2022 Winter Olympics

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FIFA says soccer clubs don’t have to release players for Rio Olympics

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Soccer clubs are under no obligation to allow their players to play in the Rio Olympic men’s tournament, FIFA said Friday.

“The event is not part of the international match calendar,” FIFA said in a press release. “However, FIFA is asking for support from the clubs to allow players who are called up by their national teams to be given the chance to be part of the Olympic experience.”

The move could impact Brazil’s biggest sports star, Barcelona striker Neymar, who has said he’s made his intentions to play in the Olympic soccer tournament known to his club.

In 2012, FIFA ordered club teams to allow under-23 players to compete in the Olympics. In 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Barcelona did not have to release Lionel Messi to compete in the Olympics, though Messi did end up winning gold with Argentina anyway.

In May, Brazil national team coach Dunga, who is also the under-23 Olympic team coach after the firing of Alexandre Gallo, said Neymar’s participation in the Rio Olympics was dependent on talks with Barcelona, according to O Globo.

Neymar may be the 2016 Olympic host nation’s most famous potential Olympian, but there is at least some question of whether he will suit up at the Rio Games.

Copa America Centenario is slated to take place from June 3-26. Soccer at the 2016 Olympics takes place from Aug. 3-20. Neymar plays for Barcelona in La Liga, whose season usually begins in late August. That would be a busy summer of national team duty, which may not sit well with Barcelona.

Three of the world’s other top players — Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Messi — also play internationally for nations that qualified for Rio 2016 (Portugal, Sweden and Argentina).

World Cup winner Germany also qualified for Rio.

Olympic soccer teams are made up of players aged 23 and under. There’s also an option of having three over-age players, which is where Neymar, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic and Messi would come in.

Some nations take greater advantage of the Olympic rule that allows three over-age players more than others. In 2012, Brazil used its exceptions on three exceptional players —HulkMarcelo and Thiago Silva — who started for Brazil in the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil, which has won five World Cups, has never won Olympic gold in soccer. It won silver in 1984, 1988 and 2012 and bronze in 1996 and 2008.

Neymar, then 20, was part of the 2012 Olympic team that lost to Mexico in the final.

Also Friday, FIFA confirmed that the Qatar 2022 World Cup would not interfere with the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, as the IOC has said for months.

The 2022 World Cup dates are Nov. 21-Dec. 18, which will coincide with various winter sports seasons.

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Oslo withdraws 2022 Olympic bid after ‘no’ vote

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Oslo’s 2022 Winter Olympic bid is off after Norwegian government voted against financially supporting it, the bid’s director of marketing and communications said Wednesday.

“Yes, it’s off,” Marit Høvik Hartmann said in an email.

IOC executive director Christophe Dubi said Norwegian senior politicians made decisions based on “half-truths and factual inaccuracies,” calling it “a missed opportunity” for Oslo and Norway in a press release.

“It is a missed opportunity to make the most of the 880 million dollars investment the IOC would have made to the Games that would have built a considerable legacy for the people,” Dubi said. “In addition, national sponsorship rights granted by the IOC would have delivered a considerable sum and almost certainly substantially more than the 181 million dollars estimated in the bid. The most recent editions of the Olympic Winter Games (for instance Vancouver and Sochi), which have all either broken even or made a profit, have made sponsorship revenue four times higher than that.

“Earlier this year the Norwegian bid team asked for a meeting with the IOC for an explanation of all aspects of the IOC requirements, including the financial details, and the IOC arranged this for all three bid cities in order to ensure fair play amongst the three bids. Unfortunately, Oslo sent neither a senior member of the bid team nor a government official to this meeting. For this reason senior politicians in Norway appear not to have been properly briefed on the process and were left to take their decisions on the basis of half-truths and factual inaccuracies.

“For a country of such means, full of so many successful athletes and so many fanatical winter sports fans it is a pity that Oslo will miss out on this great opportunity to invest in its future and show the world what it has to offer.”

Oslo was named one of three finalist cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee in July. The two remaining finalist cities are Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing.

The IOC will vote to select the host city on July 31, 2015, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Krakow, Poland; Lviv, Ukraine and Stockholm previously dropped out of the race.

Oslo hosted the 1952 Winter Olympics. Norway hosted again with the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Games. Lillehammer will host the 2016 Youth Winter Olympics.

Kazakhstan has never hosted an Olympics.

Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, could become the first city to host both a Summer and Winter Games.

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IOC announces 3 finalists to host 2022 Winter Olympics

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The IOC announced Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing, and Oslo as the three finalists for the 2022 Winter Games Monday.

The decision was made at the IOC’s executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. The move was widely expected, according to the AP, after three other cities – Krakow, Poland; Liviv, Ukraine, and Stockholm had previously withdrawn from contention.

Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games, and would become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. It has proposed hosting Alpine events at a location 120 miles outside the Chinese capital. With the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 Summer Games to be held in Tokyo, it is reportedly unlikely the IOC would select an East Asian nation as a host city three times in a row.

Oslo hosted the 1952 Winter Games, but the Norwegian government has still not fully committed to hosting the Games, according to the AP. If awarded the 2022 Games, Oslo would become the fourth city to host two Winter Olympics, following in the footsteps of Lake Placid, N.Y., in 1932 and 1980; St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 1928 and 1948; and Innsbruck, Austria, in 1964 and again in 1976 (a late switch to Innusbruck was made for the 1976 Games after Denver was awarded, then withdrew from hosting those Games).

Almaty, also known as Alma-Ata, was the capital of Soviet Kazakhstan as well as independent Kazakhstan from 1991 to 1997. It would be the first Central Asian nation to host an Olympics.

The IOC’s evaluation commission will visit each city next year, with the final decision scheduled to be announced on July 31, 2015.