Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kazakhstan or China for 2022

In a few hours the International Olympic Committee will at last vote on the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. 

The IOC selection process is limited to only two options: Beijing, which seeks to become the first metropolis to host both a summer and winter Games, and Almaty, Kazakhstan, the central Asian nation's former capital.

Almaty, Kazakhstan
After my incorrect predictions for the 2018 IOC vote (for which Munich was a personal favorite), and since Tokyo was not my first choice for 2020 (I was vying for Istanbul), and since my top pick for 2022, Oslo, long ago bowed out of the race, it's been challenging to summon enthusiasm for either remaining candidate. 

Also in mind, I remain devastated about Chicago's loss to Rio, and the state of the U.S. candidate cities makes me cringe. 

With that said, for this blogger, my 2022 vote is for Almaty for a simple list of reasons:
  • New territory for the Olympic Movement
  • Major city with a compact Olympic venue map and gorgeous mountains in view
  • Controversy-free government (at least comparatively) 
  • Real snow
To me, Beijing offers only headaches for all:
  • Lightning rod for protesters worldwide (thanks to China's human rights record)
  • Scattered Olympic venues, villages and victims of Beijing 2008's migraine-inducing processes
  • Closer proximity to Korea, site of the 2018 Winter Games
  • Fake snow and mountains far, far away. Did I mention fake snow?
I do believe a return to Beijing would put some 2008 venues and successes to another round of good use. It might be fun to see China in a new light and in a different season. 

Regardless, I wince at the realities their bid brings in terms of navigating hundreds of kilometers between venues. Geography alone makes a vote for Beijing a vote for insanity.

But what do I know? Crazier things have happened in the Olympic bidding ballpark. 

Almaty's theme is 'Keeping It Real' and I hope the voting IOC members will do just that with a vote for Kazakhstan. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

One Year Until Rio ... BINGO!

August 5, 2015, marks the "one year to go" milestone for the Rio 2016 Olympic opening ceremony.

In step with -- or maybe a pace ahead of -- the standard Olympic reporting playbook, a news outlet or two already dropped their Rio preview stories as early as mid-July.

Many more will follow during the next week. In fact, as I typed this blog entry, the Associated Press distributed their one-year-out summary already picked up stateside and in Singapore.

Predictably, these one-year milestone reports skew negative. Olympic news understandably isn't "news" without a cynical tone or a steady drumbeat of "CON-TRO-VER-SY ... CON-TRO-VER-SY" and click-bait headlines stirring the pot. 

Too often the remarkable stories of athletic feats and organizational successes are brushed aside for the easier angle of perceived problems on the horizon. I concede, many pre-Games issues are real. But most of the challenges of hosting a global sports festival do not rise to the life or death threshold some news outlets would have their viewers or readers believe.

In anticipation of this year's crop of anti-Olympic rhetoric and various outlets/reporters parroting each other, some friends and I came up with a new twist on a traditional, popular game. 

We present for your reading and social media sharing pleasure ... Olympic Buzz Word Bingo.

Buzzword Bingo (a.k.a. bullsh*t bingo) shares an interesting heritage rooted in traditional bingo cards. My own introduction to the buzzword bingo concept arrived via Dilbert by Scott Adams (see sample below). 

It remains a mystery as to which, and whether, former managers knew who played this game in the halls and conference rooms of the P.R. agencies where I worked over the years. 

Reading last week's Olympic countdown story distributed by Agence France-Presse inspired our five-ringed version, and you're invited to play along and please share the bingo card at the base of this post.

Go ahead and try it out! The aforementioned AP story almost creates a blackout Olympic bingo card! 

This game is also intended to help throw stones at what I perceive to be NBC's regular Olympic roll-out of scare tactics designed to encourage viewers to keep their butts on the couch instead of on planes to the Olympic host city. 

Far too many people fell for the anti-Athens and anti-Beijing Olympic Fear Factor messaging, and they missed quite a party in both cities. 

The Olympic terror threat level reached high enough crescendos in 2008 that even The Onion spoofed Tom Brokaw, Bob Costas and John Tesh pre-Games scare tactics (or in the case of Tesh, his over-the-top gymnastics commentary).

I, for one, hope fewer people will believe the anti-Rio hype and book passage to experience and enjoy Brazil. Rio 2016 in 365 days ... it's going to be a great event!

