THE TICKER: Tokyo likes the Games after all; NBC to show Pre Classic Saturday; Polish silver winner auctions medal for child surgery

The Olympic Rings (and a friend) at Mt. Takao outside of Tokyo (Photo: Tokyo 2020)

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The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:

● Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● Attitudes on the Tokyo Games came around once the competitions started and four polls taken over the final weekend of the Games and just after, showed solid majorities were “happy that the Tokyo Olympics were held”:

● 64% ~ Yomiuri Shimbun (vs. 28% against)
● 63% ~ Kyodo News (vs. 31% against)
● 61% ~ Tokyo Broadcasting System
● 56% ~ Asahi Shimbun (vs. 32% against)

In the Yomiuri poll, 61% were happy that there were no spectators vs. 12% in favor of having had spectators at the Games. The positive attitude was due significantly due to the historic success of the Japanese team.

This is a huge turnaround from pre-Games polls showing as much as 70% of the Japanese public was unhappy with the event taking place during a pandemic. Even without spectators, the locals were glued to the Games with 91% of the country’s entire population reported to have followed the events on television.

The magic of the Games is confirmed once more.

● Athletics ● Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic will be shown live on NBC this Saturday for 90 minutes beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time (1:30 p.m. in Eugene).

The event is headlined by the women’s 100 m, with American Sha’Carri Richardson taking on the all-Jamaican Tokyo podium of Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, and a lot more. Perhaps another world record in the men’s shot from Ryan Crouser?

Entries and results will eventually be available here.

One of the most heartwarming stories coming out of the Tokyo Games was the auctioning of the silver medal in the women’s javelin by Poland’s Maria Andrejczyk.

On Facebook, she explained that she was offering the medal in order to help pay for heart surgery for 8-month-old Miloszek Malysa. The Polish supermarket chain Zabka won the auction at $125,000 and then announced it would return the medal to Andrejczyk.

Malysa needs the operation due to a heart defect and will operated on at the Stanford University Medical Center.

Fantastic, just fantastic.

The International Testing Agency announced a possible doping violation by Bahrain marathoner El Hassan El Abbassi, who finished 25th in Tokyo (2:15:56). He is charged with a prohibited homologous blood transfusion; next up will be a testing of his B-sample.

Nationwide Radio Jamaica reported that star sprinter Yohan Blake, the 2011 World Champion in the 100 m underwent emergency surgery in Kingston to remove his appendix.

After complaining of stomach pains, Blake, 31, was taken to a hospital and “scans revealed that Blake’s appendix was on the verge of being ruptured.”

The surgery was apparently successful and he is still under supervision at the hospital.

The September issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine included a “Correction: Serum androgen levels and their relation to performance in track and field: mass spectrometry results from 2127 observations in male and female elite athletes.”

This was the 2017 paper which discussed the impact of increased testosterone levels on the performance of women in track & field events and led to the World Athletics regulations on women with “Differences in Sex Development.”

The note stated, “To be explicit, there is no confirmatory evidence for causality in the observed relationships reported. We acknowledge that our 2017 study was exploratory.

“With this in mind, we recognise that statements in the paper could have been misleading by implying a causal inference. Specifically, ‘Female athletes with high fT [testosterone] levels have a significant competitive advantage over those with low fT in 400 m, 400 m hurdles, 800 m, hammer throw, and pole vault.’

“This statement should be amended to: ‘High fT levels in female athletes were associated with higher athletic performance over those with low fT in 400 m, 400 m hurdles, 800 m, hammer throw, and pole vault.’”

This caused great excitement within the legal camp of South Africa’s Caster Semenya, which is appealing regulations before the European Court of Human Rights, after having lost at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

The reply from World Athletics: “The erratum recently published in the British Journal of Sport Medicine to the 2017 paper clarifies the exploratory nature of this study.

“It has no bearing on the decade of research undertaken by World Athletics that informed its eligibility regulations for the female classification.”

Stay tuned on this one. It’s worth noting that the Swiss Federal Tribunal has not issued a final decision on its holding supporting the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s finding on the regulations. That may be where the real decision on the World Athletics regulations will be.

● Cycling ● The 76th Vuelta a Espana continues with France’s Kenny Elissonde now in the lead over two-time defending champion Primoz Roglic (SLO).

