THE TICKER: Athletes will be in-and-out of Tokyo; IOC unhappy with AIBA, IWF and Belarus; appeals filed in the Coleman and Naser doping cases

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

Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee provided a summary of a “joint project review” from 16-18 November with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee in which planning for coronavirus countermeasures was the highlighted topic.

Both the Japanese national government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government were involved and considered multiple open questions including:

Immigration control: “If it is not possible to enforce a 14-day isolation period and avoid use of public transportation, then what additional quarantine measures (screening tests, codes of conduct, limited business destinations) should be enforced that guarantees the same level of safety?”

In-venue operations: “Based off criteria set by the host country, Japan, as a general rule a two-meter distance should be observed by athletes (with exceptions during competitions), and at least a one-meter distance (if possible two meters) at other times. The venue capacity for spectators will follow guidelines set by the Government of Japan.”

Kyodo News reported that “Indoor venues will be ventilated at least every 30 minutes, according to the plan.

“In the Olympic Village, people will only be allowed to stay at its cafeteria for 30 minutes for breakfast and one hour for lunch and dinner to prevent infections. To avoid congestion, they will receive daily menus on their smartphones, the sources said.”

The testing protocols will vary by sport, according to the intensity of contact between the participants; for example, rugby and swimming are quite different in this regard. A comprehensive report on the measures to be taken is expected to be filed by the end of the year.

SwimmingWorldMagazine.com reported that an announcement on Australia’s “Channel 7 Sunrise” program included:

“Athletes would almost certainly fly into Tokyo five days before the Games and fly out when finished;

“They would be tested before and on arrival and tested almost on a daily basis

“Swimmers, rowers and track and field athletes would not march in the Opening Ceremony.

“That only 7000 people would be in the Village at any one time and not the 16,500 originally touted and;

“Athletes would have to return home straight after their events and miss the Closing Ceremony”

That this information comes from Australia is significant in that the head of the IOC’s Coordination Commission is Australian John Coates, so these conditions are likely to come right out of the meetings with the Tokyo organizers and governments.

Have no doubt that these measures, if implemented successfully in 2021, will be integrated – at least in part – into the organizational blueprint of future Games.

The Tokyo organizers also announced a large program of 18 test events to take place from March through May of 2021 (schedule here). Many will be held at Games venues and test not only the competition preparation, but also Covid-19 countermeasures.

The Japanese government is considering requiring foreign visitors for the Games to have private health insurance as well as testing negative for the virus prior to admission to Japan. Under current Japanese law, anyone with the virus would be treated at government cost, which could run into millions of dollars.

The IOC also provided a summary of a planning meeting of its Executive Board on Wednesday, with significant comments on three pending situations:

(1) The IOC has decided to open an investigation into complaints from athletes in Belarus concerning possible retaliation against athletes who are part of the political protests in that country and whether funds provided by the IOC are being used as intended;

(2) AIBA, the international boxing federation now on suspension, is scheduled to hold a constitutional congress and elect its president on 12-13 December. However, the IOC’s continuing unhappiness was clearly expressed:

“The IOC EB took note that the IOC recommendation to put the AIBA reforms and their implementation first has not been respected to date. For this reason, the IOC will consider the position of AIBA only after seeing that the reforms are being adopted and implemented.

“On this occasion, the IOC will also have to take into consideration the concerns which have been raised against some of the candidates for the AIBA presidency and their potential impact on recognition.”

(3) On the continuing drama at the International Weightlifting Federation, the IOC noted the new accusations of a doping cover-up by former chief Tamas Ajan (HUN) related to Azerbaijani athletes and multiple doping positives from Vietnam. And the sport is in more political trouble:

“Finally, with regard to governance, it has been noted that Maxim Agapitov last weekend won the presidency of the Russian Weightlifting Federation for a second term. He will also run for the European Weightlifting Federation presidency in April 2021, with an election due to take place in Moscow.

“When Agapitov was an athlete, he tested positive in 1994 and was banned for two years.”

And to pile on further, the IOC also announced three more doping positives from the 2012 London Games, all concerning Romanian weightlifters:

Razvan Martin, the men’s 69 kg bronze medalist, was disqualified for the presence of a banned substance;

Gabriel Sincraian, who did not place in the men’s 85 kg class, was disqualified for the use of the steroids Metenolone and Stanozolol;

Roxana Cocos, the women’s 69 kg silver medalist, was also disqualified for the presence of a banned substance.

