3-on-3 basketball favored to be added to Olympics next week

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GENEVA (AP) — A full list of 2020 Tokyo Olympics medal events will be finalized by the IOC executive board next week, one month ahead of schedule.

Among more than 60 proposals, 3-on-3 basketball is an expected favorite after all were analyzed by an International Olympic Committee advisory panel.

The decision is due on Friday at a board meeting in Lausanne called at short notice to discuss awarding the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games hosting rights to Los Angeles and Paris at the same time later this year.

“Now that we have an (executive board) meeting on June 9 it makes sense to use this opportunity,” the IOC said on Friday. “In addition, an early decision is clearly beneficial to all the parties involved.”

The half-court basketball format — close in spirit to neighborhood park pick-up games — once seemed set for the 2016 Olympics. Its bid for inclusion was curbed when organizers in Rio de Janeiro were stretched preparing for just the regular program.

Now, FIBA believes men’s and women’s tournaments in 3-on-3 are even better suited after skateboarding and sport climbing joined the Tokyo lineup last year.

“Now there is an urban cluster that has been created,” FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann told The Associated Press. “The best urban team sport is 3-on-3 street basketball. It would certainly be a perfect fit.”

Still, don’t expect two-time Olympic gold medalist LeBron James to seek a third title in the three-a-side game which already has a global tournament circuit.

“That’s probably a nice dream to have,” Baumann said in a recent interview, adding: “Our objective is to have similar and fantastic stars that come out of 3-on-3.”

Baumann singled out the famed Rucker Park street court in Harlem, N.Y., when expressing hope “to see them in the Olympic Games two years down the road.”

Adjusting from the NBA game would also be tough, he said: “It’s a different skill set. It’s really a 10-minute sprint, no coach, so you need to take the right decisions.”

Adding 3-on-3 tournaments should add 96 athletes to basketball’s quota for the 2020 Olympics, a key test for the proposals next week.

The IOC wants to better appeal to young audiences and promote gender equality, but also stay within the limits of around 310 medal events and 11,000 athletes who must have housing and training venues.

Some proposals are for mixed-gender team events and relays — an IOC favorite — using the existing pool of athletes.

Canoeing, rowing, and shooting federations would drop some men’s events to add more for women.

Cycling wants to bolster its track program which was moved to a velodrome in Izu, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) outside Tokyo.

By setting the Tokyo lineup earlier, the IOC also clears a long-scheduled July 9-10 board meeting in Lausanne to focus more on the expected dual hosting award.

Paris seems favored to get the 2024 Olympics, with Los Angeles striking a deal to wait until 2028.

MORE: LeBron James considers Olympic return under new coach

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Boglarka Kapas, world champion swimmer, tests positive for coronavirus

Boglarka Kapas
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Boglarka Kapas, the Hungarian swimmer and world 200m butterfly champion, said she tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I don’t have any symptoms yet, and that’s why it’s important for you to know that even if you feel healthy you can spread the virus,” was posted on her social media. “Please be careful, stay at home and stay healthy.”

Nine total members of the Hungarian national team — including swimmers and staff — have tested positive, according to the federation.

Kapas said her first test was negative but a second test showed she had the virus. She was staying in quarantine at home for two weeks.

Kapas, 26, won the 200m fly at last summer’s world championships by passing Americans Hali Flickinger and Katie Drabot in the last 25 meters. She clocked 2:06.78 to prevail by .17 of a second.

Kapas also took bronze in the Rio Olympic 800m freestyle won by Katie Ledecky.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NHL players: Marie-Philip Poulin is world’s best female hockey player

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The U.S. may have the world’s best women’s hockey team, but NHL players believe Canadian Marie-Philip Poulin is the world’s best player.

Poulin received the most votes out of 496 responses in the 2019-20 NHLPA Player Poll, conducted before the season was suspended. The tally:

Poulin: 39.92%
Hilary Knight (USA): 36.29%
Kendall Coyne Schofield (USA): 15.52%
Emily Pfalzer Matheson (USA): 1.41%
Other: 6.85%

Last year, Knight received the highest percentage of votes from 203 NHL players (27.59), edging Poulin (24.14) with Amanda Kessel third (12.81) and Coyne Schofield and Pfalzer Matheson each receiving 5.91 percent.

Why were Poulin and Knight swapped this year? Perhaps Poulin’s Canadian team winning the debut of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition women’s 3-on-3 game on Jan. 24, even though Knight scored and Poulin did not.

Poulin, now 29, scored both goals in the 2010 Olympic final and the game-tying and -winning goals in the 2014 Olympic final. Even before her Olympic debut at age 18, the daughter of Quebec hospital workers was dubbed “the female Sidney Crosby.”

Knight, 30, led last April’s world championship tournament with seven goals as the U.S. won a fifth straight title. Poulin played 4 minutes, 44 seconds, total at the tournament, missing time with a knee injury.

This spring’s tournament, which was to start Tuesday, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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