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Olympic notebook

If Boston loses out for 2024, US looks like a lock for ’26

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach addressed that body on Dec. 8 in Monaco.VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

If Boston isn’t selected for the 2024 Summer Olympics two years from now, an American candidate would be a lock for the 2026 Winter Games.

With three consecutive Asian sites staging the five-ringed circus after Rio de Janeiro next year and a European city all but certain to be picked for 2024 if the Hub isn’t the choice, a US bidder such as Denver or 2002 host Salt Lake City would have an open field.

Had the US Olympic Committee not decided last month to take its summer shot, it quickly would have been pondering a run for 2026 after having bypassed five straight winter cycles. Had the International Olympic Committee reopened the 2022 race in the wake of its Agenda 2020 reforms, the US could have had a decent chance to win had it jumped in.


Rarely, if ever, have there been two as unappetizing options as Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, which were the only candidates when entries closed last week. It’s the first time since 1980, when Vancouver withdrew shortly before the 1974 vote and Lake Placid won in a walkover, that the Lords have had so few choices for a Winter Games.

The Chinese capital, which would be the first site to host both the Summer and Winter Games, appears to be the default choice for 2022. So declared IOC executive board member Rene Fasel, the International Ice Hockey Federation chief.

“They will kick my ass, but what can I do?” he shrugged. “This is a fact. China is a favorite.”

Beijing can repurpose a number of its 2008 venues for winter use. The mammoth Bird’s Nest stadium would be used for opening and closing ceremonies. The Capital Indoor Stadium, which seats 17,500 and was used for volleyball, would stage figure skating and short-track speedskating.

The former Wukesong Sports Center (now MasterCard Center), where LeBron & Co. won their basketball gold medals, would be the main site for ice hockey, while the National Indoor Stadium where gymnastics was held would be the secondary rink. And the Water Cube where Michael Phelps went 8 for 8 would be the curling building.


The problem would be the distance between the ice and snow venues, most of which would be in Zhangjiakou, more than 100 miles to the southeast.

Winter wondering

How about Boston as a winter site? With TD Garden and the four Beanpot rinks, all of the ice sports except for long-track speedskating would be taken care of. Fenway Park or Harvard Stadium would be intriguing places for opening ceremonies. There are plenty of snow options in northern New England (several resorts have hosted World Cup events in the past), and Killington’s downhill, while not in the same class as those in the Alps and Rockies, would meet the minimum standards . . . Istanbul and Madrid, which lost out to Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Games, are seen as unlikely candidates for 2024. Istanbul has mounted five failed bids since 2000 while Madrid, runner-up to Rio de Janeiro for 2016, has been bypassed three times in a row. “I think Madrid is a little bruised,” observed IOC member Dick Pound of Canada. “And Istanbul has Humpty Dumpty to put back together.”

Gender blenderOne of the Agenda 2020 goals is to increase gender equality in the Games, with the IOC aiming for a 50-50 split between men and women. The best way to do that, the committee feels, is to add more mixed-gender team events. The program already includes them in pairs skating, ice dancing, luge, and biathlon, plus sailing and mixed doubles in tennis and badminton and formerly had them in trap and skeet shooting. The most likely addition would come in the aquatics events, which could offer mixed events in diving and synchronized swimming at this year’s World Championships in Russia . . . Bernard Lagat and Meseret Defar, who have two dozen Olympic and world medals between them, will be making their return to the Reggie Lewis Center for the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix meet Feb. 7. Lagat hasn’t been here since he set the American 5,000-meter record in 2010 while Defar will be competing for the first time since August 2013 after giving birth to a daughter in June. He’ll run the 3,000, she’ll lace up for the 2,000. Tickets are available at www.nbindoorgrandprix.com or by calling 1-877-849-8722. The Reggie also will be hosting the US championships at the end of February, and a package is available for both meets.

Ringers will runThe eight-member US elite field for the BAA Marathon includes five Olympians: Meb Keflezighi, the defending champion and 2004 silver medalist, Shalane Flanagan, the 2008 bronze medalist at 10,000 meters, Dathan Ritzenhein, Desiree Davila Linden, and Amy Hastings. Keflezighi, by the way, has been awarded the 2013 US half marathon crown that was forfeited last month by since-retired rival Mo Trafeh, who is serving a four-year doping ban . . . US teenager Mikaela Shiffrin, who goes for her third straight slalom victory Tuesday in Austria, won’t catch Slovenia’s Tina Maze, the overall women’s World Cup pace-setter, but she’ll take over the slalom lead if she wins the last race before next month’s World Championships. Chances of a fifth giant slalom crown in six years are fading, though, for Ted Ligety, her teammate and fellow Sochi champion, after his seventh-place finish in last weekend’s race in Switzerland. With only three races remaining in that discipline, Ligety, who’s skiing with four screws in the left wrist that he broke in November, is 138 points behind Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, who has won the last three giant slaloms.

Out in frontUS bobsled pilot Elana Meyers Taylor, who won her first three World Cup outings with brakeman Cherrelle Garrett, is 91 points ahead of Canadian Olympic gold medalist Kaillie Humphries in the women’s standings going into this weekend’s race in Germany, with teammates Jamie Greubel Poser and Jazmine Fenlator sitting third and sixth. The US males, who haven’t made the podium since Nick Cunningham’s two-man bronze in the season opener in Lake Placid, are struggling. Steve Holcomb, who won a pair of medals in Sochi, is sixth in the men’s overall chase, which is led by Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis, and eighth in two-man . . . The US lugers showed that this season’s World Cup medals weren’t just home-continent flukes in Lake Placid and Calgary. Chris Mazdzer’s bronze on the German track in Koenigssee was his first in Europe, while the team relay claimed silver. The Teutons still own the top of the podium, with 12 victories in 14 races (with Olympic champ Natalie Geisenberger 4 for 4) and figure to sweep at the next two weekends’ races at Oberhof and Winterberg.

Skeletal strength

Latvia’s Martins and Tomass Dukurs, who’ve gone 1-2 in the first three World Cup men’s skeleton races going into this weekend’s stop in Germany, are looking like the best brother act since Tom and Dick Smothers. Except for Matt Antoine’s bronze in the season’s opener at Lake Placid, the Americans haven’t made a podium. With Sochi runner-up Noelle Pikus-Pace retired and Katie Uhlaender taking the winter off after ankle surgery, Savannah Graybill and Anne O’Shea are carrying the banner for the US women . . . No, nay, never, says the South Korean government about Pyeongchang holding some snowboarding events across the North Korean border during the 2018 Games. Gangwon Province Governor Choi Moon Soon floated the idea recently but South Korean officials understandably don’t want to share the Olympic spotlight with their neighbors, with whom they’re still technically at war. The Pyeongchang organizers have had enough on their plate recently with the “Nut Rage” incident in which Heather Cho, the daughter of committee chief Cho Yang Ho, ordered her Seoul-bound flight to return to the gate at Kennedy Airport and had the cabin crew chief booted off the plane after a flight attendant served her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on the customary dish. Cho, who was a vice president of Korean Air, whose parent company her father runs, later resigned. Meanwhile, sales of macadamia nuts have gone into the stratosphere in the Land of the Morning Calm.


John Powers can be reached at john.powers@globe.com; material from Olympic committees, sports federations, interviews, and wire services was used in this report.