Tsunekazu Takeda
AP

Japanese Olympic Committee head resigns amid bribery scandal

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TOKYO — Tsunekazu Takeda is stepping down as the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee amid a vote-buying scandal that French investigators suspect helped Tokyo land next year’s Olympics.

Takeda announced Tuesday at the committee’s executive board meeting that he will resign when his term ends in June, and he again denied corruption allegations against him.

The 71-year-old Takeda is also an International Olympic Committee member and the head of its marketing commission. When he resigns, he will lose the IOC membership which is tied to his JOC presidency.

“I have not done anything wrong,” he said. “I will continue to do my best to clear my name.”

He said it was his own decision, although several months ago he denied he intended to step aside. But pressure has mounted with the games getting closer and the IOC wanting to distance itself from another scandal.

“I am sorry I have upset the society ahead of the Tokyo Olympics,” he said, speaking to about 100 reporters in the JOC’s small boardroom. “I feel bad about that.”

Takeda has said he was not involved in the decision-making process and had no reason to question what he termed a “regular commercial contact” approved by others at the JOC.

“The IOC takes note with the greatest respect of the decision taken by Mr. Takeda to resign as an IOC Member,” the Olympic body said in a statement. “Our respect of this decision is even greater because he took this step to protect the Olympic Movement while the presumption of innocence, on which the IOC insists, continues to prevail.”

Hayley Wickenheiser is 7th woman elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Hayley Wickenheiser
AP
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Hayley Wickenheiser, arguably the greatest female hockey player of all time who retired in 2017, will be the seventh female player in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The six-time Canadian Olympian (once in softball) was elected in her first year of eligibility. Wickenheiser is joined by Sergei Zubov, who earned gold at the 1992 Albertville Games with the Unified Team, two-time Czech Olympic medalist Václav Nedomanský and 1980s and ’90s NHLer Guy Carbonneau, among others.

The induction ceremony is Nov. 18 in Toronto.

Wickenheiser is the fifth Canadian female player elected after Angela James (2010), Geraldine Heaney (2013), Danielle Goyette (2017) and Jayna Hefford (2018). Americans Cammi Granato (2010) and Angela Ruggiero (2015) are also Hall of Famers.

Wickenheiser, now the Toronto Maple Leafs’ assistant director of player development, earned four golds and one silver in the first five Olympic women’s hockey tournaments. She played 23 years for the Canadian national team, earning seven world titles and being named Olympic tournament MVP in 2002 and 2006.

She also carried the Canadian flag at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony and recited the Athletes’ Oath at the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony. She was elected to the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission in 2014.

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Breaking provisionally added for 2024 Olympics

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Breaking (don’t call it break dancing) was provisionally added to the Olympics for the 2024 Paris Games.

The IOC also announced Tuesday that skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were provisionally added to the 2024 Olympic program. Those three sports will debut at Tokyo 2020 but were not assured places on the Olympic program beyond next year.

“They contribute to making the program more gender balanced and more urban, and offer the opportunity to connect with the younger generation,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a press release. “The proposed sports are in line with these principles and enhance Paris 2024’s overall dynamic Games concept, which focuses on inclusivity, inspiring a new audience and hosting socially responsible Games.”

The IOC Executive Board will make the final decision on the Paris 2024 event program in December 2020, but no more sports can be proposed for inclusion. That means baseball and softball, which return to the Olympics next year, will not be on the 2024 Olympic program. Those sports can still be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Breaking debuted at the Youth Olympics last year, where the U.S. did not have any athletes. Sergei “Bumblebee” Chernyshev of Russia and Ramu Kawai of Japan took gold medals.

Breaking had never previously been up for a vote for Olympic inclusion, but the World DanceSport Federation is recognized by the IOC.

Teenagers, some of whom went by nicknames like Bad Matty, Senorita Carlota and KennyG, went head-to-head in dance battles at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires last year. They performed on a mat atop an outdoor basketball court to a musical beat and emcees.

Judges determined winners using six criteria: creativity, personality, technique, variety, perfomativity and musicality.

“Breaking (also called b-boying or b-girling) is an urban dance style,” according to the Youth Olympics. “The urban dance style originated during the mid 1970s in the Bronx borough of New York City.”

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