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Vote Now: UCLA’s Steve Alford Participates in Coaches’ Charity Challenge

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UCLA’s Steve Alford is among 48 head coaches across the country participating in this season’s Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge.

For 10 weeks, Alford  will compete in a bracket tournament, divided into four rounds, for the chance to win a $100,000 grand prize for charity. The coaches with the most votes each round will advance to the next round and earn money for their charity. Alford has chosen the  Special Olympics as his partner – an amazing charity that provides year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

UCLABruins.com explains why the Special Olympics are important to UCLA’s newest Head Basketball Coach. While training with and competing for the USA Basketball Olympic Team in the summer of 1984 prior to his sophomore season at Indiana University, Alford and his teammates worked with the Special Olympics. Since then, the Bruins’ head coach has continued to give back to the nearly 45-year-old organization.

“That summer, they took our team to see the national Special Olympics in Terre Haute, Indiana,” Alford recalled. “I’ve been hooked on helping them ever since. For as long as I’ve been in coaching, I’ve been giving back to the Special Olympics. Those participants give 100 percent of what they have all the time. They’re always fun to watch.”

Fans…. you can help! Coach Steve Alford needs your votes during the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge. With 47 other rival coaches in the competition, every vote counts. So go to ESPN.COM/INFINITI and vote for Coach Steve Alford every day. You can also use the first photo in this post as a Facebook Cover pic to help promote the cause.

Let’s show the world just how passionate we UCLA fans are!

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Tokyo to host 2020 Olympics

Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics Saturday, defeating Istanbul 60-36 in the final round of voting by the International Olympic Committee, also defeating Madrid.

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The 2020 Olympics Games were awarded to Tokyo, Japan.The city last hosted the Olympics in 1964 and utilized a reputation of “a safe pair of hands” when looking for an Olympics site.

There had been some scrutiny surrounding the leaking of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which has been ravaged by tsunamis.

But Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe assured the IOC that the leak is not a threat to Tokyo and personally assumed responsibility for the games’ safety.

The 2020 Games will follow those in 2016 that will be contested in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Bidding for the 2024 Games will begin in 2015, with a winner being announced in 2017. American cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are expected to show interest in a bid to host the games.

The last time the Olympics were held in the United States was in 1996 when they were held in Atlanta.

New York bid for the 2012 Games, but lost to London, while Chicago tried for the 2016 games, losing out to Rio de Janeiro.

We Should Not Have to Boycott the 2014 Olympics

Russia has made it illegal to be a gay man or woman. Let that sink in for a second. We are not talking about marriage. We are not talking about adopting children. In Russia, being gay in and of itself is now a crime. This law does not just apply to Russians. It also applies to tourists entering into the country.

Gay athletes and fans will be prosecuted at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games if it's permitted to go through.Oh, by the way, if you did not know, the 2014 Winter Olympics are being held in Sochi, Russia.

Let me repeat this. We, the free world, are holding the Winter Olympics in a country where by law, any gay competitor or gay fan can be arrested.

Really?

There has been talk that we should boycott these games, but reaction is mixed. There are athletes who have spent their entire lives preparing to represent their country in this competition. They want to compete.

For many of them, this is a once in a lifetime chance and if they miss these Olympics, they will not get another shot. The athletes do not see the Olympics as being about Russia but rather about the spirit of competition between athletes and nations. I can understand why they do not want to boycott.

I do not want us to boycott the Olympics either.

But I do not want to offer any support to a country, that in 2013, stripped its people of a fundamental human right and threatens gay athletes and fans with arrest. These are unacceptable actions and as much as I love the Olympics, no sporting competition can ever outweigh human rights and dignity.

But I have a solution.

Don’t hold the Olympics in Russia.

We should not have to miss the games and Russia does not deserve to host them. The obvious solution is that the games are moved to a country that respects the human rights of its people and those entering the country.

Is this feasible?

I do not know the exact process of how a country is selected to host the Olympics, but I would imagine that at some point the Committee must take into consideration the safety and rights of the athletes and fans. If a host country begins to enact laws that will threaten athletes and fans, then the IOC has a moral responsibility to step in and protect them.

Russia has incurred a great expense in preparing for these games. That is their problem. They can repeal these inhumane laws.

I understand that there is not a lot of time to prepare a venue. So what? This is 2013. If we cannot move the Olympics last minute to protect the rights of our athletes and fans and ensure their safety, then what are we doing? I must believe that the world community is capable of moving these games to a venue that is safe for all participants and spectators.

This is an opportunity for the world to show that we will no longer condone or support countries that legislate hate and bias against people of any race or sexual orientation. We will show that no country can hold our Olympic Games hostage. Any nation that will not respect the values we as a global community hold will not be allowed to host our games.

And if we need to move our games six months out, we will.

We should not have to pull out of the Olympics. But we should not have to go a country that has embraced hate in order to participate.

Sochi 2014 medals unveiled

The medals have been unveiled for the upcoming 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

They will feature a patchwork quilt, which is a mosaic of national designs from the various cultures and ethnicities of the Russian Federation, and will depict the landscape of Sochi.

Made by skilled craftsmen, the medals are a combination of metal and polycarbonate.

The front of the medals will have the Olympic rings, with the back side containing the name of the competition in English, as well as the logo for the games. The official name of the games is engraved in Russian, English and French on the rim.

They will weigh between 460 and 531 grams (1.01 to 1.17 pounds) depending on the metal used (gold, silver or bronze) and will be 10 mm thick and 100 mm in diameter.

There were 1,300 medals manufactured for the event.

Opening ceremonies for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi will take place Feb. 7, 2014.


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