The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:
≡ SPOTLIGHT ≡
“We are very grateful to our friends in Beijing, actually, because they are really going to deliver extraordinary Games, even in a very challenging period of time, very challenging conditions, due to Covid mainly.”
That’s how International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission chief Juan Antonio Samaranch, Jr. (ESP) characterized the preparations for the XXIV Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, beginning on 4 February.
In an online news conference on Tuesday (9th), Samaranch extolled the preparations, and the legacy programs, noting “We are convinced that these Games are going to inspire thousands of children and young students on Olympic and Paralympic values as part of the educational programs.”
He also added that against China’s stated objective of increasing winter sports participation by 300 million people, “[i]n the 2018-19 season, 224 million people [were] already engaged in China in winter sports.”
Even with no foreign spectators, Samaranch was looking forward to having fans in stands: “The presence of the public will be a tremendous boost to the these Games and the athletes taking part.” However, even with just three months to go, no tickets have been sold and even the specific capacities at each venue have not been set, due to the continuing Covid issues in China.
Said Samaranch, “We should have, by now – weeks ago – resolved the situation of ticketing. But, you know, and we have all learned together the hard way, jointly, how difficult it is to make plans in a Covid world.”
The IOC’s Olympic Games Director, Christophe Dubi (SUI) endorsed the preparations, explaining “We don’t have any big, systemic issues to resolve or discuss; this is a very good sign.”
But among the details, he acknowledged what has quietly become a major issue for those who need to attend the Games: booking flights into Beijing. Dubi said the IOC is working on the issue now, with 15 airlines to provide temporary (off-schedule) flights from about 70 cities worldwide direct into Beijing, and a hub system for everyone else, to go to a “hub” city which will have flights into Beijing.
Will it be enough? “The number of people that we do anticipate … is smaller than any previous Games. We are only accrediting essential people, but still well over 20,000 people that will be in Beijing.” For comparison, there were 13,608 media accredited in Korea in 2018, 80% of whom were broadcasters; look for many fewer media in Beijing.
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
● XXIV Olympic Winter Games: Beijing 2022 ● The Belgium-based International Trade Union Confederation issued a report on Tuesday titled “China: A gold medal for repression” detailing human-rights violations and accusing the IOC of ignoring them.
The catalog of allegations includes forced labor, jailing of trade unionists and democracy defenders in Hong Kong, intimidation of the nation’s LBGTI community, and repression of ethnic and religious minorities under the pretext of ”anti-separatism and counterterrorism.”
The ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow (AUS) said in an interview:
“We want governments to take a stand in defense of their own athletes’ safety, and we want sponsors to actually review their association with the Beijing Winter Olympics. You’ve got major companies who are supporting these Olympics who really ought to live up to values that they say they respect, which is fundamental human rights.”
Said the IOC’s Samaranch during Tuesday’s news conference: “We have a lot of respect for other organizations that have other purposes in life … full respect, but we believe that our responsibility is what it is: celebrate the Olympic Games as a celebration of humanity, all together, despite our differences.”
He added: “Let me try to explain how it really works. We are the partners of the organizing committee. We are not discussing with the Chinese government anything. We have to make sure that human rights, and so many other things, in our world – which is related to the Olympic Games and around the Olympic Games – is fully respected. …
“To our knowledge, we are confident that [the Beijing organizers] are delivering on all their obligations under those circumstances.”
There was a significant incident at the sliding track at Yanqing on Monday, as Polish luger and 2018 Olympian Mateusz Sochowicz fractured a left kneecap and suffered a deep cut to his right leg while on a training run.
Sochowicz crashed into a gate that should have been open when a sled is on the track. He said afterwards that he let the sled out from underneath him, but was unable to clear the gate and was injured.
He told Onet, a Polish Web site, “The track [operating] team showed great incompetence. They didn’t know what to do at all. Someone came to me and tried to touch my (exposed) bone with a glove. Dante-esque scenes were happening there.”
An investigation is underway from the IOC and the Federation Internationale de Luge.
