THE BIG PICTURE: Oregon sees 2022 Worlds as a $31 million commercial; Commission reviewing USOPC waits for funds; Moses: sport “better off” sans Russia

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Plus: Paralympics: Ukrainian biathlete withdraws as father captured = Russia: 37 governments ask Russian athlete ban = Athletics: WSU raising Rono statue! = Football: Mexico’s Liga LX forcing riot-club sale; NWSL names Berman commissioner = SCOREBOARD: Cycling: van Aert wins in Paris-Nice, Ewan in Tirreno-Adriatico = Football: U.S., Canada advance to CONCACAF Women’s U-20 semis ●

“We are so honored to cheer on these amazing athletes and welcome the world. This is truly a time for Oregon to shine. We can’t wait to show off our amazing food scene, our small businesses, our agricultural products and outdoor adventures that make Oregon renowned worldwide.”

In essence, that’s how second-term Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) sees the upcoming World Athletics Championships in Eugene this summer. The state has spent $31 million of its own money, and applied and won another $9.15 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help fund the event, estimated to cost $75 million.

Brown and other officials held a 40-minute online news conference with local media on Wednesday, and while peppered with questions about inflation and the war in Ukraine, found time to explain their objectives for the 2022 Worlds.

Niels De Vos (GBR), the head of the Oregon22 organizing committee, who also led the highly-successful 2017 Worlds organizers in London, explained further:

● “This event is a 10-day TV and social-media promotion for the state of Oregon that will position Oregon as a place to visit, a place to live and a place to do business.”

● “Over July 15 to 24, there will be an estimated 6,500 hours of live television coverage around the world . The event will be seen by somewhere close to a billion people globally, and that’s comparable to the FIFA World Cup Final and nearly 10 times the numbers that watch your Super Bowl.

● “This event is traditionally hosted in major global cities: London, Paris, Beijing and Tokyo. So why Eugene, Oregon? Well, just as Formula One travels the global circuit of mega-cities, it still views Monaco as its spiritual home. And for the world of track & field globally, Eugene is the equivalent of Monaco: it’s the spiritual home. It’s small, intimate, legendary, it’s unique.”

And Travel Oregon chief executive Todd Davidson left no doubt of his expectations on the event for the future:

“The exposure of Oregon on the world stage through Oregon22 is an unprecedented opportunity for the state. This event is not only going to showcase Oregon in a way that has never been done before over the course of these 10 days, but this stage is also going to give visitors that are here – and the viewers on television – a glimpse of all that Oregon has to offer as a destination. …

“The ability to also put Oregon center-stage throughout the global broadcast of the event will inspire demand for future leisure travel to Oregon well beyond the championships. … people who watch the events from home will be inspired by what they see on-screen, and ultimately, we expect the championships to inspire future visits to Oregon for years to come.”

However, Davidson also included some (subtle) advice for visitors:

“We also want to ensure that our guests visiting Oregon, and for Oregonians themselves, that they have an amazing experience, that they feel welcome, that they have accessible transportation and lodging and are connected to those things that we cherish as Oregonians. …

“[M]uch like we did during the 2017 solar eclipse, we’ll be encouraging folks to plan ahead. Arrive early, stay longer, explore other parts of the state, leave plenty of time to get to and from events, take advantage of public transportation when possible. Have a ‘plan B.’ And be kind to our hospitality workers: a smile and a little extra gratuity can go a long ways.”

Asked directly about accommodations availability, where the Eugene-Springfield area is well short of rooms for Worlds visitors:

“There will also be rooms reserved up and down the I-5 corridor, as far south as Roseburg and beyond and as far north as Portland.

“And, really, lest anybody think that that’s a detriment, it’s important to keep in mind that when you heard that list of international communities that have hosted this event, or hosted the World Athletics Championships previously – and as one who was able to be in London in 2017 for that particular event – our daily commute to the field from our hotel was easily an hour, and so keeping in mind that those kinds of travel times are not at all unusual when you consider how the event itself is going to be pulled off.”

Reality check: Roseburg is 70 miles south of the University of Oregon campus and Portland is 112 miles to the north. Transportation will be an issue for the Worlds, with the main daily sessions from 5-8 p.m., meaning people are going to get back late. But the morning schedule for the track events is limited and only six of the 10 days, three of which are dedicated almost exclusively to the combined events. So little pressure for the casual spectator to face an early morning and a very late night.

One of the sure winners at Oregon22 will be Airbnb.

There is also civic programming being planned … maybe. Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said:

“Eugene’s vision is to celebrate our unique community, create a sense of belonging for all visitors and build civic pride. Bringing this vision to reality requires a significant investment by the City of Eugene, as we work with event organizers to be sure we’re providing inclusive access to all Oregonians to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event.

