TSX DAILY: Even with all its changes, the IOC is still being pressured, now by Australia for 2032 (!) and by life-and-death issues in Iran

≡ TSX DAILY ~ 11 September 2019 ≡

| 1. |  LANE ONE: No matter what the IOC does, the heat is still on, now from Oz and Iran

Today’s version of the International Olympic Committee is a lot different from one commonly thought of by those who aren’t paying attention. The changes in bidding for the Games are remarkable and much welcomed by potential Games hosts, and the previously-unheard-of pressure on organizing committees to save money and use existing facilities has made the staging of the Games easier and more efficient.

But even with all the changes, there is pressure. The IOC is now being wooed by the Australian state of Queensland, which has the idea to host the 2032 Olympic Games and perhaps present bid so attractive that it will be assigned the event even as early as next year in Tokyo!

The political leaders in Australia and especially in Queensland are excited and are in the midst of a study to determine the possible costs of a 2032 Games. Meanwhile, the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palasczuk, has talked to the local media about a new, 80,000-seat stadium in Brisbane and two Olympic Villages.

A delegation of political and sports leaders were in Lausanne (SUI) on Tuesday to meet with IOC chief Thomas Bach. The visitors were briefed by the IOC’s experts over several hours on what is now expected of potential hosts and what the IOC will provide in support.

As Australian Member of Parliament Ted O’Brien (Member for Fairfax) put it, the trip was designed “to ensure we’re gleaning every possible insight from the IOC so we can put together the greatest pitch the Olympic Movement has ever seen.”

An offer the IOC can’t refuse?

The IOC would do well to tamp down the excitement in Australia, especially when it has other possible bidders in Europe and Asia. Moreover, the reforms passed by the IOC last June – as recommended by a working group chaired by Australian IOC member John Coates – indicate that any needed referendums be held prior to the filing of any candidacy. That applies to Australia, too.

As Oz pushes for a third Olympic Games, the IOC is also being pushed – indirectly – by Iran. The governing document of the Olympic Movement, the Olympic Charter, states that sport is a human right, to be available “without discrimination of any kind.”

In the last 10 days, Iranian government officials instructed 2018 World Judo Champion Saeid Mollaei (pictured) to lose his semifinal and bronze-medal match so that he would not have to face no. 2 seed Sagi Muki of Israel (the eventual winner in his class) and also not have to participate in the awards ceremony with him. Mollaei lost the matches and fled to Germany. That was bad, especially after the Iranian Judo Federation committed in writing not to allow such schemes.

Worse was news from Tehran on Tuesday that Sahar Khodayari died from burns from setting herself on fire after being arrested for attending a football match dressed as a man to get around the public ban on attendance by women. She became distraught upon learning that she could be sentenced to six months in prison.

The IOC has suspended countries before for their political arrangements; South Africa was banished from the Olympic Movement for its apartheid policies from 1970-91. Isn’t it time to do the same to Iran?

| 2. | BASKETBALL: Spain advances to semifinals while Argentina send Serbia packing at World Cup

The FIBA men’s World Cup in China has gotten serious, with the quarterfinals beginning on Tuesday and favored Serbia eliminated from the championship bracket in a stunning loss to Argentina, 97-87.

The game was tight throughout, but 10-year NBA star Luis Scola (pictured) – who now plays in China – took over in the final minutes and cinched the victory. He led Argentina with 20 points, followed by Facundo Campazzo with 18 and Patricio Garino with 15; Bogdan Bogdanovic led Serbia with 21. The Argentina defense held Serbia to just 41.8% from the field.

That sends Argentina into the semifinals against either the United States or France, who play on Wednesday.

In Tuesday’s other quarterfinal, Spain continued its march in the tournament by defeating Poland, 90-78. Ricky Rubio scored 19 points for the winners and had nine assists; the Spanish defense held the Poles to just 37 points in the second half.

Spain now plays the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal between Australia and the Czech Republic. Remember that the U.S. has already played Spain and Australia in exhibition games, defeating the Spanish and splitting two games with the Aussies. More here.

| 3. | ATHLETICS: U.S. trounced by Europe in “The Match” but is Allyson Felix on the way back?

The second day of “The Match: USA vs. Europe” at the Dinamo Stadium in Minsk (BLR) was a triumph for Europe, which won by 724.5-601.5. The U.S. won 20 of 36 events, but the European strength in the field events – where it outscored the U.S. by 355-227 – was too much.

The individual headliner on day two was Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko (pictured), who scored a personal best of 2.02 m (6-7 1/2) and defeated Russia’s reigning World Champion, Mariya Lasitskene, who cleared 1.98 m (6-6). It ended an 18-meet winning streak for Lasitskene, and some of her aura of invincibility; Levchenko is now tied for second on the year list.