● Athletics ● USA Track & Field announced its 2021 Hall of Fame inductees, including:
● Maxey Long, the Olympic gold medalist in the Olympic 400 m in Paris in 1900 and U.S. national champion at 440 yards in 1898-99-1900. A great all-around sprinter, he was also U.S. national champ in the 100 yards in 1900 and 220 yards in 1899.
● Mike Marsh, a UCLA star who went on to win Olympic 200 m and 4×100 m golds in 1992 in Barcelona, the U.S. 100 m title in 1995 and an Olympic silver on the U.S. 4×100 m team in 1996 in Atlanta.
● Kathy McMillan, who dazzled as the Olympic silver medalist in 1976 in the long jump at age 18 and then won two Pan American Games golds in the long jump in 1975 and 1979. She made the U.S. team again in 1980, but did not go to Moscow due to the U.S. boycott.
● Terrence Trammell was a two-time NCAA 110 m hurdles winner in 1999 and 2000 for South Carolina, then won the Olympic silver in Sydney in 2000 and Athens (2004), along with World Championships silvers in 20023-07-09. A great dual threat, he ended his careers with bests of 10.04 in the 100 m and 12.95 in the hurdles.
● Scott Davis, voted in as a contributor, especially for his work as an announcer and statistician. Davis began his career on the microphone at UCLA, assisting Stan Eales for a few years and then taking over as the “voice of Drake Stadium” from 1986-2010. He was a fixture as the voice of the Sunkist Invitational and Los Angeles Times Games indoor meets, and the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene for 21 years, among many assignments. He was also the director of the Mt. SAC Relays for 20 years, and as one of the leading statisticians in the sport, he was a co-founder and president of the Federation of American Statisticians of Track (FAST) and Secretary General of the international Association of Track & Field Statisticians.
Observed: Contributors to any sport, especially those off the field, are often forgotten, so it’s worth underlining that Scott Davis’s induction into the USATF Hall of Fame is well deserved. “The Red Baron” was devoted to the sport and his contribution to its history must not be forgotten. A long-time systems engineer at Xerox, he was precise, but also fun. He has been much missed by the track & field community, especially in Southern California, since he passed in 2010.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed the six-month suspension of UAE Athletics Federation chief Ahmad Al Kamali from a December 2020 decision by the Athletics Integrity Unit.
He was accused of offering gifts to delegates to try and get their vote in his 2015 campaign for an IAAF Vice Presidency or Council post. He was suspended for six months and fined CHF 5,000, but was cleared of the fine since the “gifts” were of nominal value.
● Badminton ● The scourge of cheating popped up with two-year suspensions of two regional-level players in China. Per the Badminton World Federation last week:
“Zhu Jun Hao and Zhang Bin Rong … [b]oth were found to have breached the 2017 BWF Code of Conduct in Relation to Betting, Wagering and Irregular Match Results during tournaments in March 2019.”
Hao was found to have deliberately lost the first set of a 2019 match, having bet on that match and telling at least two others of his planned fix. The suspensions went into effect on 13 August 2021; neither player appealed the decision.
● Boxing ● The International Boxing Association (AIBA), having scheduled its women’s World Championships to be held in November or December of 2021 in Turkey, has delayed the event to March 2022 due to “difficult situations or restrictions” in many participating countries.
≡ SCOREBOARD ≡
● Bobsled ● With the Olympic debut of the women’s Monobob coming in Beijing in February, the 2021-22 Monobob World Series started over the weekend in Whistler (CAN) with three events.
Sunday’s first race went to home favorite Alysia Rissling (CAN) over Brittany Reinbolt of the U.S., 1:52.49-1:54.21; Rissling beat Reinbolt again on Monday, 1:52.60-1:53.87, and then Rissling finished her sweep with a 1:52.88-1:53.06 victory over countrywoman Bianca Ribi, with Reinbolt third (1:54.79).
Competition moved to Norway for this week’s races at Lillehammer on 11-12 November.
● Football ● The U.S. Men’s National Team is back in World Cup qualifying action on Friday (12th), this time against Mexico in Cincinnati at 9 p.m. Eastern time and televised on ESPN2, Univision and TUDN.
