(For our Highlights of the weekend’s major competitions, click here)
● Plus: Paris 2024: Macron wins second term = Asian Games: September’s Hangzhou Games possibly in doubt? = IOC: Russian and Belarusian ban includes no TV rights sales for 2026-28 = Athletics: World Athletics releases sustainability best practices guide = Swimming: Australians Seebohm, McKeon and Stockwell concerned on transgender regs; Australia to get 2022 short-course Worlds; FINA to review more Rylov sanctions for swimming in Russian nationals = Tennis: WTA considering sanctions on Wimbledon sanctions vs. Russia and Belarus = SCOREBOARD/Swimming: U.S. trials for the 2022 Worlds on this week ●
News, views and noise from the non-stop, worldwide circus of Olympic sport:
≡ SPOTLIGHT ≡
The International Boxing Association released its approved list of candidates for its 13-14 May Extraordinary Congress in Istanbul (TUR), on the sidelines of the Women’s World Championships.
Former Russian Boxing Federation Secretary General Umar Kremlev won a heavily-contested race to become the head of AIBA – as then known – in December 2020. The election included five candidates and Kremlev was elected in the fourth round, with 86 votes to 45 for Boris van der Vorst (NED) and 19 for Interim AIBA President Mohamed Moustahsane (MAR).
Now Kremlev and van der Vorst will face off again.
Kremlev promised to eliminate AIBA’s debt of up to $16 million and to bring reforms to the federation. A new constitution was adopted, a series of governance reforms have been implemented, the federation’s name was changed, and an agreement with the Russian energy giant Gazprom has (reportedly) cleared the IBA’s debts.
An International Olympic Committee report from December 2021 noted that the IBA was dependent on Gazprom for funding through June of 2022 and needed more competitions (and the revenue from them) to continue on. Financial instability, transparency issues, continuing concerns over the IBA’s processes for refereeing and judging and worry over governance led the IOC to leave boxing off of the Los Angeles 2028 program, awaiting information and evidence of changes.
That was all before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. Now, the IBA member federations will have to decide whether to move forward with a Russian President and finances which appear to rest on the increasingly-sanctioned Gazprom.
Van der Vorst, a successful businessman in the healthcare sector, has been involved with boxing governance since at least 2008 and has served as the head of the Dutch federation and of the European Boxing Confederation. In his 2020 election manifesto, he promised governance reform, a completely revised system of refereeing and judging and “full transparency” on finances.
All of those things are still needed, but the Presidential election will inevitably turn on a strategic judgement by the member federations on whether IBA can move forward with a Russian President.
The federation’s reforms changed the composition of its Board of Directors to 18 people in total, with new rules requiring at least five to be women. Automatically seated are the federation President, the heads of the five continental confederations, two athlete representatives (elected by the athletes) and 10 independent directors.
The candidate list for the independent slots include 28 individuals, including former USA Boxing Board member (Athlete’s Rep) Elise Seignolle and USA Boxing Executive Director Michael McAtee.
Of the 21 current non-affiliated directors (not an athlete or a confederation head), five are running this time, including Bertrand Magliore Roland Mendouga (CAM), Luisa Benitez (VEN), Yousuf Al-Kazim (QAT), Volodymyr Prodyvus (UKR) and Dian Gomez (SRI).
With a decision still to come on whether boxing will be included in the Los Angeles 2028 sports program, the International Olympic Committee will be highly interested to see not just the outcome of the Presidential election, but if any of the five candidates from the existing Board – in which it has shown little confidence – are elected to new terms.
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
● Games of the XXXIII Olympiad: Paris 2024 ● Sunday’s French elections for President showed incumbent Emmanuel Macron comfortably on his way to winning a second term with about 58.8% of the vote to 41.2% for right-wing challenger Marine Le Pen.
That’s closer than the 66.1-33.9% result between the two from 2017, and the French legislative elections will be held on 12 June (primary) and 19 June (runoffs) for the 577 seats in the National Assembly.
Macron’s election is seen as a positive for the Paris 2024 Games and he was supported by the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF).
● XIX Asian Games: Hangzhou 2022 ● “No official decision has been taken by the committee until now, but there is a possibility that it will be postponed.”
That’s from Olympic Council of Asia Director-General (and FINA President) Husain Al-Musallam of Kuwait, acknowledging the continuing battle within China over the coronavirus. Although the Chinese organizers have steadfastly assured that the Asian Games – and the earlier World University Games in Chengdu – will be held, the recent lockdowns of major cities has cast doubt on holding the events.
The 2022 WUG is scheduled for 26 June-7 July in Chengdu and the Asiad from 10-25 September in Hangzhou, just 110 miles southwest of Shanghai, which has been severely restricted since 28 March as part of the government’s zero-tolerance policy against the virus.
