The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:
≡ SPOTLIGHT ≡
World Athletics revealed its ballyhooed “World Athletics Plan 2022-30″ at the World Athletics Congress on Thursday, a 57-page report which is strong on goals and objectives, and offers 67 ideas to help growth the sport.
The plan was developed via a survey taken by more than 25,000 people in 178 countries and detailed questionnaires completed by 181 of the 215 national federations in World Athletics.
The “vision” continued the Strategy for Growth 2020-23 plan published in 2020 and was simply expressed: more participation, more people, more fans and more partnerships:
● Participation: more “development pathways – from school to the world stage,” with a need for more facilities, more promotion and more emphasis on Masters events to make athletics a life-long sport.
● People: more support staff, not only in coaching, but also as officials, for athlete safeguarding and protection, and to help with gender equity.
● Fans: the visibility of the sport must be heightened, the reputation of the sport must be advanced and more digital engagement is needed.
● Partners: a better case must be made of the benefits of being involved with the sport. More host cities must be recruited for major events, broadcasters must be more closely integrated and more data is needed from existing programs to point the way forward.
How are these things to be accomplished? Detailed key performance indicators were provided as goals for each segment and action ideas were offered for each segment from 2022-25: 20 for participation, 12 for people, 22 for fans and 13 for partnerships.
The plan is more of a menu of opportunities than a list of tasks, as it notes:
“It is recognised that not all stakeholders will be able to deliver all actions within the specified time lines and that some actions may not be applicable to all. Therefore, it is expected that stakeholders including Areas and [member federations] will prioritise actions based on their unique needs and resource (financial and personnel) availability.”
One of the underrated elements of the sport is its new breadth, mentioned in the report to include much more than track & field, but also road running, cross country, race walking, mountain running, trail running and ultra running. This could be a key to broad-based interest moving forward.
There were interesting insights from the federation surveys summarized in the report:
● Better participation in the sport requires more integration into school curricula, better promotion and marketing of the sport and a better-understood “pathway” from school levels to international competitions.
● Smaller federations noted access to facilities, or lack of facilities, as a barrier to the sport in their countries.
● Overall: “A lack of media coverage is perceived to be the biggest single challenge to growing the sport with 24% of respondents saying this. This is closely followed by a lack of facilities (selected by 20% of respondents).”
The responses by individuals showed that only 33% said that athletics was a popular sport in their country. That’s not good, but it’s a starting point.
There was a lot of effort in the development of this program, but even with all of the goals and the many recommendations and action items, the report agrees that the task in front of track & field is enormous.
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
● XXIV Olympic Winter Games: Beijing 2022 ● Reports from Washington, D.C. are predicting some sort of a diplomatic boycott by the U.S. of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.
Calls for any sort of forced athlete boycott have been pushed aside, but the Biden Administration is considering implementing a partial or total ban on U.S. governmental representation at the Games. Demands for a diplomatic shutout have come from both Democrats and Republicans, including a bi-partisan amendment offered on the National Defense Authorization Act for 2022, which included:
“The Secretary of State may not obligate or expend any Federal funds to support or facilitate the attendance of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games or the XIII Paralympic Winter Games by any employee of the United States Government.”
An exception is made for Federal support of the U.S. delegation to the Games, especially for security.
● Games of the XXXIII Olympiad: Paris 2024 ● The FrancsJeux site reported that a Monday meeting of the French government’s inter-ministerial working group on the 2024 Games included actions to (1) expand a program of 30 minutes of “daily sports activity” to all 36,000 elementary schools in the country, (2) expand the network of cycling lanes between all of the Olympic sites, (3) create a training program for security staff for the Games since there are not enough police to cover all of the sites, and (4) provide €11 million (~$12.5 million U.S.) in federal funds for the Cultural Olympiad, with €2 million to be allocated in 2022 and the rest for 2023-24.
The question of the opening ceremony, possibly to be held on the Seine River (!), is to be at least preliminarily decided by the end of the year. The idea is enticing, but everyone agrees that the question of security is problematic at best, not to mention the logistics.
● Games of the XXXIV Olympiad: Los Angeles 2028 ● Not as dramatic as the announcement of the City of Los Angeles-LA28 “Games Agreement” on Wednesday, the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the 2028 Games met with the LA28 organizers online this week.
“With seven years to go, the Organising Committee is now advancing planning, based on the strong foundations already in place.” That’s about all there is to say. From the IOC’s standpoint: so far, so good.
● Games of the XXXV Olympiad: Brisbane 2032 ● The head of the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission warned that the legislation that will form the Brisbane organizing committee contains risks if conflicts of interest are not declared.
The bill has language which exempts elected officials from having to declare conflicts of interest and which entirely exempts members of Parliament who also are members of the organizing committee board from the Queensland Crime and Corruption Act.
Commission head Alan MacSporran explained to a parliamentary committee: “The CCC has concerns with this aspect of the Bill as it presents corruption risks. If a conflict arises between an elected office bearer’s duties and their role as a director on the Corporation it should be declared and managed. Those considerations loom large for a body which is likely to be involved in the management of substantial public funds.”