The U.S. scored two significant wins, starting with the women’s shot, where Maggie Ewen set a lifetime best of 19.47 m (63-10 1/2), also placing her fourth on the world list for 2019. In the women’s 1,500 m, Kate Grace won with an impressive run in the final straight and claimed a lifetime best of 4:02.50.

For U.S. fans, perhaps the most interesting result came in the final event, an oddball, mixed Sprint Medley of 200-200-400-800 m. Allyson Felix ran the third leg, taking a small lead and not only maintaining it, but extending it and handing over to anchor Isaiah Harris.

Felix’s split was 50.10 – with a running start – and while this wasn’t vintage Felix, it’s worth noting that this is the fastest she has run since returning to competition following maternity and that only four women in the world have run under 50.20 this season. Is she really on the way back?

Harris and fellow American Brandon Kidder looked to go 1-2 in the relay, but Amel Tuka (BIH) steamed past both on the straightaway to win the final event for Europe.

More on the meet here.

With the IAAF World Championships now just a few weeks away, the IAAF’s Doping Review Board approved 11 more Russian athletes to compete as neutrals, including in Doha. Among those now permitted to compete is high jumper Mikhail Akimenko, who has cleared 2.33 m (7-7 3/4) and is tied for no. 2 on the year list.

The review panel did not approve the applications for competitions from 2012 Olympic Champions Anna Chicherova (high jump) and Yelena Lashmanova (20 km walk). Both have had prior doping positives.

So far in 2019, 128 Russians have been approved as neutrals, 58 have been denied and one who was cleared has had his approval revoked.

The highly-respected Athletics International newsletter reported that the IAAF has also declared U.S. 400 m runner Blake Leeper – who runs with prosthetics – ineligible for the World Championships. The federation has an advisory group working to determine whether the prosthetics create an advantage.

Leeper ran a sensational 44.38 in the semifinals of the USATF Nationals and was fifth in the final in 44.48, making him eligible for the 4×400 relays pool.

Remember Jamaican distance runner Kemoy Campbell, who fell off the track while pacing the Millrose Games in New York in February? He spent 17 days in a hospital with heart issues, but was finally released. But he wrote on Instagram last Thursday (5th) that he must retire:

“It’s with a heavy heart, or half of one rather, I must say goodbye to the sport because I was told by the doctors that I shouldn’t compete anymore. So unfortunately, I will no longer be competing. I have given my all to this sport. It has taken me to places I have never dreamt of going. It gave a shy boy from a rural area in Jamaica the opportunity to prove himself to the world. I believe I have done my part. I’ve represented myself, my family, my country proudly …

“It’s time that I play another role in this sport. I was told today that I shouldn’t compete again or this incident will happen again, but that will not stop me from supporting and helping this sport and my team anyway I can. So it’s farewell to competing.”

Campbell set national records at 3,000 m, 5,000 m and 10,000 m and was a 2016 Olympian in the 5,000 m.

| 4. | FOOTBALL: U.S. men finally score a goal, tie Uruguay, 1-1, in St. Louis friendly

After the depressing 3-0 loss to Mexico last week, the U.S. men’s National Team tried again against a good Uruguay squad that was missing some of its stars, but was still a formidable challenge for the Americans.

But the play was much better from the U.S., especially in the scoreless first half. But just five minutes into the second half, Uruguay striker Brian Rodriguez faked out American defender Aaron Long at the left of the U.S. goal and sent a screaming shot into the far right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Now the U.S. had already been shut out in its last two games – both vs. Mexico – but was creating some good chances in this match. In the 79th minute, Nick Lima launched a cross from near the Uruguayan endline, but it bounced off a defender, went high in the air over keeper Fernando Muslera and landed on the head of U.S. striker Jordan Morris for the tying goal. It ended a 262-minute scoreless streak.

The U.S. had 59% of the possession for the game, but was out-shot by 15-11. But the crowd of 20.625 in St. Louis was more than happy to go home after seeing a 1-1 tie. More here.

| 5. | COMING ATTRACTIONS: How ‘bout some wrestling?

It’s still a busy time in international sport and we’ll have coverage for you right through the week:

● The FIBA men’s World Cup will wrap up this week, with the medal matches on the weekend.

● The final Grand Tour of the year, La Vuelta a Espana, had its final rest day on Tuesday and resumes on Wednesday with more climbing, and will finish in Madrid on Sunday.

● The United World Wrestling World Championships begin on Saturday in Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan, with the U.S. expecting big things from its men’s and women’s Freestyle squads.

If you missed any of the results of last week’s action, check out our exclusive Stat Pack, with results of 18 events in 16 sports from 2-8 September.