Cartoon via Thanks also to this site for 'Blu' bird image and this site for 'press' hat image used in illustration created by N. Wolaver.

Please download and share this bingo card with your favorite Olympic reporter. Fun for all!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Beantown Blows 2024 Olympic Bid

In case others didn't already spill the beans, the Athens of America -- Boston -- today ended its 2024 Olympic bid by "mutual agreement" with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Titletown now has a new nickname about which to brag: Olympic bid flunky.

Unlike Detroit with its ill-fated bids (seven of them) spanning the 1940s through early 1970s, Beantown is not likely to emerge as a future U.S. bid city in the lifetime of any living resident.

I predict Boston's Olympic aspirations will only echo Katy Perry's lyrics to "The One That Got Away" for many decades.

It's not entirely the Boston bid team's fault, though this armchair quarterback does believe some significant missteps were committed by, and rest at the feet of, Boston 2024 leadership. I'll come back to these questionable local choices in a few lines. 

For this blogger it feels like Boston was unintentionally teed up to fail from day one. 

Maybe when the U.S.O.C. met in early 2015 to choose the nation's candidate city, they should have given the winning metropolis a few days to get ready for a winning selection announcement with a more robust public Q&A option to instill confidence from the start. I hope this is a key takeaway the powers that be at Team USA will keep in mind for their next bid selectee for 2024 (assuming a bid will still occur) and future bids. 

Up until January , the U.S.O.C. was doing well with a new approach to Olympic bidding. They invited several cities to submit their interest and pose questions, and earlier stages of the new process seemed to go smoothly. If on a roll with new processes, I wondered then and now, "Why go back to the pre-2014 playbook after choosing Boston from a solid pool including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.?" 

A bigger lesson learned the hard way in Boston: No modern Olympic bid will succeed without the power of transparency. From the first day of their selection, Boston 2024's occasionally milquetoast and often dismissive Q&A responses (I suspect misguided by some old-school, non-P.R.-savvy execs at the U.S.O.C.) proved to be major Achilles' heels. 

The opening press conference was convincing (sort of), but the honeymoon period -- if there was one for Boston's bid team -- was short-lived. Public opinion spiraled in the wrong direction. Even at last week's televised debates (the selected event's title/theme itself seemed a communications flub) there was too much remaining room for skepticism. 

The biggest lesson, perhaps, is that the message "no public funds will be used" is a statement that worked only in a social media-free world of long ago. Like Joan Crawford at a Pepsi board meeting in "Mommy Dearest," too many citizen journalists, longtime Olympic reporters and plain folks have 'been to the rodeo' on Olympic bids and know that federal, state and local investments are part of the mix. 

It seems to me that if a future U.S. Olympic bid city would just put into plain English a summary of likely public funds to be spent, this transparency would diffuse some dissenting voices like those heard in Boston. Another way to get around this? Present Olympic bid "must haves" on one list with a matching list of "nice to haves" about which the public may pick and choose. To wit, clearly explain to the public and media what is negotiable (or isn't) with the IOC, leaving only the "negotiables" for debate.

A fellow Olympic historian believes the U.S.O.C. should frame a 2024 candidate as "America's Bid" (a national bid) rather than the work of a single metropolis. Monday's New York Times report on Boston's aborted mission lends credence to this "national approach" as an Associated Press survey found a vast majority of U.S. citizens -- nine in 10 or 89 percent -- support a USA bid, but their support wanes the more localized the bid city and financial responsibility gets. 

Speaking to the Boston Olympic naysayers with a Colonel Slade/Al Pacino Scent of a Woman voice, "F*ck you, too!" 

Members of No Boston Olympics or No Boston 2024 may feel like 'heroes' for 'defeating' the bid, but history will not likely be kind to you for your efforts. You not only killed the team dream for 2024, but also for several future generations of Boston bids. Like so many other anti-Games organizations who both loathe the power of the Olympics but also thrive only because of the Olympic news hook, your voices in Boston will soon be only a murmur. Best of luck on your next quest to improve Boston without the Olympic news machine to keep your messages on Page One and local broadcast news.

Yesterday, when the trade publication "Inside The Games" broke the news of the U.S.O.C. conference call to decide Boston's fate, their reporter mentioned Los Angeles as a likely 2024 alternative. 

This is an option I support, but today's NBC report deflated my expectations in LA2024 as the city's mayor "hasn't had recent conversations with the U.S.O.C."

