HEARD AT HALFTIME: Paralympics also to be without fans; Richardson vs. Jamaicans at Pre Classic; Carli Lloyd retires; ISU transgender policy

Thanks for the memories: U.S. star striker Carli Lloyd

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

● XVI Paralympic Games: Tokyo 2020 ● The Tokyo 2020 organizers, Japanese government and the International Paralympic Committee announced Monday that fans would not be allowed at any of the venues, owing to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

This is a slightly different style of fan ban than for the Olympic Games, as students from local schools will be allowed to attend upon request due to the educational aspects of the Paralympic Games.

Covid infection rates continue to be high and Tokyo and many prefectures remain under a state of emergency. The Paralympic Games begin on 24 August.

Afghanistan formally withdrew from the Paralympics on Monday after the collapse of its government in Kabul. The withdrawal was confirmed by the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

The first security incident involving a Paralympian has already occurred. Kyodo News reported that Georgia judoka Zviad Gogotchuri, 34, the Rio gold 90 kg medalist, was arrested on Monday for “is accused of breaking a rib of the security guard in his 60s around 8:20 a.m. on Thursday when jumping on top of him and grabbing his neck.

“The incident took place after a different security guard warned Gogotchuri and several other Georgian athletes about noise they were making while apparently drinking in the corridor of the hotel’s sixth floor, according to the police.”

The athlete was being quarantined after another delegation member had tested positive for Covid. He is expected to be expelled from the Games.

● Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● Two more doping positives related to the Tokyo Games have popped up in triathlon.

World Triathlon reported that Ukranian triathlete Yuliya Yelistratva was provisionally suspended on 25 July, after a test on 5 June showed the presence of Erythroprotein (EPO). She appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Tokyo, but her appeal was denied and she was prevented from competing at the Games.

Last Thursday, World Triathlon posted a notice that an out-of-competition test of Russian triathlete Igor Polyanskiy on 21 July came back positive for Erythroprotein (EPO). The federation was only informed on 5 August and Polyanskiy had already competed in Tokyo in the men’s race (finishing 41st) and was a member of the 14th-place Mixed Relay.

Said Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin, “We will resort to the most severe penalties if this reported case turns out to be true. It is extremely disappointing that this single case may cast a shadow on the successful performance of the whole national team.”

● Games of the XXXVI Olympiad: 2036 ● Russia plans to get into the game for the 2036 Olympic Games, according to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“The bids are being prepared. We have several cities; St. Petersburg for sure, and I believe Kazan as well.”

Moscow, site of the 1980 Games, has been the only Russian bidder for the Games of the Olympiad. Discussions are already underway with multiple potential candidates in the aftermath of Brisbane (AUS) being chosen to host the 2032 Games.

● Athletics ● The 2021 World Athletics U-20 Championships will start on Wednesday in Nairobi, Kenya, an important event in a country which has aspirations of holding the World Athletics Championships, possibly as soon as 2025.

Because of the pandemic, no spectators will be allowed at Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium. The U.S., along with Australia, China, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and others have decided to skip the event as a precaution.

The Wanda Diamond League will continue in Eugene on Saturday with the annual Prefontaine Classic and a long-awaited match-up between Jamaica’s Olympic 100 m medalists and American Sha’Carri Richardson.

Tokyo medalists Elaine Thompson-Herah (gold: 10.61), Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (silver: 10.74) and Shericka Jackson (bronze: 10.76) will face Richardson, the U.S. Trials winner at 10.86, who was unable to go to Tokyo due to a one-month drug suspension for marijuana.

Olympic winners Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR/men’s 1,500 m), Joshua Cheptegei (UGA/men’s 5,000 m), Ryan Crouser (USA/men’s shot), Pedro Pablo Pichardo (POR/men’s triple jump), Athing Mu (USA/800 m), Faith Kipyegon (KEN/women’s 1,500 m), Sifan Hassan (NED/women’s 5,000-10,000 m) are all expected to compete, many against other Tokyo medal winners.

Horrific news that 2018 NCAA 100 m champion Cameron Burrell, 26, son of former world-record holder and Houston coach Leroy Burrell (and mom Michelle Finn, also a U.S. sprint star), died on 9 August.

