THE TICKER: Tokyo fan decision in April? Puma declares “war” on USOPC marks; hurdles world record for U.S.’s Grant Holloway!

World record 7.29 in the 60 m hurdles for Grant Holloway (USA) in Madrid! (Photo via Twitter)

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

Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● Asked about when a decision on spectator attendance at the Tokyo Games will be made, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (GER) said on Wednesday:

“[W]e are very well aware that there, even if we would like to, to benefit from positive developments with regard to the coronavirus, that if we would like to wait until the very last moment, but this is not possible because the ticketing program has to be organized, the logistics has to be taken into consideration and then organized; this is about also immigration rules and so on. … I would say maybe April, early May, roundabout, that we would have to take this decision, but this is very much based on the technical factors.”

The decision to allow fans at the Games will be separate from the determination whether Covid-19 protocols will allow foreign spectators to attend.

Kyodo News reported that “roughly 1,000″ of the planned 80,000 volunteers for this summer’s Games resigned in the aftermath of comments by former Tokyo organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori on 3 February.

The blowback from the comments, critical of women serving as members of boards of directors, forced Mori to resign. He was replaced by veteran Olympic and politician Seiko Hashimoto, who had been the government’s Olympics minister.

Games of the XXXIV Olympiad: Los Angeles 2028 ● The Los Angeles City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Olympic Games reviewed the proposed creation of the California Olympic and Paralympic Safety Command and sent the Memorandum of Understanding to the City Council for final approval.

The committee voted 5-0 (with two absences) to forward the Memorandum for action.

Games of the XXXV Olympiad 2032 ● Wednesday’s announcement that the bid from Queensland and specifically Brisbane for the 2032 Games has been selected for “targeted dialogue” raised the question of whether the IOC will now award the Games 10 or 11 years in advance instead of seven as has been the case since Seoul was awarded the 1988 Games back in 1981.

IOC member Kristin Kloster Aasen (NOR), Chair of the Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad, answered it this way:

“The structure of the new process answers your question, because one of the [advantages] about the new approach is to actually see the world as it is at the moment and seize the opportunity when it presents itself. …

“This is an ongoing approach, where we assess the risks and the opportunities in terms of several different factors. It’s not a given, 11 years, or a given, seven years, it’s based on whichever context the world is in at that moment.”

Translation: the Commission saw a good opportunity to engage a quality, proven partner in Australia for 2032 and with the coronavirus still raging and some years of economic recovery ahead, thought this was a good time to get a deal done.

U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● The USOPC filed suit on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Colorado against Germany’s Puma S.E and its North American affiliate, Puma North America, for “trademark infringement, unfair competition, and declaratory relief” against Puma.

The Ted Stevens Olympic & Amateur Sports Act grants the USOPC “the exclusive right to use and control the use of Olympic terminology and imagery within the United States.” The complaint explains the wide scope of the protections on so-called “Games Marks” and then declares:

“PUMA has declared war on Games Marks, tried to register them for itself, and petitioned to cancel Games Marks registrations. PUMA’s declaration of war on the Games Marks is a thinly veiled attempt to benefit from association with the Olympics without becoming a TOP [IOC] Sponsor.”

In specific, the complaint cites Puma’s filing trademarks for apparel, footwear and bags for “Puma Tokyo 2021,” “Puma Tokyo 2022,” “Puma Beijing 2022,” and “Puma Paris 2024.” The Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024 registration filings were rejected by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office; Puma then filed a new action asking for cancellations of multiple Games-related trademarks and that the USOPC “abandoned” the “Tokyo 2020″ and “Beijing 2022″ marks. The USOPC’s reply:

“This orchestrated global attack on Future Games Marks destabilizes the foundation of USOPC’s financial structure and threatens the ability of the USOPC to deliver on its mission, which includes the direct financial support of U.S. Olympic athletes.”

The USOPC asks for a jury trial, for cancellation of all of Puma’s suits, confirmation of the validity of the USOPC’s ownership of the marks and damages. By the way, Puma may not be Nike or adidas, but it had revenues of about $6.9 billion worldwide in 2019. Stay tuned.

Athletics ● Even with multiple world indoor marks set during the 2021 indoor season, there hasn’t been anyone hotter than American hurdler Grant Holloway.

