Rory McIlroy
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Rory McIlroy: I was wrong about Olympic golf

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Rory McIlroy said he was “pleasantly surprised” to “be proven wrong somewhat” about golf’s place in the Olympics after his criticisms before withdrawing ahead of the Games.

“It was nice to be proven wrong somewhat in terms of, like I thought golf was sort of going to get lost a little bit,” McIlroy said Wednesday ahead of The Barclays. “It was away from the village; I thought it was going to, yeah, just sort of blend in with everything else and be, not forgotten about, but just one of a lot of sports that are there obviously. But to see the crowds and see the turnout, I was glad to be somewhat proven wrong.”

Australian Adam Scott, perhaps the most outspoken critic of golf’s Olympic format out of the sport’s stars, maintained his view Wednesday. Scott also skipped the Olympics.

“I still believe that in the long term, I think it would be very easy to make it a very big deal for golf and the growth with amateurs playing the Olympics,” Scott said. “I think it’s very hard for the professionals to fit in the Olympic system at the moment, unless a lot of events are willing to sacrifice a lot.”

Jordan Spieth said he “wished” he was at the Olympics. Spieth pulled out of the Olympics in July due to health concerns, including the Zika virus.

“At the time I made the decision, it was the right decision for me,” Spieth said Wednesday. “And I told you guys in that press conference, it was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. The potential for regret was going to be there, and it certainly was while I was watching, so that’s why I tweeted out, ‘I’m looking forward to setting it as a goal to be there in 2020.'”

Australian Jason Day, ranked No. 1 in the world, said he watched one hole of the Olympics and didn’t regret skipping the Rio Games due to Zika concerns. Day said he’s looking forward to hopefully qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“I didn’t really watch much of the Olympics at all to be honest,” Day said Wednesday. “I think I watched Usain Bolt win, and I watched one swimming, which was a four-by relay or whatever it was. I can’t remember what it was. That’s how much I know about the Olympics.”

MORE: McIlroy: I gave ‘PC answer’ on Olympic golf for 7 years

World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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