The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:
● Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● Calls to cancel the Tokyo Games are all the news, but there are also calls from athletes to hold the event, as this may be their only chance.
In fact, it may well be the one-and-only Olympics for about 8,174 athletes if history holds for Tokyo, Paris and beyond. Based on comprehensive research by Olympedia.org founder Bill Mallon (USA), Tokyo will be the only Games competed in for 73.7% of the expected 11,091 athletes.
That’s 8,147 one-and-done athletes. Mallon’s analysis of all Olympic Games, provided to TheSportsExaminer.com, showed that of 114,887 athletes who have ever competed in the summer Games, 84,705 (73.7%) competed in one Games only. Some 21,542 (18.8%) appeared in two Games and just 6,398 (5.6%) in three. That’s 98.1% combined.
For the Winter Games, 13,213 of the 20,605 participants (64.1%) competed in just one Games, with 4,847 (23.5%) competing in two and 1,824 (8.9%) in three. That’s 96.5% of the total. Mallon surmised that the higher number of two-Games participants may have been influenced by the short, two-year gap between the 1992 and 1994 Winter Games, when the cycle was changed to having Games every two years instead of only in four-year cycles.
So there’s a lot at stake for athletes coming to Tokyo as well as for the host country.
Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto announced that it now expects the number of Olympic officials to be halved, from an expected 180,000 total prior to the pandemic, to 90,000 at present.
The athlete total of 15,000 – about 11,000 for the Olympic Games and 4,000 for the Paralympic Games – is unchanged, but the organizers continue to pressure National Olympic Committees and International Federations to reduce their staff. Kyodo News reported:
“Muto said the number of officials may be cut further, depending on the situation of infections. …
“‘The (final) number may be really small if we consider (narrowing it down) to just individuals without whom the Olympics cannot take place,’ he said.”
The pre-Games training camps arranged by many National Olympic Committees and national federations are being cancelled in view of the pandemic. Kyodo News noted:
“Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa said 45 municipalities across Japan have so far given up their plans to host athletes for pre-Olympic training camps and cultural exchanges due to concerns over the pandemic.
Marukawa told a press conference that 32 of the 45 municipalities that decided to pull out of the government’s ‘Host Town’ programs said they were notified by their prospective guests that they will abandon their plans to visit.”
USA Track & Field decided to cancel its training camp in Chiba prefecture as a safety measure for its athletes.
The “host town” concept – pioneered by the Special Olympics for its World Games – was being used for the first time on a mass scale, with 528 Japanese municipalities registered to host 184 National Olympic Committees. That number is being reduced.
The Tokyo organizers had asked for 200 volunteer physicians to assist with the Games, and despite some criticism about taking away practitioners from the public, some 280 doctors have signaled their willingness to assist.
● Games of the XXXV Olympiad: 2032 ● The IOC announced that a three-day session was held with the prospective Brisbane 2032 organizers, the Australian National Olympic Committee and representatives of several levels of the Australian government.
A “final submission” by Brisbane is expected in the “coming weeks.” Norwegian IOC member Kristin Kloster Aasen, Chair of the Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad, said:
“Under the new approach to host elections, the Olympic Games adapt to the needs of the people living in the host region, rather than expecting the region to adapt to the Games. Brisbane 2032 has clearly been designed to complement long-term development plans for Brisbane and Queensland.”
If all goes as expected, Brisbane could be selected as host for 2032 at the IOC Session prior to the Tokyo Games in July.
● Pan American Games ● The coronavirus has hit the inaugural Junior Pan American Games, scheduled to held in Cali, Colombia from 9-19 September.
PanAm Sports, however, announced on Wednesday (12th) that the event has been postponed to 25 November to 5 December. Said Cali-Valle 2021 Executive Director, Jose Luis Echeverry:
“The decision we have made is very positive. It will be very beneficial to be able to wait a little longer given the emergency caused by Covid-19 not only in Colombia, but throughout the continent. With this new date, it gives us the possibility of having safer Games for everyone because when the time comes, we will have a higher vaccination rate in the host country.”
● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● Multiple sources confirm that the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics is unlikely to begin its work until after the Tokyo Games are concluded, perhaps in October of this year.
No funding for the Commission has been arranged as yet, and although the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act specified that the group was to have its first meeting within 30 days of the appointment of its last member – that was on 2 April – that has proved impossible without funding, or the naming of a co-chair by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey). Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) tabbed University of Baltimore law professor Dionne Koller as one of the co-chairs in April.