The 2019 World Champion in the 110 m hurdles, Holloway ran in five indoor meets and won them all, setting an American Record of 7.32 on 9 February. On Wednesday, he ran 7.32 in his heat of the Villa de Madrid meet in Spain and then improved on the 7.30 world record by Britain’s Colin Jackson in 1994 with a 7.29 time in the final. Britain’s Andrew Pozzi was second in 7.51.

Said Holloway: “I wouldn’t say it was a perfect race, but I tied my PR in the heat and that usually means I run faster in the final. I just went out there and executed my race to the best of my ability.

“I said before the race that if the record fell, it fell. But my main goal was just to have fun and that’s what I did. I know that it is not going to be in the record books forever and when I fall asleep tonight – if I fall asleep – it will already be in the past. Now I will start looking forward. I want to get back to Gainesville, talk to Coach [Mike] Holloway [who are not related], have a big old steak and go through the film.

“The world record outdoors (12.80 by Aries Merritt in 2012) is definitely in my sights but I want to let all this soak in first, then my priority is win the Olympic Trials and then the Olympic gold medal.”

That was not the only star performance in Madrid. Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay powered to a world-leading 8:22.65 in the women’s 3,000 m, moving her to no. 2 on the all-time list. Dutch hurdler Nadine Visser also claimed the world lead in the women’s 60 m hurdles, winning in 7.81.

On Wednesday on Belgrade (SRB), Swedish vault star Mondo Duplantis increased his world lead to 6.10 m (20-0) at the Serbian Open meet, with Brazil’s Thiago Braz and Pole Piotr Lisek tying for second at 5.70 m (18-8 1/4).

On Sunday in Moscow, Russia’s World Champion in the women’s vault, Anzhelika Sidorova, scored a world-leading 4.90 (16-0 3/4). In Ancona (ITA), star high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi cleared 2.35 m (7-8 1/2) in the men’s long jump for the world indoor lead.

Double Olympic 800 m champion Caster Semenya (RSA) is filing an appeal of the World Athletics regulations on women with “Differences in Sex Development” with the European Court of Human Rights.

This will be the third try in court for Semenya, who challenged the regulations in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and lost, and was unsuccessful in an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal. Even a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights is not final, as it can be appealed to a larger panel of the Court.

It is also not clear that the proceedings will be finalized prior to the Tokyo Games this summer, but Semenya’s attorneys will push for a prompt resolution.

The American Track League IV meet in Arkansas did not draw 200,000 viewers on ESPN on Sunday and was not reported on reports of weekly television ratings. The final round of the PGA Tour’s Genesis Open, held at the same time, drew a 2.24 household rating and 3.62 million viewers.

Beach Volleyball ● The “bikini boycott” of the Katara Cup 4-star FIVB World Tour tournament in Doha (QAT) from 8-12 March is off, as the Federation Internationale de Volleyball declared:

“The FIVB believes strongly that women’s beach volleyball, as all sport, should be judged on performance and effort, and not on uniform. Therefore, during the competition in Doha, should players request to wear the standard uniform, they will be free to do so.”

German stars Julia Sude and Karla Borger had said they would not play in the Katara Cup if required to wear the Qatar-proposed “short sleeve t-shirt … and wear knee-long sports shorts.” However, on Tuesday, the FIVB “clarified” that there would be “no restrictions on female players wearing standard uniforms.”

Cycling ● The UCI World Tour season opener, the UAE Tour, is heading toward the finish this weekend, but Thursday’s fifth stage may have been decisive. The most demanding of the race, the 170 km stage featured an uphill finish, and was won by Dane Jonas Vingegaard, just three seconds up on race leader Tadej Pogacar (SLO), the reigning Tour de France champion, with British star Adam Yates alongside.

Pogacar won the hilly third stage over Yates at the finish line, then was 20th in the fourth stage, a flat sprinter’s duel won by Ireland’s Sam Bennett. Going into Thursday’s fifth stage, he had a 43-second overall lead on Yates and 1:03 on Portugal’s Joao Almeida.

With two flat stages remaining, Pogacar is 45 seconds up on Yates and is almost a sure winner. Almeida is 1:12 back and then Chris Harper (AUS) is 1:54 behind.