With these three disqualifications, the Romanian weightlifting squad for 2012 earns the dubious honor of having its entire squad of four athletes – three men and one woman – all disqualified for doping.

These three findings bring the London total to 80 disqualifications for doping, the most of any Games in history.

As regards Russian participation in Tokyo, the Court of Arbitration for Sport is expected to release its decision on the appeal of the four-year sanction handed down by the World Anti-Doping Agency. In the latest slam against the proceedings, Russian Cross-Country Ski Federation chief Yelena Vyalbe said last week on the Rossiya-24 television channel:

“The most deplorable scenario will see our country banned; we will be without the national flag and anthem, but we have been through all of this already and are now braced for everything.

“I believe that it’s high time to wrap it up, to simply call it quits at some moment. If Russia loses, it will become the moment of truth, because there will be nothing left to do for the International Olympic Committee and all decisions will be made by WADA.

“The IOC must think twice now, but I believe that the truth will remain on our side.”

Games of the XXXIII Olympiad: Paris 2024 ● The Paris organizers confirmed recent discussions of slimming the number of venues to be used at the 2024 Olympic Games in order to save more money.

The new plan will eliminate temporary facilities for swimming and volleyball and one less football stadium will be used. Some facilities will be used for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games to further save on installation costs.

Agence France Presse reported earlier that these proposed change could save as much as €150 million (~$178 million U.S.). Paris 2024 has promised to maintain the planned total cost of €3.8 billion (~$4.5 billion U.S.).

International Federations are all jockeying for additional events for Paris 2024 as the IOC Programme Commission gets set to confirm its recommendations to the IOC Executive Board next week.

Canoeing is proposing adding Extreme Slalom – which includes boats turning over during the course – while cutting two sprint events to keep the sport’s total the same. The reason, according to ICF chief Jose Perurena (ESP):

“It’s fast, popular with athletes and spectators alike, and comes across very well on television. It sits nicely inside the IOC brief to introduce new, adrenalin-charged events that appeal to younger audiences.”

The UIPM has proposed a radical change for the modern pentathlon, proposing a 12-competitor final of just 90 minutes in length in an all-in-one stadium format:

(1) 20 mins.: Equestrian
(2) 10 mins. rest
(3) 15 mins.: Fencing
(4) 10 mins. rest
(5) 10 mins.: Swimming
(6) 10 mins. rest
(7) 15 mins.: Laser Run

In addition to the men’s and women’s individual event, the UIPM is proposing a mixed relay, which is already a part of its World Championships.

There are many more proposals; the IOC has mandated that the total number of events is limited to 310.

Athletics ● To the surprise of absolutely no one, men’s World 100 m Champion Christian Coleman (USA) filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport of his two-year suspension by the Athletics Integrity Unit for filing failures and missed tests in a 12-month period. Coleman is asking that the suspension be annulled or reduced.

At the same time, the Court also announced that World Athletics has filed an appeal against the AIU Disciplinary Tribunal’s holding in the case of women’s World 400 m Champion Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain. That decision found that despite the athlete providing misinformation as to her whereabouts, the Doping Control Officer should have somehow found her and obtained a sample. The federation is asking for a two-year penalty in the case.

According to the Court’s announcement:

“The CAS arbitrations are in progress and the parties will exchange written submissions in the coming weeks. Simultaneously, separate Arbitral Panels are being appointed to decide each matter.”

Badminton ● The 2019 Memorandum of Understanding between the Badminton World Federation and Special Olympics International is expanding access to the sport to the Special Olympics community worldwide.

The BWF reported that 370,000 players with intellectual disabilities are now playing, and

“The partnership between BWF and SOI is already seeing results. Over the last year, 16 new national-level federation partnerships between national Special Olympics programmes and national badminton federations were formalised. Five of the new national federation partnerships supported the introduction of badminton to a Special Olympics programme (Special Olympics Fiji, Special Olympics Guam, Special Olympics Papua New Guinea, Special Olympics Lithuania, and Special Olympics Norway).”

A very good way to grow the game.

Football ● The U.S. Women’s National Team played its first match in 261 days at the Rat Verlegh Stadion in Breda (NED) on Friday, in a re-match of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final against the Netherlands, winning comfortably by 2-0.

U.S. striker Tobin Health almost created a goal in the first minute, but Lynn Williams could not connect with her cross from the left endline. The rest of the half was a physical battle, with Williams just missing on a shot that curved over the crossbar from the left side of the box in the 18th minute. The U.S. kept the pressure on, playing most of the half on the Dutch side of the field. Christen Press scored in the 30th minute, but was called offside.