Further, the EOPAAA statute requires the Commission to hold at least one public hearing and to conclude its work, with a report and recommendations, 270 days after the bill became law on 30 October. That’s the end of July, which would be during the Tokyo Games. It appears the Commission will not even meet by then; look for a revision of the bill to allow for the later dates, and provide funding.
USOPC President Sarah Hirshland sent a letter to the U.S. Congress on Thursday, underscoring the organization’s view that “an athlete boycott of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is not the solution to geopolitical issues.”
Hirshland noted prior athlete boycotts, such as the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games did not have the desired impact and led to further boycotts by Warsaw Pact of the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
● Alpine Skiing ● The Federation Internationale de Ski’s Alpine Committee confirmed on Wednesday the calendar for World Cup competitions for 2021-22. The announcement was good news for critics of the balance between speed and technical events, with 18 of each scheduled for both men and women. Two parallel events will be held, but none in the long-disfavored Alpine Combined.
Five different proposals were submitted for a new starting order protocol, aimed at a better television program, but these were tabled and a working group formed to create a unified concept for 2022-23. On the safety front:
“[T]he use of cut-resistant underwear, as well as Dainese [body] airbags will be recommended for the coming season and dicussions to make them mandatory as of the 2022/23 will be held.”
● Athletics ● Even with all the advance publicity about Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf joining the sprint field for the last Sunday’s USATF Golden Games at Mt. SAC, the event didn’t draw many viewers.
The ratings for sports programs during the Sunday (9th) late-afternoon slot showed:
● 1.71 rating/3,091,000 viewers on FS1: NASCAR Cup Series/Darlington
● 1.77 rating/3,051,000 viewers on CBS: PGA Tour/Wells Fargo Championship
● 0.80 rating/1,587,000 viewers on ESPN: NBA/Knicks at Clippers
● 0.49 rating/861,000 viewers on NBC: USATF Golden Games
● 0.34 rating/620,000 viewers on ABC: MLS/Seattle at Portland
While the event got a modest rating against other events last Sunday, the Golden Games did draw the no. 2 audience of the year against other track events:
● 24 Jan.: American Track League 1/ESPN: no rating; less than 200,000 total audience
● 31 Jan.: American Track League 2/ESPN2: 0.16 rating; 254,000 total audience
● 07 Feb.: American Track League 3/ESPN: 0.19 rating; 310,000 total audience
● 13 Feb.: New Balance Grand Prix/NBC: 0.64 rating; 969,000 total audience
● 21 Feb.: American Track League 4/ESPN: no rating, less than 200,000 total audience
● 24 Apr.: Drake Relays/NBCSN: 0.16 rating; 237,000 total audience
● 24 Apr.: Oregon Relays/NBCSN: 0.22 rating: 319,000 total audience
Happily, there is more T&F coming on television in the coming weeks.
On the track this week, Italy’s Marcell Jacobs ran a lifetime best and national record of 9.95 in the heats in Savona on Thursday (13th), to move to no. 5 on the world list for 2021. He felt a small cramp during the warm-up for the final and skipped it to be safe.
The meet also featured the outdoor 200 m debut of British sprint star Dina Asher-Smith, who won in 22.56, no. 8 on the world list for 2021.
On Wednesday night in Bergamo (ITA), Kenyan Mark Owon Lomuket claimed the world lead in the 5,000 m, winning in a lifetime best of 13:01.68, over Worlds silver medalist Selemon Berega (ETH: 13:02.47) and Ugandan Oscar Chelimo (13:06.79).
On Thursday, Notre Dame’s 2019 NCAA 1,500 m champion Yared Nuguse (USA) ran a stunning 3:34.68 to set the collegiate record in the heats of the Atlantic Coast Conference championships in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Nuguse was all alone almost from the start and finished with a 57.95 last 400 m to remove Josh Kerr (GBR) and his 3:35.01 for New Mexico from 2018 from the record books. Wow!
The Swiss Federal Tribunal dismissed an appeal by Italian race walker Alex Schwazer on Friday, rejecting his request to have his eight-year doping suspension by the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned.
Schwazer, the 2008 Olympic 50 km gold medalist, was found to have taken synthetic testosterone in July 2016 and was banned, as a second-time doper, for eight years, into 2024.