“We are still seeking financial support to deliver a free Riverfront Festival that will run separately and concurrently for the duration of the Oregon 22 event.”

A question about the economic impact of the event was answered with a 2015 study submitted with the bid for the event to World Athletics (then the IAAF) predicting $52 million in direct visitor spending and a total impact of about $138 million. The one-day Super Bowl LVI in the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood last month was expected to create more than $234 million in area-wide economic impact and more than $12 million in local tax revenue.


● XIII Winter Paralympic Games ● Almost too tragic to report is the withdrawal of Ukrainian para-biathlete Anastasiia Laletina, 19, from the 10 km Sitting event on Tuesday due to her father – a Ukrainian soldier – being captured by the Russians invaders.

The race was won by American Kendell Gretsch for the second U.S. gold of the Games, with 6 km Sitting gold medalist Oksana Masters second. Gretsch now owns four Paralympic golds and a silver in her career and Masters won her 13th career Paralympic medal and added a 14th on Wednesday with a silver in the Cross Country Sitting Sprint.

After with four days remaining, China leads with 31 total medals (10-9-12), with Ukraine an amazing second with 19 (6-8-5) and Canada third with 16 (7-2-7). The U.S. has 13 (2-8-3), tied with Germany for fourth.

● Russia ● In an initiative led by British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries, representatives of 37 governments in Asia (2), Europe (31), North America (2) and Oceania (2) signed an open letter on Tuesday declaring:

“We, as a collective of like-minded nations, affirm our support for international sport organisations’ position that:

“● Russia and Belarus should not be permitted to host, bid for or be awarded any international sporting events.

“● Individual athletes selected by Russia and Belarus, administrators and teams representing the Russian or Belarusian state should be banned from competing in other countries, including those representing bodies, cities or brands that are effectively representing Russia or Belarus, such as major football clubs.

“● Wherever possible, appropriate actions should be taken to limit sponsorship and other financial support from entities with links to the Russian or Belarusian states.”

Signing for the U.S. was Jennifer Hall Godfrey, Senior Official for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the State Department.

The statement added:

“We encourage all international sport organisations and all relevant legal bodies not to sanction athletes, coaches or officials who decide unilaterally to terminate their contracts with Russian, Belarusian or Ukrainian clubs, as well as not to pursue or to sanction sport organisers which decide to ban athletes or teams selected by Russia or Belarus.”

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses has been saying it for years: stop coddling Russia. And he went further in a recent interview with the British newspaper The Telegraph.

Now 66, Moses was the long-time chair of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and served on the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, Medical Commission and Ethics Commission, among many other activities. He’s the Chair of the Laureus World Sports Academy, which seeks to use positive influence of sport as a tool for social change. And that means Russia should be out:

“Right now, sport is better off without them. The sad fact is, what they are doing to Ukraine’s people is what they have done to sport for years: not playing by the rules, doing precisely what they want, being a first-class bully, basically.”

Moses was critical at the time and remains so about the sanctions on Russia and its athletes in the aftermath of the state-sponsored doping regime from 2011-15:

“Those penalties were never properly meted out. They never had to pay the consequences for corrupting the Olympic Games. I knew in my heart that nothing was going to change. The last few years, so many incidents show Russia is not just willing to play by the rules and ethics of sport. They don’t operate in good faith. They have slapped the IOC and the athletes in the face time and time again … They couldn’t care less. They carried because of collusion from top to bottom …

“At some point, somebody has to pay the price, even if athletes have nothing to do with it. It is top down, everyone is culpable, they have to be stopped in their tracks. That is what it has come to now.”

Moses won the 400 m hurdles gold in 1976 and 1984 and was prevented from winning a third gold in Moscow in 1980 due to the U.S. boycott. As far as today’s Russian teams, he would certainly like to see them excluded from the Paris 2024 Games and perhaps even the Milan Cortina Winter Games in 2026.

● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● Will the Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics ever meet?

The 16-member group was created by the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020, but has not been funded. University of Baltimore law professor Dionne Koller, a co-chair with former USOPC Athletes Advisory Council Chair Han Xiao explained in an e-mail:

“Without funding, the Commission has not legally been permitted to meet. My co-chair, Han Xiao, and I have worked diligently since we were appointed to advocate for the necessary funding. It is our hope that Congress will appropriate funding soon and once that process is complete, the Commission will be able to meet and proceed with discharging its duties under the Act.”

The U.S. Congress is working on keeping the government from another shutdown this week and there is hope that the Commission’s request for a little over $2 million in funding and a time extension will be included, but it is competing with war, inflation, an election year and a lot more.