The organizers have promised a Beijing 2022 Winter Games-style control system that was onerous but successful in keeping Games participants away from the public.
● International Olympic Committee ● On Friday, the IOC reiterated its ban request on Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from February and noted that more than $2 million has been raised and is being distributed to support Ukrainian athletes:
“The support aims at enabling Ukrainian athletes to continue taking part in international competitions. It takes the form not just of financial aid, but also logistical support, travel support, offering training facilities, accommodation, equipment and uniforms, amongst other things.”
The statement also added some details which have not been much emphasized:
“In addition, a number of members of the Russian government, including the President of the Russian Federation, were sanctioned for breaching the Olympic Truce. The IOC also suspended the tender process for the media rights sales for the territories of Belarus and the Russian Federation for Milano Cortina 2026 and Los Angeles 2028.”
● Athletics ● World Athletics restated its 10-year Sustainability Strategy and published a November version of a detailed Sustainable Events Management System underscoring its overall goal of “transitioning to carbon neutrality across all of its operations and owned events by 2030.”
The obvious action item deals with event management, including:
● “Identification of suppliers able to support the delivery of the sustainability goals is critical.”
● “Management of waste was identified as one of the most significant issues toWorld Athletics. The problem of persistence of plastics and our single use culture needs to be tackled through material specification at the procurement phase. However, this needs to be aligned to the waste management potential at the various locations.”
● “Waste is costly and, in many cases, unnecessary. During procurement questions need asking as to where the product has come from, what is its impact in production and use and how will it be disposed of, or can it be reused.”
● “Key areas for sustainable procurement are temporary event structures, equipment and clothing, energy and power, food sourcing, travel and transport and the venues/stadia hosting the events.”
● “The World Athletics owned World Athletics Series – WAS – events and World Athletics sanctioned events often cause significant local traffic disruption which, in turn, can elevate air quality issues. Through intelligent planning and integration of initiatives to monitor and/ or improve air quality, World Athletics can promote and protect a healthy environment for athletes, the World Athletics family, fans and the local community.”
As usual, the recommendation for net carbons generated by an event is to buy an offset of some kind. And as for air travel:
“Travelling Business Class almost doubles your carbon footprint based on the space that is taken up for a business class seat. Limiting business class flights can significantly decrease the organisation’s travel carbon impact.
“Flights under 5 hours will be considered short haul. Staff and team members should travel in economy for all short haul flights.
“For all other flights, economy travel should be the first choice.”
● Gymnastics ● The Associated Press reported that 13 abuse survivors from the Larry Nassar scandal have filed a claim of $10 million in damages each against the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The AP noted that “Under federal law, tort claims must be a filed with a government agency, which then has six months to reply. A lawsuit could follow depending on the FBI’s response.”
The U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, slammed the FBI for multiple errors in a 2021 report; the Indianapolis and Los Angeles FBI field offices knew about the abuse from information received in 2015 and 2016, but did nothing. Prosecutions were undertaken by the State of Michigan in 2016, resulting in multiple sentences for Nassar that will keep him in prison for life.
The Justice Department has not charged any FBI agents in the case, but that decision said last October that that decision is being reviewed.
● Swimming ● “If I was swimming in a male event I wouldn’t even place. I wouldn’t have got a medal in Tokyo, and a male who came eighth in Tokyo in the same event as me would have won the event by about five or six seconds, so there’s the difference we’re talking about.”
That’s Australian star Emily Seebohm, three-time World Champion in the Backstroke and three-time Olympic relay gold medalist in 2008-12-20 on the question of transgender women who have gone through male puberty competing in the women’s division.
In comments last week, her teammate Emma McKeon – she of seven Tokyo Olympic medals last year – told reporters:
“I mean, I personally wouldn’t want to be racing against someone who is biologically a male, so that’s a concern. It’s not a new thing, but it’s new in that sport, swimming, are going to have to deal with it.
“I don’t think I’m going to have to race against a trans swimmer. I don’t think it’s going to come to that point. Now that it’s a growing thing, the sport has to think about how to handle it and how to deal with it, because you do want to be inclusive, but you don’t want to have females racing against swimmers who are biologically male because it’s just not fair.”
The question is of high concern to Swimming Australia, now led by Tracy Stockwell, who – as American swimming star Tracy Caulkins – won three Olympic golds in 1984 in Los Angeles, before marrying Australian swimmer Mark Stockwell and moving to Australia:
“It’s complicated, it’s emotional, it’s divisive, depending on people’s views. I respect everyone’s opportunity to have their view on it so we will be liaising and have spoken to FINA about doing more research and coming up with an international policy. I think that’s the important thing. We want to be inclusive, but we also want to be fair. And the big question is, how do we do that?
