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The Star Online: Sports

Japan still considering 2020 Olympic bid

Posted: 23 Mar 2011 05:46 AM PDT

LONDON (AP) - Japan is still considering a bid to host the 2020 Olympics despite the triple blow caused by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation crisis, a senior national Olympic committee official said Wednesday.

The Japanese Olympic Committee said it was "very surprised" at the recent comments made by Italian IOC member Mario Pescante, who said he was told by Japan's ambassador in Rome that Japan had decided not to pursue a bid because of the disasters.

"The JOC is considering the 2020 bid. We (have) not changed our policy," Yasuhiro Nakamori, the JOC's international relations director, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Nakamori said the JOC will hold a strategy meeting next Tuesday and make a final decision on whether to bid in July.

"We (still) have a lot of things to do to make a decision, even though we have experience, some knowledge and planning through the 2016 bid activities," he said.

Tokyo, which staged the 1964 Olympics, bid unsuccessfully for the 2016 Games, which were awarded to Rio de Janeiro.

The head of the JOC, Tsunekazu Takeda, met with IOC President Jacques Rogge in Lausanne, Switzerland, last week to discuss the relief efforts in Japan. None of the venues from the 1964 Olympics were damaged in the quake.

Pescante, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee who is leading Rome's bid for the 2020 Games, told Italian state radio RAI on Monday that he had discussed the situation with the Japanese ambassador to Italy at Sunday's Rome marathon.

"The Japanese ambassador told me that their country can't put forth the Tokyo bid," Pescante said. "There's a spirit of solidarity with them. If we had been beaten by Tokyo, we would still have had reason to celebrate."

Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the two Japanese cities hit by atomic bombs in World War II - have also expressed interest in a joint Olympic bid.

Japan has been forced to give up the World Figure Skating Championships, which were scheduled to be held in Tokyo this week. National Olympic committees have until Sept. 1 to submit the names of 2020 bid cities to the IOC.

Rome is the only city so far that has been officially nominated by its national committee.

South Africa is expected to submit a bid, with Durban the most likely candidate. Madrid, Istanbul, Doha and Dubai are among other potential contenders.

Japan and others will wait until after the IOC votes on July 6 on the host city for the 2018 Winter Games.

The candidates are Pyeongchang, South Korea; Munich; and Annecy, France. If Pyeongchang wins, it's unlikely Japan would go ahead with a 2020 bid as the IOC would be reluctant to vote for another Asian city.

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Cricket: Ponting denies reports he's set to retire

Posted: 23 Mar 2011 12:37 AM PDT

AHMEDABAD, India (AP) - Ricky Ponting has no plans to retire, rejecting mounting speculation Wednesday that he'll stand down as Australia captain after the World Cup.

Ponting told a packed news conference on the eve of Australia's World Cup quarterfinal against host India that he had no intention of retiring and "will be playing for a few more years."

Calls from critics and some ex-players for Ponting to quit, or at least retire from ODI cricket, have gathered momentum since Australia lost the Ashes test series 3-1 to England at home in January.

The 36-year-old batsman has been out of form and looking increasingly frustrated in the field. He was fined for breaking a TV in a dressing room after being run out in a group match against Zimbabwe, and flung a ball into the ground after a collision with a teammate in another. Australia's unbeaten 34-match run at the World Cup ended last Saturday in a four-wicket loss to Pakistan, when Ponting was criticized for standing his ground to await the umpire's decision despite knowing he was out.

Unsourced reports in Britain and Australia suggested this week that Ponting will either be forced to quit or be fired at the end of the World Cup.

"There has been stuff about me retiring that is completely false, untrue, never contemplated retiring," Ponting told a news conference that was wall-to-wall crowded with more than 100 reporters. "I am enjoying my cricket, quarterfinal against India is a big game ... preparing for that."

Australia has won the last three World Cup titles, including the last two with Ponting at the helm.

Veteran teammate Mike Hussey and ex-deputy Adam Gilchrist said if the retirement speculation was designed to unsettle Ponting ahead of the crucial match against India, it would more than likely have the opposite affect.

"It's just amazing sometimes how champions just rise to the occasion at the right time," said Ponting, who said Ponting had the 100 percent support of the World Cup squad. "Against India in the World Cup is one of those times where I think we'll see the best of Ricky Ponting."

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