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Olympic notebook

2032 Summer Olympics appear to be headed for Brisbane

The last time the Olympics were in Australia was 2000, when singer Olivia Newton-John took part in the opening ceremonies in Sydney.
The last time the Olympics were in Australia was 2000, when singer Olivia Newton-John took part in the opening ceremonies in Sydney.THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Brisbane is all but certain to be awarded the 2032 Summer Olympics after the IOC’s Future Host Commission tapped the Australian city this past week as the preferred bidder.

While commission chair Kristin Kloster Aasen cautioned that it’s “not a done deal,” the Queensland capital checks all of the desired boxes: experience hosting major international events (the 2018 Commonwealth Games at nearby Gold Coast), 80-90 percent of venues either existing or temporary, transportation infrastructure, hotels, and favorable weather.

If Brisbane delivers the required documents and guarantees, the IOC will make it official at a full session, probably next year.

The new selection process, which is based on extensive dialogue with potential cities, does away with the traditional free-for-all vote resembling a five-ringed beauty pageant that invited bribery. That format also produced numerous losing candidates who’d spent millions of dollars on their campaigns and often were reluctant to bid again.

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Brisbane, which would follow Paris (2024) and Los Angeles (2028), would be the first host from Down Under since Sydney in 2000.

A people problem

Will there or won’t there be spectators at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics? That decision likely won’t be made until the end of April, less than three months before the Games. “As late as possible but as early as needed,” says Games executive director Christophe Dubi. The key question will be what to do about the more than 2 million overseas ticket-holders who’ll be wandering the streets and taking public transportation to the events. The Japanese government has no practical way to test, monitor, and quarantine them … Kara Kohler won her showdown against Olympic silver medalist Gevvie Stone by nearly four seconds at the Olympic sculling trials in Sarasota Friday to claim a Tokyo berth in the women’s single, where she’ll be very much in the mix for a medal. Stone will get another chance to qualify for her third Games in April’s trials for the double, where she and Cicely Madden placed fifth at the last world championships. Victors in the other events were John Graves (men’s single), Kevin Cardno-J.P. Kirkegaard (men’s double), Jasper Liu-Zach Heese (men’s lightweight double), and Michelle Sechser-Molly Reckford (women’s lightweight double). All of the winners except Kohler still have to qualify for the Games at the May last-chance regatta in Switzerland, where the top two finishers will earn Olympic tickets.

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Heat is on in Mexico

The US men’s soccer team, which hasn’t qualified for the Games since 2008, faces an uphill road at next month’s regional qualifying tournament in Mexico. The Americans, who are drawn with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and the hosts, need to win their group to earn one of the two Tokyo tickets. They’ve beaten the Mexicans only twice in six decades in Olympic qualifying (not counting forfeit victories) and lost, 4-0, in the decisive 2004 match in Guadalajara, where they’ll face El Tri March 26. “We all feel a sense of urgency and this notion that we can correct the last 12 years when we haven’t been in,” says coach Jason Kreis. On the under-23 training squad are Revolution defender Henry Kessler and former Harvard goalkeeper Matt Freese. The US women, who qualified last year, are coming off an impressive tuneup in the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, defeating fellow Tokyo qualifiers Canada (1-0) and Brazil (2-0) plus Argentina (6-0). Their challenge in Japan will be to overcome the Olympic jinx: No reigning World Cup champion has claimed the gold medal, with the Americans losing to Sweden in the Rio quarterfinals … The Russians, who’ve been denied the use of their country’s name, flag, and anthem at the Games because of their unrepentant doping history, will compete under the acronym ROC, for Russian Olympic Committee, with the committee’s white-blue-red logo as its banner. The IOC must approve the anthem, which the Russians have suggested should be “Katyusha,” a popular World War II song that mentions fruit trees and river mists.

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Fighting chances

The IOC’s decision to scrap boxing’s June world qualifying tournament in Paris and go with past rankings for 53 spots was a blow to up-and-coming hopefuls who haven’t had the necessary bouts to gain sufficient standing. Had it been the international federation’s decision, the tournament would have been held, but the IOC’s boxing task force has called the shots since suspending AIBA two years ago. The Americans won’t be affected since they’ll qualify at the continental event in Buenos Aires in May. The squad, which was chosen last year, includes Lynn lightweight Rashida Ellis … The US women’s water polo team, which will be shooting for a third consecutive gold medal in Tokyo, drew the tougher of the two groups. The Americans will face 2016 bronze medalist Russia and fourth-place Hungary, along with China and Japan. Their path to gold is easier than it would have been since Italy, whom they dunked in the Rio final, didn’t qualify. The US males, who were 10th last time, caught a break since three of the top four 2016 finishers (Serbia, Croatia, and Montenegro) are in the other group. The Yanks, who haven’t made an Olympic podium since 2008, will face bronze medalist Italy, Hungary, Greece, South Africa, and Japan.

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