U.S. to host Rugby World Cups in 2031, 2033

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The United States will stage a Rugby World Cup for the first time after being voted as the host of the men’s tournament in 2031 and the women’s tournament two years later.

World Rugby announced the host nations for all the World Cups from 2025-33 after a meeting of its council in Dublin on Thursday, with Australia also staging back-to-back tournaments in 2027 (men) and 2029 (women).

In 2016, rugby returned to the Olympics for the first time since 1924, though the Olympic version is rugby sevens, which differs from the 15-per-side Rugby World Cup. The U.S. hosted the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens for the first time in 2018 in San Francisco.

The sport is breaking new ground by taking the men’s 15-a-side tournament — World Rugby’s most lucrative asset — to North America, with the governing body regarding it as an area of untapped potential in both a commercial and sporting sense. The women’s World Cup was played in Canada in 2006.

USA Rugby chief executive Ross Young described the decision as a “paradigm-shifting catalyst for the growth of our sport, not only here in the United States but around the world.”

“USA Rugby will now venture into a new era,” Young added, “and ensure the sport’s most treasured event is a springboard for creating lasting, sustainable enthusiasm and passion for rugby from coast to coast.”

Hosting the two World Cups will cost around $500 million, with profits and losses shared between World Rugby and USA Rugby. More than 20 American cities are potential hosts for World Cup matches, USA Rugby has said.

The bid received support from the White House, with U.S. President Joe Biden sending a letter to World Rugby last month giving governmental guarantees and his backing for the “development of rugby in the United States.”

The men’s Rugby World Cup is regarded in some parts of the world as the third biggest sporting event, after the soccer World Cup and the Summer Olympics.

The United States is hosting all three events in a five-year span from 2026, starting with the men’s soccer World Cup that year — with Mexico and Canada as co-hosts — and then the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.

“The unparalleled growth made possible by bringing the world’s third-largest sports event and the fastest growing women’s event to the world’s largest sports market cannot be overstated,” USA Rugby said.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit up in green and gold after World Rugby’s announcement, which sees the men’s tournament returning to Australia for the first time since 2003.

It is being viewed as a chance to rejuvenate rugby in the country as the World Cups come after the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in 2025, bringing much-needed revenue to its governing body — Rugby Australia — that was badly hit by the pandemic.

Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos called it “the start of a new era for Australian Rugby.”

“Australia will become the center of the rugby world over the next decade,” he said, “and that is incredibly exciting.”

The 2027 tournament will be the 40th anniversary of Australia and New Zealand hosting the first Rugby World Cup in 1987.

For the first time, World Rugby is using a new partnership hosting model as part of a streamlined bid process. Australia had already been named as the “preferred candidate” for the 2027 and ’29 tournaments while the United States had entered “exclusive targeted dialogue” with World Rugby for the 2031 men’s tournament.

England was announced as the host of the women’s World Cup in 2025.

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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