TIME swimming

Michael Phelps Will Aim for 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio

Michael Phelps during a practice session in Mesa, Ariz. on April 15, 2015.
Matt York—AP Michael Phelps during a practice session in Mesa, Ariz. on April 15, 2015.

The swimmer's 6-month-long suspension for DUI arrest ended on April 6

Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps said Wednesday that he will try to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, according to ESPN’s Wayne Drehs.

It is the first time Phelps has publicly committed to trying for the 2016 Games. One year ago, he announced he was coming out of retirement and would possibly target the Olympics in Rio.

Phelps is returning to competition this week for the first time since being suspended for six months from all sanctioned events. USA Swimming suspended him in October after he was arrested for DUI, and his suspension ended on April 6. He is competing in the Arena Pro Swim Series, which is being held April 15-18 at Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa, Ariz.

As part of his suspension, USA Swimming and Phelps decided he would not participate in the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia. It was reported that he could possibly be reinstated for the event, but on Wednesday Phelps said he respects the decision of USA Swimming and will not compete in Kazan.

Last November, fellow USA swimmer Ryan Lochte said he had “no doubt” Phelps will be ready for the 2016 Olympics. Phelps won eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics, including a one-hundredth of a second victory in the 100-meter butterfly that SI captured with an underwater camera.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME brazil

Here are the 4 Challenges Rio de Janeiro Must Meet to Host a Successful 2016 Olympics

A young man rests next to a destroyed house at the shanty town Vila Autodromo, which is located close to the Olympic Park built for the Olympic Games Rio 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 01 April 2015.
Antonio Lacerda–EPA A young man rests next to a destroyed house at the shanty town Vila Autodromo, which is located close to the Olympic Park built for the Olympic Games Rio 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 01 April 2015.

With fewer than 500 days to go before the next Summer Games Rio faces great problems including crime, pollution and energy

The countdown is on until the 2016 Olympics and Rio de Janeiro is preparing to welcome millions of people from around the world. But in order to succeed as hosts, the Brazilian city — which won the bid to host the Summer Games back in 2009 — must address the social tensions, environmental problems and water crises that threaten to marr the biggests sporting event in the world. Here are four of the main challenges Rio must tackle before the Opening Ceremony.

1. Pollution in Rio’s Guanabara Bay

Guanabara Bay borders Rio de Janeiro’s east side and is the host site for the Olympic’s sailing and windsurfing events. It’s also made international headlines due to its polluted waters, filled with raw sewage and massive amounts of garbage. While part of Rio’s Olympic bid included a promise to clean up the bay by 80 percent, the state environment secretary, Andre Correa, admitted in January that it would not be possible. They’re currently at 49% of their cleanup goal.

Mario Moscatelli, a biologist and outspoken bay advocate, says the state has the technology, time and money to make significant improvements but that politicians are not interested in making it a priority. He believes they never intended to fulfill this promise and tells TIME they “simply lied” to get the Olympic bid.

Mayor Eduardo Paes told CNN last June that pollution doesn’t pose any health risks for the athletes, but Moscatelli thinks otherwise, claiming that sailing in the bay is “like playing Russian roulette.”

“Sailors run the risk of hitting anything from plastic bags to a car bumper, pieces of wood, tires and even furniture,” he warns. “Falling in the water, the sailors could potentially be victims of gastrointestinal infections, mycoses, otitis or hepatitis.”

2. The water and energy crisis

Brazil is suffering from the worst drought in 40 years. The southeastern city of São Paulo has started rationing water and Rio could be next. Making matters worse, Brazil gets about 70 percent of its energy from hydropower. In Brazil, water crisis equals an energy crisis.

The Minister of Mines and Energy, Eduardo Braga, also made a frightening announcement last week: the turbines on Brazil’s principal hydroelectric plants will stop running if water levels dip below 10% capacity. They’re currently at 17%.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Brazilian government spent $5 billion to subsidize fossil fuels to make up for lost hydroelectric power in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup and may have to do so again for the Olympics.

