The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:
≡ SPOTLIGHT ≡
The FIS Alpine World Cup tour ended its pre-holiday schedule with competitions at Courchevel (FRA) and Madonna di Campiglio in Italy.
In France, Sweden’s Sara Hector, 29, moved up from second on Tuesday to take her second career World Cup win – and first in seven years – in the women’s Giant Slalom, ahead of American star Mikaela Shiffrin.
Hector led all skiers at the first run, with French star Tessa Worley second and Shiffrin third. Shiffrin skied well on the second run as Worley fell back, but Hector had the fourth-fastest second trial to finish at 2:13.03, 0.35 ahead of Shiffrin, who won her eighth medal across the 14 races on the World Cup tour so far (some of which she has skipped!).
Shiffrin now has a 750-635 points lead over Italy’s Sofia Goggia in the overall World Cup standings after 14 of 37 races, half of which have been speed races (Downhill, Super-G) and half technical (Giant Slalom, Slalom).
Of the remaining 23 events, 12 will be Giant Slaloms or Slaloms – Shiffrin’s strength – to 11 races that are Downhills or Super-G events. Barring injury, Shiffrin, who is still only 26, has an excellent shot at her fourth career overall World Cup crown.
In Italy, France’s Clement Noel got out to a big, 0.53-second lead after the first run of the Slalom, but was disqualified on the second run, opening the door for Sweden’s Sebastian Foss-Solevaag, who won in 1:34.59. That was just 0.10 seconds ahead of France’s Alexis Pinturault and 0.11 up on Swede Kristoffer Jakobsen (1:34.70).
Swiss Marco Odermatt remains the overall World Cup leader with 633 points, ahead of Matthias Mayer (AUT: 405).
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
● Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● The Tokyo 2020 Games Organizing Committee provided, as promised, financial details of the Olympic and Paralympic Games today, noting considerable savings over the December 2020 version of the budget.
Wednesday’s announcement showed that the expected total cost of ¥16.440 trillion yen (~$14.399 billion U.S.) was reduced to ¥1.453 trillion or about $12.726 billion U.S.
The organizing committee’s own finances saw a ¥896 billion loss from the lack of ticket sales (~$784.7 million) for total revenue of ¥6.343 trillion yen (~$5.555 billion). The cost of staging the Games increased to ¥6.971 trillion (~$6.104 billion), but a subsidy for Covid counter measures of ¥628 billion (~$550 million) allowed the total to come down to ¥6.343 trillion yen, or the same as revenues.
The overall total for the Games is now estimated at ¥6.343 billion for the organizers (43.6%) vs. ¥8.187 trillion (~$7.169 billion or 56.4%) for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (¥6.248 trillion or ~$5.471 billion) and the Japanese national government (¥1.939 trillion or $1.698 billion). The Tokyo government bore most of the cost of the delay due to Covid (about ¥772 billion or $676 million).
The organizers still have more wrap-up activities ahead, including a final report on the Games, which will not be completed until mid-2022.
● XXIV Olympic Winter Games: Beijing 2022 ● The formal withdrawal of National Hockey League players from the Beijing Games came today, as the International Ice Hockey Federation was informed of the decision. IIHF President Luc Tardif (FRA) said:
“Although we are disappointed to receive this decision by the NHL and NHLPA, we nevertheless fully understand the circumstances that forced this action to be taken.
“Throughout the discussions with the IOC, BOCOG, NHL, and NHLPA, we always operated with the understanding that this was a scenario that might occur. It was a shock to see how COVID-19 affected the NHL schedule almost overnight, and we understand the NHL’s decision is in the best interest of the health and safety of its players.”
Said NHL Commission Gary Bettman in a statement, “Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events – 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 – Olympic participation is no longer feasible. We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL Players but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone’s best efforts. We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026.”
USA Hockey posted a notice that it will nominate new team leaders shortly and expects to name its Olympic roster with non-NHL players in mid-January.
The men’s tournament in Beijing will therefore look like 2018, with Russia likely having the best team, as the players from its Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) will be available. The Russians defeated Germany, 4-3 in overtime, in the PyeongChang final.
● World University Games: 2027 ● The North Carolina 2027 bid for the World University Games appears to be in a one-vs.-one contest with a Korean bid from the “Chungcheong Megacity Bid Committee” to host the Games, with the decision now expected to come in October 2022. Only the 2027 host will be decided by FISU, which has abandoned the idea of a dual award including 2029 (at least for now).
The North Carolina bid added a significant new set of venues to the bid from Greensboro, including the 22,000-seat Greensboro Coliseum, the Greensboro Aquatic Center at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex and the Ike Belk Track at Truist Stadium on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University, making the bid offer even stronger.
● Doping ● The World Anti-Doping Agency published its testing and sanctions study for 2019, which will be a benchmark for pre-pandemic testing and violations levels.