Tuesday’s Stage 4 was a hilly, 163.9 km ride to Molina de Aragon and ended with Dutch star Fabio Jakobsen winning the sprint finish in 3:43:07, ahead of Arnard Demare (FRA) and Magnus Cort (DEN) among others.

Wednesday’s Stage 5 was another sprinter’s special, an 184.4 km flat ride to Albacete, with Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen winning in 4:24:41 over Jakobsen and Alberto Dainese (ITA).

After taking the lead following Stage 3, Estonia’s Rein Taaramae has fallen back to 27th overall. Elissonde, 30, was 16th at La Vuelta in 2015. The riding gets harder now with two hilly stages and a mountain stage before Monday’s first rest day.

“The Tissot 2021 UCI Track Cycling World Championships were originally scheduled to take place from 13 to 17 October in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), but were finally cancelled at the request of the organisers due to the health constraints and restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

So instead, the Track Worlds will be held at the Velodrome Couvert Regional Jean-Stablinski in Roubaix, France, with a 250 m track, from 20-24 October. This also removes the event from another authoritarian country with human-rights issues; watch for this to become a growing issue as an expansion of the concerns over conditions for athletes in Belarus as well as the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in China.

● Fencing ● Sad news that veteran women’s foil coach Anthony “Buckie” Leach, 62, died on Saturday in a motorcycle accident while riding on a cross-country trip. He had just returned from the Tokyo Games.

Leach coached the U.S. women’s foil team at the 1996-2000-04-16 and 2020 Olympics; Lee Keifer – who Leach coached at Notre Dame – won the first U.S. women’s gold in fencing in Tokyo. Leach’s teams won the World Championship in 2018 and three other medals at the Worlds.

● Football ● The U.S. Soccer Federation announced four friendlies for the U.S. Women’s National Team for the fall, including two games against Paraguay on 16 September in Cleveland and 26 September in Cincinnati.

Two more matches will be played against South Korea on 21 October in Kansas City and 26 October in St. Paul, Minnesota.

These will be the last games with the national team for star striker Carli Lloyd, who announced her retirement at the end of this season. The U.S. women have never previously played Paraguay, but have a 10-0-3 record against South Korea.

● Gymnastics ● Very little action has been reported in the continuing USA Gymnastics bankruptcy proceeding at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The monthly operations report for June showed “only” $101,459 in legal fees for the month – not a lot in this case – and total fees since the case started of $15.45 million.

Only $10.23 million of this has been paid; the rest is still due.

Next month’s report will provide some figures on the revenue and expenses for the U.S. Olympic Trials held in July.

● Karate ● In the aftermath of its first appearance in the Olympic Games, the World Karate Federation has nosily insisted that it belongs on the program of the Paris Games in 2024, despite not having been chosen by the Paris organizers as an added sport.

In an interview with Agence France Presse, International Olympic Committee Sports Director Kit McConnell (NZL) explained “The door is effectively closed for karate.” The Paris organizing committee asked for the inclusion of break dancing, climbing, skateboarding and surfing back in February 2019.

The WKF and its athletes continue to demand that the sport be added and accuse the IOC of only caring about money, to which McConnell readily noted, “If the considerations were purely financial, we would choose sports capable of filling stadiums with 80,000 seats.

“The four sports chosen for the Olympics-2024 bring a real balance to the Olympic program. In Tokyo, team sports and combat sports in particular were well represented, but more urban sports brought a very different dynamic compared to traditional sports.”

● Swimming ● The planned Australian Swimming League was expected to launch in October, but the third wave of the coronavirus has postponed the start until 2022.

Swimming World Magazine reported that “The plan was to follow a franchise model, similar to the International Swimming League, with events held around the country and prize money to swimmers.” The program is being privately run, but is working in conjunction with the national federation, Swimming Australia.

● The Last Word ● The Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) announced the core sports program for the 2023 and 2025 World Beach Games and invited interested countries to bid for the events. The core sports include:

Aquatics: Open Water Swimming 5km & Beach Water Polo
Football: Beach Soccer
Handball: Beach Handball
Karate: Individual Kata
Sailing: Kite Foil
Tennis: Beach Tennis
Triathlon: Aquathlon
Volleyball: Beach Volleyball 4×4
Wrestling: Beach Wrestling

The first World Beach Games was successfully held in Doha (QAT) in 2019 and was planned to be held in 2021, but was capsized by the coronavirus.

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