IOC president Thomas Bach looks to Tokyo Olympics, tasks they entail

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IOC President Thomas Bach said the Tokyo Olympics will be optimized and simplified in 2021, but the athlete experience will not be compromised.

“We will make sure the athletes will have this stage to shine, to which they are used in the Olympic Games, which they would have enjoyed from now on, from today on in Tokyo 2020,” Bach told NBC Olympics primetime host Mike Tirico on Thursday, one year out from the Opening Ceremony.

Bach was asked about several key topics pertaining to the first postponed Olympics in modern history.

Could the Olympics be held without fans?

“This is clearly what we do not want,” he said. “It’s too early to speculate, but, again, the Olympic spirit would be at its best with full stadia.”

Where do you stand on the topic of perhaps needing a significant medical advancement or vaccine to hold the Olympics?

“We remain committed to this one overarching principle we have established already before the postponement — this means to organize the Olympic Games only by safeguarding the safety and the health of all people involved in the Olympic Games,” Bach said, noting close cooperation with experts, including the World Health Organization. “We will address the circumstances as they may arise.”

If the Olympics can’t be held in 2021, will they be postponed, or will they be canceled?

“This is speculation right now,” Bach said. “We are well-advised, and I would also like to ask the public, a little bit, not to speculate too much with the ifs and whens and how, because in many countries in the world, you do not know under which circumstances you can leave your house tomorrow or whether you can leave it at all.

“It’s really too much expected from us and the organizing committee to know today all the details of the biggest and most complex event in the world.”

Where do we stand on discussions regarding athlete demonstrations at the Olympics?

“It is important to emphasize that the athletes have manyfold opportunities to express themselves — in press conferences, in interviews, in social media, in team meetings, in conversations with their fellow athletes in the Olympic Village and so on,” Bach said. “Rule 50 [of the Olympic Charter, prohibiting “protests and demonstrations”] relates only to the field of play and the ceremonies.

“We want to see how, in a dignified and non-divisive ways, maybe new formats can be found for the athletes to show their support for one of the key messages of the Olympic Games, which is non-discrimination. The Olympic Games themselves are maybe one of the most powerful demonstrations of non-discrimination. … Everybody is being equal. Everybody is equally treated, respecting the same rules. I think this is really a powerful symbol of non-discrimination.”

Lastly, Bach looked ahead to the Opening Ceremony in exactly one year.

“This Opening Ceremony will first of all send the message which Olympic Games are always sending: this is the unity of humanity in all our diversity,” he said, sitting in front of an Olympic Flag and the torch Muhammad Ali used to light the 1996 Olympic cauldron. “But in Tokyo, it will be more. It will be a message of solidarity and a message of hope.”

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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