THE TICKER: Athletes Council decries no funding for USOPC review Commission; Brisbane 2032 cost already increasing; FIFA World Cup debate boiling over

The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus/updated/:


The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s Athletes Advisory Council sent a letter to U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) asking for the Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics to be funded so that it can begin its review.

Blumenthal and Moran were the driving forces behind the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020 (EOPAAA), which created the 16-member commission. But no funding has been arranged and thus nothing has happened. Under the bill as written, the Commission’s work was supposed to have been completed in July, but in fact it has not yet even met once yet.

The 27 September letter, included in an 18 October tweet, is signed by co-chairs Han Xiao and Prof. Dionne Koller and includes:

“As you know, we have submitted an operating budget for the Commission to Congress … Additionally, Congress must extend the timeline for the Commission to conduct its work as the original authorizing legislation (S. 2330) provided that the Commission complete its work within 270 days of the enactment of the legislation.”

The budget request was for $2,078,860 in the FY2022 budget cycle with a 15-month timeline. Xiao and Koller noted:

“If we miss this opportunity altogether or if the Commission is unnecessarily limited in the scope or timeframe under which it is permitted to operate, we fear we won’t be able to help solve the real problems that demand attention now, and the credibility of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movement will be further eroded.”

Experienced Congressional observers noted the lack of funding and support for the Commission in S. 2330 as it moved through the legislative process. In fact, the Commission concept did not come from Blumenthal or Moran, but was created by former Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, introduced as a separate bill and incorporated into the final bill.


● XXIV Olympic Winter Games: Beijing 2022 ● The Olympic Flame has arrived in China, being passed to the Beijing organizers in Athens on Tuesday and then flown to Beijing, arriving on Wednesday morning.

The flame was used to light a celebration cauldron at the Beijing Olympic Tower, where it will be on display, along with other sites in China to help promote the Games.

The International Olympic Committee noted that the usual Torch relay program has been curtailed “to ensure the relay is held in a safe and orderly manner.” In specific:

“There will be a traditional Olympic Torch Relay for the three days prior to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on 4 February. The Olympic flame will be carried by approximately 1,200 torchbearers in the Beijing, Zhangjiakou and Yanqing competition zones.”

● Games of the XXXV Olympiad: Brisbane 2032 ● The budget guessing game is underway, with Australian Sports Minister Richard Colbeck saying in a radio interview “It’ll probably be a bit more than five [billion A$], given the infrastructure for transport and the infrastructure for the Games.”

(That’s a target of $3.77 billion U.S.; consider that the proposed LA28 budget – which includes no construction of any venues – is forecast at $6.88 billion U.S.)

He said that while the Australian government had agreed to fund 50% of the infrastructure costs associated with the Games, it was caught by surprise when the Queensland government decided to do a $A1 billion upgrade of the area around the Brisbane Cricket Ground, known as “The Gabba”:

“The Gabba announcement was a bit of a surprise to a lot of us, but that’s what’s prompted the process that we’ve put in place now, the agreement … with respect to 50/50 funding of the Game’s infrastructure.”

Yes, the Games have arrived in Brisbane.

● Bobsled ● At the online USOPC Media Summit, women’s star Kaillie Humphries, who won Olympic golds in 2010 and 2014 and a bronze in 2018 before changing allegiance to the U.S., was asked about whether she will receive U.S. citizenship in time for the Beijing Games:

“The status is the same. I am still waiting for my citizenship to come through. I have faith in my government, in the process that, and please have faith in me that I am doing everything humanly possible, connecting with everybody possible. And you know, I’m approaching citizenship the same way I do the Olympics, having no regrets whatsoever. So we’re doing everything we possibly can to make this happen as fast as we can, but it’s still an unknown at this point. And so I have to have faith in the process and the system, in the people that are there that are actively helping me work through the situation. And it’s scary.

“Definitely as the Games get closer, the pressure goes up. But you know, this is part of the
situation that I’m in and no athlete is guaranteed a spot until you’re at the Olympics, physically competing, with COVID, with so many things that happening in this world, and every athlete has a very different story. This is just part of mine. So right now there is no more status update, except for I’m still in process and we’re doing everything we can to make this dream a reality.”