Former IAAF President Lamine Diack, 87, convicted in a French court of corruption during his term, returned to Senegal last Friday after more than five years under house arrest in Paris. The BBC reported:
“Despite the convictions, he has been allowed to return to Senegal thanks to Cheikh Seck, the owner of Senegalese football club Jaraaf, who paid a [500,000] euro bond that will ensure Diack continues to respond to summonses by French authorities.”
● Basketball ● Australian star center Liz Cambage backed off her threat to skip the Tokyo Games and confirmed she will play for the Australian national women’s team, nicknamed the Opals. She wrote on her Instagram page:
“For everyone wondering so desperately what my decision is for the Opals, I’m in baby…I’m in.
“I’m going to play with my sisters that I’ve been playing with since I was a wee little thing and I’m going to ball out for all those young brown kids back in Australia watching me, baby. I’m going to do it for you.”
● Cycling ● The 104th Giro d’Italia is heading toward its second weekend, with seven stages completed and Hungary’s Attila Valter wearing the Maglia Rosa.
American Joe Dombrowski gave U.S. fans a thrill with a win in the rain-soaked Stage 4, his first-ever World Tour victory. He triumphed on the final, uphill climb to Sestola and won by 13 seconds over Italy’s Alessandro de Marchi. Alas, Dombrowski crashed in Wednesday’s fifth stage, suffered a concussion and is out for the rest of the event.
The flat sprinter’s stage on Wednesday was a win for Australian star Caleb Ewan in another mass finish in Cattolica. Ewan won his fourth career Giro stage, crossing ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA), Elia Viviani (ITA), Peter Sagan (SVK), Fernando Gaviria (COL) and many others.
Thursday’s climbing stage included the monstrous Forca di Gualdo in mid-race and then ended with an uphill finish to San Giacomo in Ascoli Piceno. This was an impressive win for Swiss rider Gino Maeder, 24, who won by 12 seconds over Colombia’s Egan Bernal and Irish star Dan Martin. Valter took over the race lead with a 12th-place finish, leading Remco Evenepoel (BEL) by 11 seconds and Bernal by 16.
Friday’s hilly stage has a long, flat second half, perfect for the sprinters and Ewan was to the line first again, ahead of Davide Cimolai (ITA) and Tim Merlier (BEL), the winner of stage 2. Valter continues to lead overall, with Russian Aleksandr Vlasov in contention in fourth (+0:24) and Britain’s Simon Yates in 10th (+0:49).
The weekend stages will have challenges, including Saturday’s climb up and over the Bocca della Selva (1,388 m at its peak) and Sunday’s five-climb route with an uphill finish at Campo Felice before a rest day on Monday.
The Amaury Sport Organization, which puts on the Tour de France, confirmed that a women’s Tour de France will be held in 2022, with the details to be announced in October.
The lead organizer, Frenchman Christian Prudhomme said that the race would have been held this year but for the Tokyo 2020 postponement. But he noted that a women’s Tour must also stand on its own, after the first try – from 1984-89 – failed:
“In my view, you have to put to one side the idea of parity between men and women. Why? Because there was a reason why that race only lasted for six years, and that was a lack of economic balance. What we want to do is create a race that will stay the course, that will be set up and stand the test of time. What that means is that the race cannot lose money.
“Today, all the women’s races that we organise lose us money. Even so, we’ve been running Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, La Course by Le Tour. There was the Tour of Yorkshire and the Tour de Qatar Feminin, there will be Paris-Roubaix in October. If it makes money, that’s great, but it mustn’t lose money or it will end up like the Tour in the 80s and it will die.
“If that balance had been achieved then, we would be on our 35th women’s Tour now. The challenge is to set up a race that can live for 100 years. That’s why we want it to follow the men’s Tour, so that the majority of the channels which broadcast the men’s Tour will cover it as well.”
● Figure Skating ● Vanessa James, half of the European Pairs Champions in 2019, has had her application for a change of nationality from France to Canada approved by the International Olympic Committee.
In December of 2019, James’s partner, Morgan Cipres, was accused of sexual harassment of a minor while training in Florida, prior to the Olympic Winter Games in 2018. The two split in September 2020.
In April of this year, James announced that she would be skating with Canadian Eric Radford and applied for a change-of-nationality exemption from the IOC. The Executive Board granted the requested exemption to the necessary three-year waiting period, which will make James eligible – subject to qualification – for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
● Football ● In the continuing soap opera that is/was the European Super League, the head of Spain’s La Liga, Javier Tebas, is accusing FIFA President Gianni Infantino of being “behind” the failed project.
