Karsten Warholm
AP

‘Impossible Games’ signal return of track and field; TV, stream schedule

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Track and field is back. Like never before.

The Impossible Games air live on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. The meet is a repurposed version of a Diamond League stop in Oslo.

Thursday’s competition will have no fans, limited events and fewer athletes, including some solo races. It’s the closest thing to a top-flight international track and field meet since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The headliners: the two top-ranked pole vaulters in history — Swede Mondo Duplantis and Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, world 400m hurdles champion Karsten Warholm of Norway and the world’s best cross-country skier, Norwegian Therese Johaug, who is racing a 10,000m alone.

The regular Diamond League calendar is scheduled to resume in August.

Here are the Oslo entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

1:35 p.m. — Men’s Pole Vault
2:05 — Men’s 1000m
2:08 — Men’s Discus
2:15 — Women’s 200m Hurdles
2:25 — Women’s 600m
2:35 — Women’s 300m Hurdles
2:43 — Men’s 300m Hurdles
2:50 — Men’s 2000m
2:58 — Men’s 25K
3:25 — Men’s 100m
3:30 — Women’s 10,000m
3:50 — Men’s Shot Put
4:15 — Women’s 3000m

Here are three events to watch:

Men’s Pole Vault — 1:35 p.m.
Duplantis and Lavillenie duel for the second time during the pandemic. The first, one month ago, was dubbed “The Ultimate Garden Clash.” Duplantis pole vaulted from his family’s backyard in Louisiana, Lavillenie from his home in France and world champion Sam Kendricks from his native Mississippi in a virtual event. Duplantis and Lavillenie tied for the win by clearing five meters 36 times in a half-hour. In February, Duplantis, 20, broke Lavillenie’s six-year-old world record by clearing 6.17 and 6.18 meters on consecutive Saturdays. For the Impossible Games, Duplantis flew from Louisiana to Stockholm last weekend, then planned to take a six-hour drive to Oslo. Lavillenie will again be jumping from home in France, but Duplantis will have company at the Oslo stadium in the form of 19-year-old Norwegian Pal Haugen Lillefosse.

Men’s 300m Hurdles — 2:43 p.m.
Warholm, the two-time reigning world 400m hurdles champion, races alone here. He is targeting the fastest time in history in the 300m hurdles, a rarely contested event. The record of 34.48 seconds was set by Brit Chris Rawlinson in 2002.

Men’s 2000m — 2:50 p.m.
This is a group event, similar to speed skating’s team pursuit. In the Oslo stadium will be Team Ingebrigtsen, featuring brothers FilipHenrik and Jakob and two more Norwegians. In Kenya will be Team Cheruiyot, featuring the last two world 1500m champions — Timothy Cheruiyot and Elijah Manangoi, plus three more Kenyans. The winner will be the team with the best overall time for the top three runners.

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World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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