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Switzerland 2026 Olympic bid rejected by public vote

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SION, Switzerland (AP) — Another Olympic hosting bid in Switzerland was sunk Sunday by a public vote against expected high costs.

A total of 53.98 percent of voters in the Swiss region of Valais refused to pledge financial support for a 2026 Winter Games hosting bid centered on the town of Sion.

“There is no plan B,” Sion Mayor Philippe Varone said Sunday, declaring the bid campaign over.

It is the third time in five years that a bid campaign supported by the Swiss national Olympic body was rejected by the people.

In 2013, voters in the upscale ski resorts of St. Moritz and Davos, plus their home canton (state), rejected a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Last year, the same Graubuenden region rejected a renewed campaign for 2026.

Sunday’s vote is another rejection by European voters for the International Olympic Committee, and one that hit closer to home.

Sion called for medal events to be scattered across Switzerland, including in the IOC’s home city of Lausanne in the neighboring canton of Vaud.

The IOC on Sunday blamed misinformation for the latest loss.

“From the polls, we understand that outdated information on the cost of the Games was the main concern for those voting against the funding,” the Olympic body said.

Sion offered what the bidders termed a sustainable Olympics relying on already existing ice venues and ski courses. Voters rejected assurances from the IOC and bid supporters that expensive new construction would not be needed.

The IOC has created a more flexible bidding process for the 2026 Olympics, and still has six possible bids in contention: Turin and Milan in Italy; Graz in Austria; Stockholm; Turkey’s Erzurum; Calgary, Canada; and Sapporo, Japan.

IOC members will make their decision in September 2019.

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MORE: A look at 2026 Olympic bid cities

Sports execs oppose esports in Olympics, survey shows

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A global survey of sports industry executives shows 57 percent oppose Olympic status for video gaming.

Audit firm PwC says more than 400 sports industry professionals from 42 countries answered an online questionnaire for its annual survey. The findings were discussed Tuesday at the Olympic Museum, where the IOC hosted an esports conference in July on possible Olympic status for the booming games market.

The PwC survey asked “Is esports an Olympic sport?“: 28 percent said, “no, because esports does not qualify as ‘sport,’” and 29 percent said esports should grow independently of the Olympics.

A further 26.7 percent said esports must first unify under a single governing body, and 10.4 percent said esports should join “as soon as possible.” Almost 6 percent said they did not know or abstained.

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MORE: IOC boss: esports has no Olympic future with violence

Annemiek van Vleuten, back from horrific Rio Olympic crash, leads Dutch sweep at cycling worlds

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Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten led the first medal sweep by one nation in a world road cycling championships elite time trial, repeating as gold medalist two years after a horrific crash at the Rio Olympics.

Van Vleuten, 35, clocked 34 minutes, 25.36 seconds on the 17-mile course in Innsbruck, Austria.

She bettered Olympic road race champion Anna van der Breggen by 28.99 seconds, matching their one-two finish from 2017 Worlds. Ellen van Dijk, the 2013 World champ, completed the Dutch sweep with bronze, 1:25.19 back.

Van Dijk edged Canadian Leah Kirchmann by 1.62 seconds. The top American was Leah Thomas in fifth. Full results are here.

Worlds continue Wednesday with the men’s time trial on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold. A full broadcast schedule is here.

In the Rio Olympic road race, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped into a ditch. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title.

Van Vleuten wasn’t out long. She raced at the October 2016 World Championships, placing a career-high fifth in the time trial. She then won La Course in 2017 and 2018 and the Giro Rosa in July, in addition to the 2017 World time trial.

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