HEARD AT HALFTIME: LA28 “very, very comfortable” on finances despite deficit; Dillard’s ‘48 100 m gold sells for $120,000; Liu retires at 16?

In the beginning: an 1896 Athens winner's medal, which sold for $80,000 in Ingrid O'Neil's Auction 91 (Photo: Ingrid O'Neil)

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(For our updated – as of 10 April – 620-event International Sports Calendar for 2022 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!)

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Plus: Beijing 2022: Chinese government paid $300,000 for U.S. social-influencer campaign = Winter Games 2030: Aragon region “demands respect” in bid = Brisbane 2032: Organizing committee board completed = Athletics: Hurdles star Allen signs with NFL Eagles; U.S. Marathon Trials champ Conover succumbs to cancer; Canada’s Stafford moving on due to Houlihan doping positive = Luge: FIL furious at reversal of Russian sanctions = Scoreboard/Athletics: World leads for Steiner and McLeod ●

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


The Los Angeles City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on the 2028 Olympics and Paralympic Games approved the proposed amendment to the City’s Youth Sports Partnership Agreement with the Los Angeles 2028 organizing committee and the plan for spending for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Final approval will be needed from the City Council.

Monday morning’s meeting had five of the seven Council members present and all four items – two of which were informational only – passed by 5-0 votes.

The Youth Sports Partnership Agreement amendment was a minor change to allow more flexibility in the use of funds, for support services such as transportation. Council member Paul Krekorian noted:

“The single most important factor that should govern all of this is, what investments are going to maximize the greatest degree of youth participation in sports, per dollar. That’s really what our emphasis should be, the most bang for the buck in getting more kids who are not currently active in sports, to become active in sports.”

A long list of action items for the 10 working groups defined in the LA28 Games Agreement was also approved, with nominations the first priority and most of the groups to meet not later than 31 March 2023, and to have approved plans in place by 31 March 2025.

LA28’s team was led on the call by chief executive Kathy Carter, who reiterated the committee’s priority:

“Our number one objective is to make sure that our incredible opportunity also comes with a responsibility to the City, and to the taxpayers, to make sure we actually host a Games that are both fiscally [responsible] and low-risk. And that’s something that is an ongoing mantra inside our offices here at LA28.”

Krekorian asked about the 2020 financial report, which showed a $33.9 million deficit for the year, Carter explained:

“Essentially, what we’ve done is we’re showing the income statement and ultimately how we are [showing] revenue recognition for the year of the report [2020]. And what that means is that because we were just beginning operations, for all intents and purposes, while we are collecting revenue, we have not actually provided the services for the recognition of that revenue in the calendar year.

“So our cash flow is actually very, very healthy. We have money that’s essentially in the bank, but it’s just a timeline by which we are actually reporting out basically the assets and the liabilities. So it should cause no concern; it’s just literally just the way the accounting of the revenues and expenses are coming in. So we feel very, very comfortable with where we are, and we’re tracking as per our initial plans.”

The City staff noted that no change in the projected budget for the Games project – $6.884 billion – has not changed.

Carter was asked about what was learned from the Tokyo Olympic and Beijing Winter Games experiences, both of which took place with heavy anti-Covid countermeasures. Her answer was reassuring:

“What we did learn, though, in Tokyo and Beijing were really key and important lessons around how and what we should do to challenge the operating assumptions of what was perhaps the way we thought we needed to do things previously. So, rest assured, we certainly continue to challenge the operating assumptions of what was the way to host these Games previously, and we look at everything as an opportunity to refine and do it better as we approach 2028.”


● Memorabilia ● Sensational conclusion to Ingrid O’Neil’s Auction 91, with two historic medals going for $120,000 and $80,000.

The star of the program was Harrison Dillard’s gold medal from the London 1948 100 meters, one of four he won in his Olympic career. Offered by his family at $120,000, the lot had no takers until close to the end of the bid period on Saturday, when a bid at that amount came in, and the lot sold. Amazing.

Lot no. 2 was a winner’s medal – in silver; the use of gold started later – from the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens, that pictured Zeus on the front and the Acropolis on the back. It sold for the asking price of $80,000.