You mean to tell me the U.S.O.C. decided to pull the plug on Boston without touching base with LA2024? This seems like another avoidable misstep to me. Only time will tell. 

As stated in my early 2015 post, my vote and Olympic bid hopes remained pinned on Washington, D.C. The city already has solid mass transit that actually connects points of interest, they are skilled at hosting mass-security gatherings, and the area's wealth of destinations provides an unlimited array of non-Games options to keep folks busy on the days when they have no Olympic tickets.

Given the aforementioned AP poll, Washington seems all the more appropriate as "America's candidate," a city getting ready for the world's Olympic spotlight for 200+ years. I can just picture Olympic wrestling and fencing at The Kennedy Center, archery on the National Mall or at Mount Vernon, and rowing on the Potomoc. The IOC could bring back the mostly dormant Cultural Olympiad at the Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art or Hirshhorn Museum.

The worst thing the U.S.O.C. could do for a fiasco encore would be to select San Francisco as its go-to candidate. If you think opposition was rough in Boston, wait until you see Olympic protesters in Shaky Town!

Do I support a 2024 Olympic bid from either D.C. or LA? Yes, absolutely. Would the 2024 Games rock in either city? Certainly. My preference simply is for a new city (Washington) to enjoy the opportunity to compete against Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome.

And I'd prefer that the U.S.O.C. set a sturdier course for its next candidate city from day one.

Images via Boston 2024, this Flickr account and Conde Nast Traveler. Cartoon by Dan Wasserman via Boston Globe.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A History of the 1984 Winter Games (Book Review)

Sometimes it feels as though nobody's reading the blog.

No matter the occasional click-tracker upticks, the positive Blogspot stats, or meager ad revenue (did I mention meager?), the big fat 'zero' in the comments section stings when on the brain of an online writer.

But every once in while, out of the blue, an email arrives from a reader acknowledging your work, and these moments of reassurance** keep you typing.

One such email arrived earlier this year from Jason Vuic, an author and historian with a new nonfiction book titled "The Sarajevo Olympics - A History of the 1984 Winter Games" published by University of Massachusetts Press. What a great read!

For context, before reading Vuic's text my knowledge of the Sarajevo Olympics was decent but filled with holes. When they lit the Olympic cauldron in Yugoslavia, for instance, I was watching the ceremony on a massive box TV at my childhood home in Edmond, Okla., with Jim McCay and other ABC Sports commentators as the viewer guides.

Games memories from that fifth-grade winter also include a screen filled with perfect 6.0 scores for figure skaters, a terrible hockey program from Team USA, bobsled crashes and a decent ski run or two for American downhill athletes. That was also the winter Games during which the cartoon 'Animalympics' aired on cable, viewed twice at a neighbor's living room.

But most of the proper nouns from Sarajevo's Olympics did not stick with me. And in spite of reading Peter Ueberroth's book about producing the Los Angeles Olympics months later (in which some references to Yugoslavia travel appear), I never gave much thought to how the Sarajevo Games became a reality, nor what challenges blocked the organizer's road to success.

Vuic's book perfectly filled in the blanks and then some.

Readers of "The Sarajevo Olympics" will find a narrative in two main parts: Background/Organization and Games-Time Details. I appreciated the one-page izgovor vodič (pronunciation guide) to help with accents from the written Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language, and in the acknowledgements Vuic notes the book project enjoyed support in the form of a grant from the Olympic Studies Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland (hometown for the International Olympic Committee).

Vuic's Games-related labor of love began in 2010. In his words via his first email to me, "I'm a Yugoslav historian by training, but traveled to Lausanne on an IOC fellowship  in 2010 and visited libraries and museums in Los Angeles, Lake Placid and Sarajevo to research the book. Needless to say, I have become, in the process, an Olympic nut."

Welcome to the club, Jason.

I learned Vuic's initial published text was "The Yugo -- The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History" which is now in queue on my library reserves list. If this first book is similar to "The Sarajevo Olympics," it is bound to be filled with interesting details and quirky back stories from a blend of news articles, official reports, broadcast archives and interviews with the people who lived the history.

I enjoyed learning about the Yugoslav personalities who pursued the Winter Games hosting enterprise as early as the 1960s when their government started investing in tourism. Taking inspiration from a 1968 tourism study in which Olympic possibilities were mentioned, in 1971 a professor named Ljubiša Zečević visited Lausanne with many questions and ideas. In the years just after this visit Zečević reported back cautious optimism for pursuing the Games given many issues faced by the region around Sarajevo (notably, lack of big sport event hosting experience and, for some residents, lack of plumbing).

