The Sports Examiner

THE TICKER: Final four members of EOPAAA Commission finally named; 2021 WUG in Chengdu postponed to ‘22; USA Wrestling Trials start today

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

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

U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● It took five months since the passage of the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020, but the Commission on the Study of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics has finally been named.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) held the last four appointment slots and finally named her selections two months after the other 12 members of the Commission had been announced. She named:

Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 100 m hurdles, who worked for USA Track & Field as Chief of Sport Performance and the United States Olympic Committee as Chief of Organizational Excellence and later Chief Operating Officer. She is universally respected as one of the brightest, most insightful and most practical thinkers in Olympic sport in the U.S.

Nancy Hogshead Makar, a four-time Olympic medalist in swimming in 1984, winning the women’s 100 m Freestyle and swimming on two winning relay teams. She is a well-known civil rights and athlete-rights attorney and one of the fiercest critics of the USOPC.

Dionne Koller, a professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law, where she specializes in Olympic and amateur sports law. She is also a member of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s Anti-Doping Review Board.

Jordyn Wieber, a member of the Olympic champion U.S. women’s gymnastics team from the 2012 Olympic Games and currently the head coach of the University of Arkansas women’s gymnastics team. She is a Larry Nassar abuse survivor and spoke at his sentencing hearing.

With all 16 members now named, the Commission has – under the EOPAAA as passed, only four months left to deliver its recommendations and report. That end-of-July deadline will certainly be extended; the Commission must still be funded, appoint an Executive Director and staff. It is required to meet within 30 days of the last appointees being named, meaning by 2 May 2021, and must hold at least one public hearing.

Cantwell named Koller as a co-chair of the Commission; one other co-chair is still to be named.

Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● The Olympic Torch Relay may not visit the Osaka Prefecture in mid-April due to a coronavirus outbreak and a curtailment of public activities.

Begun on 25 March, the relay is moving through all 47 prefectures in the country, and had Osaka targeted for the 10th stage on 13-14 April. Restrictions on activities in Osaka and two other prefectures were imposed by the government for 5 April-5 May.

The Tokyo organizers said further discussions will be held with Osaka officials about whether and how the relay might continue there.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told reporters on Friday (2nd) that no replacement would be named for former creative and ceremonies chief Hiroshi Sasaki: “Most of the (planning) has been done, and we are at a stage of brushing it up. We will perfect everything under the current team.”

To the surprise of no one who has actually been paying attention, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva (BUL), told Kyodo News Service that the absence of foreign spectators – and the related costs – will pose no significant impact to the Japanese economy:

“In terms of economic impact, it would be very minor. We’ve done some calculations and we concluded that it is not going to harm the Japanese recovery.”

Kyodo further reported:

“Even in the case that the games, already postponed by one year, will not be held at all, the IMF assessment is that it will not be ‘a major factor’ to the Japanese economy, she said.” Japan’s pre-pandemic economy reached $5.08 trillion in Gross Domestic Product in 2019.

Games of the XXXV Olympiad: 2032 ● While Brisbane, Australia remains the favorite to be named as host for the 2032 Games, the Seoul metropolitan government submitted a proposal for a joint North-South Korean bid for that Games.

Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported:

“The metropolitan government said its co-hosting proposal contains a vision of ‘Beyond the Line, Toward the Future’ and five major concepts, including cost reduction and minimal environmental damage, inter-Korean connection and peace and a combination of cutting-edge technologies and Korean culture.

“In particular, the proposal elaborated on the realization of global peace through sports and other positive ripple effects from the co-hosting of the Olympics by Seoul and Pyongyang, the government said.”

The document was submitted to the IOC’s Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad, the group which recommended targeting Brisbane to host the 2032 Games.

World University Games ● It seemed a little hard to believe that the 2021 World University Games in Chengdu, China was really going to take place as scheduled from 18-29 August. Now, it isn’t.

The International University Sports Federation (FISU) announced the WUG “will be postponed to 2022 due to global COVID-19 situation and international travel restrictions at present with rescheduled dates to be agreed by relative bodies.”

This makes good sense for everyone, and especially for FISU and the Chinese organizers, who would have had little chance to pick up any Tokyo Olympic athletes for the Games, which will end on 8 August.

Athletics ● World Athletics posted its regulations for Russian athletes to apply for Authorized Neutral Athlete status on 31 March, asking for applications to be forwarded as soon as possible for consideration by a three-person panel.

The panel will review each athlete’s file against a 12-part test of whether the athlete has been tested for doping by one or more anti-doping organizations in which it has trust, when those tests took place, whether an athlete has previously been found to be doping, or has been in contact with, or under the supervision of coaches or others with doping histories. As for Tokyo:

“For applicants seeking to compete in a senior World Championships event or the Olympic Games, has the applicant, in the ten months prior to the competition, undergone at least three no notice out-of-competition tests, including (if they compete in any middle distance event from 800m upwards, a long distance event, a combined event or a race walk event) at least one [Athlete Biological Passport] and one EPO test, all such tests to be conducted no less than three weeks apart.”

The regulations ask that any applicant wishing to be declared eligible for a specific competition submit their application at least four weeks ahead of time.

Although the Penn Relays will not be held in 2021, the University of Pennsylvania has committed to hosting meets that will help area athletes with competition this spring. On Thursday, the “Philadelphia Metropolitan Collegiate Invitational” was announced, to take place on 24 April and feature “traditional Penn Relays events and individual events for qualification purposes. Events will include 4×100, 4×400, 4×800, both medleys, all field events, hurdles, the 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, 5000m, and 10000m.”

