HEARD AFTER HALFTIME: IOC is going to be even more flexible in the Olympic bid process in the future

IOC President Thomas Bach (GER)

News, views and noise from the non-stop, worldwide circus of Olympic sport:

Olympic Games ● The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board received a report on Wednesday from a working group charged with reviewing the procedures for selecting the host city/region/country for the Olympic Games.

Its recommendations, which will be offered for approval by the IOC Session in June, included establishing a “permanent dialogue” about hosting interest, a more flexible approach to when a Games could be awarded – breaking away from the seven-years-prior election currently specified in the Olympic Charter, and creating two permanent commissions – one for Olympic Games, one for Winter Games – to “oversee interest” in hosting future events.

Some of this is simply housekeeping, but there are interesting implications in these ideas that could radically change the way Olympic Games are organized in the future.

Athletics ● The remaining targets of the French prosecution of the international money-laundering and vote-buying scheme are slowly coming to light.

Yousef Al-Obaidly (QAT), director general of Qatar-based beIN Media Group, was reportedly charged with corruption on 28 March 2019 in connection with attempted bribery related to the selection of the host of the 2017 IAAF World Championships, which was awarded to London (GBR). Doha was later awarded the 2019 World Championships, to take place later this year.

Al-Obaidly said in a statement, ““The allegations raised are not only utterly baseless and unsubstantiated, but they have been – quite remarkably – leaked to the media. For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, the allegations are completely and categorically denied and will be vehemently challenged using the full force of the law.”

There will undoubtedly be more to come.

Athletics ● Kenya’s Rio Olympic 800 m bronze medalist Margaret Wambui confirmed on Wednesday what was already well known, that she also has the hyperandrogenism symptoms faced by South Africa’s gold medalist, Caster Semenya and the silver medal winner, Francine Niyonsaba (BDI).

If she wants to continue competing in the 800 m, Wambui, 23, will be required to take medication to lower her testosterone level. She criticized the IAAF’s regulations, saying “The ruling has affected me greatly because you are not sure of what to train for … this season I was focusing on the World Championships and Diamond League races but all that effort has gone to waste.”

Semenya has entered the women’s 3,000 m at the Prefontaine Classic, the only IAAF Diamond League meet held in the United States, being held this year at Stanford while the new Hayward Field is being built in Eugene, Oregon.

While the 3,000 m does not have any restrictions for women with hyperandrogenism, it’s also not an Olympic event. That would be the 5,000 m, in which Semenya won the South African Championships in February, but she is not yet a world-class runner at that distance. The Prefontaine race on 30 June may be a clue to her future.

Football ● FIFA announced on Wednesday that the 2022 World Cup would be played with the currently-planned 32 teams and not expanded to 48.

The short announcement noted:

“Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.

“Additionally, FIFA and Qatar have once again explored the feasibility of Qatar hosting a 48-team tournament by in particular lowering certain key FIFA requirements. A joint analysis, in this respect, concluded that due to the advanced stage of preparations and the need for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact on the host country, more time would be required and a decision could not be taken before the deadline of June. It was therefore decided not to further pursue this option.”

The tournament will expand to 48 teams for 2026, when Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are the joint hosts.

Swimming ● Lithuania’s surprise 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 100 m Breaststroke, Ruta Meilutyte, announced her retirement on Tuesday, at age 22.

Meilutyte was looking at a suspension of a year for missing reporting her whereabouts – as required under the World Anti-Doping Code – three times over the prior 12 months.

She said in a statement, “I have given all of myself to swimming. I used to live with it since my early years. Due to a busy workout schedule, I had to compromise my studies, but I want to start again now. I want to do simple things now, to grow, understand myself and the world around me in a better way.”

Meilutyte won the 100 m Breast at the 2013 World Championships and took silver in 2015. She finished seventh in the 2016 Olympic final. Her last major competitions were silver medals in the 2018 European Championships in the 100 m Breast and in the World Short-Course Championships in the 50 m Breast.

She held the world record in the 100 m Breast (1:04.35) for almost four years, from July 2013 to July 2017, when it was broken by American Lilly King (1:04.13). Meilutyte remains no. 2 on the all-time list.

Wrestling ● With the completion of USA Wrestling’s World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Raleigh, N.C. last weekend, the line-ups for the Final X events on 8 and 15 June are set. The winners will be the U.S. entry in the 2019 World Championships.

One person who is not in Final X, and hasn’t been seen on a mat for a while is 2016 Olympic 53 kg Champion Helen Maroulis. She was dominant in winning the 2017 World Championship at 58 kg, but was pinned in the opening round of the 2018 Worlds, probably due to continuing concession issues from a match in January of that year.

So what now? She addressed the issue, and her current healing process in a tweet on 9 May:


Now you know.

At the BuZZer ● Rio Olympic triathlon champ Gwen Jorgensen of the U.S. had been targeting the marathon for Tokyo 2020, but has progress has now been hampered by surgery.

She had a procedure on 17 May to repair a Haglund’s Deformity on her heel and is expected to be out of action for three to four months for recovery. She has the right attitude: “The number-one goal is to be healthy.”