North Korea banned from Beijing Winter Olympics, other IOC benefits

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The International Olympic Committee announced Wednesday that it has suspended North Korea’s National Olympic Committee through the end of 2022 after it chose not to participate in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

The IOC executive board’s decision bans a North Korean delegation from entering the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, which begins in less than five months. The suspension also excludes the NOC from receiving financial or programmatic support from the IOC for the next 15-plus months.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC statement noted that it had, “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

The PRK NOC violated Rule 27.3 of the Olympic Charter, which includes: “Each NOC is obliged to participate in the Games of the Olympiad by sending athletes.”

Until this year, North Korea had participated in every summer Olympics since 1992 — and nearly every edition since its first appearance in 1972, save the Los Angeles 1984 Games when it was part of a boycott and the Seoul 1988 Games that were held in South Korea.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the North and South fielded a joint women’s ice hockey team and marched together in the Opening Ceremony.

The IOC said it would consider any North Korean athletes who qualify for next year’s Winter Olympics by name on a case-by-case basis.

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

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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

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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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