Atlanta Celebrates 20 Years -- Monday Memo

(ATR) Also; WADA to publish McLaren report, IAAF holds governance meeting in Rio, the Open Championship begins and more in the week ahead.

(ATR) Members of the Atlanta 1996 bid team, Olympians and thousands of others will converge on Centennial Olympic Park on July 16 as the city remembers a time when it was at the center of the world stage.

The 20th anniversary celebration of the 1996 Summer Olympics will honor the stakeholders, volunteers, staff and venues of the Games with a free public event featuring fireworks, food trucks, concessions, an Olympic volunteer reunion as well as live entertainment.

The ceremony begins at 6 pm with speeches from chairman of the Atlanta 1996 organizing committee (ACOG) Billy Payne, ACOG chief operating officer A.D. Frazier, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, current Mayor Kasim Reed and Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle.

Speeches by those who made the Olympics in Atlanta possible will be interspersed with musical performances by A-Town A-List, Colby Dee, Banks & Shane and SEEiT Choir.

Olympic gold medalists Carl Lewis, Janet Evans and Amy Van Dyken along with Paralympians Curtis Lovejoy, LeeAnn Shannon and Tim Willis will also make special appearances during the celebration.

The 20th anniversary celebration will conclude with a fireworks display above one of the biggest legacy projects of the Atlanta Games, Centennial Olympic Park.

WADA to Receive McLaren Report

The World Anti-Doping Agency is investigating more claims of state-sponsored doping among Russian athletes following claims by former Russian Anti-Doping Agency director Grigory Rodchenkov that several athletes cheated at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

The new investigation is led by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren and was launched on May 18. McLaren is expected to release the findings of the report by July 15 according to a release by WADA.

WADA president Craig Reedie says the report will identify a "serious need for culture change in Russia".

"The allegations that Professor McLaren’s team is currently investigating, including their preliminary findings revealing that there is sufficient corroborated evidence to confirm manipulation of athlete doping samples; and, the present status of Russian testing; it is clear that there is a serious need for culture change in Russia within government and among sports leaders, athletes and athlete support personnel," Reedie said in a statement.

The Russian Athletics Federation is currently suspended by the IAAF from all international competition including the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympics in August. More negative news published as a result of the McLaren report could see the Russian doping bans extended to other sports federations in the country.

IAAF Meets on Governance Reforms

A second forum dedicated to governance structure reform within the International Association of Athletics Federations is scheduled for July 11 in Rio de Janeiro.

National Federation presidents, administrators and athletes representing the six continental areas of the IAAF were among the more than 60 delegates on hand at the first forum held in Amsterdam from July 4-5.

They discussed 15 key proposals "to create an effective organization with the checks and balances and transparent structures required," according to an IAAF statement.

The IAAF says the governance structure proposals "underpin the other reforms underway or recently completed such as a review of the financial and operational systems, ethical compliance measures, internal IAAF staff structure and the design of the Independent Integrity Unit".

"We are not afraid to make tough decisions; we owe it to the athletes. Our discussion over the last two days has been honest and robust," IAAF president Seb Coe said following the first forum.

The final proposal, including the proposed new IAAF constitution, will be discussed by the IAAF Council at its meetings in Rio during the Olympics in August.

Should the Council approve the proposal, it will be sent out to member federations and area associations in early September, along with a notice calling a Special Congress with a tentative date of Dec. 3 in Monaco.

The Open Championship Begins

The longest-running of the four major golf championships begins onThursday, July 14. Practice rounds at the Royal Troon Golf Club inAyrshire, Scotland began on July 10.

The 145th Open is the ninth played at the course in Troon and will bethe first broadcast by NBC in the United States and Sky Sports inEurope. ESPN/ABC broadcast the Open in the U.S. for the last 55 yearswhile the BBC has broadcast the championship for free through 2015 inEurope.

The tournament is the third of the four golf majors and the only heldoutside of the U.S. The PGA Championship will be held July 28-31 and isthe final major before golf makes its return to the Olympics for thefirst time in 112 years in Rio de Janeiro.

Around the Rings reporter Brian Pinelli will be on the scene atthe Open as defending champion Zach Johnson and 155 of the world’s bestgolfers battle for the title.

Japan Aims to Defend World Softball Championship

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World SoftballChampionship gets underway July 15 in Surrey, Canada as 31 countriescompete for the title of world’s best.

Japan has won the past two championships in 2012 and 2014 but isexpected to have stiff competition from countries like the United Statesand Toronto 2015 Pan American Games champion and host Canada.

This year’s tournament will feature more games live streamed online than any previous tournaments. Organizers will charge aone-time fee of $19.95 to view any of the 124 games throughout thetournament.

Brazil, Ecuador, India, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Pakistan, Peru, Serbia,Switzerland, and Uganda will all be competing in the competition for thefirst time. Softball is continuing to expand its global influence as itgears towards re-entry into the Summer Olympics at the Tokyo 2020Games.

Week Ahead in Rio 2016 Torch Relay

The Olympic Torch Relay continues up the Brazilian coastline this week toward Sao Paulo.

The relay will travel in the states of Santa Catarina, Parana, and Sao Paulo, reaching closer to the Olympic Games opening ceremony with each passing day.

Main stops this week include Blumenal and Joinville in Santa Catarina, Curitiba in Parana, and Bauru in Sao Paulo. The main Sao Paulo leg is the final section of the relay before the Torch travels around Rio de Janeiro state heading into the Olympic city. It is not the first time the Torch has been to Sao Paulo state, as it traveled through the western corner of the state before beginning the southern-leg of the relay.

NBC Executives Preview the Rio 2016 Games

Executives for NBC, the host broadcaster of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics in the United States, will preview their plans to the press this Monday at New York City's Rockefeller Plaza.

All eyes will be on Brazil this August as thousands of the world's greatest athletes converge in Rio de Janeiro. NBC is set to provide more hours of coverage of the Summer Games than any previous edition of the global sports competition.

NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus, primetime host Bob Costas as well as other special guests will be featured at the event, which will be hosted by Lester Holt.

Written by Kevin Nutley and Aaron Bauer

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