Vuic mentions one lighthearted message from Zečević: "Go ahead and submit the bid, but pray to God we [don't] get it!"

By 1977 a formal bid team known as the "Preparation Committee" took shape, As word spread of the Sarajevo bid, some American reporters opined, describing the city as Eastern Europe's answer to Fort Wayne, Indiana, "The Pittsburgh of Yugoslavia" and as scenic as Harrisburg, Pa. Vuic continues to detail how a unique blend of people, politicking and strokes of great timing a luck aligned just in time for the May 1978 IOC host voting which placed Sapporo, Japan, and Gothenburg, Sweden, behind victorious Sarajevo.

In other background and organization chapters, Vuic details the organizing committee's "vast" needs in the wake of the winning bid: They needed, among many things, a skating rink, a bobsleigh run, Olympic villages (one for athletes, another to house world media) and more hotels.

Green things (U.S. currency) and how the committee earned funding proved to be another complicated and heavy matter.

On the lighter side, I learned the Sarajevo mascot, a wolf named Vučko, got more votes than a weasel or a lamb. And I learned more about the pre-Games test events, some slushy other blizzard-blown, that reinforced skepticism for a successful 1984 gathering.

It fascinated me to find that more than 3,000 workers from "Communist Youth Brigades" volunteered in venue construction. One photo in "The Sarajevo Olympics" shows four teenage women sans shoes and hard hats at work breaking ground on some unidentified venue.

Vuic's book also filled in the blanks for me on the athlete stories from Sarajevo. I enjoyed reading of the perfect-scoring ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean (a fan letter from the USA to IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch provided a great intro to this section about the duo who scored perfect 6.0s to a song from the movie "10"), and more-familiar-to-me figure skaters Katerina Witt and Scott Hamilton.

I didn't know a thing about "Wild" Bill Johnson (a.k.a. nasenbohrer), nor did I recall that ABC Sports engaged a popular singer named Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. (a.k.a. John Denver) to provide commentary and a theme song for their Sarajevo broadcasts (see it to believe it on the video at the base of this post).

There's also some great notes about "the agony of defeat" ski jump athlete Vinko Bogotaj and his connection to Sarajevo.

It was fun to learn of hometown hero Jure Franko's downhill race, and to find that the original goals of inspiring regional tourism were achieved, if only for one season, before Sarajevo became a geographic center point for the breakup of Yugoslavia. Vuic shares other post-Games history including notes from Samaranch's proclamation and visit during the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, and how several '84 venues became battle scenes during the war of the early 1990s.

Vuic is now working on an NFL-topical book titled "The Yucks" regarding the early history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here's hoping he'll return to Olympic writing through future projects as "The Sarajevo Olympics" is a fun and informative read, and it would be great to see more five-ringed titles from this author.

Photos via this link, this Herald Review link, this gallery and from Jason Vuic's website.

**Another welcomed 'moment of reassurance' recently arrived 
with the total readership for Olympic Rings And Other Things 
topping 125,000 clicks as of spring 2015. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Jenner Olympic Torch On Auction Block

Olympic fans who also carry a torch for Caitlyn Jenner now have an opportunity to own a special souvenir from the Bruce era.

Eight years after winning decathlon gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, Jenner carried a 1984 Olympic Torch in the Los Angeles-bound Olympic Flame relay across the USA. 

Jenner's leg was in the South Lake Tahoe area of Nevada, and according to an exclusive Associated Press wire report filed this morning by Ula Ilnytzky, that very torch will be sold at auction on July 30.

In a phone conversation with Heritage Auctions' Director of Sports Auctions Chris Ivy, I learned the consignor of the Jenner torch contacted the world's third largest auction house only weeks ago, in June, about the same time the now famous Vanity Fair cover story announced Caitlyn's new name and likeness. 

Though the Jenner torch is not the first Olympic light stick to appear in a Heritage Auctions listing, it may get the most attention or bids. 

"We've sold about 20 Olympic torches in total, from [Games years] 1952 to 2004," said Ivy. "This one is special."

LA84 torches typically sell in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, depending on where and when it was carried or the person who held it aloft. Ivy said their auctions, including a torch carried by Ozzie Smith, typically sell in the $3,000 to $5,000 range. 

