(For our now-completed Highlights of the weekend’s major competitions, click here)
● Plus: WADA: Compliance report shows 13 audits in 2021 = Athletics: Singapore sees 2025 Worlds bid as raising its profile = Football: FIFA warns Qatar hotels on discrimination = Freestyle Skiing: U.S. Moguls star Wilson retires = Modern Pentathlon: Olympic champ Choong says IOC never asked for riding to be removed; UIPM’s Fang says a new discipline is the only way to stay in the Games = Skating: U.S.’s St. Peter stresses experience and finances in ISU election promotion = SCOREBOARD => Deaflympics conclude in Brazil as U.S.’s Cronk celebrates 12 golds! ●
“The sham election on Saturday was a brazen power grab, with nothing ‘democratic’ about the process. IBA did not even bother to have an actual vote as Kremlev was the only eligible candidate. The Russian was duly ushered into another term, standing ‘unopposed’, like they did in the former Soviet Union.
“The National Federations should be in no doubt. The spectacle they witnessed in Istanbul is the end of IBA as the organiser of Olympic boxing.”
That’s how the British boxing news site WorldBoxing.Today described the “election” of Russia’s Umar Kremlev to a four-year term as the head of the International Boxing Association at an Extraordinary Congress held Friday and Saturday in Istanbul (TUR) on the sidelines of the Women’s World Championships.
Kremlev was slated to run against Dutch Boxing Federation President Boris van der Vorst – who with four other Board candidates from the U.S., Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand – were cleared by the IBA Disciplinary Committee on the 11th and then disqualified by the “Interim Nomination Board” of the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit on the 12th!
The election was scheduled for Friday the 13th, but was delayed by Kremlev to allow for an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport that van de Vorst claimed was filed, but was apparently dismissed and not heard.
Van der Vorst will undoubtedly file a full appeal of the election to the CAS. In the interim, the five disqualified candidates were not on the ballot and a full slate of directors was named for a four-year term. This included former American fighter Elise Seignolle, who was the leading vote-getter with 106 and a Chinese and Ukrainian candidate.
The International Olympic Committee has repeatedly complained about the IBA’s governance, finances and its program for refereeing and judging, and the IOC Executive Board is scheduled to meet on Wednesday and Thursday of this week (18-19). The IOC’s statement:
“The events surrounding IBA’s general assembly, in particular the elections, merit careful analysis and are just reinforcing the questions and doubts around IBA’s governance.”
Don’t think for a moment that Kremlev doesn’t know the situation. In the first meeting of the new Board, politics reigned as Ukraine’s Volodymyr Prodyvus was named Vice President and the U.S.’s Seignolle was named as a member of the Finance Committee.
The IOC will not be impressed at the clever maneuvering to eliminate van der Vorst and the other Board candidates. The question will be, how should the IOC move forward?
There are multiple options:
● It can maintain boxing as a sport for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, but run the qualifying program and Olympic competition itself as it did for Tokyo 2020. In this scenario, the IBA will receive no share of the IOC’s television revenue for Paris.
● It can remove boxing from the Paris 2024 program, especially since the qualification for Paris has not yet started. However, this penalizes the boxers themselves, something the IOC is loath to do (but more on this below).
● It can confirm that boxing will not be a part of the Los Angeles 2028 Games, since the IBA cannot even certify its candidates up to one day prior to its elections, not to mention its financial troubles and continuing concerns over refereeing and judging.
● It can expel the IBA as the international federation for Olympic boxing and organize a new federation, or,
● Just expel the IBA and remove boxing for the Olympic program – it has been a part of the Games since 1904 – for good.
For the IOC, there are other issues with the sport of boxing itself which are at odds with the mission of the Olympic Movement. Is a sport which involves striking another person as hard as possible really compatible with today’s Olympic concept of peace and unity?
The other martial arts now in the Games are not striking sports, except for Taekwondo, in which the athletes are heavily padded from head to foot; that’s not the case in boxing. Judo and wrestling are about throwing and grappling, not hitting.