And many more Olympic medals were sold, some for impressive prices:

● 1920 Olympic (Antwerp) silver medal: $5,500
● 1924 Winter (Chamonix) silver medal: $30,000
● 1928 Winter (St. Moritz) bronze medal: $9,000
● 1952 Olympic (Helsinki) gold medal: $8,500
● 1960 Olympic (Rome) bronze medal: $12,000
● 1972 Winter (Sapporo) gold medal: $42,500
● 1976 Olympic (Montreal) gold medal: $18,000

The auction was also one of the best ever in its selection of Olympic torches:

● 1936 Olympic (Berlin): $5,000
● 1948 Olympic (London): $7,500
● 1960 Olympic (Rome): $7,000
● 1964 Olympic (Tokyo): $11,000
● 1968 Olympic (Mexico City): $8,000
● 1972 Olympic (Munich): $2,000
● 1976 Olympic (Montreal): $2,600
● 1980 Olympic (Moscow): $3,000
● 1984 Olympic (Los Angeles): $4,000
● 1988 Olympic (Seoul): $5,000
● 1992 Winter (Albertville): $65,000
● 1992 Olympic (Barcelona): $5,000
● 1996 Olympic (Atlanta): $3,000
● 2000 Olympic (Sydney): $3,750
● 2004 Olympic (Athens): $2,800
● 2008 Olympic (Beijing): $5,000
● 2016 Olympic (Rio): $3,500
● 2020 Olympic (Tokyo): $16,000
● 2022 Winter (Beijing); $22,000

Nope, not a misprint on the 1992 Albertville torch: $65,000! Wow!

● XXIV Olympic Winter Games: Beijing 2022 ● A wild scheme by the Chinese government to use U.S. social-media influencers to help support the Beijing Winter Games was widely reported last week. Axios explained:

“The Chinese consulate in New York paid [Vipp] Jaswal’s firm Vippi Media $300,000 for the influencer marketing campaign, according to [Foreign Agents Registration Act] filings.”

The influencers included U.S. Paralympics swimmer Jessica Long, whose representative said that her participation was “to basically to be able to support her fellow team members and Team USA and highlight and showcase that.”

According to the filing, the campaign created 3.8 million impressions.

● XXVI Olympic Winter Games: 2030 ● The drama in Spain over its 2030 Winter Games bid continues with Aragon region President Javier Lamban tweeting last Thursday:

“We want to agree with [the Spanish Olympic Committee and the Catalan government] a winning candidacy for 2030. But, for that, it must be equal and balanced. Out of dignity and in defense of the interest of the #PyreneesAragones we will not accept anything else. We demand respect”

He had earlier shown a map which demonstrated only three venues in Aragon and six in Catalonia. Further meetings are to be held, with Aragon to propose its own version of a Games plan.

● Games of the XXXV Olympiad: Brisbane 2032 ● The Board of the Brisbane 2032 organizing committee was finalized on Sunday, with 21 total members.

Former Dow Chemical Chair Andrew Liveris was named as the President of the Board, with four current and former Olympic athletes and one Paralympic athletes. Also named were two individuals from the Australian Olympic Committee and two from the Australian Paralympic Committee.

The Board includes six elected officials, including four Members of Parliament, led by Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland Premier and Australia’s Minister for the Olympics.

● Athletics ● Two-time Olympian and three-time U.S. 110 m hurdles champion Devon Allen signed a three-year agreement to be a wide receiver with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, beginning in the fall.

Allen, now 27, was an accomplished – but often injured – receiver for Oregon, catching 41 passes for 684 yards during the 2014 season. He caught only nine passes in 2015 and four in 2016. But he impressed NFL scouts with his speed, running a “4.35″ – using the NFL’s timing standards – for 40 yards during Oregon’s pro day earlier this month.

His plan is to compete in the 2022 track & field season, which will culminate in August on his home track at the University of Oregon with the World Championships. Allen was fifth in the 2016 Rio Games and fourth in Tokyo, and was a semifinalist in the 2017 Worlds and seventh in Doha in 2019.

He will certainly be favored to make the U.S. team off of his 2021 season, in which he set his lifetime best of 12.99.

The impact of the doping positive and resulting four-year suspension of American middle-distance star Shelby Houlihan in 2021 is still being felt.

Canadian star Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, the national 1,500 m-mile-5,000 m record holder (3:56.12, 4:17.87, 14:44.12) posted on her Instagram account on Sunday:

“It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing that I have left the Bowerman Track Club. I am extremely grateful for the time that I spent with this incredible team. I learned so much about our sport, and made some amazing friendships that I will cherish for a lifetime. I wish this team nothing but the best in their future.