Finally, another U.S. attack turned into a goal in the 41st minute as Press broke free in the midfield and then passed to Rose Lavelle on the right side. She cross over to free herself for a shot, then lofted a left-footed floater over the head of Dutch keeper Sari van Veenendaal for a 1-0 lead. Heath nearly added another in the 44th minute, as her shot got behind van Veenendaal, but she turned and covered it before it crossed the line. The U.S. women ended the half with only 41% of the possession, but had 12 shots to none for the Dutch.

The U.S. continued to dominate the second half and Williams flicked on a pass to Kristie Mewis, who sent a line drive from the left side of the box to the far side of the goal for a 2-0 lead. It was Kristie Mewis’s first goal for the national team since 2014; she’s the older sister of midfield star Sam Mewis (they are only the second set of sisters to play for the U.S.).

The final statistics showed the Dutch with 62% of the possession, but the U.S. not only pitched a shutout, but had a stunning 14-2 advantage on shots! Indeed, the truly impressive aspect of this friendly was the U.S. defense, which completely shut down a usually competent Dutch attack. The American offense showed some rust, but plenty of star power, in its last match of 2020.

The U.S. women finished 9-0 for the year, and “new” coach Vlatko Andonovski is now 11-0 in his short stint as American head coach.

Swimming ● In a stunt similar to Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge’s pursuit of the sub-2:00 marathon, American super sprinter Caeleb Dressel will see if he can become the first swimmer to swim 50 m in less than 20 seconds on 10 December.

Suit maker Speedo announced Wednesday that Dressel, the short-course Freestyle world-record holder at 20.16, would swim a short-course 50 m using the now-banned Speedo LZR Racer, which took over the sport from 2008 until eliminated from use in 2010. The full-body suits were made of 50% polyurethane and swimmers wearing them re-wrote the record books.

It’s a publicity stunt for sure: it marks the 20th anniversary of Speedo’s Fastskin swimsuit range, and it will not count for record purposes. Said Speedo brand director Rob Hicking (GBR):

“The impact of the Speedo LZR Racer suit remains a seminal moment in the world of swimming – known as the ‘Super Suit’ era. We have always been committed to finding an edge for our swimmers and have tried everything from sharkskin modelling to testing alongside NASA in the past 20 years under our Fastskin banner.”

The results were be shown on Speedo’s social-media platforms on 10 December.

The International Swimming League stated it plans to pay all its creditors, in view of continuing criticism of its operations over the first two seasons. It announced last weekend:

“Our head-down approach to deliver Season 2020 may have caused friction with some suppliers but we will honour all obligations, which are less than 5 percent of last year’s overall expenditure.

“Going forward, and before planning starts for Season 3, we will need to close all outstanding issues from the past and we will adjust our internal organisation and processes to improve our operational discipline to continue being a reliable partner to all our suppliers. …

“For the first two seasons, we have been mostly focused on showcasing athlete talent and our product to the widest audience possible. We had hoped for meaningful revenues to come in but alongside the impact of the pandemic our commercial operations have also failed significantly with most projections not materialising.

“The way we approach the market will need to be different going forward.”

Complaints from been lodged from staff members and suppliers of communications and broadcast services, dating back to the first year of the program in 2019. ISL concluded its compacted 2020 program of 10 meets, semifinals and finals, all held in Budapest (HUN) last weekend, but has committed to paying monthly stipends to its contracted swimmers well into next year.

The Last Word ● The latest entrants into the 2032 Olympic derby are the Chinese cities of Chengdu and Chongqing. A joint bid by the two cities was suggested by the Sichuan Sports Bureau, replying to a local official asking for a plan for spots development.

“As part of a national strategy to develop the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle, the two cities will bid for the Olympics together to try to host a Games with strong urban and cultural characteristics of the two cities, and to enhance the international influence of the two cities.”

Chengdu, the Sichuan provincial capital, will host the 2021 World University Games, with a population of 16.3 million, while Chongqing sits at the intersection of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers and is one of world’s biggest metropolitan areas at 30.5 million. The two are about 402 km apart (~250 miles).

The front-runner for 2032 has been the Queensland region in Australia, led by Brisbane. But there is also interest in Germany, Indonesia, Qatar, India and possibly a joint Korean bid for Seoul and Pyongyang.

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