THE TICKER: Foreign fans expected to be barred from Tokyo 2020; IWF committee member Chinen calls out Exec Board “gangsters”!

The International Weightlifting Federation Executive Board has gangsters?!

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

Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020“We would really like people from around the world to come to the full stadium, but unless we are prepared to accept them and the medical situation in Japan is perfect, it will cause a great deal of trouble also to visitors from overseas.”

That’s Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto, setting the stage for an announcement later this month that no foreign fans will be allowed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Kyodo News reported:

“The heads of the organizing bodies of the Summer Games are expected to hold a virtual meeting in mid-March to make a decision on the issue, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. But one of them said, ‘Practically, the course has already been set.’”

The target date for announcing the decision on foreign spectators is 25 March, the starting date for the Olympic Torch Relay. The question of how many fans can be admitted to each site is to be made in April.

Athletics ● A run at the men’s American Indoor 5,000 m record last night (4th) resulted in the no. 2 performance in American history as Emmanuel Bor win the FireFly Recovery 5,000 m in 13:05.60 at the Virginia Beach Sports Center.

The race had been set up for Paul Chelimo to take a shot at Galen Rupp’s 2014 mark of 13:01.26, but Bor was a clear winner, with Chelimo second in 13:12.51 and Willy Fink third in 13:34.00.

At the European Championships in Torun (POL), two world-leading marks came out of the second day (Friday), as Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou reached 8.35 m (27-4 3/4) in the long jump and reigning Olympic Heptathlon Champion Nafi Thiam (BEL) won the Pentathlon at 4,904, moving her to no. 7 on the all-time list.

Czech Tomas Stanek won the men’s shot at 21.62 m (70-11 1/4), ahead of Pole Michal Haratyk (21.02 m/68-11 3/4).

More cancellations from the coronavirus, as USA Track & Field announced the elimination of the 2021 U-20 Championships from the schedule on Wednesday (3rd). As for the 2021 Pan American Junior Championships in Chile in July, selections will be “based on performance rank order for the period Friday, January 1, 2021 through Sunday, June 13, 2021.”

The 2021 Penn Relays will also not held in its usual format. The University of Pennsylvania announced on Thursday (4th) that a program of three meets will be held., with a collegiate-only meet for Philadelphia-area Division I-II-III teams on 24 April. In addition, “The Penn Relays will also aim to host a meet for open and professional athletes in the coming months and a scholastic meet this summer.” The elite-athlete meet will be held prior to the deadline for Olympic qualifying marks.

The Athletics Integrity Unit sanctioned ex-Kenyan 800 m runner Nelly Jepkosgei with a three-year sanction for “Tampering with any part of Doping Control,” nullifying marks from 15 June 2020 and suspending her through 1 February 2024.

Now 29, Jepkosgei was scheduled to run for Bahrain beginning on 13 August 2021 and has bests of 1:58.96 from 2018 and 4:00.99 in the 1,500 m (also 2018). She missed a doping test scheduled for 18 March 2020 and then said she missed the test because she was at a local hospital in Kapsabet (KEN) following up on her sister, who had been in a car crash. The excuse was a lie and the “supporting” documentation from the hospital was faked. Hence, the suspension.

Figure Skating ● The Russian TASS News Agency reported on Wednesday (3rd) that Alena Kostornaia, 17, the 2020 European Champion, wants to return to her old coach, Eteri Tutberidze. Kostornaia had left in July 2020 to train with Evgeni Plushenko, but after contracting the Covid-19 virus and then some uneven performances, she prefers to be trained by Tutberidze again … if the coach will agree.

The 2016 and 2017 World Champion, Evgenia Medvedeva, 21, reunited with Tutberidze in 2020 after two years with Canadian coach Brian Orser. Medvedeva also had the virus in late 2020 and has competed sparingly during the current season due to back injuries.

