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PyeongChang Olympic cauldron unveiled

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The PyeongChang Olympic cauldron is a white tower visible atop one of the corners of the pentagonal Olympic Stadium that will host the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9.

It is the most traditional cauldron setup since the 2008 Beijing Games.

In 2010, the Vancouver Winter Games had two cauldrons — one inside in the ceremonies venue and one outside in the city for the public to view.

The London 2012 flame could not be seen outside the Olympic Stadium. It was lit in the center of the stadium and then moved to a side area.

The PyeongChang cauldron will not be moved, organizers said.

The Sochi 2014 cauldron was in the middle of the Olympic Park but visible through an opening at the north end of the ceremonies stadium (and also tall enough to be seen from the stadium).

Rio had two cauldrons — one lit at the Opening Ceremony inside the Maracanã — and another in the city for the public to view.

So, who will light the PyeongChang cauldron on Feb. 9?

“If I tell you, I have to kill you,” a PyeongChang 2018 press operations official joked two weeks ago. “I really can’t tell you about this. I don’t want to spoil the show.”

Most believe it will be Yuna Kim, the wildly popular 2010 Olympic figure skating champion and ambassador for PyeongChang 2018.

“She has been very, very instrumental promoting the Games,” the PyeongChang 2018 official said. “She has done a tremendous job. She’s been with us at every important event promoting the Games. We really appreciate all her hard work.”

At the previous Olympics in South Korea, the 1988 Seoul Games, three South Koreans lit the cauldron simultaneously — a teacher, a high school student and a marathoner at those Games.

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MORE: PyeongChang Olympic daily schedule highlights

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Jennifer Valente takes silver in world cycling championship scratch race

Jennifer Valente
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Jennifer Valente won the first medal for the U.S. team in the world track cycling championships Wednesday in Berlin, finishing second behind Dutch cyclist Kirsten Wild in the scratch race.

Wild won the mass-start event for the third time, having taken gold in 2015 and 2018, and her seventh world championship in all track cycling disciplines. She also took silver in the 2016 world championship road race.

Valente also joined Chloé Dygert, Emma White and Lily Williams in women’s team pursuit qualifying, posting the fastest time of the day and easily qualifying for the semifinals on Thursday. The U.S. team has been in transition with the retirement of Sarah Hammer and the death of Kelly Catlin, who committed suicide in March. Hammer, Catlin, Dygert and Valente took silver in the 2016 Olympics.

READ: Dygert aims for road and track double in Tokyo

The Netherlands took two of the three gold medals on Wednesday’s program, beating Britain to win the men’s team sprint. Germany beat Australia to win the women’s team sprint.

READ: Track cycling broadcast and streaming schedule

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Tokyo organizers, IOC going ahead as planned with Olympics

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TOKYO (AP) — A spokesman for the Japanese government on Wednesday said the International Olympic Committee and local organizers are going as planned with the Tokyo Olympics.

The comments from spokesman Yoshihide Suga follow the assertion by IOC veteran Dick Pound that organizers face a three-month window to decide the fate of the Games.

READ: Pound cites time needed to ramp up operations

The Olympics are set to open on July 24 with 11,000 athletes. The Paralympics open Aug. 25 with 4,400.

Also Wednesday, Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto abruptly called a news conference to address Pound’s comments.

“Our basic thoughts are that we will go ahead with the Olympic and Paralympic Games as scheduled,” Muto said, speaking in Japanese. “For the time being, the situation of the coronavirus infection is, admittedly, difficult to predict, but we will take measures such that we’ll have a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Muto added: ““That the end of May is the time limit, we have never thought of this or heard of such a comment. So when we asked about this, we received a response saying that is not the position of the IOC.”

Muto also allowed for the possibility of downsizing the Olympic torch relay but insisted it will not be canceled.

Pound told the Associated Press that the fast-spreading virus could cancel the Olympics. Suga says Pound’s opinion does not reflect the official view of the IOC, which has repeatedly said there are no plans to cancel or postpone the Tokyo Games.

“With regard to this member’s comment, the IOC has responded that this is not their official position, and that IOC is proceeding with preparations toward the games as scheduled,” Suga said, speaking in Japanese at his daily news conference.

Pound is a former IOC vice-president and a member since 1978, and was the founding president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

He also represented Canada as a swimmer at the Olympics.

In a telephone interview from Montreal, Pound said the IOC has a three-month window to decide, and suggested other options like moving events of postponing seemed less likely.

“In and around that time,” he said, “I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or now?”‘

If the IOC decides the games cannot go forward as scheduled in Tokyo, “you’re probably looking at a cancellation,” said Pound, who added that he was not commenting on behalf of the IOC.

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