3. Olympic development is raising social tension

In the informal settlements known as favelas, about 8,000 families have been, or are at risk of, removal from their homes for construction linked to the Olympics and the World Cup, according to a 2014 study done by an activist group, the Popular Committee. While the government has been praised for promising market-rate compensation for those evicted, in practice it seems there is no standard price per square foot. A recent study by MIT reported that government officials go from house to house and negotiate behind closed doors. Residents think this is both an intimidation tactic and has sparked rumors of how much people are receiving.

Meanwhile, the “Olympic Legacy” in Rio has been criticized for serving mostly the interests of the private sector and the wealthy. Olympic sites like the golf course and the Olympic Village will be handed over to private construction firms who plan to build luxury apartments, made possible through a financial model known as Private-Public Partnerships (PPP). PPPs mean that private construction firms are footing 60 percent of the bill for Olympic construction projects. While it saves public money, the construction firms are then able to develop the land for profit. Another report by the Popular Committee describes the PPP model as “the eviction of a low-income community, that the city of Rio has made their priority to remove in order to make room for yet another commercialized project.”

Professor Mauro Kleiman, an urban studies professor at the Federal University of Rio, agrees that the legacy will primarily serve private interests, excluding public transportation projects like the extension of the metro and rapid transit bus lines. “The legacy is [in] the interests of real estate development and the tourism sector,” Kleiman tells TIME. “So far, we’re seeing inflated costs, similar to in Greece [where the 2004 Olympics were held in Athens].”

4. Street crime and public security

While street crime has generally fallen over the last 30 years, Rio has seen a spike in street robberies in recent months, reaching levels not seen since 1991.

In March alone there were seven mass robberies, known as arrastões, in public spaces. Armed robbers assaulted commuters twice in the metro and another group of armed criminals closed off a major tunnel and robbed the stopped cars.

A representative from the Rio State Security Secretary said they are responding by increasing police presence in strategic points throughout the city and pointed out that the city of Rio has held major events like the World Cup and Pope Francis’ visit with no major security incidents.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 27

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Why did Saudi Arabia lead airstrikes on the rebels who’ve seized Yemen? The answer isn’t as clear as it seems.

By Frederic Wehrey at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

2. Three black swimmers swept the 100-yard freestyle at the NCAA swim championships — and swept away a long-standing stereotype.

By Kavitha Davidson in Bloomberg View

3. Could a Facebook deal to host news content make news brands obsolete?

By Felix Salmon in Fusion

4. A new satellite study reveals the rapid breakdown of Antarctic ice. Low-lying nations should be worried.

By Robert McSweeney in the Carbon Brief

5. Here’s how reproductive health rights for women can help end poverty.

By Valerie Moyer in the Aspen Idea

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME celebrities

Michael Phelps Just Got Engaged to Former Miss California USA

Subway Press Conference With Pele And Michael Phelps
Rafael Neddermeyer—Getty Images Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps attends a Subway press conference to promote healthy living and lifestyle among childrenon December 04, 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Olympic champion is taking the plunge

Olympic champion Michael Phelps is engaged to girlfriend Nicole Johnson, the swimmer announced on Instagram Sunday.

The 22-time Olympic medalist posted a photo of the couple lying in the snow with the caption, “She said yes.” Johnson posted a similar photo to her Instagram with with the caption “I’m gonna be a Mrs.”

The couple began dating in 2009 but broke up in 2012 before getting back together, according to Page Six. Johnson was Miss California USA 2010.

She said yes😁😁😁 @nicole.m.johnson. (Photo credit to @arschmitty )

A photo posted by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on

I'm gonna be a Mrs. 🙊🙈 @m_phelps00 💍❤️ 📷: @arschmitty

A photo posted by Nicole Michele (@nicole.m.johnson) on

TIME cities

Bostonians Dubious About Olympic Bid, Poll Finds

Boston
Getty Images Boston, Mass.