Humphries won the World Championship in the two-women sled for the U.S. in 2020 and 2021 and was World Monobob Champion in 2021 as well.

Brakeman Lolo Jones, who famously led the Beijing 2008 Olympic women’s 100 m hurdles until stumbling at the end and then became a Winter Olympian in bobsled, was asked about possibly returning to Beijing 14 years later:

“Horrific and a blessing at the same time? I never thought I’d have a chance to even go back. Beijing was my first Olympic experience. I was one hurdle away from winning Olympic gold medal and many therapy sessions later, here I am. And now I’m on a bobsled team. So it’s been a process and I wouldn’t be here without my teammates. …

“And I think it’d be pretty cool to go back to where it all started and finish the dang thing. So, not as long winded an answer as you wanted, but I’m here for results.”

● Cycling ● The World Anti-Doping Agency released a summary report of an investigation into allegations of private doping sample screening in cycling in Great Britain in 2011:

“‘Operation Echo’ confirmed that in February 2011, as part of a study into potential contamination of supplements, British Cycling collected samples from elite riders and screened these samples for the androgen and anabolic steroid, nandrolone. Contrary to the rules laid down by the World Anti-Doping Code and the relevant International Standard, the samples were collected by British Cycling staff rather than doping control officers, analyzed by a non-WADA-accredited laboratory, and provided by the athletes on the basis that [U.K. Anti-Doping] would never know the results.

“‘Operation Echo’ also established that at least one UKAD employee was aware of the study and that the samples could be collected and analyzed at a non-WADA-accredited laboratory. To this day, UKAD has no record of ever receiving the analysis results and emails that would have showed UKAD’s real-time knowledge of key events.”

The report has been turned over to WADA’s compliance arm for consideration, and to the cycling’s international federation (UCI) and the British government for follow-up.

The individuals at UKAD who were involved in this in 2011 are not there now and new safeguards to avoid another such action have been installed. Also, all the samples that were improperly tested in 2011 came back clean.

● Figure Skating ● The French all-sports newspaper L’Equipe published an explosive story on Wednesday, quoting the veteran Russian national coach and now international judge Alexander Vedenin on Russia’s Match TV after the Ice Dance competition on 10 October at the Finlandia Trophy, won by four-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (computer translation into English):

“The French Papadakis and Cizeron are very good! During their absence, they continued to skate, improved their speed and gained in physical condition. They skated beautifully. And will be hard to beat. It will be necessary to play on an idea of the dance, new elements, as well as feelings! The French skate with class, but are cold. The partner does not have a traditional orientation (euphemism for gay) and he cannot hide it. [Russians Victoria] Sinitsina and [Nikita] Katsalapov can express true love, like last year, and it can lead them to a victory.”

The French federation wrote to the International Skating Union on 12 October, asking for action against the comment, but no reply has been reported. Informed of the quote, Cizeron opined, “They are afraid, because they saw our programs are good.”

Papadakis and Cizeron won the silver at the 2018 Winter Games and are expected to contend for gold in Beijing next year.

Observed: This is now a storyline which will now continue right through the Beijing Winter Games. Both Russia and France were allocated one judge each in the Olympic Ice Dance judges pool of 13, from which nine will be selected to form the actual judging panel. The roster of Ice Dance Judges for the 2021-22 season, posted 6 October, does not include Vedenin.

● Football ● The Associated Press reported Tuesday that “More than a dozen European nations are considering the option of last resort in the fight to prevent biennial World Cups: quitting FIFA.”

This comes as FIFA chief Gianni Infantino (SUI) has begun a series of online discussions about the every-two-years World Cup, but as the AP’s Rob Harris pointedly notes:

“While UEFA is only one of six continental confederations it generates more cash than FIFA, which serves as the umbrella organization overseeing football worldwide. FIFA generates about $6 billion in a four-year cycle compared to UEFA’s $14 billion fueled by the lucrative men’s version of the annual Champions League for elite European clubs.”

UEFA – the European Football Union – has been in discussions with the South American confederation – CONMEBOL – about possible co-promotions in the future and it is possible that countries from both confederations could withdraw from FIFA. How impactful would that be? Of the 21 World Cups ever held, the only champions have come from Europe (12) and South America (9), and there has never been a finalist from any but those areas.