The report showed that, worldwide, 278,047 samples were collected and analyzed. Of these, there were 2,701 adverse findings (0.097%) but actual sanctions were levied against 1,535 samples, with 546 samples still pending determination.
This is, once again, a small number overall and consistent with prior years. The 1,535 sanctions from samples were mostly men – by 77-23% – and from 83 sports across 115 nations.
In addition, the WADA investigations arm was responsible for 377 sanctions (351 athletes and 26 others), bringing the total to 1,912, down just slightly from the 1,922 total sanctions in 2018.
Of the sanctions handed out, the sport leaders were Bodybuilding (272 or 22%), Athletes (227 or 18%), Cycling (179 or 14%), Weightlifting (160 or 13%) and Powerlifting (119 or 9%).
By nationality, the leaders were Russia (167 = 19%), Italy (157 = 18%), India (152 = 17%), Brazil (78 = 9%) and Iran (70 = 8%). The U.S. tied for sixth with France at 62 (7%).
Of the 62 U.S. sanctions, 20 came from weightlifting (!), seven from track & field and six from triathlon; no other sport had more than four.
● Gymnastics ● The consent resolution dissolving the de-certification procedure by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee against USA Gymnastics was formally approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana on Wednesday, ending that process.
A notice of appeal was filed against the approved plan of re-organization of USA Gymnastics by Liberty Insurance Underwriters. Liberty’s motion for changes to the plan was denied, and it will now ask for help against what it sees as a limitations of its rights in the approved plan. Liberty is an insurer of USA Gymnastics, but is not listed as a participating insurer in the pay-out plan approved by the Court.
The report of operations for USA Gymnastics for November shows that legal fees in the case have swelled to $17,431,880, with $10,807,353 paid so far. The settling insurers are responsible to pay this cost.
● Modern Pentathlon ● The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) asked four of the most recognizable marketing and broadcast executives in the world to join its consultation group in the search for a new fifth discipline.
Marketing gurus Michael Payne (GBR) and Terrence Burns (USA) were named along with broadcast experts David Hill (GBR) and Peter Hutton (GBR). The four lend not only expertise, but also credibility to the group, whose task is to recommend a fifth discipline after the UIPM Executive Board proposed, and its Congress, approved, the removal of riding.
The full roster of the working group is due to be announced later this week.
However, the sport is hardly unified in this effort. Last Friday, a group of pentathletes met with International Olympic Committee representatives online, with a follow-up summary posted on the Pentathletes United Twitter page, including:
● “The IOC confirmed everything hat we feared and said back in October. The issue is not about riding. It is not about the sport or the athletes’ achievements. The major issues are ones of administration.
“It is Modern Pentathlon’s ‘performance’ both in and outside the Olympic Games in terms of expansion, television viewing, digital engagement, appeal to the youth, costs and complexity of organisation. This is not about events in Tokyo, but repeated issues over many cycles.”
● “[T]he UIPM took the greatest gamble in the sport’s history, despite all the warnings we gave – that going to the IOC with a proposal for Modern Pentathlon including an unknown fifth sport was not credible, and was never going to be accepted.
“Doing that has put us in the holding box, fighting for re-inclusion, something the IOC made clear in this meeting. Our potential for re-inclusion will be evaluated by the IOC EB in May 2023.”
● “We either can (i) stay with the current leadership of the UIPM or (ii) we work with a new leadership and fix the long-standing issues, so that Modern Pentathlon is brought forward into the modern world. That means engaging our spectators in a spectacular celebration of the vision of Baron Pierre de Coubertin. A combination of tradition and youth.
“We cannot pretend ti will be easy to return Modern Pentathlon to the Olympic Programme. To ensure riding remains part of our sport we need to make its cost and complexity is balanced by the delivery of a dynamic and vibrant sport. We need to make sure that the sport as a whole meets and exceeds the IOC criteria.”
More meetings were called for this week and the Athletes’ Committee has asked for representatives of every participating country in the sport. Stay tuned.
● Short Track ● South Korea’s four-time Olympic medal winner Suk-Hee Shim was suspended for two months by the Korean Skating Union on Tuesday for text messages she sent during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games that suggested she might intentionally crash to help a teammate win women’s 1,000 m final.
No evidence of an intentional crash attempt was found, but the Associated Press reported that the Skating Union’s disciplinary committee imposed the sanction “because her messages invited public criticism and undermined the dignity of other athletes.”
The penalty would keep Shim out of the Beijing Games; she can appeal, but the Koreans plan to submit their entry list to the Beijing organizers on 24 January. Shim, 24, was on the winning women’s 3,000 m relay in both Sochi (2014) and PyeongChang and won a 1,500 m silver and 1,000 m bronze in Sochi.
For our 743-event International Sports Calendar for 2021 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!