Tebas said in interviews, “It’s [Infantino] who is behind the Super League and I already told him in person. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, behind all of this is FIFA president Gianni Infantino.”
Infantino, however, announced on 20 April that FIFA disapproved of the Super League concept, saying “We can only and strongly disapprove of a Super League which is a closed shop, breakaway from current institutions. No doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval. Full support to UEFA.”
On and on, on and on, on and on …
CONCACAF announced the men’s Gold Cup schedule for 2021, with a Preliminary Round from 2-6 July, then the Group Stage from 10-20 July and the eliminations and finals from 24 July to 1 August.
The group games will be played in Dallas, Frisco and Arlington, Texas (Group A, including Mexico); in Kansas City, Missouri and the Dallas area (Group B, including the U.S.); in Orlando, Florida (Group C) and Houston, Texas (Group D).
The playoffs will be held in Glendale, Arizona and Arlington, Texas; the semis will be in Austin and Houston, Texas and the finals in Las Vegas, Nevada.
● Gymnastics ● The new tug-of-war between USA Gymnastics and a group of four plaintiffs trying for an end-run around the federation’s bankruptcy process has been put on hold for three months.
After a hearing before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana on 28 April, the matter was continued and both sides were asked for proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law by 12 May. Both sides asked, and the Court agreed, to extend this deadline to 19 August 2021.
In a joint filing, the federation and the plaintiff group “agreed it would be productive to hold
the Stay Motions in abeyance for the next three months to see if the Parties can amicably resolve the issues in the Stay Motions.” Let’s hope so.
Still no word at all on any progress in the court-ordered meditation toward settlement between the federation, its insurers, the USOPC and the survivors committee.
USA Gymnastics announced that the Olympic Team Trials for Artistic Gymnastics will now be held at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri instead of at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
This is due to capacity limits and other coronavirus-related restrictions. USAG noted that “With this move, the U.S. Olympic Team Trials will be held alongside the USA Gymnastics Championships, which serves as the annual national championships for the acrobatic, rhythmic, and trampoline and tumbling disciplines, as well as the final Olympic selection event for rhythmic and trampoline in 2021.”
The dates for the Artistic Team Trials remain the same: 24-27 July. All tickets purchased for the Enterprise Center – which was sold out – will be refunded.
● Sailing ● The World Sailing Council met Friday and approved two alternative events to the IOC in view of its negative reaction to the proposed Mixed Offshore event for the Paris 2024 Games. The decision-making process was straightforward, but the debate was not:
“World Sailing’s Council received the Events Committee recommendation to select the Men’s and Women’s 470 as first alternative and Men’s and Women’s Kiteboarding as the second alternative. After a lengthy debate, Council voted against the recommendation with 23 against, 15 supporting and 3 abstentions.
“They moved into the Equipment Committee recommendation to select Men’s and Women’s Kiteboarding as the first alternative and Men’s and Women’s 470 as the second alternative.
“Men’s and Women’s Kiteboarding was approved as the first alternative with 33 votes in favour, 2 against and 6 abstentions. Men’s and Women’s 470 was approved immediately after as the second alternative with 37 votes in favour, 1 against and 2 abstentions.”
The recommendation for Kiteboard or 470 will now go to the IOC by its 26 May deadline.
● Swimming ● The final stop in the 2021 edition of USA Swimming’s Tyr Pro Swim Series is in Indianapolis, continuing through Saturday. The meet can be seen tonight on NBC’s Olympic Channel at 6 p.m. Eastern time and on Saturday on NBCSN at 6 p.m. Eastern. Live results are here.
On Thursday evening, Michael Andrew won the men’s 100 m Breast in 58.67, a U.S. Open record and just short of the American Record of 58.64 by Kevin Cordes in 2017. Blake Pieroni came from behind to win the men’s 100 m Free, 48.76 to 48.91 over Nathan Adrian. World-record holder Lilly King won the women’s 200 m Breast in 1:05.47, more than two seconds up on Emily Escobedo in second (1:07.66).
The International Swimming League announced that its “regular season” program of five weeks of matches will be held in a sequestered environment at the Piscina Felice Scandone in Naples, Italy.
The 10 teams will compete over five weeks, qualifying eight to a three-week playoff phase in November, with the ISL final in December 2021 or January 2022. Those venues are yet to be announced.
For our updated – as of 1 May – 506-event International Sports Calendar for 2021 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!