● Athletics ● Way back in 2016, the Pacific-12 Conference named its All-Century performers in its many sports, including iconic figures such as USC football coach John McKay and defender Ronnie Lott, Stanford quarterback John Elway, UCLA’s coach John Wooden and center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) in men’s basketball and USC’s Cheryl Miller in women’s basketball.

Washington State grabbed honors for athletes of the century in baseball – pitcher and hitting star John Olerud (later of the Toronto Blue Jays) in baseball and four-time world-record setter and six-time NCAA champ Henry Rono in men’s track & field.

For fans who remember 1978, Rono was almost beyond comprehension. In less than three months, he set world records in the 3,000 m, 3,000 m Steeple, 5,000 and 10,000 m, but never competed in the Olympic Games as Kenya joined the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. He lowered his own 5,000 m record in 1980.

Almost equally unforgettable is Rono’s WSU coach, John Chaplin – now 84 – who decided in late 2020 that both Olerud and Rono deserved statutes on the campus as Pac-12 centennial greats.

Chaplin handed off the Olerud project to another former Cougar baseballer and now businessman Phil Hinrichs, who played in the minors for five years; he’s working with the WSU baseball team to raise those funds. The Rono effort is something Chaplin is handling himself.

He has engaged former WSU tennis player Ott Jones, a highly-respected wildlife and Western life sculptor, to do the Rono statute and is collecting donations for the “Rono Fund.”

Chaplin estimates that the total cost of the statute, including a complicated installation, will be about $117,000 and he’s 57% of the way there. “I called 40 guys on the [1978] team and afterwards and asked for $1,000 and no one said no,” he noted. “And some of the women who followed in the program contributed, too, as well as some of our long-term supporters.”

In typical Chaplin style, there is nothing simple about the statue. It will picture Rono coming out of a steeplechase water jump – yes, with the barrier and water – set on a berm inside the Mooberry Track on campus. The target date for the unveiling is the spring of 2023.

And Rono? Now 70, he splits his time between teaching in New Mexico and in his native Kenya. But he will always be remembered as the world’s greatest distance runner never to run in the Olympic Games, and as a WSU legend.

● Football ● As a result of Saturday’s riot at the Queretaro home match against Atlas, Mexico’s Liga MX is requiring that the club be put up for sale by the end of the year and banned the owners from Mexican soccer for five years.

The Queretero supporter’s group was banned for three years and the club and all of its affiliated teams will play the remainder of the season without spectators, home and away. In addition, a security perimeter of 1.8 miles around the stadium must be installed for all home matches, even without spectators.

The club was fined $70,000 and forfeited Saturday’s match to Atlas, which led, 1-0, in the 62nd minute when the riot broke out in the stands. The Atlas supporter’s group was also banned for six months.

Officials said 10 arrests have been made and 26 other suspects identified.

The troubled National Women’s Soccer League announced that former National Lacrosse League deputy commissioner Jessica Berman will become its new Commissioner on 20 April. She will take over from interim head Marla Messing, who will continue as interim chief executive through the end of May.

In just five months at the helm, Messing made some progress, overseeing the sale of the troubled Washington Spirit franchise and helped get the league’s first-ever collective bargaining agreement completed.

Berman was with the National Hockey League for 13 years, rising to Deputy General Council before moving to the National Lacrosse League as its Executive Vice President of Business Affairs.


● Cycling ● Belgium’s Wout van Aert took the lead in Paris-Nice with a win in the stage 4 Time Trial. He finished the flat, 13.4 km route in 16:20, two seconds better than Slovenian star Primoz Roglic and now has a 10-second race lead over Roglic and 28 seconds over France’s Christophe Laporte.

The tougher stages are now coming up.

At the Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy, Australian star Caleb Ewan won a mass sprint at the end of the third stage, a hilly, 170 km route ending in Terni. He got by France’s Arnaud Demare and Dutch rider Olav Kooij in 4:07:24 as the first 53 riders received the same time. Italian star Filippo Ganna is the overall leader by 11 seconds over Remco Evenpoel (BEL) and 14 seconds over favored Tadej Pogacar (SLO).

● Football ● On to the semifinals of the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic, where the real playing will finally begin.

The U.S. won its two playoff matches so far by 14-0 and 6-0. Canada won its games by 13-0 and then a surprising 1-0 win against Panama, and Mexico won its games by 9-0 and 5-1.

The American women will play Puerto Rico – a 7-0 winner over St. Kitts & Nevis and 3-0 over Guatemala – in its semi. Canada will play Mexico, with both games on 10 March. The final is on Saturday (12th).

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