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Thomas Bach reminds Tokyo 2020 to stick with venue plans

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TOKYO (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach expressed willingness Tuesday to work with Tokyo officials to achieve a “significant reduction” in costs for the 2020 Olympics, but suggested the effort should stick to the current venue plans.

Bach arrived in Japan amid growing tension between Olympic organizers and recently elected Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who is pushing to cut costs. A preliminary report from a city expert panel late last month proposed moving three sports from planned new venues to existing ones — including relocating rowing to a site hundreds of miles outside the capital.

Bach reminded the governor that Tokyo should respect the agreement it signed when it was awarded the Games three years ago.

“I think it is in the interest of Japan, Tokyo and IOC that we do not change the rules of the competition after the election,” Bach said. “By respecting these principles we can very well look into the budget of Tokyo 2020 and we can look at the cost. We can see together how we can make it even more feasible.”

Bach proposed four-party talks among the International Olympic Committee, Tokyo organizers, the city government and Japan’s central government to agree on additional cost reductions, starting as early as November after Tokyo releases a final report. Bach declined to discuss specific proposals, saying he only knew about them from media reports.

“The Tokyo metropolitan government will finalize its internal study, then we’ll discuss it with the other stakeholders … and then I am confident that you will see a significant reduction in the cost compared to what we have seen so far from the press,” Bach told reporters after a 40-minute televised meeting with Koike.

The Tokyo panel’s preliminary report said the overall cost of the Olympics could exceed $30 billion — four times the initial estimate — unless drastic cuts are made.

The review focuses on whether each venue can be cost-effective while also contribute to the reconstruction of the area hit by the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima disaster.

“That’s how we have promoted to attract the Games,” Koike said. “We need understanding of the residents of Tokyo as we are relying on their money.”

The IOC has suggested the possibility of moving rowing to an existing site in South Korea in case there is no resolution over the Japanese venue, the Asahi newspaper reported, quoting unidentified Japanese sources as saying. The South Korean venue in Chungiu City hosted the 2013 world championships and rowing at the 2014 Asian Games.

Asked about the report at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, Bach said: “I will not comment on any kind of rumors.” Japanese Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters she could not confirm the report.

Tokyo won the right to host the Games in 2013 by promising a compact bid with 28 of the 31 competition venues within a five-mile (eight-kilometer) radius of the Olympic Village. Originally, only shooting, modern pentathlon and one soccer venue were to be outside the radius.

Already, the venues for basketball, taekwondo and cycling have been moved outside of Tokyo to reduce costs by using existing facilities. Cycling was moved to Izu, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of the capital.

After her election at the end of July, Koike convened a panel of independent experts to review Olympic venues and costs.

Its most drastic proposal has been to suggest moving the rowing and canoeing venue to an existing facility about 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of Tokyo, after the projected cost for a new venue in Tokyo Bay rose to 49 billion yen ($490 million), seven times the initial estimate.

John Coates, an IOC vice president and former rower who heads the coordination commission for the Tokyo Games, was asked about the costs of the rowing site in Tokyo.

“The figures are very large to us,” he said. “We can certainly reduce those numbers.”

Meanwhile, the Japan Rowing Association and Japan Canoe Federation issued separate statements calling for the venue to stay in Tokyo.

The local organizing committee in Tokyo has objected to the possible move, arguing the competition should remain at the planned Sea Forest Waterway.

It said the existing facility that Koike is exploring in northern Japan’s Miyagi prefecture lacks infrastructure, accommodation for spectators and will be inconvenient for athletes.

Tokyo organizers also said the final construction cost for the Sea Forest Waterway will likely be lower than estimated, while additional costs for transportation, security and infrastructure to move the events to Miyagi would add up.

The expert panel has also suggested sticking with the planned venues, but reducing their scale to save money.

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Mondo Duplantis, Elaine Thompson-Herah win to end Diamond League season

Mondo Duplantis
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Mondo Duplantis completed one of the greatest seasons in track and field history, under some of the most unusual circumstances for much of the year, by winning the last Diamond League meet of 2020 in Doha on Friday.

Duplantis outdueled pole vault rivals Sam Kendricks and Renaud Lavillenie in the Qatari capital, the site of his last defeat to Kendricks at the 2019 World Championships.

Duplantis, who was raised in Louisiana and competes for his mother’s birth country of Sweden, won on countback with a 5.82-meter clearance.

Back in February, the 20-year-old Duplantis twice raised the world record at indoor meets, ultimately to 6.18 meters. Eight days ago, Duplantis cleared the highest outdoor height in history, taking Ukrainian legend Sergey Bubka off the record books.

Full Doha results are here.

While the Diamond League is finished for 2020, one major event in the sport remains this year — the London Marathon on Oct. 4 at 2 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

The two fastest men in history, Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele, headline the fields on an adapted looped course.

In other events Friday, Kenyan Hellen Obiri surged to the lead after the bell in a 3000m that included five women who won 2019 World Championships medals across four different events. Obiri clocked 8:22.54 in the non-Olympic event, holding off world 10,000m bronze medalist Agnes Tirop and world 3000m steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech.

Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah won the 100m in 10.87 seconds, eight days after clocking the fastest time in the world this year of 10.85.

Thompson, who swept the 100m and 200m in Rio, has traded world-leading times with countrywoman and 2008 and 2012 Olympic 100m champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce the last two seasons.

Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon made a rare 800m start, winning in a personal-best 1:57.68. The only woman to run faster over the last two years is double Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya, who is now barred from events from the 400m through the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures.

Aaron Mallett won the 110m hurdles in a personal-best 13.15 seconds, making him the third-fastest American over the last three years behind Grant Holloway and Daniel Roberts. The top three at Olympic Trials next June make the Tokyo team.

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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.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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