“I’m not a medical expert or a doctor and so I can’t speak to how long does it take to mitigate the benefits of going into male puberty and what is the right level of testosterone. But there are rules for women in sport about testosterone levels and as someone who competed against the East German women, I think many people would say, ‘well, that wasn’t fair.’”
No, it was not.
The Sydney Sunday Telegraph reported that Australia will be the site for the re-allocated FINA World 25 m Championships to held in December. The event was removed from Kazan (RUS) in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It would be the first time the short-course Worlds would be held in Australia; the FINA World Aquatics Championships have been held in Perth in 1991 and 1998 and in Melbourne in 2007.
SwimSwam.com reported that FINA will determine if banned Russian swimmer Evgeny Rylov’s participation in the Russian nationals this past weekend is a violation of his suspension. Rylov was suspended for taking part in the Russian government’s pro-war rally earlier this year.
The federation sanctioned Rylov from participating in FINA-sanctioned events, but it is an open question as to whether domestic competitions would count. In other sports, such as track & field, domestic-only competitions have not violated international bans.
● Tennis ● The Women’s Tennis Association will consider sanctions against the All-England Club and the All-England Lawn Tennis Association for its blanket ban on Russian and Belarusian players from all grass-court tournaments in the country.
Both the men’s Association of Tennis Professionals and the WTA criticized the ban, noting that Russian and Belarusian players had been allowed to play elsewhere as neutrals, without identification of country.
The WTA’s view is that the ban is a violation of the rules adopted by the Grand Slam tournaments and of the WTA. According to a letter from WTA chief Steve Simon (USA):
“We’ve formally indicated our position by reserving the right to impose appropriate sanctions, which may include (among others) withdrawal of points awarded by Wimbledon, fines or suspension of the membership of the LTA to the WTA.”
A meeting on the issue in Madrid on 2 May is scheduled.
≡ SCOREBOARD ≡
● Swimming ● The major event of the week will be USA Swimming’s 2022 Phillips 66 International Team Trials in Greensboro, North Carolina. This meet will select the American team for the FINA World Championships in Budapest in June and will have significant live finals coverage beginning on Tuesday (all times Eastern):
● 26 April: 6 p.m. on NBC’s Olympic Channel
● 27 April: 6 p.m. on NBC’s Olympic Channel
● 28 April: 6 p.m. on NBC’s Olympic Channel
● 29 April: 6 p.m. on NBC’s Olympic Channel
● 30 April: 6 p.m. on CNBC
Preliminaries will be shown on the USA Swimming Web site. A highlights show will be aired on Sunday, 1 May at noon on NBC and 4 p.m. on CNBC.
The entry lists are out, with Olympic superstar Caeleb Dressel entered in the men’s 50-100-200 m Free and 50-100 m Fly, and distance icon Katie Ledecky in the 200-400-800-1,500 m Freestyles.
Tokyo medley relay gold medalist Michael Andrew has entered seven events: 50 m Free, 50 m Back, 50-100 m Breast, 50-100 m Fly and the 200 m Medley. Tokyo Olympic 200 m Medley bronze winner Kate Douglass has an amazing schedule, with six events in three different strokes: 50-100 m Free, 200 m Breast, 50-100 m Fly and 200 m Medley. She’s coming off an amazing NCAA Championships for Virginia, winning seven titles, including the 50-yard Free, 200-yard Breast, 100-yard Fly and four relays.
≡ AT THE BUZZER ≡
Now this is a prize. South Korean short-track stars Dae-heon Hwang and Min-jeong Choi each won the Olympic 1,500 m gold at February’s Beijing Winter Games, but have now received a “lifetime pension” of free fried chicken!
Agence France Presse reported that Korea Skating Union Chair Hong-geun Yoon – the owner of the hugely popular Genesis BBQ Group – has made good on his promise of a “chicken pension” for the two gold medalists:
“Genesis BBQ said the two athletes will receive 30,000 won ($24) worth of coupons to spend at the shop every day, adding that the amount will increase if prices go up.”
The ceremony was held last Thursday and the “pension” will last up to age 60 for both; Hwang is 22 and Choi is 23! That is going to be a lot of chicken.
In addition, South Korea won Short Track silver medals in the men’s and women’s relays, so the four men’s relay winners and three women’s team members – other than Hwang and Choi – will receive two coupons per week for 20 years!
In long-track skating, the Koreans won two silvers and two bronzes; the bronze winners will get two coupons a week for 10 years each. All together, Yoon gave away a combined “275 years” worth of product.
Whether chicken or burgers or tacos, someone in the U.S. has to pick up on this idea.
For our updated, 640-event International Sports Calendar for 2022 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!