So why would Jenner's fetch an auction estimate of $20,000 or more?

"Perhaps no athlete in history has traveled a more winding road through the various states of celebrity than Jenner," said Ivy, in a press release. "This is the first major piece of Jenner memorabilia to surface [since her transgender status was announced] and we expect collectors will find it every bit as significant as we think it is."

The consignor for the torch is Robert H. Lorsch, described as "a marketing and promotion strategist who is also well-known for his work as an entrepreneur and philanthropist — who orchestrated the South Lake Tahoe leg of the relay and secured Jenner's services for the program," according to the Heritage press release. 

Lorsch approached Jenner on behalf of the management of Caesars Tahoe Hotel Casino, "which had paid handsomely to redirect the 1984 torch relay route through its scenic environment, to contribute to its program benefiting America's youth," according to the release.

"As the 1976 Olympic Decathlon Champion," said Lorsch, "Jenner was the only celebrity runner designated during the 50 kilometer stretch that Caesars Tahoe sponsored."

As an LA84 Torch Relay spectator, it was always my impression -- from media reports of the day -- that torchbearer applicants were required to raise more than $3,000 for a local charity to earn their running segment.

A quick check of Peter Ueberroth's book "Made In America" confirmed businesses could also sponsor segments, and though Caesars is not specifically mentioned in Ueberroth's text, it makes sense they would have sponsored a large block of runners. Jenner carried the torch to the state line, according to the press release. 

A Heritage employee since 2000, Ivy mentioned there are other Olympic items in the July 30 auction. A peek at the site shows that the Jenner torch is already at $5,500 (from a $5,000 opening bid today), and a Team USA Olympic Basketball signed by Michael Jordan and fellow players is now at $950.

I wonder who owns Jenner's 1996 Atlanta Olympic Torch (see photo below) and whether it may soon appear at auction for a perfect pair. 

Photos via Heritage Auctions and this page for the Atlanta Torch Relay photo

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Trek To Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon is one of those All-American destinations every third grader learns in U.S. history class. How better to get acquainted with the first president than to gain awareness of his home life?

At age eight in Edmond, Okla., I learned about Mount Vernon from Mrs. Dee Ray at Will Rogers Elementary School.

Our assignment related to the iconic home: draw a sketch of it. My brain and pencil-filled hand honed in on illustrating the rooftop and weather vane from a photo of the house on a projection screen.

Now 33 years older, I finally viewed that peace dove in person on a recent Sunday afternoon near Alexandria, Va. Whether you're heading to D.C. on business or pleasure, the trek 30 minutes south of Reagan National Airport is well worth the drive.

Even the most skilled tourist needs at least a half-day to see highlights at Mount Vernon. I was there five hours and could have used at least two more.

Another tip for planning: Don your walking shoes as everything on property is on foot, with a 10-15 minute walk between key estate destinations.

Parking is free but the nearest lot was about a half-mile hike (after a bit of a wait to for a space on a busy weekend afternoon).

With thanks to the Mount Vernon P.R. team for a comp ticket, my first stop on site was actually a hike to the riverside wharf on the Potomac, where daily cruises embark on a one-hour sightseeing excursion up stream.

I enjoyed the relaxing float past the mansion and a peek at a nearby fort -- kids on board seemed to love the seagulls who escort the watercraft for a scrap of popcorn. Tickets for the water taxi are $10 and may be purchased on board.

Back on terra firma, a quiet brick path through the woods leads visitors to the Washington family crypt (a.k.a. 'new tomb') where anyone may line up to pay their respects. After tuning in to an estate guide's one-minute spiel about the memorial, I forged onward toward the mansion and its lush bowling green lawn.

Before describing the estate in more detail, a moment to note here that an audio guide to Mount Vernon is available for a modest fee ($6). I opted instead to use the new (and free) Mount Vernon App, which was incredibly helpful ... when a signal was available.

Since the estate is, after all, sort of out in the country, that treasured mobile signal was sporadic at best. Users will be best served by downloading the app before their visit (my bad) and then leveraging the virtue of patience.

App in hand, I checked out the mansion (well worth the 20 minute wait for timed entry), smokehouse, greenhouse/staff quarters, kitchen and gardens, requiring nearly two hours to really study the wealth of details provided at each stop (there are many more stops and select tours I opted to skip). Inside the home, guests peek at period furniture, George's sleeping room and death bed. In the entryway where his staff received visitors, check out the memento the president himself fastened to the wall more than 200 years ago.