The bill is continuing to be reviewed.
● Anti-Doping ● The U.S. side of the political fight with the World Anti-Doping Agency about governance was tightened up with a meeting last Friday (12th) between the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the USOPC Athletes’ Advisory Council, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, USOPC corporate sponsors and the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The result was a continuation of the American policy stance on WADA governance; the meeting summary concluded with “AAC and USADA firmly believe that WADA must exercise total independence from those with a financial or political interest in sport, and that independent athletes are provided voting seats at the decision-making table.”
● Athletics ● The World Athletics Congress confirmed that “the Russian Federation continues to be suspended while the Council oversees completion of the Russian reinstatement plan.”
A report from Norway’s Rune Andersen, head of the federation’s Russia task force noted that World Athletics has had two experts in Russia for much of the time since the latest “roadmap for reinstatement” was approved in March of 2021. The status:
● “RusAF has made steady progress towards meeting the conditions set for its reinstatement to membership of World Athletics. The key milestones to date have been met, as well as the various key performance indicators set out in the Reinstatement Plan.”
● “There are still people in Russian athletics who have not embraced this new culture, and there is still much work for RusAF to do to ensure that they do not exercise influence, and instead it is the new generation of athletes and coaches that push Russian athletics forward. But the new RusAF leadership has shown what seems to be a genuine commitment to lead this change and ensure it becomes deep-rooted in Russian athletics.”
● “The status of RUSADA, the Russian national anti-doping organisation, remains an issue of concern. … It is not clear … whether RUSADA is able to perform its role as the independent Russian NADO effectively.”
The World Athletics Council will continue to receive reports from Andersen’s group and consider the progress of the Russian Federation.
World Athletics also announced that it has extended its broadcast agreement with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) from 2024-29, with an increase in rights fees. Total World Athletics broadcast rights for 2020 (excepting Japan) were $14.775 million, up from $14.725 million in 2019.
Olympic 100 m silver medalist Fred Kerley of the U.S. got the Twitter world screaming when he posted on 14 November:
“9 18 and 42″
He didn’t explain further, but his lifetime bests are 9.84 for 100 m, 19.76 for 200 m and 43.64 for 400 m. Is he projecting a 2022 season with sub-10, sub-19 and sub-43 second times? Those would be world records in the 200 and 400 m; or is he saying “9.18″ for 100 m (also a record) and a sub-43 record in the 400 m?
Either way, Kerley is on his way to winning the off-season!
Three-time World Championships 200 m medal winner Wallace Spearmon posted USA Track & Field’s request for applications for “Head Relay Coach” for men and women for the 2022 and 2023 World Championships and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
At the top of the tweet, he added: “@Carl_Lewis put up or…. What’s popping?”
Lewis, the nine-time Olympic gold medalist in the sprints, relay and long jump who is an assistant coach at the University of Houston, has been highly critical of the continued American failures in the men’s 4×100 m relay, including at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. A botched second exchange from Kerley to Ronnie Baker in the qualifying heat led to a sixth-place finish, which did not qualify for the final. Wrote Lewis on Twitter:
“The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay. The passing system is wrong, athletes running the wrong legs, and it was clear that there was no leadership. It was a total embarrassment, and completely unacceptable for a USA team to look worse than the AAU kids I saw.”
● Fencing ● Further to Wednesday morning’s story on the governance trials and tribulations within USA Fencing, the federation published late Wednesday a list of bylaw amendments to be voted on by the Board on 5 January 2022, with comments to be received by 31 December 2021.
Included is a change to section 7.21 that would allow the term of at-large director Lorrie Marcil Holmes to be extended from 2022 to 2023, without election. TSX reported that this had been approved already; instead, it is recommended by the Board for adoption, but must be available for public comment before a Board vote for passage can be made. Our original story has been amended.
● Modern Pentathlon ● The UIPM, international federation for the sport, playing defense against loud voices opposing the elimination of riding from the pentathlon for the 2028 Los Angeles Games, posted a message praising the “more than 50″ letters of support received from member national federations, but also noted “concerns” raised by others.
More importantly, the message included a look into the future:
“The EB would like to reiterate that this decision was not taken lightly at all. Besides the recommendations of the UIPM Innovation Commission, the EB also took into account a series of IOC evaluation and selection criteria that will determine the ranking of the sports and which sports are on the programme for LA 2028, and the urgent obligation to submit a proposal to the International Olympic Committee one week before the Olympic Programme Commission meeting scheduled for December 1, 2021.
“It is also important to reiterate that no sport nor event is decided for LA 2028 at this moment. The programmes are going to be decided by the IOC EB in its meeting on December 7-9, 2021 having been empowered with this competence by the 138th IOC Session in Tokyo in July 2021. And the decision will be based on the recommendations from the Programme Commission.
“In opening a consultation around the 5th Discipline, the EB acted entirely in the interest of insuring Modern Pentathlon’s future in the Olympic Games. UIPM would like to state that the EB decision only related to the proposal to be submitted to the IOC around LA 2028, and the EB has not decided on any amendments to the UIPM Statutes or UIPM Competition Rules or indeed any potential discipline to replace Riding.”