A majority are kind of "meh" about the city's bid, according to a new poll

Boston residents are not too excited about the city’s 2024 Olympic bid, according to a new poll.

In fact, the share of Boston residents “excited” about the city’s shot at hosting the Summer Olympics (48%) is almost the same as those who say they’re not excited (43%), a new survey released by Boston’s NPR news station WBUR on Tuesday found.

The poll surveyed just 500 Boston area residents after the city was named one of four identified by the United States Olympic Committee to apply to host the 2024 games, and it had a margin of error of 6.7 percent.

But the numbers will make dispiriting readers for Olympic organizers; only half of those polled said they “support” the Olympic games coming to Boston, and a full third (33%) said they are opposed to them.

The city will need more support from residents if they want to persuade the International Olympic Committee that Boston should host. For next year’s summer games in Rio de Janeiro, WBUR reports, 85% of residents supported the city’s bid.

[WBUR]

TIME olympics

Boston May Be the Next Olympic Sucker

Boston Is Fifth Ranked U.S. City In Value Of Commercial Real Estate Transactions
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Buildings stand in the city skyline in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014.

Boston will bid for the 2024 Olympics. According to many economists, Beantown will regret it if it wins

Boston wins! Boston wins!

But Boston may lose, big time.

On Thursday the U.S. Olympic Committee chose Boston as America’s bidding city for the 2024 Olympics. Beantown beat out San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles in the Olympic sweepstakes. The latter’s loss is a mild surprise, considering LA’s Olympic experience: the city has hosted the Games twice, and has plenty of venues already built. Not that Boston has no Olympic attractions. Beach volleyball in Boston Common and field hockey at Harvard Stadium sound cool. The city is pretty compact. Hopefully they’ll find some use for Fenway Park. (Equestrian events? Yankees fans might appreciate horses crapping all over the outfield).

The host city won’t be named until 2017, and Boston’s rival bidders potentially include Rome, Casablanca, Paris, Nairobi, Doha and Berlin. While many Bostonians are excited about the the prestige and emotional lift that an Olympic win would provide, critics — like members of the No Boston Olympics opposition group — worry about the price tag. For good reason: academic research has consistently shown that for the host city, the Olympics aren’t the economic boon they’re cracked up to be. In fact, they do long-term harm.

Cities consistently spend more than the original budget projections: before the London Olympics, Will Jennings, a professor of political science and public policy at the University of Southampton, found that the average cost overrun for staging the Olympics was 200% since 1976. Boston has estimated that its bid would cost some $4.5 billion in private funding plus an additional $5 billion in regional infrastructure improvements. “That’s farcical,” says Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College, which is located some 80 miles west of Boston, and the author of the new book Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup. Organizers in London, for example, initially said the Games would cost $4 billion. The final bill came out to to $15 to $20 billion.

Zimbalist was surprised that Boston got the right to bid. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) just passed reforms seeking to control the spiraling costs of hosting the Games: he’s convinced that Los Angeles, with its existing Olympic infrastructure, made the most economic sense. Boston’s biggest challenge will be building an Olympic stadium to host the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as track and field. Zimbalist is also skeptical of Boston’s plan to utilize its many universities to host events and athletes in an Olympics village. It’s one thing for MIT to have fields for archery, and for other universities to have pools. It’s another to convert these places into full-fledged Olympic venues, with seating and infrastructure to support a flood of spectators.

In his book, Zimbalist cites stacks of research showing that the Games aren’t worth it. The Olympics, cities are often told, will boost tourism. One econometric study, however, showed that when other factors were controlled for, Atlanta saw no statistically significant change in retail sales, hotel occupancy, or airport traffic during the 1996 Olympics. During the Beijing Olympics in August of 2008, hotel bed nights dropped 39% compared to the prior year. For the 2000 Sydney Olympics, two researchers concluded that “in terms of purely measurable economic variables the [Games] had a negative effect on New South Wales and Australia as a whole.”