Moreover, boxing as a sport does not depend on the Olympic Games. There are multiple, lively professional circuits in the sport, not to mention Mixed Martial Arts, to which boxers can aspire and which have nothing to do with the Olympic Movement. Removing boxing from the Olympic Games will not implode the sport; this is an important reality and not to be underestimated.
And, considering (1) the IOC’s desire to adapt the Games to younger audiences and (2) its agreement to strictly limit the number of athletes to 10,500 in all future Games, is there a better use for the 248 athlete places than for boxing in Paris, Los Angeles and beyond?
As WorldBoxing.Today put it: “there can be no route back for the sport as long as IBA controls it.”
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
● XXVI Olympic Winter Games: 2030 ● Alejandro Blanco, the head of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) told the Spanish news service EFE last week that the bickering between the Aragon and Catalan regions must stop if a Spanish bid for 2030 is to move forward.
“If there is no agreement, there is no candidacy.
“It’s not going to be a project just for Aragon or just for Catalonia. The candidacy will be presented by the COE and signed by the two regional presidents and by the Government of Spain. If this is not the case, we will leave it and we will start thinking about something else, in 2034 or whenever.
“On June 1, the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, will come to Madrid. If there is going to be a candidacy, we need to know what … to be able to present him with – something concrete – that day. A lot or a little, but we have to show him something.”
As for Catalonia, the head of the Catalan Federation of Sports, David Samper, last week asked the government and the Spanish Olympic Committee to simply submit the Catalan region as the bidder:
“I ask the Generalitat and the COE that, if Aragon does not validate the agreement we reached, we launch a candidacy for 2030 only from Catalonia, due to our capacity, because there is will and, above all, because we have no guarantee that the International Olympic Committee does not designate two venues (2030 and 2034).”
Blanco is pushing for a resolution by 20 May in order to prepare for Bach’s visit. A small IOC technical team has visited bidders Salt Lake City and Vancouver and will go to Sapporo by the end of the month. A visit to Spain has been delayed due to the continued lack of a unified approach to a bid.
● World Anti-Doping Agency ● WADA published its Compliance Annual Report, with increased activity in 2021 over 2020. There were 13 audits conducted, with eight conducted on National Anti-Doping Organizations and five on International Federations. All of the winter Olympic federations were audited in advance of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The number of audits was up from 2020 (8 total), but less than in the last pre-pandemic year of 2019 (18). The follow-up has generally been good on prior-year audits, as 15 of the 18 audits from 2019 are closed and two of the remaining three are moving toward completion; for 2020, two of the eight were completed, four are in process and two have issues remaining.
The report noted:
“As in previous years, Testing and Results Management contributed the most non-conformities, with Testing generating the most.
“Between 2020 and 2021 audits, based upon the average number of findings per [report], Testing and Results Management non-conformities reduced by almost a third.”
The situation with Russia continues to require a lot of effort by the WADA staff, especially in monitoring compliance by the Russians and by those federations which held events in Russia in 2021, prior to the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
● Athletics ● Just behind the talked-about candidates for the 2025 World Athletics Championships is Singapore, which is using sports events to expand the profile of the city-state that will also celebrate its 60th year of independence from Malaysia in 2025.
In an interview with SportBusiness, Sport Singapore chief executive Teck Yin Lim explained:
“In track and field, Southeast Asia has not yet come of age. At the same time, we represent a significant portion of the global population. When it comes to building and developing new fans and athletes, and creating new energy for the development of athletics, the potential is indisputable and Southeast Asia is primed to take off. An event like this provides the right platform.”
A new annual track & field meet would be developed to go along with Formula 1 auto racing, a Rugby Sevens World Cup, a major new World Table Tennis tournament, the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup and other major events that can bring interest, people and business to Singapore. And the IOC announced that it is in talks with Singapore to host the first Olympic Virtual Sports Festival, just as it staged the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010.
