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WATCH LIVE: Murray, Nadal continue quest for 2nd Olympic gold

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Among those in action on the tennis courts Wednesday are Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Great Britain’s Andy Murray, with both in search of their second Olympic gold medal in men’s singles. Nadal takes on France’s Gilles Simon in the third round match, with Murray facing Italy’s Fabio Fognini in another third round match. Nadal is scheduled to begin play at noon Eastern, with Murray’s match scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

The mixed doubles tournament begins Wednesday, with Americans Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram looking to redeem themselves after quick exits in other tournaments in Rio. Williams was bounced from both the women’s singles and women’s doubles tournaments in the first round, and dealing with illness during that portion of the week didn’t so her any favors.

WATCH LIVE: Olympic Tennis, Day Five — 9:45 a.m. Eastern

As for Ram, he and partner Brian Baker were eliminated in the second round of the men’s doubles tournament. Williams and Ram open mixed doubles play against Kiki Bertens and Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands at 10 a.m.

Other Americans in action Wednesday include Madison Keys in women’s singles, Steve Johnson in men’s singles and the men’s doubles semifinals with partner Jack Sock, and the mixed doubles team of Sock and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The first matches begin at 9:45 a.m. Eastern, with Keys and Daria Kasatkina of Russia meeting in the quarterfinal round of the women’s singles tournament.

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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