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IOC boss welcomes talk of awarding 2024, 2028 Olympics together

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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) — International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach welcomes talk that two Summer Games hosts could be picked at the same time in September.

“I like it that people are talking in this way about the Olympic candidature procedure,” Bach told The Associated Press on Saturday, amid speculation Los Angeles and Paris could both get hosting rights for either the 2024 or 2028 Olympics.

“It shows that people are caring. This we appreciate very much.”

Bach fueled the dual award debate in December, when he suggested the current bidding process “produces too many losers.”

Persistent ongoing speculation about rewarding two 2024 bidders “may give us some ideas,” the IOC president said during a visit to the ski world championships.

The IOC has not formally begun any 2028 bid process, and it is also unclear if cities which are targeting that contest would have grounds for complaint about a dual award in September.

Los Angeles and Paris are in the 2024 Olympics bid contest with Budapest, Hungary.

Budapest is seen as the outsider, and could even withdraw next week under pressure from an opposition political group to force a referendum

The city’s mayor, Istvan Tarlos, said on Friday he discussed the bid’s status with Prime Minister Viktor Orban. More meetings were planned on Wednesday.

Bach was asked by the AP on Saturday if the IOC could arrive in Lima, Peru, for the Sept. 13 hosting vote with two candidates and two winners.

“Let us discuss. This is a discussion,” the president said. “It also depends on the timing. This is, you know, why I appreciate also the public discussion.

“There are many options.”

Los Angeles and Paris are viewed as high-quality options for the IOC, and it is unclear if either would bid again in a new 2028 process if they failed to win the 2024 hosting rights.

Bach made creating a more flexible and cost-effective Summer and Winter Games hosting process central to his presidency in a reform program called Olympic Agenda 2020.

The German official acknowledged in December that some challenges remained.

“This procedure as it is … in our political environment in such a fragile world just produces too many losers,” Bach said on Saturday.

He also suggested that Olympic unrest in Budapest was down to a new political group that “wanted to make a name.”

“The referendum is obviously considered by them to be a good tool to put themselves on the map of the political landscape in Hungary,” Bach said.

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MORE: PyeongChang 2018 daily schedule highlights

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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