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President Donald Trump issues first public support of LA 2024 Olympic bid

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President Donald Trump believes the International Olympic Committee was “very happy” when it spoke with him about Los Angeles’ 2024 Olympic bid.

“They wanted to have an endorsement from me, and I gave it to them very loud and clear,” Trump said in his first public comments about LA 2024 in a Westwood One radio interview that aired Sunday. “I would love to see the Olympics go to Los Angeles. I think that it’ll be terrific. The United States committee’s members have asked me to speak up about it, and I have, and I think I’ve helped them, and let’s see what happens. But I’d be very happy and honored if they would choose Los Angeles, and we’d stand behind it.”

Los Angeles is vying with Budapest and Paris for the 2024 Olympics. IOC members will vote to choose the host city in September. The U.S. is in the midst of its longest stretch between hosting Olympics (Summer or Winter) since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

In November, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Trump talked about immigration, infrastructure and the Olympics in their first phone call after the election.

Trump and IOC president Thomas Bach then spoke by phone about the bid, when Trump “expressed his strong support” for LA 2024, according to LA 2024.

Trump also said in Sunday’s radio interview that he doesn’t know if his immigration policy and recent executive order will hurt the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid in the eyes of International Olympic Committee voters.

“Well, I don’t know, but we have to have, regardless, we have to have security in our country,” Trump said. “We have to know who’s coming into our country.”

Trump’s executive order banning refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries was blocked by a federal judge. NBC News has the latest information on where things stand.

The IOC does not comment on the politics of sovereign countries, while the U.S. Olympic Committee issued a statement after the executive order.

“Like the United States, the Olympic Movement was founded based upon principles of diversity and inclusion, of opportunity and overcoming adversity,” the USOC said. “As the steward of the Olympic Movement in the United States, we embrace those values. We also acknowledge the difficult task of providing for the safety and security of a nation. It is our sincere hope that the executive order as implemented will appropriately recognize the values on which our nation, as well as the Olympic Movement, were founded.”

LA 2024 bid chairman Casey Wasserman said last week that the bid wants “to be judged on the merits of the bid, not politics.” The LA 2024 Olympic bid has promoted diversity from its beginning.

MORE: LA 2024 Olympic bid projected ticket prices, venue map in bid book

Richard Callaghan, figure skating coach, banned for life

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Richard Callaghan, a figure skating coach best known for helping Tara Lipinski earn 1998 Olympic gold, was ruled permanently ineligible for violations including sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Callaghan can still appeal the sexual misconduct violation, according to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a watchdog for U.S. Olympic sports organizations that updated Callaghan’s status Wednesday.

He was first suspended in March 2018 pending an investigation into allegations first made against him more than 20 years ago.

Earlier this month, another former skater, Adam Schmidt, said in a lawsuit that he was sexually molested as a teenager by Callaghan starting in 1999.

Callaghan was previously accused of sexual misconduct in April 1999 by Craig Maurizi, one of his former students and later an assistant to him in San Diego and Detroit.

Maurizi told The New York Times that Callaghan had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with him beginning when he was 15 years old. The alleged misconduct had begun nearly 20 years earlier. Callaghan denied the allegations.

In March 2018, Callaghan told ABC News: “That’s 19 or 20 years ago. I have nothing to say.”

Maurizi’s previous grievance against Callaghan with the U.S. Figure Skating Association, the precursor to U.S. Figure Skating, was dismissed on procedural grounds.

He was Callaghan’s assistant at the Detroit Skating Club until they split after Lipinski turned pro, left Callaghan and decided to train with Maurizi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Pita Taufatofua, Tonga flag bearer, finishes last in kayak debut

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Pita Taufatofua, the Tonga Olympic flag bearer who went viral in Rio and PyeongChang, began his quest to make a third straight Olympics in a third different sport with a last-place finish in his opening-round heat at the world sprint kayak championships in Hungary on Wednesday.

The start of the heat appeared delayed as Taufatofua struggled to get his kayak into position in the water. He was left at the start as the other six kayakers raced out and finished between 33 and 40 seconds. Taufatofua took 58.19 seconds, the slowest of 53 finishers among seven total heats.

“Well that was slightly better than the first time I competed in Taekwondo or skiing,” was tweeted from Taufatofua’s account. “Would have liked to start facing the right way but that’s life.”

Taufatofua, 35, was the oldest athlete in the heat by nearly a decade. He is also entered in doubles races with Tonga canoe federation president Malakai Ahokava with heats Thursday and Friday.

Taufatofua hopes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in taekwondo, where he competed in Rio, and in sprint kayak.

But he hasn’t competed in taekwondo in three years and just started training kayak this spring. At worlds, Taufatofua told the BBC he is still having trouble staying afloat in the water.

Taufatofua said in announcing the new sport in April that it would be “largely impossible” to qualify for Tokyo. He could be the first athlete to compete in a different sport in three straight Olympics (Summer and Winter) since the Winter Games began in 1924, according to the OlyMADMen.

“It’s certainly going to be the greatest challenge that I’ve ever had to embark on,” he said then.

Taufatofua’s results at worlds this week has little bearing on his Olympic qualifying prospects. Rather, he just needed to compete in Hungary to stay eligible for the Olympics.

The key will be an Oceania qualifying event early next year, where one Olympic bid is available. He will likely have to beat the best kayakers from Australia and New Zealand to grab it. Australian Stephen Bird placed eighth at the Rio Olympics and 11th at the 2018 World Championships.

If Taufatofua fails, he could receive a special tripartite invitation sometimes offered to smaller nations like Tonga.

Taufatofua became a social-media celebrity by marching into the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony shirtless and oiled up. He then lost in the first round via mercy rule in his taekwondo tournament.

He made a quixotic bid for the PyeongChang Winter Games in cross-country skiing — and accomplished the feat, barely, in a sport that has lenient qualifying requirements for nations with a lack of Winter Games depth.

Taufatofua finished 114th out of 116 in his 15km Olympic cross-country skiing race, nearly 23 minutes behind the winner.

If Taufatofua is able to carry the Tongan flag at a third Opening Ceremony, he will definitely be shirtless again, in a similar outfit to what he wore in Rio and PyeongChang, he said last year.

MORE: Five-time Olympic kayak medalist banned four years

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