“Last summer, a fellow athlete received an anti-doping ban, and this event was deeply upsetting. I have said this publicly before that learning this news in mid-June almost derailed my Olympics. It was a small miracle that I showed up in Tokyo in shape to run sub 4 twice in 48 hours and place 5th. Going into the fall, I did my best to put this event behind me, and focus on all of the positives this group has to offer, as I truly did and do love this team. However this event and its ongoing aftermath continued to be a major distraction and stress for me. For the sake of my athletic performance and mental health, I needed to move on.

“And so I am excited to have this fresh start back in Canada. I am now working with Trent and Hilary Stellingwerff, based out of Victoria, BC along with the entire Athletics Canada West Hub sport science and medicine staff. I’d like to thank Nike for being supportive through this difficult time and for their continued support through Eugene and beyond.”

Terrible news that Mark Conover, 61, the 1988 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials winner, passed away after a long bout with cancer.

A multi-time All-American at Humboldt State, Conover was the surprise winner of the ‘88 Trials in a lifetime best 2:12:26, but did not finish at the Seoul Games. He came back at the 1992 Olympic Trials and finished 10th in 2:18:17.

He was first diagnosed with cancer in 1992, but beat it and went back to running, qualifying for the 1996 U.S. Marathon Trials, where he finished 71st.

Conover became a highly-respected coach at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but was diagnosed with cancer again in 2018 and beat the disease again. But a third cancer in 2021 eventually provided too much.

He is survived by his wife, Kelly, and three children. A special sale of socks replicating his iconic striped style is on now, through 24 April.

● Figure Skating ● Staggering announcement from two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, 16, on Saturday, verbatim:

“heyyyyy so i’m here to announce that i am retiring from skating i started skating when i was 5 so that’s about 11 years on the ice and it’s been an insane 11 years. a lot of good and a lot of bad but yk that’s just how it is. i’ve made so many friends, and so so sooo many good memories that i’ll have for the rest of my life. i honestly never thought i would’ve accomplished as much as i did LMAOO i’m so happy. i feel so satisfied with how my skating career has gone. now that i’m finally done with my goals in skating i’m going to be moving on with my life. rn i’m probably just gonna spend all my spare time with my family and friends; and i’m also going to study ykwim. but fr this skating thing has taught me a lot more about life than i anticipated. i’m really glad i skated.”

Liu won a Worlds bronze medal in March after finishing seventh at the Beijing Olympic Winter Games. She was the 2019 and 2020 U.S. national champion, initially winning at just 13 years old in 2019.

This is a shock, to say the least. Look for much more to come out about the decision and whether Liu sticks with it.

● Luge ● The Federation Internationale de Luge had a tumultuous week, with the FIL Court of Arbitration setting aside the federation’s penalties on Russia last Thursday, imposed on 2 March in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The FIL Board reacted with considerable anger, issuing a statement today that included:

“The FIL Executive Board intends to have it checked in a suitable manner as to whether any sanctions of any kind against the Russian Luge Federation are actually legally permissible for reasons of ‘political neutrality’, anchored in the FIL statutes.

“The members of the FIL Executive Board, but also the majority of the member federations of the FIL, cannot and do not want to behave neutrally regarding the war of aggression by Russia against the Ukraine. …

“The FIL leadership, together with the FIL Legal Committee, will look for possibilities to solve the unsatisfactory situation caused by the arbitration judgment of the FIL Court of Arbitration by means of a possible change in the statutes, which would have to be decided by a 2/3 majority at the ordinary FIL Congress on June 18-19, 2022 in Riga/LAT.

“In international sport, too, it should be possible to impose sanctions on sports associations and members of a country’s association that demonstrates behavior contrary to international law that has been confirmed by a UN body or the IOC.”

On Friday, a first-ever Extraordinary Congress of the FIL was held online, with votes taken on two Russia-related issued. The first was a vote to expel Russia from the federation, which required a 2/3rds majority to pass. It received 15 votes in favor, 12 against and four abstentions and was defeated. A subsequent vote to expel all Russian officials from elected FIL offices was passed; it required only a majority vote and passed, 16-13, with three abstentions.


● Athletics ● More world-leading performances over the weekend, with Kentucky’s Abby Steiner (USA) getting a wind-legal 10.92 to win the women’s 100 m at the May Invitational in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday and then coming back against a 5.6 m/s headwind to win the 200 m in 22.38, the best outdoors by an American in 2022.

Rio Olympic 110 m hurdles champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica won the Hurricane Alumni meet in Coral Gables, Florida in 13.27, the top mark for 2022 as well.

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For our updated, 620-event International Sports Calendar for 2022 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!