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“From the polls, we understand that outdated information on the cost of the Games was the main concern for those voting against the funding,” the Olympic body said.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

Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement