★ The Sports Examiner: Chronicling the key competitive, economic and political forces shaping elite sport and the Olympic Movement.★
★ Friends: If you would like to support our coverage, please donate here. Your enthusiasm is the reason this site continues. Thank you. ★
★ To get The Sports Examiner by e-mail: sign up here! ★
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Paris 2024 office searched by French investigators
2. IOC slams Kremlev; CAS rejects IBA stay appeal
3. Six interested in Winter Games, but only Salt Lake City declared
4. Eli Lilly extends USOPC & NBC sponsorship, joins LA28
5. Int’l Paralympic Committee visits Special Olympics World Games
French investigators searched the office of the Paris 2024 organizing committee and the Solideo government construction firm in two corruption probes. The organizing committee said it was cooperating. The International Olympic Committee released an angry statement against International Boxing Association President Umar Kremlev of Russia for threatening comments made during a forum in Brazil, calling out IOC officials he believes are against him, and suggesting former boxing federation chief C.K. Wu “must be shot.” Meanwhile, the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed the IBA’s request for a stay of the IOC Session scheduled for Thursday that will consider expelling the IBA from the Olympic Movement. The IOC said at a Tuesday news conference that six countries are discussing future Olympic Winter Games bids, but only Salt Lake City has formally said it would host in 2030 or 2034 (preferred). The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, LA28 and NBCUniversal announced a commercial partnership with pharma giant Eli Lilly & Co. for the 2024-26-28 Olympic and Winter Games. In a positive sign of cooperation, senior officials of the International Paralympic Committee attended the opening of the Special Olympic World Games in Berlin and met to find ways to work together for the benefit of those with disabilities in the future.
● Panorama: Boxing (national federations beginning move to World Boxing) = Cycling (Reusser wins Tour de Suisse Femmes) = Fencing (2: U.S. dominates PanAm Champs, but one team was black-carded; Hazdic banned by U.S. Center for SafeSport) = Football (2: Ireland and New Zealand quit matches after alleging racist incidents; FIFPro report criticizes conditions for Women’s World Cup qualifying matches) ●
Paris 2024 office searched by French investigators
“French investigators searched the headquarters of Paris Olympic organizers on Tuesday in a probe into suspected corruption, according to the national financial prosecutor’s office. The Paris organizing committee said in a statement that a search was under way at their headquarters in the suburb of Saint-Denis, and that ‘Paris 2024 is cooperating with the investigators to facilitate their investigations.’ It would not comment further.”
That’s the shocker from Tuesday morning, with the Parquet National Financier (PNF) also searching the office of the government’s Olympic construction service, Solideo. According to Agence France Presse:
“A spokesman for prosecutors said the probes concerned ‘illegal conflict of interest, misuse of public funds and favouritism’.”
The two investigations date from 2017, the year that Paris was awarded the 2024 Games, concerning specific contracts, and from 2022 regarding possible favoritism and conflicts of interest for contracted and consultant services, being handled by the financial crimes unit of the Paris police.
The same types of concerns, notably over contracting, are also being looked at Solideo, which has a large portfolio of projects being built with public funds for the 2024 Games. The AFP report also noted earlier concerns from the national Agence Francaise Anticorruption (AFA):
“AFA inspectors said the procedure for purchases was ‘imprecise and incomplete’ and emphasised that there ‘exists sometimes potential situations of conflicts of interests which are not overseen correctly.’”
Severe corruption issues dogged the organization of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, including possible vote-buying to get the event, and continue to plague the 2020 Tokyo Games, also with vote-buying whispers, but now public prosecutions, confessions and convictions on two separate scandals: a bribery scheme with then-Tokyo 2020 Executive Committee member Haruyuki Takahashi on sponsorships, and a bid-rigging scheme for test-event management and Games venue management contracts led by ad giant Dentsu.
This is the first publicly-announced investigation of the Paris 2024 organizers.
At Tuesday’s news conference following the first day of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board meeting in Lausanne, Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi (SUI) reacted (from the simultaneous interpretation of the original French):
“In a situation like this, there is only one attitude that we can really, actually apply, and that is the one communicated by Paris 2024. Transparency and cooperation are the two watchwords. And in a context such as this one, which, of course, is very tense, is very difficult today, when the organizing committee commits to holding certain principles, there is only one thing we can do, and that is to wait for the results of this inquiry.”
The Paris 2024 Board met on Monday (19th), before the raids, and expressed satisfaction with the progress:
“With just over a year to go before the Olympic Games deadline, the Board deemed that the Paris 2024 Organising Committee was on the right track to organise Olympic and Paralympic Games of a new era. Among the main actions presented at the meeting, the test events were highlighted as a key step. They will enable the organisers to obtain valuable insights and make any adjustments needed for the Games to be hosted in the best possible conditions next year.”
IOC slams Kremlev; CAS rejects IBA stay appeal
The IOC posted a sharp rebuke to comments by International Boxing Association President Umar Kremlev (RUS) from last Thursday (15th):
“The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) condemns the violent and threatening language used by the President of the International Boxing Association (IBA), Umar Kremlev, against a number of individuals from the IOC. These statements were made during the American Boxing Confederation (AMBC) Continental Forum in Brasilia.
“Incitement of hatred and derogatory language against individuals working for the IOC, who are simply carrying out their professional roles, and against the IOC as an organisation, is simply unacceptable. Making accusations against them that they are ‘covering up crimes’ is highly defamatory.
“Furthermore, calling for an individual formerly linked to the IOC to be ‘shot’ is language that has no place in sport or in any normal civilised debate.
“The IOC reserves all its legal rights.”
Kremlev, as usual, spoke in Russian during the AMBC Continental Forum, with simultaneous interpretation of his comments into English and other languages during the live stream. According to InsideTheGames, Kremlev’s comments included:
“IOC are hiding the crimes of their IOC member and IOC Board member who was C. K. Wu.
“I will not use the term ‘Mister’, because for us he is not a Mister, he is a criminal who was killing boxing. He is a bad person.
“Such people must be shot as he has robbed the National Federations (NF), the boxers, has brought in corruption.
“And IOC is silent about this though this person was a member of IOC for a long time, it’s their person.”
The video recording of the AMBC Forum has been deleted.
Wu (TPE), was the elected head of AIBA from 2006-17 and an IOC member from 1988-2020; during his tenure, a series of failed, expensive ventures were launched that ultimately caused the financial collapse of the federation, and led to Kremlev’s election. Kremlev has consistently blamed Wu for all of the IBA’s problems, including with the IOC.
Kremlev also blasted IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) and Sports Director Kit McConnell (NZL) – and others – as conspirators against the IBA, a charge both have rejected.
Also on Tuesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed the IBA’s request for a Court-imposed stay of Thursday’s 140th IOC Session concerning the withdrawal of IOC recognition of the IBA:
“[T]he President of the Appeals Arbitration Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has today dismissed the IBA’s urgent request to stay the execution of the Challenged Decision. Accordingly, the Challenged Decision remains in force and the IOC Extraordinary Session remains undisturbed.
“In the Challenged Decision, the IOC Executive Board noted that the IBA had failed to fulfil to the IOC’s satisfaction the conditions set by the IOC in its decision communicated to the IBA on 9 December 2021 for the lifting of the suspension of the IBA’s recognition, and recommended that the IOC Session withdraw the IOC’s recognition of IBA, in accordance with Rule 3.7 of the Olympic Charter.
“The IOC Executive Board also resolved to recommend to the IOC Session to decide that the IBA should not organise the Olympic Games LA28 boxing tournament, but that in the interest of the boxing athletes and the sport of boxing, boxing be maintained on the sports programme of the Olympic Games Paris 2024, in accordance with the IOC Executive Board’s decisions taken on 24 June, 8 September and 6 December 2022. Finally, the IOC Executive Board and the IOC President decided to convene an IOC Extraordinary Session to be held remotely on 22 June 2023.”
The IOC is expected to withdraw recognition of the IBA on Thursday – essentially an expulsion – apparently the first time this has happened to an International Federation.
Six interested in Winter Games, but only Salt Lake City declared
The IOC’s Dubi shed very little new light on the ongoing process for the selection of the host for the Olympic Winter Games in 2030, noting that Salt Lake City is the only candidate which has firmly declared its interest, although Sweden and Switzerland are both now in the “continuous dialogue” phase:
“There will be a briefing tomorrow from the chair of the [Winter Future Hosts] Commission, Octavian Morariu [ROU]. No decision to be expected, but simply the ‘lay of the land,’ acknowledging that Sweden has joined, and Switzerland has joined as well. …
“We have the work to be done by the Commission until the Executive Board in October, whereby we’ve been tasked to do two things: look into the future, as to the impact of climate, study also whether a concept of rotation would be favorable, especially for Winter Games in the future, and also study the possibility of a double allocation. So that’s the duty that the Executive Board gave to the Future Host Winter Commission, and this is the next milestone we have.”
While Sweden is clearly considering 2030, but not committed to it yet, Dubi was asked about where the Swiss are right now:
“SwissOlympic has not given us a specific edition; they say they are to talk to us about any future edition of the Winter Games, which is somewhat reassuring, because they know that with the current process and the fact that we can talk, we can discuss together about how to maximize the chances of Switzerland and the others, by the way, in a distant future.
“I really like this approach. It can have a very long term view, looking at everything that is available, in Sweden or Switzerland, or elsewhere and project yourself to a longer future.”
He said that six countries are talking about Winter Games – the U.S., Sweden, Switzerland and three he won’t name, repeating the Salt Lake City situation as:
“When it comes to who is interested about which edition, there is only one – and you know this is Salt Lake City – which has declared that it is very open, they’ve done a lot of work, but their preference would be for 2034, should these Games be awarded in the context of a double allocation.”
So, the next act in the drama will apparently come in October in India.
Eli Lilly extends USOPC & NBC sponsorship, joins LA28
Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. was announced Tuesday as an “Official Partner” of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee and as a sponsor of NBCUniversal telecasts of the 2024 Paris, 2026 Milan Cortina and 2028 Los Angeles Games.
Lilly previously signed up with the USOPC and NBCU for the Tokyo Games in February 2020, with the Games postponed to 2021. Skipping the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, Lilly will now be on board with Team USA through 2028; the announcement noted:
“Lilly will now serve as an official Team USA partner in prescription medicine and health equity through 2028, bringing expertise and experience to support elite athletes on their health journey to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Lilly also will support NBCUniversal’s Olympic and Paralympic coverage across all media platforms for the next five years.”
Int’l Paralympic Committee visits Special Olympics World Games
A welcome sign of cooperation between organizations with the same basic goals, from a post by the International Paralympic Committee reporting on meetings between President Andrew Parsons (BRA) and other senior staff and the leadership of Special Olympics International over the weekend, at the opening of the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin:
“During the course of the weekend, he also met with Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics, attended several sport events, and presented medals to competitors in athletics.”
“Since the launch of WeThe15 [campaign] in 2021, the IPC has been building closer working relationships with all the major organisations responsible for sport for persons with disabilities outside of the Paralympic Movement.
“The IPC, Special Olympics, Invictus Games Foundation and Deaflympics, all have very distinct visions of what they want to achieve as organisations, but the common thread that unites us all is a desire to use sport as a tool to drive inclusion for the world’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities.
“The purpose of the visit was to learn more about the Special Olympics and identify where we can potentially work together to complement each other’s activities in the future as we aim to make an inclusive world for all.”
That’s the way it should be.
Further inroads for Special Olympics International sports programming was announced Tuesday by the Union Cycliste Internationale, with a Memorandum of Understanding signed during the Special Olympics World Games ongoing in Berlin, including:
“The focus of the MOU is to use and adapt existing and new resources to expand cooperation and communications between the UCI, its World Cycling Centre (WCC) and Special Olympics, and to educate and encourage others to join the movement of inclusion in sport. As part of this MOU, the UCI will make the facilities and coaching expertise at the UCI WCC – the UCI’s education and training centre in Aigle, Switzerland – available to Special Olympics.”