The 2025 Worlds is seen as a public-private partnership, with government investment, but also private-sector sponsorship. Possible? The 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore drew $57 million in corporate sponsorship support, more than two-thirds what would be needed for the roughly $80 million cost of a 2025 World Athletics Championship.
The selection of the 2025 Worlds host is expected to be announced later this year.
● Football ● “Hotels, as well as any other service provider associated with the FIFA World Cup, who fail to comply with the high standards set by the organisers will have their contracts terminated.”
That was a warning by FIFA to hotels in Qatar which are on the list of recommended accommodations for the 2022 World Cup and must be available to guests in “a non-discriminatory manner.” A survey compiled by Scandinavian media indicated that three of the 69 hotels on FIFA’s list would not allow entry to same-sex couples.
The FIFA statement added, “the said requirements will continue to be reinforced in awareness-raising sessions and subsequently monitored and evaluated through audits and inspections of hotels linked to the FIFA World Cup.”
● Freestyle Skiing ● American Moguls star Bradley Wilson, 29, announced his retirement from the sport, having won Worlds silver medals in Dual Moguls in 2017 and 2019.
After 11 years in international competitions and having been a member of the National Team since 2012, Wilson will pursue coaching and business goals instead of medals. He was a three-time U.S. Winter Olympians in 2014-18-22, a 16-time World Cup medal winner – with three golds – and a five-time National Champion.
● Modern Pentathlon ● Another of the federations which saw its sport left off the Los Angeles 2028 program is the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), which has controversially replaced riding with a new fifth discipline, apparently to be obstacle course racing.
The process and the choice has been met with derision by many current and former athletes, including Tokyo Olympic champ Joe Choong (GBR). In an interview, he told the Lithuanian site LRT.lt his view of the situation now:
“The main goal is to make sure we have [UIPM] leadership who respect the view of athletes and do what is best for the sport. I think when you look in detail at the reasons they gave for removing the horse riding they don’t stand up to close inspection.
“I think the reason they have given is a misconception, I think it is all a political move because of links they have had with obstacle course racing since 2017. Having spoken or having heard about conversations with several different IOC members, they all said that no one in IOC told the UIPM that they need to remove riding. So I think it’s been UIPM’s decision and they have been [moving toward it] for many years.”
Asked how he thinks the UIPM Board decided to replace riding:
“I think there has obviously been an informal conversation at some point, I think most likely between an IOC member and just one of the [UIPM] executive board [members], most probably, [President] Klaus Schormann [GER], where they said that the riding was a problem for pentathlon and it would be difficult to sort out. This is how I imagine it went. And Schormann has interpreted that we need to void riding – it’s the only way.
“Because I’ve listened to conversations with many different IOC members and they all said the same thing – there is no instruction to remove it. It’s all been how this conversation between IOC and UIPM was interpreted.”
That’s not what the federation is saying. In a post on the UIPM site last week, Secretary General Shiny Fang (CHN) wrote in pertinent part:
“The Olympic Games train will depart with or without Modern Pentathlon. …
“The train consists of new and old carriages, and it always will be, but some of the old carriages will eventually be released and sent back to the garage to be turned into museum exhibits. Meanwhile the train will speed along the track with newer, lighter, more dynamic carriages at the front. …
“We can catch the train and equip ourselves as required by the driver, OR we can keep debating why the driver set such requirements and stay on the platform without moving.”
In other words, the UIPM’s way – replacing riding with obstacle – is the only way.
Observed: In contrast to the situation with the IBA and boxing, if the Modern Pentathlon is removed from the Olympic Games, it will likely die. It has been the lowest-rated sport in the Games in terms of impact and popularity for a long time.
In Tokyo, it had 72 entrants from 27 countries, taking place over three days, and the same is proposed for Paris. It is, by some distance, the smallest standard sport in the Paris Games – Triathlon is next at 110 – and even one of the add-on sports proposed by Paris 2024 is bigger (Skateboarding: 88 and four events) and Sport Climbing is almost as big at 68 entrants and four events.
