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Gary Bettman: No Olympic meetings scheduled for NHL

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday that there are no meetings scheduled between the NHL and the International Olympic Committee or the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) regarding PyeongChang Olympic participation, according to the Canadian Press.

The league hasn’t announced whether it will send players to a sixth straight Olympics in PyeongChang in 11 months.

“Unless something changes we’re not going,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly repeated Wednesday, according to the report. “We’ve said that consistently for three months, so there’s nothing new about that.”

What is new is that there now doesn’t appear to be a resolution before IOC coordination commission meetings in PyeongChang next week.

“I have a coordination commission in March in Korea,” IIHF president Rene Fasel said last month, according to The Associated Press. “We need to know about the accommodation. We need to know about the transportation. The sooner we know, the better we can prepare the conditions for the NHL players and the NHL.”

Fasel said then that the majority of representatives from the 12 qualified nations for the 2018 Olympic men’s hockey tournament “felt that the NHL will likely need to decide during the month of March because of their scheduling needs for next season.”

“However, we do not feel at this time that it would be constructive to set a hard deadline for the NHL and [NHL Players Association] to confirm their participation,” Fasel said.

Daly said in December that the NHL was preparing to devise two separate schedules for the 2017-18 season, one with an Olympic break.

On Wednesday, Bettman said the NHL was focused at the moment on a 2017-18 schedule that didn’t include the Olympics, but a revamped bye-week period, according to the Canadian Press.

The NHL made its 2013-14 schedule and 2014 Olympic participation announcements jointly on July 19, 2013, seven months before the Sochi Winter Games.

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Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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Softball set to return to Olympics as first event on Tokyo 2020 schedule

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Softball, returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, is scheduled to kick off the 2020 Tokyo Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony.

The preliminary master schedule for the Tokyo Olympics was published Wednesday, with the first softball game scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on the Wednesday before the Opening Ceremony.

The first game is scheduled to be held in Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami 155 miles north of Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster

Traditionally, soccer has been the first sport to have action at a Summer Olympics, one or two days before the Opening Ceremony. While soccer is again scheduled to have matches that same Wednesday, they start later than 10 a.m.

The Tokyo 2020 schedule is subject to change and certainly not a final version — swimming, diving and synchronized swimming schedules are still to be determined, but those sports do not typically start before the Opening Ceremony.

Softball was added in 1991 to the Olympic program to debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won the first three gold medals before softball and baseball were narrowly voted off the Olympic program in 2005/06 (a 52-52 IOC vote for softball, with a majority needed to stay in the Olympics), with the 2008 Beijing Games being the last edition. Japan won the last Olympic softball gold medal 10 years ago.

Then on Aug. 3, 2016, baseball and softball were among five sports added for the 2020 Tokyo Games only, at the request of Tokyo Olympic organizers. Baseball and softball are not guaranteed to remain on the Olympic program in Paris in 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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