UCI President David Lappartient (FRA) added: “Riding a bike helps people the world over improve their wellbeing, increase their confidence and establish friendships. I am delighted by this partnership with Special Olympics which, thanks to the facilities at our UCI World Cycling Centre, will further promote cycling as an accessible sport for people with intellectual disabilities.”
Similar protocols were signed with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and others.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Boxing ● While the IBA is on the verge of expulsion from the Olympic Movement, the new World Boxing group is moving along. A report from its latest board meeting included:
“World Boxing is currently processing a series of membership applications from National Federations and has experienced a significant increase in enquiries following the recent announcement by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to recommend it withdraws recognition of the International Boxing Association (IBA).
“Representatives of World Boxing will also be attending the forthcoming European Games in Krakow, 21 June – 3 July 2023, where they will host a series of fringe meetings with National Federations that have expressed an interest in becoming a member of World Boxing.”
In the U.S., a letter from USA Boxing chief executive Mike McAtee made public on Tuesday noted that the movement toward the new federation has started:
“Our ongoing conversations with like-minded National Federations highlight an undeniable truth – the global boxing community is ready for change. In addition to the United States, Great Britain, and Switzerland (who have all publicly declared intentions to join World Boxing), 28 other National Federations have privately stated their intentions to apply. Despite IBA’s continued threats of retaliation against boxers, an additional 18 have reached out to understand the application process. We have every reason to believe that many more will follow. Such a transition can require changes to the bylaws of affected National Federations, and many of these countries are taking the proper, necessary steps to begin the application process.”
● Cycling ● The third women’s Tour de Suisse concluded on Tuesday, with home favorite Marlen Reusser holding on to the lead she took after the second stage Individual Time Trial, and winning by 1:02 in a total time of 7:53:22 across four stages from Demi Vollering (NED) and 1:17 from Italian star Elisa Longo Borghini.
Italian Eleonora Gasparrini won the hilly, 120.8 km third stage at the front of a mass sprint in 3:04.12 (with Reusser eighth) and New Zealand’s Niamh Fisher-Black took the hilly, 100.8 km final stage in a sprint with Kasia Niewiadoma (POL) in 2:47:49, with Reusser third, 37 seconds back, but 48 seconds up on Vollering to seal the overall win.
● Fencing ● The U.S. dominated the Pan American Championships in Lima (PER), winning four men’s events and five women’s events out of 12 contested, but also involved in an unsportsmanlike incident with the men’s Epee team.
In men’s Foil, the all-U.S. final saw 2019 Pan American Games champion Gerek Meinhardt out-last teammate Nick Itkin by 15-13, with Rio 2016 silver winner Alexander Massialas third (losing to Meinhardt, 15-7, in the semis) and Meinhardt, Itkin and Miles Chamley-Watson won the team title, 45-15, over Canada.
American Andrew Doddo won the men’s Sabre final, 15-9, against Jose Quintero (VEN), and teamed with Eli Dershwitz, Colin Heathcock and Mitchell Saron for a 45-40 gold-medal win over Canada in the Team Sabre final.
Venezuela’s Ruben Limardo Gascon defeated Nicolas Zhang (CAN) in the men’s Epee final. 14-12, and Limardo Gascon led his squad to the team title, 28-27, over Colombia. But there were complications, as Colombia won over the U.S. in its semi in a walkover. According to USA Fencing:
“Team USA’s semifinal bout against Colombia ended after a red card shown to Team USA gave Colombia the 45th and decisive touch.
“After that 45th touch, Team USA fencer Curtis McDowald OLY kicked and damaged a freestanding banner near the strip, among other actions.
“These actions resulted in the awarding of a black card to Team USA, which nullified the results of the semifinal bout, excluding Team USA from the remainder of the men’s epee team competition at the tournament. Team USA was not permitted to fence in the bronze medal match. Additionally, Team USA was not given a finishing position at the tournament and will be awarded zero qualifying points for the Paris Olympics.