The way the UIPM organizes its events now, it asks for a special venue to be constructed with a temporary pool, fencing area, 200 m Laser Run course and – for now – a riding ring, to be replaced with an obstacle course. Is this a good expenditure for the Los Angeles organizers in 2028? Could the 72 entries – out of a limited total of 10,500 – be better used for a sport that is easier to be a part of in California?
If boxing is not included for 2028, the IOC and the Los Angeles organizers will be able to put those entry spots to good use, perhaps for baseball and softball, historically popular in the U.S. and especially in Southern California. And boxing will go on in Southern California.
If modern pentathlon is not included in the 2028 Games, will it make any difference to the sports landscape of Southern California? No.
This is the issue that the UIPM has to address, and there is a long line of other sports already rooted in the L.A. area that will cost less and have more local impact. Many of them will be on display in Birmingham, Alabama this summer at the World Games. The UIPM will not be there, and if this civil war inside the federation continues, it may not be anywhere.
● Skating ● American Patricia St. Peter is standing as one of four candidates to be the new President of the International Skating Union (ISU) at the June elections in Phuket (THA).
St. Peter has been an attorney in private practice with a major firm in Minnesota for decades, handling corporate law cases and transactions, so she is no stranger to conflict. Her campaign manifesto was released last week and underlined that she’s no stranger to the ISU either, having been a skater, coach, judge, referee, head of U.S. Figure Skating and a member of the ISU Council since 2016.
She stresses cooperation, better organization and this:
“As President of U.S. Figure Skating, I arrived when the U.S. economy was in a recession and the federation was operating at a multi-million-dollar deficit. Working in partnership with key stakeholders we were able to grow revenue by 40%, effectively managing expenses without reducing athlete funding, programs or member services and we eliminated a $2 million budget deficit.”
She sees growth potential in each of the ISU sports, especially to “[i]nnovate our events through an end-to-end review and reimagination of our format and presentation.” Her presentation also emphasized more support for national federations, but not with a standardized program; her commitment is to “[a]ppoint a Working Group to meet with Members and analyse data within the first 120 days to determine what resources are most needed to assist Members attain their potential” in their own way.
And she wants to adopt the new standard for dealing not just with doping, but cheating of all kinds:
“Create an ISU Integrity Unit to manage all threats to the integrity of the ISU and the ISU sports and ensure an equal and just field of play – including threats related to doping, competition manipulation, harassment and abuse and all other Code of Ethics violations.”
St. Peter is vying with Slobodan Delic (SLO: speed skating), Jae-Youl Kim (KOR: speed skating) and Finn Susanna Rahkamo (figure skating) in the ISU Presidential election. The ISU had never had a woman as President and the last three ISU chiefs have come from speed skating. The 11 ISU Presidents have included three from the Netherlands, two from Sweden and one each from Britain, Switzerland, Austria, France, Norway and Austria.
≡ SCOREBOARD ≡
● Deaflympics ● The 2022 Deaflympics in Caixas do Sul (BRA) concluded on Sunday, with Ukraine the feel-good story of the event, topping the medal count with 137.
The Ukrainians swept aside the competition, winning 61 golds, 38 silvers and 38 bronze medals to 61 total for the U.S. (19-11-24) and 40 for Iran (14-12-14).
The individual star was American swimmer Carli Cronk, who set a record with an astonishing 12 golds in the Games. She won the 200-400-1,500 m Free, 200 m Back, 200 m Fly, 200-400 m Medley and was on the winning teams in the 4×100 m Free, 4×200 m Free, 4×100 m Medley, 4×100 m Mixed Free and 4×100 m Mixed Medley!
U.S. sprinter Matt Klotz won – by our count – 14 total swimming medals with wins in the men’s 50 m Free, 50 m Back, 100 m Back and on the Mixed 4×100 m Free, plus silvers in the men’s 100 m Free and men’s 200 m Back and eight bronze medals. Wow.
For our updated, 620-event International Sports Calendar for 2022 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!