This raises the incredible possibility that riding could be maintained for all UIPM competitions except the Olympic Games after Paris 2024. The actual decision of what will happen is up to the UIPM Congress, which conveniently will meet from 27-28 November. Wow.
● Swimming ● FINA, the international federation for aquatics, sent a thunderbolt through the swimming world with the removal of East Germany’s Dr. Lothar Kipke from the “FINA Honours List.”
Kipke’s award, made in the 1980s for his “contributions” to the FINA Medical Committee, was given prior to his conviction in 2001 for giving performance-enhancing drugs to swimmers, without their knowledge.
FINA President Husain Al-Musallam (KUW) said in a statement, “For a doctor to harm athletes in the search for medals is unacceptable and I am proud that FINA has decided to send a clear message.”
Observed: This action opens the door to questions about results from the 1970s and 1980s where clear evidence of state doping is available, and, in many cases, those athletes who suffered at the hands of doped-up performers, are still alive. No investigations into possible changes of results have been announced, but it will not be a shock now if they are.
● Weightlifting ● More bad news for the sport from the International Testing Agency, which named 13 competitors from the 2012 European Championships in Turkey as doping positives for steroids from the re-tests of their samples.
They include Hysen Pulaku (ALB), Hanna Batsiushka (BLR), Dimitris Minasidis (CYP), Irakli Turmanidze and Rauli Tsirekidze (GEO), Cristina Iovu (MLD), Florin Ionut Croitoru and Razvan Constantin Martin (ROU), Oxana Slivenko (RUS) and four from Turkey: Gokhan Kilic, Bunyami Sezer, Hatice Yilmaz and Fatih Baydar.
Each now has the option to ask for a test of their second sample, but are for now provisionally suspended. These tests are part of the continuing inquiry into the IWF’s mismanagement of doping results from 2009-19.
≡ SCOREBOARD ≡
● Football ● The third window of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying matches was completed on Tuesday (16th), with the U.S. playing to a 1-1 tie with Jamaica in Kingston.
The American squad took the lead in the 11th minute thanks to a Tim Weah goal off a give-and-go from striker Ricardo Pepi for a 1-0 lead. But a sensational, straightaway strike by Michail Antonio from about 30 yards out tied the game in the 22nd minute and the half ended 1-1. The U.S. owned possession by 56-44 and was 5-1 in shots.
The second half saw the game seesaw mostly in the midfield, with the U.S. failing to find its way through a crowded Jamaica defense. The home team succeeded best on counterattacks, and Damion Lowe appeared to give Jamaica 2-1 lead in the 84th minute, but was called for a foul on U.S. defender Walker Zimmerman.
The game ended with the U.S. owning 62% of the possession, but was out-shot by the Jamaicans in the second half, 5-4.
The tie gave the U.S. men a 4-1-3 mark with six games left in the qualifying schedule. Canada shocked Mexico, 2-1, in 14-degree (F) temperatures in Edmonton (5 F with wind chill!), reportedly the coldest conditions in which a Mexican team has ever played, and moved to the top of the standings (!!!) at 4-0-4 and 16 points. The U.S. sits second with 15 points and Mexico (4-2-2) is ahead of Panama (4-2-2) on goal differential, +4 to +2. The next set of games begins on 27 January 2022.
● Weightlifting ● While the Pan American Weightlifting Federation has failed in its responsibility to post the results of its own championships, USA Weightlifting did publish the full results of the 1-7 November competition in Ecuador.
The U.S. team got six overall wins, from Hampton Morris (men’s 61 kg), and Keiser Witte at +109 kg, and Hayley Reichardt (women’s 49 kg), Meredith Alwine (71 kg), Katie Nye and Mattie Rogers went 1-2 at 76 kg and Mary Thiesen at +87 kg.
Colombia dominated the meet overall, with wins in the men’s division at 55 kg (Miguel Suarez), 67 kg (Francisco Mosquera), 81 kg (Brayan Rodallegas), 89 kg (Jhor Moreno) and 102 kg (Lesman Paredes). They won three women’s divisions, at 59 kg (Yenni Alvarez), 64 kg (Natalia Llamosa) and at 81 kg (Valeria Rivas) for eight total golds.
≡ THE LAST WORD ≡
What was ancient Olympia like? Microsoft, in a partnership with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport, has created an amazing fly-through tour of what the site looked like at the time of the ancient Games.
The Ancient Olympia: Common Grounds project “digitally preserves 27 monuments at the site, among them the original Olympic Stadium, the temples of Zeus and Hera, and the workshop of the renowned sculptor Phidias. In the 3D experience, these buildings are recreated in lifelike detail, painstakingly researched by the Hellenic Ministry’s expert archaeologists to be as true as possible to their original forms.”
It’s an tremendous program, but is a three-dimensional architectural record of the site and does not show how it actually operated. Viewed in conjunction with a static site map (example), one can begin to understand how the facilities might have looked when filled with people coming to see the ancient Games at the site renowned for the giant statue of Zeus.
Absolutely worth the time to explore and enjoy.
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