“We are disappointed by Curtis’s actions and regret that they have harmed Team USA’s chances of fielding a men’s epee team for the 2024 Olympics. Following a hearing, Curtis has been formally removed from the Pan-American Championships team pending potential further review after the tournament. He will not be eligible to fence at the 2023 Fencing World Championships in Milan, Italy.”
American Catherine Nixon won the women’s Epee gold, defeating Paraguay’s Montserrat Viveros, 15-9, in the final, after beating teammate Kat Holmes, 15-8 in her semi; Holmes won one of the bronze medals. They teamed up with Isis Washington and Hadley Husisian for the Team Epee gold, 45-38, over Canada.
The U.S. women’s Foil stars won three of the four medals on offer, with Olympic champ Lee Kiefer taking the victory for her 10th continental title, 15-8, over teammate Maia Weintraub. Lauren Scruggs took one of the bronzes. But it was Canada which took the team title in an upset, with the three U.S. stars and Jackie Dubrovich falling, 45-43, in the gold-medal match.
In Sabre, American Magda Skarbonkiewicz took the title, beating Pamela Brind’Amour of Canada in the final, 15-11, as Elizabeth Tartakovsky of the U.S. won one of the bronzes. The two U.S. stars joined Maia Chamberlain and Tatiana Nazlymov for the Team Sabre gold, winning the final by 45-20 over Mexico.
The long-running dispute over sexual misconduct allegations involving U.S. Epee fencer Alen Hazdic took a new turn on Tuesday with the U.S. Center for SafeSport permanently banning him from the sport.
Hazdic has denied allegations of abuse between 2013-15 from six women, and was allowed to go to the Tokyo Olympic Games as an alternate after appealing a provisional suspension from SafeSport (he was accommodated in a hotel outside of the Olympic Village and did not compete at the Games). This action is a final judgement, but can be appealed.
USA Fencing’s statement included:
“The road to resolution of this matter has been long and arduous. We thank the community for your patience as we allowed the independent U.S. Center for SafeSport — which has the exclusive authority to adjudicate reports of alleged sexual abuse and sexual misconduct within Olympic and Paralympic governing bodies and amateur sports organizations — to exercise its exclusive jurisdiction over this matter and conduct a thorough investigation.
“USA Fencing is pleased that the Center has issued a decision that provides clarity and peace of mind to our athletes, coaches and the fencing community.”
● Football ● Teams from New Zealand and Ireland both ended friendly matches on Monday in view of alleged racist incidents.
In Ritzing, Austria, New Zealand was leading Qatar, 1-0, at halftime, but declined to play any more after the referee took no action after an accusation of a racist insult against defender Michael Boxall.
Ireland’s U-21 team was leading Kuwait, 3-0, in Bad Radkersburg, Austria, but left the field in the 70th minute after they said a racist remark was made to one of Ireland’s substitutes. The Kuwait federation disputed the allegation and posted, “The match did not reach completion due to excessive roughness and tension between the players. The match was stopped by the referee in the 70th minute to protect the players from potential injuries.”
The FIFPro players organization released a report that criticized the conditions of qualifying matches for women on teams trying to reach the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The 48-page review from players in all six confederations included findings of:
● 29% of players said they were not paid for qualifying matches, usually part of confederation championship tournaments;
● 40% said they considered themselves professional players in these events, with 35% identifying as amateur, 16% as semi-pros and 9% were not sure of their status;
● 66% of players said they had to take vacation time or unpaid leave from their jobs in order to compete in the qualifying events;
● 54% of players said they did not receive a pre-tournament medical exam.
In short: “The majority of players surveyed believe that improvements are needed in almost all components of conditions in their Confederation tournament for both the performance and general wellbeing of players.”
A call was made to have the qualifying matches for the Women’s World Cup separated from the confederation championships, to offer more opportunities for play and pay for female players.
For our updated, 651-event International Sports Calendar (no. 2) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!