During the Olympics, athletes, officials, media and fans often replace traditional tourists who are more likely to explore the city and spread the word about its virtues. Olympic tourists may brag about their swimming tickets in Boston. But jealous friends can’t then replicate that experience, cause the Olympics are over. So why go to Boston? The idea that the Olympics puts a city on a “world stage,” which will subsequently attract new investment and tourist dollars, in largely bunk.

“More often that not, Olympics wind up as a public burden,” says Zimbalist. “I have no reason to believe that Boston will be an exception rather than the rule.”

TIME olympics

Boston Selected as U.S. Bid for 2024 Summer Olympics

Boston Harbor at Sunrise
Shobeir Ansari—Getty Images

Beantown beat out San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The United States Olympic Committee announced Thursday that Boston will represent the country’s bid to host the 2024 summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Beantown beat out San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. for the spot. Assuming the International Olympic Committee approves the New England hub as an applicant, Boston and the other international candidates will then prepare a plan for hosting the events that includes logistics like venues, transportation and security.

Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted his delight Thursday and called the pick an “exceptional honor for Boston.”

“It is an exceptional honor for Boston to be chosen as the U.S.representative in the running for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said in a statement. “This selection is in recognition of our city’s talent, diversity and global leadership. Our goal is to host an Olympic and Paralympic Games that are innovative, walkable and hospitable to all. Boston hopes to welcome the world’s greatest athletes to one of the world’s great cities.”

Atlanta was the last American city to host the Summer Olympics, in 1996, but Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.

TIME Video Games

4 Video Games That Could Be Olympic Sports

Running, swimming...Super Smash Bros.?

Over the years, the Olympics have chosen to include some pretty odd sports: Tandem bicycle sprints, pistol dueling and live pigeon shooting have all at one time or another been official Olympic sports.

But Olympic video gaming?

That’s not as crazy as it sounds, says Rob Pardo, formerly lead designer on games like Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and Starcraft: Brood War. Pardo told the BBC Wednesday “there’s a very good argument for e-sports being in the Olympics,” citing the rising popularity of video games as a spectator sport.

“I think the way that you look at e-sports is that it’s a very competitive skillset and you look at these professional gamers and the reflexes are lightning quick and their having to make very quick decisions on the fly,” Pardo said.

But which video games are worthy of Olympic competition? Here are four titles the International Olympic Committee might want to consider:

1. Call of Duty

The Call of Duty series has worldwide appeal, meaning no particular country would have a crazy advantage right off the bat (we’re lookin’ at you, U.S. Men’s Basketball Team). It’s also a game that, believe it or not, is pretty fun to watch other people play — especially when they’re really good.

Oh, and professional and semi-pro Call of Duty: Ghost players have already racked up nearly $1.5 million in competitive prize money, according to esportsearnings.com.

2. Dota 2

Dota 2 is the closest the Olympics might ever get to an actual Thunderdome — many teams enter, only one team leaves. It’s a multiplayer slice-and-dice battle arena game that can see 800,000 people playing worldwide at the same time during peak times.

There’s more strategy involved in Dota 2 than you might think at first, so once you understand what’s going on, it’s pretty entertaining to watch — kinda like curling. Competitive Dota 2 players have made a whopping $24.5 million in prize money, topping esportsearnings.com’s list.

3. League of Legends

Like Dota 2, League of Legends is an online multiplayer battle game, with nearly 27 million players logging on each day. In every new match, each player starts off fairly weak, then levels up to gain strength before taking on opposing players. It’s among the best choices for an Olympic sport because there’s already a massive competitive scene for it — professional League of Legends leagues have popped up in North America, Europe and across Asia, where the game’s particularly popular.

League of Legends players have made $18.7 million in prize money, says esportsearnings.com.

