorites, Haile Gebrselassie, by switching to the marathon in search of Olympic success at the longer distance.

Bekele won his debut marathon in Paris in 2014 before his injury struggles last year.

IOC pledges €500,000 to help restore Notre Dame ahead of 2024 Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee plans to donate €500,000 ($562,000) to the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in the 2024 Olympic host city.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that he wants to see Notre Dame restored within five years.

“The aim of completing the reconstruction in time for Paris 2024 will be an extra motivation for all of us,” IOC president Thomas Bach wrote in a Wednesday letter to Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet, according to a translation by Agence France-Presse, which reported Notre Dame is on the planned marathon and road cycling routes. “All the Olympic Movement and in particular the IOC have been extremely touched by the instantaneous connection the French have made between Notre Dame cathedral and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

More than $500 million has been pledged overall from around the globe after a fire ravaged the 850-year-old cathedral on Monday.

NBC News has more on the Notre Dame fire here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Patrick Kane joined by NHL All-Stars on world championship roster

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NHL All-Stars Jack EichelRyan Suter and Cory Schneider join previously named captain Patrick Kane to lead the U.S. at next month’s world hockey championship in Slovakia, seeking the nation’s first title at a standalone worlds since 1933.

Sixteen players were added to the roster in Thursday’s announcement with more to come before worlds open May 10 and more teams get eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, making more players available. The IIHF allows up to 25 players per nation.

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill will be the U.S. head coach for a third straight worlds. The Americans lost in the quarterfinals in 2017 and earned bronze in 2018, sandwiching an Olympic quarterfinal exit in PyeongChang without NHL players.

Sweden is trying to become the first nation to three-peat at worlds since the Czech Republic in 2001.

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Preliminary IIHF World Championship Roster
Forwards

Alex DeBrincat (Chicago Blackhawks)
Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres)
Luke Glendening (Detroit Red Wings)
Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes)
Chris Kreider (New York Rangers)
Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings)
James van Riemsdyk (Philadelphia Flyers)
Frank Vatrano (Florida Panthers)
Colin White (Ottawa Senators)

Defensemen
Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks)
Alec Martinez (Los Angeles Kings)
Brady Skjei (New York Rangers)
Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild)

Goalies
Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks)
Cayden Primeau (Laval (AHL))
Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils)