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Olympic Opening Ceremony Parade of Nations order changed slightly

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The Opening Ceremony Parade of Nations will look slightly different in Tokyo on July 24.

Greece, which traditionally marches in first as the nation that founded the Olympics, will now be followed by the Refugee Olympic Team, which debuted in Rio.

The Refugee team, which marches under the Olympic Flag, moves up some 200 places in the marching order. In 2016, the refugee team was next to last, just before the host nation Brazil.

In Tokyo, the refugee team will be followed by the usual order of nations in alphabetical order. Then in another change, future Olympic hosts will be moved to the end of the order, just before host nation Japan.

The last three nations to march will be the U.S. (2028 Olympic host Los Angeles), France (2024 Olympic host Paris) and Japan.

“To increase the special focus that future hosts already enjoy over the course of their Games preparations by giving them prominence in the stadium and, obviously, with a global audience of several billion,” IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said. “Equally, with the Refugee Olympic Team, we want to give that some big prominence.”

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Gene testing to catch months-old doping may be available for 2020 Olympics

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A new test to catch blood doping long after it happens might be ready in time for the Olympics in Tokyo, IOC president Thomas Bach said Tuesday.

“With research on genetic sequencing progressing well, this new approach could be a ground-breaking method to detect blood doping, weeks or even months after it took place,” Bach said at the World Conference on Doping in Sport, which opened Tuesday in Katowice, Poland.

The test has been in development since 2006 by University of Brighton professor Yannis Pitsiladis, The Guardian reported.

Bach said the IOC has taken steps to preserve past samples for future testing that can give deserving medalists their due years after the fact.

“We want the cheats to never feel safe, any time or anywhere,” Bach said.

The “cheats” aren’t just the athletes, Bach warned. Anti-doping work must also look at those who work with athletes, he said, which may require help from governments.

“Whether it was the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia or the investigations around Operation Aderlass or the most recent allegations against the coach of the former Nike Oregon Project all these cases, as different as they are, highlight the urgent need to focus much more on the athlete’s entourage.

“The athlete is not the only culprit. The athlete is supported and sometimes even driven to or forced into doping by a secretive network which may include coaches, agents, dealers, managers, officials from governmental sport organizations, doctors, physiotherapists or others.”

Bach also announced a $10 million pledge from the IOC to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The conference is taking place in the home country of the incoming WADA president, Witold Banka.

Outgoing WADA president Craig Reedie hailed the agency’s progress but noted it was ill-equipped to deal with large-scale challenges such as the systematic doping in Russia, laid bare by a pair of devastating reports by investigator Richard McLaren in 2016.

“There will always be those who try to destabilize the anti-doping system,” outgoing WADA president Craig Reedie warned.

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Sergey Bubka, Alexander Popov deny Rio Olympic vote-buying claims

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Olympic gold medalists Sergey Bubka and Alexander Popov denied claims made in a Brazilian court they were paid to vote for Rio de Janeiro’s winning bid to host the 2016 Summer Games.

The International Olympic Committee said Friday its ethics commission has contacted both men about the allegation by former Rio state governor Sergio Cabral, who is serving a prison sentence for corruption.

Cabral’s testimony Thursday echoed details of an alleged Olympic vote-buying scheme in 2009 already in the public domain.

Ongoing criminal investigations in Brazil and France have implicated Brazil’s former top Olympic official Carlos Nuzman, then-IAAF president Lamine Diack and his son, and then-IOC executive board member Frank Fredericks.

Pole vault great Bubka and swimming star Popov were IOC members voting in October 2009 in a four-candidate contest that included Chicago.

“I completely reject all the false claims made by the former Rio State governor,” Bubka, now an IOC executive board member, said in a statement Friday. “My lawyers will write to Mr. Diack to ask him to explain the allegations of Mr. Cabral who wrongly claims in his testimony that Mr. Diack could secure my vote.”

Popov, who is now an IOC honorary member after having full membership from 2000-16, said he didn’t vote for Rio in any of the three rounds of balloting.

“I did not participate in any negotiations and I am not familiar with the topics and with the people who are mentioned … and have never had contact with them,” the Russian swimmer said in a statement.

Popov said he was seeking to cooperate with the IOC’s ethics investigators, and joined Bubka in saying they were preparing law suits for defamation.

Bubka is the 1988 Olympic champion in pole vault and held the world record for 30 years until 2014. Popov is arguably the greatest ever men’s sprint swimmer and won the Olympic 50m and 100m freestyles in 1992 and 1996.

They are the latest high-profile names in Olympic circles to be linked to vote-buying investigations for the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Most of the evidence detailed connects Papa Massata Diack, the son of long-time IOC member Lamine Diack, to irregular payments of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

Fredericks, a four-time Olympic sprint medalist from Namibia, was suspended by the IOC in 2017 after French investigators revealed he received a $300,000 payment on the day of the 2016 Olympics vote in October 2009. It allegedly came from a Brazilian businessman and was routed via Papa Diack.

Fredericks denied wrongdoing and said the money was for consultancy work in athletics.

On Thursday, Cabral told a judge he paid $1.5 million in bribes through intermediaries to Lamine Diack, to secure up to six votes in the meeting of around 100 IOC members awarding the 2016 Summer Games. Cabral added that another $500,000 was paid later to Diack’s son to secure three more votes for Rio.

Cabral repeated publicly known claims that Nuzman handled negotiations, and the money allegedly came from businessman Arthur Soares.

Nuzman is due to stand trial for money laundering, tax evasion, and racketeering. French authorities said last month they want both Diacks to stand trial on corruption charges. The elder Diack has been detained in France since 2015 and his son has evaded questioning in their native Senegal.

Fredericks faces preliminary charges of passive corruption and money laundering.

The IOC said Friday is it “fully committed to address any issues” with Olympic bidding which has been reformed since 2013 when Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Summer Games.

“With these reforms the IOC has turned the page with regard to good governance and in particular the procedure of the election of host cities,” the Olympic body said.

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