Yuzuru Hanyu to skip Grand Prix Series due to coronavirus risks

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will not compete in this autumn’s Grand Prix Series, citing asthma, plus travel concerns for himself and his Canadian-based coaches.

“There is no conclusive evidence about the relationship between bronchial asthma and COVID-19 so it’s difficult to make a judgment,” Hanyu said in comments posted on Japan’s figure skating federation’s website, according to an Olympic Channel translation. “But there is information that those with asthma contracting COVID-19 will make the condition worse so I need to be as cautious as possible.

“I believe we should not create opportunities to spread the infection. If my withdrawal can help protect against the spread of infection, it may become one action which will contribute to stopping the spread of infection.”

The International Skating Union said earlier this month that this season’s six Grand Prix stops are restricted to skaters from the host country or who regularly train in the area. That limited Hanyu’s options to Skate Canada in late October, if he returns to Canada from Japan, or NHK Trophy in Osaka in late November, though those have been his most frequent Grand Prix stops anyway in recent years.

Hanyu normally trains in Toronto, but he has been in Japan during the pandemic. Hanyu said it would be difficult for anyone from his coaching team to travel from Canada to Japan and difficult for him to travel to Canada to compete given quarantine rules that would significantly keep him off the ice.

Hanyu last competed in February, winning the Four Continents Championships. That event lacked Nathan Chen, his top rival who won both of their head-to-heads in this Olympic cycle.

Chen expressed interest in competing at Skate America, the first Grand Prix stop, in late October.

After the Grand Prix Series, the next top-level competition available to Hanyu is Japan’s national championships, typically in late December.

MORE: Nathan Chen has questions about figure skating’s restart

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Eliud Kipchoge, two races shy of his target, to make Boston Marathon debut

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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World record holder Eliud Kipchoge will race the Boston Marathon for the first time on April 17.

Kipchoge, who at September’s Berlin Marathon lowered his world record by 30 seconds to 2:01:09, has won four of the six annual major marathons — Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago.

The 38-year-old Kenyan has never raced Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897, nor New York City but has repeated in recent years a desire to enter both of them.

Typically, he has run the London Marathon in the spring and the Berlin Marathon in the fall.

Kipchoge’s last race in the U.S. was the 2014 Chicago Marathon, his second of 10 consecutive marathon victories from 2014 through 2019.

He can become the first reigning men’s marathon world record holder to finish the Boston Marathon since South Korean Suh Yun-Bok set a world record of 2:25:39 in Boston in 1947, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

In 2024 in Paris, Kipchoge is expected to race the Olympic marathon and bid to become the first person to win three gold medals in that event.

The Boston Marathon field also includes arguably the second- and third-best men in the world right now — Kipchoge’s Kenyan training partners Evans Chebet and Benson Kipruto. Chebet won Boston and New York City this year. Kipruto won Boston last year and Chicago this year.

American Des Linden, who won Boston in 2018, headlines the women’s field.

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2024 Tour de France to end with Nice time trial due to Paris Olympics

2024 Tour de France Nice
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The 2024 Tour de France will end on the French Riviera instead of the French capital because of the Paris Olympics.

The finish of cycling’s marquee race leaves Paris for the first time since 1905.

Tour organizers said on Thursday the last stage of its 111th race will take place in the Mediterranean resort of Nice on July 21. Five days later, Paris opens the Olympics.

Because of security and logistical reasons, the French capital won’t have its traditional Tour finish on the Champs-Elysees. Parting with tradition of a sprint on the Champs-Elysees, the last stage will be an individual time trial along Nice’s famed Promenade des Anglais.

The start of the 2024 race, which will begin for the first time in Italy, was brought forward by one week, a customary change during an Olympic year. The Tour will start on June 29 in Florence.

Nice has hosted the Tour 37 times, including its start twice, in 1981 and in 2020. Two years ago, the start was delayed until Aug. 29 due to lockdowns and travels bans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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