Football ● The U.S. Women’s National Team won the 2021 SheBelieves Cup in style with a 6-0 win over Argentina at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday night. Coupled with Brazil’s 2-0 win over Canada, the U.S. finished with a perfect 3-0 mark and nine points, trailed by the Brazilians (2-1: 6), Canada (1-2: 3) and Argentina (0-3: 0).

The American squad was hot from the start on Wednesday, with Megan Rapinoe scoring in the 16th and 26th minutes, followed by Carli Lloyd (35th) and Kristie Mewis (41st) for a 4-0 halftime edge. Alex Morgan scored in the 84th minute and Christen Press finished with a goal in the 88th minute for the 6-0 final. The U.S. had a 26-1 edge in shots.

U.S. midfielder Rose Lavelle was voted the SheBelieves Cup Most Valuable Player. The USWNT extended its unbeaten streak to 37 games, going back to January of 2019. Its next match won’t be until April.

Gymnastics ● A former U.S. Olympic coach, whose gymnastics club has been sued in parallel actions with the Larry Nassar abuse scandal, has now been charged by the State of Michigan with sexual assault and human trafficking.

According to The Associated Press, John Geddert was charged with “sexual assault, 20 counts of human trafficking and running a criminal enterprise. Geddert is accused of injuring people through forced labor and recruiting minors for forced labor.”

Geddert, now 63, was one of the coaches for the gold medal-winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 London Games and owned the Twistars USA Gymnastics club in Lansing, Michigan. Twistars is a defendant in multiple suits entwined with the USA Gymnastics bankruptcy case now before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Geddert retired in 2018 and transferred ownership of Twistars to his wife. The club was sold and renamed earlier this month.

No word of any breakthrough in the court-ordered settlement conference between the parties in the USA Gymnastics bankruptcy suit at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana, but a report of operations through 31 January has been filed.

Total legal fees in the case from filing in December 2018 are now at $13.74 million, with $7.52 million actually paid so far. The rest is still due.

For January only, USA Gymnastics had $1.48 million in revenue, but spent $1.51 million for a loss of $33,435.

Weightlifting ● Further to the forthcoming International Weightlifting Federation elections in March, a new controversy has arisen due to the proposed “hybrid” nature of the voting, with some delegates to be physically present in a room and others voting remotely.

The Samoa Weightlifting Federation, Weightlifting Fiji, USA Weightlifting and the Chinese Weightlifting Federation combined on a letter to the IWF Executive Board including:

“We, hereby, request that the IWF Executive Board rescind their decision and proceed with a virtual election in order to ensure that all candidates and delegates be given an equal opportunity for participation. We also request that the name of the firm conducting the election be disclosed.”

“We question the validity of the procedures used to vet candidates including the implementation and notification after the submission of candidacy; the lack of an appeals process; and notification of the eligibility of a candidate (March 15) in such close proximity to the election date (March 26, 27).”

“Further, in the spirit of transparency and fair play, we additionally request that the eligible voting Member Federations, Delegate Names, and Positions, be circulated to all candidates and Member Federations; and contact emails be shared with all candidates.”

The letter also questioned the candidature of interim President Dr. Michael Irani (GBR) as he is a member of an appeals board of Sports Resolutions, the firm tasked by the IWF to provide the Eligibility Determination Panel for the elections.

In addition to the federations submitting the letter, candidates from Germany, Great Britain and Greece have also added their endorsement.

At a time when the IWF should be doing everything possible to avoid controversy, it only seems to create more problems.

As IOC chief Bach noted in his Wednesday news conference: “We then had to turn again, unfortunately, to the International Weightlifting Federation, whose situation, as I mentioned, is becoming more and more grave. The [Executive Board] expressed its extreme concern, particularly by the lack of significant changes, with regard to the management and the culture there in IWF.”

On Tuesday, the International Testing Agency, which now runs the IWF anti-doping program, recommended that the IWF’s independent sanctions panel penalize the Romanian Weightlifting Federation “as a consequence of numerous Anti-Doping Rule Violations.”

The sanctions relate to five doping positives dating back to the 2012 London Games, four of which were caught during the re-testing of samples in 2019 and 2020. Under the applicable IWF rules, “these circumstances lead to the imposition of sanctions against the RWF, which can go up to two years of suspension and a fine.”

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