According to the medical examiner in Houston, “Cameron died of a ‘gunshot wound to the head,’ the report from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said, per the report. He was found in a Houston-area parking garage.”

Cameron ran 9.93 for the 100 m in 2017, but struggled this season with a legal best of 10.35 in April. Heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and teammates.

The Athletics Integrity Unit announced further doping penalties against Rio 2016 women’s 20 km Walk silver medalist Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez of Mexico. Already banned from 16 November 2018 to 15 November 2022 for doping, she was found to have tampered with the doping control process and sanctioned for an additional four years, through 15 November 2026. The tampering charge came from her defense to the original doping charge and included falsified receipts and statements. The penalty is appealable to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Slovenian javelin thrower Martina Ratej, now 39, was assessed a two-year sanction to 8 March 2022 for a doping positive from a re-test of her sample from the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where she finished seventh.

● Cycling ● The third Grand Tour of 2021, the 76th Vuelta a Espana is underway, with Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic looking for a third straight victory, something not done since Roberto Heras (ESP) from 2003-05.

Roglic promptly took the lead in the inaugural stage, an individual time trial, covering the 7.1 km course in 8:32, six seconds ahead of Alex Aranburu (ESP). The second, fairly flat stage, was won by sprinter Jasper Philipsen (BEL) over Fabio Jakobsen (NED). Monday’s third stage featured a nasty uphill finish to Picon Blanco and was won by Estonian Rein Taaramae over American Joe Dombrowski by 21 seconds.

That makes Taaramae the overall leader, with Kenny Elissonde (FRA: +0:25) second and Roglic (+0:30) third. Still 18 stages to go!

● Football ● Carli Lloyd, now 39, and one of the greatest players in the history of women’s football, announced her retirement on Monday. She will play in the U.S. Women’s National Team’s four friendlies in September and October and finish the NWSL season before completing a 17-year professional career.

She has scored 128 international goals in 312 appearances with the U.S., second all-time to fellow American Kristine Lilly (354). Twice the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016, the U.S. women were a sensational 257-17-38 during her career for an 88% winning percentage.

Her greatest moment was her hat trick during the first half of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final during the 5-2 U.S. victory over Japan.

● Ice Hockey ● USA Hockey and the U.S. women’s team have agreed to a one-year contract to allow play in the IIHF Women’s World Championship that begins Friday in Calgary (CAN) as well as the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

The agreement was limited to one year to allow both sides to evaluate the potential revenues available once the pandemic is finally ended. The contract extends through 31 August 2022. According to an ESPN report:

“[P]layers on the women’s national team can earn up to $126,750 over the next year should they win gold at both the 2021 world championships and the 2022 Beijing Olympics. If the team wins a silver medal at both events, each player will receive $105,500. That money is made up of stipends and bonuses, paid out by both USA Hockey and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee.”

There are also $61,750 of direct stipends from the federation and the USOPC for each player.

The U.S. plays Russia in an exhibition game on Wednesday and begins Worlds play against Switzerland on Friday.

● Skating ● The International Skating Union issued a policy on transgender athletes last Friday (13th), which includes all of its disciplines.

A skater moving from the women’s division to the men’s division may do so without restriction, but cannot go back “once they have commenced hormone treatment.”

A skater moving from the men’s division to the women’s division will be required to (1) declare their female identity, an election which cannot be changed for at least four years and (2) “must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 5 nmol/L continuously for at least 12 months prior to her first competition.” This will be confirmed by testing.

This testosterone level is lower than that previously cited by the International Olympic Committee, but is the same as used by World Athletics, determined after a series of studies which suggested this level was more appropriate.

● Swimming ● The International Swimming League announced Eindhoven (NED) as the site for its three-meet play-off phase from 11-28 November. The meets there will narrow the field to the final four teams which will meet for the ISL championship in January 2022.

● At the BuZZer ● Great Britain enjoyed an outstanding Tokyo Games, with 65 total medals – 22-21-22 – for the fourth-most amongst all countries and 137 placements in the top eight.

As a reward, the British government committed £232 million (~$320.0 million U.S.) to supporting the Olympic and Paralympic teams for Paris in 2024. That’s a 44% increase on a yearly basis, from £54.0 million a year for Tokyo to £77.4 a year from 2022-24.

This governmental funding is in addition to funding provided from the National Lottery! Wow!

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