Many folks made time to sit on one of the hardwood chairs lined up facing the Potomac to the east, and I enjoyed the time to rest my legs there and snap a few photos.

Back on my feet, the next stop was the Mount Vernon Museum. What a treat! Wonderful art awaits, as do numerous artifacts from Washington's personal collection.

I loved viewing numerous portraits and busts of George, many of which inspired postage stamps or U.S. currency designs.

The original peace weather vane (see photo above), Martha's jewelry, one of the general's swords, personal and official correspondence, and his famous hippo and human bone dentures are just a few of the hundreds of items for visitor inspection.

A scale model of the home put into perspective many areas I'd need another afternoon and return visit to experience.

The Mount Vernon App features an abundance of detail for each museum item, and docents on site proved fluent in Washington history for even the most obscure questions from know-it-all tourists.

One of the more delightful surprises of the visit came into view during my search for a public restroom. Inside the visitor's center, food court and gift shop building, some of the halls are decorated with enlarged photographs of famous Mount Vernon visitors.

I loved spotting images of the Roosevelts, Kennedys, Reagans, Carters and other presidential families, and several world leaders also seemed to enjoy their visit to the property, for which at least one Zeppelin flyover took place and for which Henry Ford donated a specially-designed vehicle for use at the estate.

A note about the gift shop, among countless treasures for every budget, one unusual surprise: Hand-painted illustrations of several D.C. landmarks filled a small shelf, and it was interesting to learn these delicate pieces of folk art ($35 each) were crafted by a Russian artist in St. Petersburg.

Visiting Mount Vernon and nearby D.C. destinations made me long for a future Washington Olympic bid. I can just picture the archery competition on the bowling green, or sailing on the Potomac down the hill from the estate. I also became curious how many and which Olympic athletes and officials visited Washington's home over the years.

I highly recommend a visit to Mount Vernon for the U.S. history buff or student of any age.

Photos by Nicholas Wolaver or provided by Mount Vernon

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Team USA Goes All The Way

Kudos to the U.S. Soccer Women's National Team on their glorious victory in Vancouver.

Excellent to see the team -- with an audience of 51,000+ in the stadium that hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies (B.C. Canada Place) -- bring home the gold in the form of the 2015 FIFA trophy! 

It was cool to see Vice President Joe Biden joined tens of thousands of U.S.A. soccer fans in the stadium today. I still cannot believe the back-to-back goals so early in the game, and it was fun to learn more about the players during the span of the tournament.

Just the other day the women won in Montreal in the 1976 Olympic Stadium where Jenner won gold. Canada is racking up greatest sports history moments at every turn. 

In London at USA House, I was one of the lucky few to be in attendance with the U.S. women won the Olympic gold and came back to the House for a victory celebration while donning their medals. It was an emotional night with some players' careers coming to an end, and the coach presented a touching speech of sportsmanship (or should I write 'sportswomanship'?).

I can only imagine the celebration taking place in Vancouver tonight, and the great exposure the team will enjoy in the weeks to come while on the home stretch to the Rio 2016 Olympic football tournament. 

On to Brazil! Congrats, Team USA!

Photos via FIFA/Getty Images

Friday, July 3, 2015

Rio 2016 Ready To Flick Your Bic

Feast your eyes on the 2016 Olympic torch!

With just 399 days until the Rio 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, today the organizing committee unveiled the Olympic torch design at a press event in Brasilia.

The new torch is sleek, coated with scale-like satin-finished triangles, and expands when about to be kissed by the Olympic flame.

According to media materials, the expanding sections reveal tiny curved canyons of tropical colors resembling or representing Brazil's topography, rivers and coastline, and the iconic sidewalk pavers of Copacabana Beach. National newspaper O Globo featured a video from the announcement.

The official Olympic Torch Relay website provides a 360-degree view of the design. An interactive map details a 90 to 100 day domestic relay route starting in the nation's capital and moving through every Brazilian state.

Relay sponsors will share details of the torchbearer selection process at a later date to be announced.

For this blogger, Rio's Olympic torch is classy while innovative -- this is the first Olympic torch to expand when tickled by a relay runner's grip.

For safety, just the tip will disperse the fuel within for a hot Olympic flame cheered by millions of fans on the road to Rio.

Images via Rio 2016

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