4. Super Smash Bros. Melee

The Super Smash Bros. games are among the only titles where it’s almost more fun to watch people play than actually play yourself. A perennial Nintendo classic, players choose from favorite characters like Mario, Peach, Pikachu and Kirby to do button-mashing battle with their rivals.

While Smash doesn’t have quite the competitive scene these other games do, it would be tremendously fun to watch people smashing Wii U buttons in a quest for Olympic gold.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: December 17

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

Terror Threat Nixes The Interview

Some cinema chains are pulling Sony’s film The Interview from their lineups after hackers threatened a 9/11-style attack against theaters who screen the upcoming movie. Sony said it is going forward with plans to release the film, but would support theaters’ decisions

Starbucks CEO Talks Racism

Howard Schultz outlined his concern about the effects of racism and increasing social polarization in America in a letter to all Starbucks employees

Putin’s Influence Wanes

Russia’s worst economic crash since 1998 may force the Russian President to rethink his adventures abroad

Jeb Bush Eyes Run for Presidency

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced Tuesday that he will “actively explore” running for president in 2016. “I think we need to have candidates lift our spirits,” he said, one day before announcing his formal intention to explore a campaign

U.S. Will Bid to Host the Summer Olympics in 2024

The United States Olympics Committee (USOC) unanimously approved on Tuesday a U.S. bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games. One of Boston,

Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles will be picked for the bid in 2015

Pakistan Mourns After Peshawar School Massacre

Pakistanis mourned collectively and individually on Wednesday after a brutal attack on a school in Peshawar by Taliban militants that claimed more than 140 lives, including 132 children. But questions remain over the military’s relationship with extremist groups

Angelina Jolie Hires Experts to Protect Her Kids Online

Angelina Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt, who don’t use social media, have hired a cyber-security team to monitor their children’s Internet usage and exposure. “We wouldn’t even know what to look for,” she said

Australia’s PM Demands Answers After Sydney Siege

Tony Abbott has said that everything from the nation’s gun laws to its national security policies are up for serious review after a troubled Iranian migrant on bail was able to evade watch lists, buy a firearm and take over a Sydney café, leading to three deaths

Clifford the Big Red Dog Creator Norman Bridwell Dies at 86

Author and illustrator Norman Bridwell died on Friday, Dec. 12, in Martha’s Vineyard at age 86. His publisher, Scholastic, announced the news Tuesday, but did not give a cause of death. Bridwell was best known for creating the Clifford the Big Red Dog book series

Bill Cosby Won’t Be Charged Over L.A. Molestation Claim

Los Angeles prosecutors on Tuesday declined to file any charges against Bill Cosby after a woman recently claimed the comedian molested her around 1974. The rejection of a child sexual abuse charge by prosecutors came roughly 10 days after Judy Huth met city police

NHL Teams Postpone Seasonal Hospital Visits

Several NHL teams are postponing their annual holiday visits to hospitals, amid a mumps outbreak within the league. At least 15 NHL players have so far come down in the outbreak, including for the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers

Poll: 57% of Americans Say Race Relations in U.S. Are Bad

A majority of Americans now say that race relations in the United States are bad, according to a new poll, which showed the most pessimistic assessment of racial issues in almost two decades

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TIME olympics

U.S. Will Bid to Host the Summer Olympics in 2024

The last Summer Olympics were held in London.
Dan Istitene—Getty Images The last Summer Olympics were held in London.

One of four cities will be picked for the bid in 2015

The United States Olympics Committee (USOC) unanimously approved on Tuesday a U.S. bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The four possible bid cities are Boston, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles, whose representatives gave pitches to the committee Tuesday morning, according to a USOC statement. A selection for the bid will be made in January, and the International Olympic Committee will select a host city in 2017 after reviewing all submitted bids.

The organization’s last decision to bid to host the Olympics was for the 2016 Games, which was awarded to Rio de Janeiro instead of Chicago. The USOC had decided not to bid for the 2020 Olympics, which will place in Tokyo.

The last Summer Olympics to be held in the U.S. were the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

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