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IOC president open to unified Korean Olympic team in PyeongChang

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach said Friday that he is open to the possibility of a unified Korean team at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Speaking in Muju, 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Seoul, on the final day of the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships, Bach told a media conference that he would discuss the issue with South Korea President Moon Jae-in.

At the opening ceremony of the championships, Moon, currently in the United States to visit U.S. President Donald Trump, raised the possibility of the two countries participating together.

“We have noted with great appreciation the message of President Moon to see the Olympic Games as a possibility for dialogue and reconciliation,” said Bach, adding that Moon’s comments reflected the Olympic spirit.
“What this could mean for the 2018 Winter Games and what could be done in respect, we’ll discuss this Monday with President Moon once he’s back from his state visit to the U.S.”

Bach, a former Olympic fencer, confirmed that regardless of any joint team, the IOC was ready to assist North Korea’s involvement at Pyeongchang.

“The position of the IOC is very clear,” he said. “We have already invited the DPRK (North Korea) to participate in the Winter Games in 2018. We are supporting athletes in order to assist them to qualify for the Olympic Games.”

Earlier this week, however, North Korea’s sole member of the IOC, Chang Ung, was cautious when talking to South Korean media.

“It’s only hypothetical, and many different departments at the IOC are involved,” said Chang. “We should stop this discussion. We should only talk about what’s practically possible. I think it’s going to be very difficult.”

While the two Koreas, technically still at war since an armistice brought hostilities to an end in 1953, have marched together at the opening ceremonies at various Olympic tournaments in the past, they have never sent a unified team to compete on that stage.

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Caster Semenya allowed to race 800m at Pre Classic

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Caster Semenya has been switched from the 3000m to the 800m at next week’s Pre Classic, marking her first scheduled 800m since a Swiss Supreme Court ruling allowed her to race her Olympic gold-medal distance while she appeals a new IAAF testosterone rule.

“Caster’s representation requested that she be moved from the 3,000 meters (where she was originally entered) to the 800 meters, and we are happy to comply,” Prefontaine Classic meet director Tom Jordan said in a statement, confirming a Reuters report.

NBC Sports airs live Pre Classic coverage on June 30 from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion, was originally entered in the 3000m because the rule bars her from races between 400m and the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures, under which she would be allowed to return to those distances late this year. Semenya refuses to take those measures.

A Swiss Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago lifted the restriction for Semenya — but not other athletes — while her appeal is pending. The IAAF has until Monday to respond to the court before a ruling could be made. A resolution could still be months away, with Semenya possibly able to race until that day comes.

Semenya has won 30 straight 800m races dating to 2015, including the Rio Olympics and 2017 World Championships. All three Rio Olympic 800m medalists have said they are affected by the new rule capping testosterone in women’s races between the 400m and mile.

That meant none raced at Diamond League stops in Stockholm and Rabat, Morocco, earlier this month. Last Sunday’s Rabat meet offered Semenya a late invite, more than a week after her restriction was lifted, but Semenya said it was too late for her to travel in time to race.

American record holder Ajeé Wilson won the Stockholm 800m without any of the Olympic medalists in the field.

MORE: Caster Semenya to IAAF: Focus on dopers, not us

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Geraint Thomas crashes out of Tour de France prep race

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BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas crashed in a cycling race, days after teammate Chris Froome was involved in a season-ending accident in France.

Team INEOS said Thomas should be fine to start the Tour de France on July 6 despite having to drop out of the fourth stage of the nine-day Tour de Suisse race in Switzerland.

“Clearly it’s frustrating and a small setback for my Tour de France preparations, but there’s still plenty of time before we start in Brussels in a few weeks’ time,” Thomas said, according to the team.

The team says on Twitter that Thomas “was alert and speaking to the team after the crash and will be taken to hospital for checks.”

Thomas had a ripped jersey and cuts on his back and shoulder after hitting the road with about 18 miles left in the stage. He was in eighth place, 28 seconds behind race leader Peter Sagan.

Thomas won the 2018 Tour after Froome won four times between 2013 and 2017.

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MORE: NBC Sports launches Cycling Pass for 2019-20 season

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