TSX REPORT: Athlete’s rights seems like a good idea, but for which athletes and for which rights? Plus, Chen and Hubbell/Donohue win again at Skate America

≡ TSX REPORT ~ 21 October 2019 ≡

● LANE ONE ● Two conferences and two different views of “athlete’s rights” 

Two conferences taking place almost simultaneously 7,745 miles apart last week illustrated the far-apart approaches to the newest flash-point in the Olympic Movement: awards-ceremony demonstrations.

Following up on the two medal-stand protests by American fencer Race Imboden and hammer thrower Gwen Berry during the Pan American Games in Peru in August, the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly in Doha, Qatar was addressed by IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) and by IOC Athletes’ Commission chair Kirsty Coventry (ZIM).

In Colorado Springs, Colorado (USA), the 11th Play the Game conference was held – for the first time outside Europe – and one of the sessions was devoted to the question of athlete activism.

Coventry’s remarks to the ANOC General Assembly notably included a reference to a conference call held in September with representatives of 60 Athlete Commissions from National Olympic Committees around the world. During the call, which covered multiple topics, the question of demonstrations came up. These are specifically banned in the Olympic Charter’s Rule 50.2; Coventry said:

“We had more than 60 Athlete Commissions represented on that call and there was a very strong feeling amongst all of those athletes that the venues, the Olympic spirit and the uniqueness of the Games needs to be respected, and that there is a time and a place for athletes to be able to make their voices heard with different opinions or different topics that they might want to bring awareness to, but no one on the call felt that that should be on the field of play or during a Olympic medal ceremony.”

The IOC Athletes’ Commission will be formulating further guidelines concerning Rule 50.2 and these will be circulated to the NOCs for implementation prior to the Tokyo Games in 2020.

In Colorado Springs, the athlete-activism session included comments from Nikki Dryden, a two-time Canadian Olympian in swimming and now a lawyer in New York spoke to directly to the Olympic Charter rule. The session summary noted:

“Dryden called for an overhaul of the Olympic Charter’s Rule 50.2, which outlaws demonstrations or ‘propaganda’ in Olympic sites or venues. ‘Explicit support for freedom of speech should be contained in the Olympic Charter,’ Dryden said ‘Freedom of expression and assembly are generally-accepted norms in democratic nations and the international community. The Olympic ideals sound like they should protect these rights. But Rule 50.2 prevents freedom of expression.’”

Not much common ground there. But it’s worth noting that the IOC Athletes’ Commission is directly elected by athletes participating in the Olympic and Winter Games. And that Dryden’s reliance on “generally-accepted norms” of the “international community” sounds suspect if you go beyond North America, some of Latin America and Western Europe.

Look for more fireworks prior to, during and after the Tokyo Games. Much more here.

● FIGURE SKATING ● Chen and Hubbell & Donohue defend titles at Skate America

The winter-sport season is here and the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix opened with Skate America at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

At the top of the bill was American Nathan Chen, (pictured) the two-time World Champion and two-time defending champion at this event. He won his third straight title with an excellent 299.09 total, winning both the Short Program and the Free Skate. He was followed by fellow American Jason Brown (255.09) and Russia’s Dmitri Aliev (253.55).

Chen’s three straight wins ties him with American Scott Hamilton for the second-most consecutive wins in the history of Skate America; only Todd Eldredge – with four – has more.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won their second straight Skate America title in Ice Dance, winning the Rhythm Dance and coming in a very close second in the Free Dance to score 209.55 points, ahead of Russians Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (206.57).

In the women’s Singles, a new Russian teenager came onto the world stage and triumphed. Anna Shcherkakova, 15, came from fourth place after the Short Program to win the Free Skate impressively and pile up 227.76 points. She finished well ahead of American Bradie Tennell (216.14) and 2015 World Champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (205.97). More here and here.

SPORT CLIMBING ● Season titles decided in Lead and Speed in Xiamen World Cup

The IFSC World Cup in Xiamen (CHN) was only supposed to decide the Speed seasonal titles for men and women, but the competition actually settled the issue for the Lead division as well.

In Lead, World Champion Adam Ondra won over Taisei Homma of Japan and sewed up the 2019 World Cup title; he has 300 points to 189 for second-place Kai Harada (JPN) with only one event remaining.

Similarly, Korea’s Chae-Hyun Seo won her fourth event of the season in women’s Lead and now has 480 points – easily the winner – to 298 for World Champion Janja Garnbret (SLO).

The Speed titles went to France’s Bassa Mawem and China’s YiLing Song, neither of whom won in Xiamen, but had enough points to come out on top. Mawem amassed 329 points for the season to edge Russian Vladislav Deudin (312) and Song was a clear winner for the women, with 460 points to finish well ahead of defending champ Anouck Jaubert (FRA). For Jaubert, it was her sixth straight season with a World Cup seasonal medal! More here.

● SCOREBOARD ● Seventh 2019 title for Kento Momota; Zheng wins World rematch with Walkden

In Badminton, Japan’s Kento Momota (pictured) continued his brilliant season with a seventh tournament victory in the Danisa Denmark Open, defeating 2016 Olympic champ Long Chen (CHN) in straight sets. He was one of three defending champs to win again in Odense, also including Tzu-Ying Tai (TPE) and men’s doubles aces Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA). More here.

In Curling, the WCF Mixed Championships for teams was decided in Aberdeen, Scotland, with Canada coming from behind in both its semifinal (vs. Norway) and final (vs. Germany) to win its second straight title. More here.

In Taekwondo, the first-ever Grand Prix tournament to be held in Bulgaria was highlighted by a World Championships rematch in the women’s +78 kg division. This time, it was China’s Shuyin Zheng who won over Bianca Walkden (GBR) by 3-2.China won four of the eight divisions, but reigning World Champions Jun Jang (KOR: 58 kg) and Shuai Zhao (CHN: 68 kg) did win their weight classes. More here.

● THIS WEEK ● Cycling’s World Tour ends Tuesday; winter sports debuts continue in Austria

Still a fairly light schedule of international events this week, but several worth noting, including the finales of the men’s and women’s UCI World Tours in road cycling. The men’s Gree-Tour of Guangxi continues through Tuesday in China and the women’s one-day Tour of Guangxi will be held on Tuesday as well.

Alpine skiing will start its 2019-2020 World Cup season with a men’s and women’s Giant Slalom in Soelden (AUT). That means the return of American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin, poised to shatter more records in a try for her fourth consecutive World Cup overall title, and a new era starting for the men as Austria’s Marcel Hirscher – winner of the last eight overall titles – has retired.

The ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix will continue in Kelowna, British Colombia with Skate Canada International, headlined by twice Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan.