Italy edges Sweden in public support in 2026 Olympic host study

2026 Winter Olympics
IOC
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GENEVA (AP) — The Italian bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo looked stronger than the Stockholm-Are project in an IOC analysis of the candidates published Friday.

Polling by the International Olympic Committee, which typically looks to get a warm welcome from host nations, showed “83% support in Italy” and “55% in favor in Sweden.”

The evaluation report said the Swedish bid team “considers such figures to be high in the Swedish context.”

The 144-page document was produced for IOC members, with about 90 of them set to pick the winner on June 24 in Lausanne.

Italian public authorities have provided more financial guarantees than in Sweden to underwrite billions of dollars in operating and security costs. Regional authorities in Lombardy and Veneto — “two of the wealthiest regions of Italy” — are the “driving forces behind the candidature,” the report said.

The Swedish bid lacked “binding venue funding guarantees” for the athletes village in Stockholm and the two new sports arenas planned, for speed skating and a venue to be shared by cross-country skiing and biathlon. The IOC evaluation team suggested using existing ski venues in Falun and Ostersund.

The Italian bid has private funding in Milan for the only new arena, for hockey, and an athletes village being built as “much-needed housing” for university students. Both projects are planned to be built regardless of the hosting vote result.

The IOC report also said Stockholm is “not an official Host City,” with authorities in the ski resort Are signing key Olympic contracts.

With a strong emphasis on cutting costs by using existing venues, the Olympic report is positive about using a bobsled course in Sigulda, Latvia.

“This would give Latvia an Olympic experience the country might not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy,” the report said about the venue 285 miles from Stockholm across the Baltic Sea.

“An Olympic Winter Games in Sweden would feature athletes competing in first-rate venues packed with knowledgeable and passionate fans, including many from Nordic countries,” the report said.

Italy also was highlighted for its “passionate fans, knowledgeable volunteers and skilled event organizers (which) would all combine to deliver an outstanding winter sports experience.”

IOC experts did suggest cutting Bormio as one of the two Alpine ski venues to ease possible logistics issues.

For the second straight Winter Games vote, the IOC has been left with only two candidates. Beijing won narrowly over Almaty, Kazakhstan, to get the 2022 Olympics after several contenders withdrew lacking public support for a project widely seen as too expensive.

Two European candidates for 2026 remain after contenders including Graz, Austria; Calgary, Canada; Sapporo, Japan; and Sion, Switzerland, all dropped out. The IOC also eliminated the Turkish bid of Erzurum from the contest.

MORE: IOC proposes Olympic ‘host’ can be multiple countries

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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