Retired Russian skater Maria Sotskova, eighth at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and twice an eight-place finisher in the ISU World Championships, was suspended for 10 years for doping by the Russian Skating Federation. According to Reuters, she “submitted a forged document to explain a doping violation.” Sotskova announced that she was retiring from the sport in 2020.

Football ● U.S. announced two European dates for the American men’s team, both in Europe. The U.S. men will play Jamaica on 25 March at the Wiener Neustadt Stadion in Wiener Neustadt (AUT) and then Northern Ireland on 28 March in Windsor Park in Belfast.

Playing Jamaica in Austria? Huh?

Weightlifting ● The ongoing saga of the International Weightlifting Federation is now taking on the quality of a soap opera. The latest developments:

● Following the IOC’s letter of 24 February listing its concerns over the IWF’s management of the sport (and itself), the IWF issued a letter from Interim President Dr. Michael Irani (GBR) and Secretary General Mohammed Jalood (IRQ) to all member federations confirming that – in accordance with the IOC’s wishes, a Constitutional Congress will be held ahead of elections, instead of vice versa.

A draft Constitution has been prepared and is proposed to be circulated for comments, to be received by 31 March 2021.

● Later on Wednesday, Japan’s Reiko Chinen, a member of the IWF Technical Committee opined on Twitter:

“Changing order of Electoral and Constitutional Congresses is not enough. #IWF [Executive Board] hasn’t understood deeply yet #IOC Christophe De Kepper addressed, ‘in a satisfactory and TIMELY way’ – means Constitutional [congress] must be done at latest by end of [April] and Election by OG”


“Actually there exist wise and normal Members in #IWF board, who has same opinion as mine. Unfortunately we have too many gangsters in its [Executive Board], therefore we need more [Member Federations] realize our problem and speak out same opinion as mine.”

● Separately, former Interim IWF President and now candidate Ursula Papandrea of the U.S. sent out her own letter on Thursday (4th) to the IWF Executive Board and the member federations, including:

“My intent is to express my enduring concern that the Board has reacted to the IOC concerns insufficiently. I am particularly alarmed at the risks this presents to our sport and athletes.

“My concern extends to the reactive versus proactive decision making. While I congratulate you on reacting to part of the IOC warning letter, you have only addressed a fraction of their message by changing course on several points. I request that you address all facets of the warning letter from the IOC by addressing ALL of the listed concerns.”

Papandrea suggested a more aggressive timeline, with comments on the new constitution back by 25 March, the resulting document circulated by 24 April and a Congress by videoconference by 25 May. That would be followed by elections, with a 5 May deadline for applications, 4 June confirmation of the ballot and elections on 4-5 July, well prior to the start of Tokyo 2020.

In addition, she asked for action on anti-doping programs:

“As we have been given notice of a zero positive tolerance warning for the upcoming Olympic Games, it seems prudent to identify the Olympic athlete pool for out of competition testing as soon as possible. Once the testing pool has been identified, the IWF should require ADAMS registration to be maintained from now until the time of the Olympic Games, approximately four months. Waiting on continental championships, that may or may not happen, and the potential that some athletes may not be capable of participating shall the continental championships proceed as scheduled, does not seem to be a fair process.”

● The IWF issued a notice on its Web site on Thursday, posting its new constitution and expecting a Constitutional Congress in June, with elections in October!

Expect the IOC Executive Board to have more to say about this at its meetings next week.

The Last Word ● The Commission on the Study of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics is at a standstill, before it has held even a single meeting. The reason is Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington).

While 12 members of the Commission have been named, with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) the last to announce his selections on 27 January, Cantwell has been silent. Well, not exactly silent: her office has posted 33 news releases since that date, but none about the Commission.

The statute (S. 2330) requires the Commission to complete its work essentially at the end of July, while the 2020 Tokyo Games are going on. An extension is obviously going to be needed, but unless Cantwell awakens, the Commission may not meet until after Tokyo is over. Maybe Beijing 2022 too?

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