Meet entry is by invitation only and meant for schools with 40 miles of the Penn campus. No spectators will be allowed.

A new world outdoor lead for the women’s 1,500 m – and the first sub-4 of the outdoor season – came in Melbourne as Australian star Linden Hall set a national record of 3:59.67 on Thursday (1st).

She had already run 1:59.22 for 800 m this year; Hall finished her 1,500 m record with a final lap of less than 62 seconds.

Figure Skating ● U.S. Figure Skating announced its team for the ISU World Team Trophy competition, scheduled for 15-18 April in Osaka, Japan. Given the enhanced anti-virus measures being taken in that area, the event will be held in a sequestered format.

The U.S. will have most of its best skaters available, including World Champion Nathan Chen and Jason Brown for the men, Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell for the women, Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Pairs and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker in Ice Dance.

Football ● The CONCACAF men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament concluded on Wednesday (31st) with the championship game, as Mexico out-lasted Honduras, 5-4, in a penalty shoot-out in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The game was tied 1-1 after regulation time, with goals from Edwin Rodriguez for Honduras in the 71st minute and the equalizer from Jose Macias on a penalty in the 80th minute. After extra time, the shoot-out commenced and while Mexico converted all five, keeper Sebastian Jurado denied Honduras’s Juan Carlos Obregon on the opening shot and that turned out to be the difference.

It was the third consecutive men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament win for Mexico and both teams will advance to the Tokyo Games.

Mexico’s Alexis Vega was named as Best Player, Honduran keeper Alex Guity was named as the top goalie and Mexico’s Sebastian Cordova was the top scorer, with four goals in five matches.

Swimming ● The second hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport concerning Chinese swimmer Yang Sun and the World Anti-Doping Agency will take place from 24-28 May, online.

WADA appealed a light sentence imposed against Sun for doping violations by the International Federation for Aquatics Sports (FINA) in the first hearing, but was overturned on potential bias grounds by the Swiss Federal Tribunal, requiring a new hearing. A completely new panel of arbitrators will hear the matter.

Weightlifting ● The International Weightlifting Federation announced that its Constitutional Congress will be held online (only) on 30 June, a key date for the federation to create a new organizational structure that will meet the requirements of the IOC.

The IWF also reversed some recent liberalizations of its anti-doping code, explaining:

“On anti-doping, upon advice from the IOC a revision to Article 12 of the IWF’s Anti-Doping Rules was approved. Recommendation for changes was made by the independent Anti-Doping Commission and the International Testing Agency and after reversing from 4 to 3 the threshold whereby a Member Federation would become eligible for sanction, possible sanctions for Member Federations breaching this threshold now include fines as high as $500,000, up from $300,000.”

All of this has been done with an eye toward pleasing the IOC, which has indicated it is quite ready to boot the sport out of the Olympic Games due to its continued doping incidence and poor (possibly even criminal) governance procedures.

Wrestling ● USA Wrestling will choose its candidates for the Tokyo Games at its Olympic Team Trials, taking place in Ft. Worth, Texas on Friday and Saturday. Competition at the Dickies Arena will take place in a “challenge tournament” on Friday and part of Saturday, with the “championship series” on Saturday.

All of the action will be shown on NBCSN or the Peacock pay service.

The U.S. has Olympic berths in 15 of the 18 weight classes in men’s Freestyle (5), Greco-Roman (4) and women’s Freestyle (6). The Challenge Tournament winners in 14 classes (men’s Freestyle/4, Greco/4, women’s Freestyle/6) will face an already-determined finalist, who advanced directly by virtue of winning a medal at the 2019 UWW World Championships (men’s and women’s Freestyle) or 2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier (Greco-Roman and women’s Freestyle).

A total of 221 wrestlers qualified for the Trials, including two high schoolers, both in the women’s competition. A late, unexpected scratch was J’den Cox, the 92 kg World Champion in 2018 and 2019. He was entered in the 97 kg class for the Trials – his 92 kg class is not part of the Olympic program – but did not make weight.

The biggest favorite to make the team is reigning women’s 68 km World Champion Tamyra Mensah-Stock, who has been thrashing everyone in sight for nearly two years, even beating 76 kg World Champion Adeline Gray in an exhibition earlier this year!

Look for results here.

The Last Word ● The ReadySetGold! program, a unique legacy of the Los Angeles bid for the 2016 Olympic Games, named USOPC Board member John Naber as its Olympian of the Year.

ReadySetGold! was created by the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games as a legacy of its bid to be the U.S. candidate city for the 2016 Games and has continued to be a force in the Los Angeles-area community by sending Olympic and Paralympic athletes to work with students in elementary, middle and high schools. Over multiple sessions during each academic year, the athletes encourage students to maintain a positive attitude, respond as Olympians and Paralympians do to challenges and difficulties and to uplift their physical fitness.

Naber has been an RSG! Athlete mentor since the beginning in 2006, but also has served as the Chairman of RSG! since 2016. He was one of the superstars of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, winning four gold medals and a silver in swimming, as well as being a primary driver of four NCAA team titles for USC.

His contribution to the Olympic Movement was recognized by his U.S. peers with his recent election to the USOPC Board by members of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Association.

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