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Three U.S. cities talking to IOC about Winter Olympic bid

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Denver, Reno-Tahoe and Salt Lake City officials are discussing potential Winter Olympic bids with the International Olympic Committee before the March 31 declaration deadline for 2026, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said Friday.

USOC leaders repeated they hope to bid for either the 2026 or 2030 Winter Games (preferably 2030) and that those are the three interested cities.

“We have encouraged the three cities from the U.S. that are interested in potentially hosting — Reno-Tahoe, Salt Lake City and Denver — to be in a dialogue with the IOC, and that is happening,” Blackmun said, adding that the USOC is “leaning” toward bidding for 2030 rather than 2026. “So, we’re very excited about the prospects of hosting, but nothing tangible to report in the way of timing.”

The IOC has not ruled out accepting multiple bids from the same country, but the USOC has not discussed that option.

“That is not a thought at this point,” Blackmun said. “We have not discussed that, although the IOC has been pretty clear that it’s very open-minded about having multiple cities host. I think it’s a little bit different thing to have multiple cities from one country competing to host.”

The USOC would rather bid for 2030 than 2026 to avoid challenges with the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games.

A USOC leader said in October that the U.S. wants to be part of the discussion if the IOC wants to award the 2026 and 2030 Olympics in one vote like it did for Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. In that case, the USOC may be interested in entering the next round of bidding.

If not, then a wait for the 2030 bidding in another four years is the preferred option.

Traditionally, host cities are determined after a candidate process by an IOC members vote seven years before the Games.

However, the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games were awarded at the same time to Paris and Los Angeles in September.

The 2018 and 2022 Winter Games are both in East Asia. The last time the U.S. hosted the Winter Olympics was in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

“I think [IOC president] Thomas Bach has publicly stated that he would like to see the Winter Games return to a more traditional location,” USOC chairman Larry Probst said in September. “So, to me, that’s code for Europe or North America. … We’ll have to monitor that, see what the situation looks like and then develop our strategy for whether we’re going to bid for the next Winter Games or longer than that.”

The 2026 Olympics have one confirmed bid so far from Sion, Switzerland, though its future may hinge on a public vote. Sapporo, Japan, and Calgary have also expressed interest.

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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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