FIFA announced Wednesday that a “virtual global summit” will be held on 20 December and that the 72nd FIFA Congress – where a change to the FIFA World Cup schedule could be considered – will be held on 31 March 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

Said Infantino of the 20 December meeting, it has “the aim of a joint proposal – an agreed proposal – to all 211 FIFA member associations on the future of football – men’s football, women’s football and youth football.”

He also warned that the revision of the match calendar – including the World Cups – is critical to the future of the game on a worldwide level:

“The young generation has many, many other things that they are focusing on, and football is risking to lose its appeal, and that is what we are discussing about here. And that is why this process of having a global consultation of letting everyone speak, of giving everyone the possibility to express themselves, is so important for us.”

UEFA imposed sanctions for the chaos surrounding the UEFA 2020 final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on 11 July. A fine of €100,000 and a ban on spectators for one UEFA competition match (a second is suspended for two years).

The sanctions are “for the lack of order and discipline inside and around the stadium, for the invasion of the field of play, for throwing of objects and for the disturbances during the national anthems.”

“FIFA can confirm, following complex negotiations, it has, with the support of Qatar, evacuated almost 100 members of the football family from Afghanistan, including female players.”

FIFA’s 15 October announcement adds to the list of federations which have brought athletes and sports administrators out of Afghanistan.

● Gymnastics ● Tuesday’s hearing at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana dealt with the proposed USA Gymnastics reorganization plan and the disclosure statement which must be agreed with to allow a vote by claimants on a possible settlement.

There was no outcome, as the matter was continued to the 25th (Monday).

A motion to accept a $50,000 insurance settlement with Caitlyn Cantello (claim no. 251), who suffered injuries unrelated to any abuse by Larry Nassar, was approved by the court.

The Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) released a “10 Golden Rules of Gymnastics,” “an awareness campaign reflecting the strong desire within the Gymnastics community to ensure a safe and respectful environment in the sport”:

1. I do gymnastics for fun.
2. I pursue my own dreams, not someone else’s.
3. I know that I will have good days and tough days
4. I listen to my body.
5. I balance my passion for gymnastics with other big goals in my life.
6. My health is more important than medals.
7. I have the right to be respected as I am.
8. I have the right to express myself freely, be heard and be treated fairly.
9. I understand and respect the roles of people around me.
10. I act with fairness and integrity.

The roll-out over the last two weeks was timed to lead into the 50th World Artistic Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan and FIG is encouraging the placement of posters in gyms worldwide.

● Rugby ● USA Rugby announced Wednesday that it has formally launched its bid for the 2027 or 2031 Rugby World Cup and the 2029 Women’s Rugby World Cup. Neither event has ever been held in the Americas.

The actual proposals are due in January. The event was created in 1987 to showcase the highest level of rugby competition in the world and hosted 20 teams over a month and a half in Japan in 2019, with South Africa winning its third title. Average attendance was 37,745 per match.

The 12-team Women’s Rugby World Cup was first held in 1991 (won by the U.S.) and last held in 2017 in Ireland.


Lots of action coming up this weekend as – believe it or not – the Alpine Skiing World Cup gets going; some of the highlight events:

20-24 October: The FIG World Artistic Gymnastics Championships continue in Japan.

20-24 October: The UCI Track World Championships in Roubaix (FRA).

21 October: Football friendly:  U.S. Women’s National Team plays South Korea in Kansas City.

21-23 October: The third FINA Swimming World Cup, in Doha (QAT).

22-24 October: The start of the ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix season with Skate America in Las Vegas.

23-24 October: The opener of the FIS Alpine World Cup season, with Giant Slaloms for men and women in Soelden (AUT).

And a lot more.


Rio 2016 Canadian 48 kg Freestyle wrestler Jasmine Mian, 31, won election on Monday (18th) as a city council member in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in Ward 3.

The Canadian Press noted that she joins other Olympians in Canadian public office, including Members of Parliament Adam van Koeverden (kayaking) and Lyne Bessette (cycling).

Said Mian, “It actually felt very similar to when I made the Olympic team in that so much of the work of getting elected as a city councillor is done in the many months prior to election day.”

/Update: Thanks to sharp-eyed readers Brian Springer and Sid Marantz for identifying errors, which are now corrected above!/

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