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LA 2028 would support U.S. Winter Olympics, but it’s complicated

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PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — The venues are there. The city loves the Olympics. The memories of the last Winter Games it hosted are still fairly fresh and mostly positive.

This is the story of Los Angeles, which will host the Summer Games in 2028.

It’s also the story of Utah, which might get in the mix to host a Winter Olympics in 2026 or 2030.

The chairman of the LA bid was in Park City on Tuesday for the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit to discuss Los Angeles’ recent victory; many of the questions he fielded, though, involved whether a U.S. bid for an upcoming Winter Games might make sense, too.

“Twenty-six is complicated, obviously,” Casey Wasserman said. “Obviously, there are real challenges from a timing perspective, two years before us. But I think our approach has been, the Olympic Games, whether summer or winter, are good for American athletes. Our intent is to be a good partner to the USOC and American athletes.”

The USOC board will meet next month to discuss the possibility. The same country hasn’t hosted back-to-back Olympics since before World War II, though when the International Olympic Committee scrapped its traditional rules and awarded 2024 (Paris) and 2028 (LA) at the same time, it indicated it was certainly open to new ideas.

Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002, and what remains there and in Park City pretty much adheres to every concept of Agenda 2020, the blueprint that IOC President Thomas Bach set for future Olympics, which calls for less spending on new venues and infrastructure.

Through a legacy foundation, the area has maintained an Olympic speed skating oval and a Nordic skiing course, each of which have drawn new athletes to their respective sports and could be used as part of an upcoming bid. The Utah Olympic Park remains an active training ground for action sports, for both U.S. athletes and those from other countries who are invited to work out there.

Meanwhile, Utah likes the Olympics: NBC says Salt Lake City has ranked as either No. 1 or 2 among U.S. TV markets over the last three Winter Games.

Leaders of the movement to bring the games back to Utah have largely stayed quiet, not wanting to take the limelight from Los Angeles, which helped the U.S. put a stop to a long string of embarrassing losses on the Olympic bid front. But a handful have told The Associated Press that there is enthusiasm for a potential bid if the USOC will sign on.

“There’s fantastic momentum to have the Games come back. I think we could do it for a very affordable price compared to the rest of the world,” said Ted Morris, the executive director of U.S. Speedskating, which is based in the Salt Lake City area. “In my opinion, looking at ’26 is probably not realistic, but ’30 seems like an opportunity.”

The most complicating factor for either year would be a reworking of an agreement between LA and the USOC that transfers the USOC’s marketing rights to the city’s organizing committee over an eight-year span. Adding another American Olympics to that mix would force some major renegotiations.

There’s also the issue of the IOC bid process. Bach has redrawn the rules for 2026, creating friendlier deadlines for cities to commit to a bid. But he has not committed to a potential double award for 2026 and 2030, the way he did with 2024 and 2028.

Also, the USOC will have to consider Denver and Reno, Nevada, which also have expressed interest in hosting a Winter Games but would be behind the curve compared with Salt Lake City.

“Thomas Bach has publicly stated he’d like to see the Winter Games return to a more traditional location, and to me, that’s code for Europe or North America,” said USOC chairman Larry Probst, speaking to the fact that the hosts for 2014, 2018 and 2022 are Russia, South Korea and China. “We’ve got to look at that, then develop a strategy about whether we’re going to bid for the (2026) Winter Games or beyond that.”

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Emmanuel Korir nearly falls, comes back to win 800m at Pre Classic

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Kenyan Emmanuel Korir overcame getting tripped with 200 meters left to win the 800m on the first day of the Prefontaine Classic on Friday.

Korir was leading when Botswana’s Nijel Amos‘ spike clipped his leg. Korir stumbled, took six steps inside the rail and ceded the lead to Amos, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist.

But Korir overtook Amos on the final straight, winning in 1:45.16, .35 ahead of Amos. The race lacked double Olympic champion and world-record holder David Rudisha, who hasn’t raced since July 4 due to injury.

Korir, 22, ran the fastest 800m in the world last year but was eliminated in the semifinals at the world championships.

Full Pre Classic results are here.

In other events, world champion Sam Kendricks beat the last two Olympic champions in the pole vault, clearing 5.81 meters.

Surprise Rio Olympic gold medalist Thiago Braz of Brazil no-heighted at Pre for a second straight year in his first outdoor meet in 10 months. London Olympic champ and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie didn’t fare much better, exiting at 5.71 meters for fifth place. Lavillenie still holds the top clearance in the world this year of 5.95 meters.

Rio gold medalist Thomas Röhler led a German javelin sweep, throwing a meet record 89.88 meters. World champion Johannes Vetter, who was second with an 89.34-meter throw, still ranks No. 1 in the world this year at 92.70.

In the two-mile, Ethiopian Selemon Barega upset Olympic 5000m silver medalist Paul Chelimo, outsprinting the American and clocking 8:20.01. Chelimo was second in 8:20.91.

The Pre Classic continues Saturday on NBC and NBC Sports Gold with streaming coverage starting at 2:50 p.m. ET.

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Allyson Felix withdraws from Prefontaine Classic

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Allyson Felix withdrew on the eve of the Prefontaine Classic and will miss Saturday’s anticipated 400m showdown with Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and world champion Phyllis Francis.

No reason was given by the meet director at a Friday press conference, according to media in Eugene, Ore.

Felix, a nine-time Olympic medalist and 16-time world outdoor championships medalist, was scheduled to race on the top international level for the first time since Aug. 20. She has raced in smaller meets this season, most recently last Friday.

This is the one year in the four-year cycle without an Olympics or world outdoor championships, making the Diamond League, and the Pre Classic in particular, marquee meets.

“In the 19 years that I’ve been running track, I’ve never taken a break,” the 32-year-old Felix said in an Instagram video Thursday after an intense training session but before her name was taken off Saturday’s start list. “Never had a year where I took it easy. … Now that this is kind of a year without a championship, I’ve had to force myself to have a different approach because my goal is 2020. … To be able to be at my best when it counts, I think that means not having as intense of a year as I usually do. Being a competitor and an athlete, that’s something that I struggle with. … This year, that’s what I’m really trying to force myself to do is have quality races, quality over quantity. … So, if you guys don’t see me at as many of the races as I usually run, don’t worry, I’m fine, I’m just challenging myself to be smarter.”

Felix will miss the Pre Classic for the second time in the last nine years. She was absent in 2016 with an ankle injury.

The USATF Outdoor Championships are in one month.

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