Mexico leads the 14-match CONCACAF qualifying tournament with 14 points and a 4-0-2 record. The U.S. is second at 11 points (3-1-2). Mexico leads the all-time series, 36-21-15, and is the third meeting in 2021: the U.S. won 3-2 in the CONCACAF Nations League final and 1-0 in the Gold Cup final.
● Gymnastics ● Even though the FIG World Cup season has been completed, competition has continued in Europe, with two high-profile events in Switzerland:
● The Arthur Gander Memorial in Morges (3rd) saw a big win for American Olympian Yul Moldauer, only 19th in the Tokyo All-Around qualifying this summer, over Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy, the eventual Tokyo All-Around bronze medalist. Moldauer scored his biggest international win with both scoring 57.450, but Moldauer winning the Floor and Pommel Horse events; Nagornyy won the Vault.
Tokyo All-Around bronze medalist and 2021 World Champion Angelina Melnikova won the women’s All-Around, 43.200-38.500 over Rais Boura (FRA: 38.500) and American Ciena Alipio (38.450).
● At the Swiss Cup in Zurich on the 7th, Melnikova and Nagornyy teamed up in the unique mixed-pair competition to defeat Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Hubareva and Iliia Kovtun in the final, 28.400-26.150.
● Shooting ● The ISSF President’s Cup for Rifle and Pistol concluded on Tuesday in Wroclaw (POL), with a gold-silver finish for the U.S. in the women’s 50 m Rifle.
China’s Olympic bronze medalist Yuehong Li won the men’s 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol by 36-34 in the final over Olympic winner Jean Quiquampoix (FRA), and Ukraine’s Rio silver winner Serhiy Kulish won the men’s 50 m Rifle/3 Positions final, 10-0 over Russia’s Tokyo silver medalist Sergey Kamenskiy.
The women’s 25 m Pistol was a win for Doreen Vennekamp (GER) over Rahi Sarnboat (IND) by 33-31, and the women’s 50 m Rifle/3 Positions was an all-American final, with Olympic fifth-placer Segan Maddalena defeating Mary Carolynn Tucker, 10-8.
● Swimming ● In advance of December’s World Short-Course (25 m) Championships, the European 25 m Champs were held in Kazan (RUS) over the last week, with two new world 25m records set and two equaled:
● Men/4 x 50 m Medley: Italy’s Michele Lamberti, Nicolo Marginenghi, Marco Orsi and Lorenzo Zazzeri finished in 1:30.14, breaking Russia’s mark of 1:30.44 from 2017.
● Mixed/4 x 50 m Medley: The Dutch squad of Kira Toussaint, Arno Kamminga, Maaike de Waard and Thom de Boer claimed the world mark at 1:36.18, better than Russia’s 1:36.22 from 2019.
● Men/50 m Breast: Ilya Shymanovich (BLR) zoomed to a 25.25 mark, tying the ancient record set by Cameron van den Burgh (RSA) way back in 2009!
● Men/50 m Fly: Szebasztian Szabo (HUN) finished in 21.25, which matched the mark of Brazil’s Nicholas Santos in 2018.
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, apparently now fully recovered from his elbow injury last January, won the 50-100 m Frees and 50-100 m Butterfly events for four individual golds, the most of the meet. Dutch Backstroke star Toussaint won the 50-100-200 m events and Russia’s Anastasia Kirpichnikova won the 400-800-1,500 m frees for three golds.
Szabo won the men’s 50 m Free and 100 m Fly in addition to his record-equaling 50 m Fly for three individual golds; he was joined by Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov in the 100 m Free and 50-100 m Backstrokes; Shymanovich won the 50-200 m Breast events for two individual golds,
Italy ended up with the most medals at 35 (7-18-10), followed by Russia (24:11-5-8) and The Netherlands at 18 (8-5-5).
The FINA 25 m Worlds come 11-16 December in Abu Dhabi (UAE).
For our 743-event International Sports Calendar for 2021 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!