TSX REPORT: Australian stars demand new 2032 stadia, but Miles says no; death of the Commonwealth Games? Paris opening “Plan B”?

The Paris 2024 concept for the Opening Ceremony on the Seine (Image: Paris 2024)

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1. Australian athletes rip Brisbane 2032 plan as “embarrassment”
2. Commonwealth Games 2026: Singapore not interested either
3. Aquatics Centre inaugurated in Paris, “Plan B” for opening?
4. Fewer and fewer Russians willing to go to Paris as neutrals
5. NBC planning U.S. Trials coverage in five sports

● A group of 14 star Australian athletes, including Olympic gold winners Sally Pearson and Leisel Jones, are insisting the Queensland government to reconsider its position not to spend A$3.4 billion on a new stadium for the 2032 Olympic Games. The Premier responded, “I can’t justify spending billions more on stadiums, no matter how many swimmers ask me.”

● The future of the Commonwealth Games dimmed further as Singapore decided not to host the 2026 edition, even with an £100 million subsidy from the Commonwealth Games Federation. There are currently no known bidders for any future Commonwealth Games, which is to mark its centennial in 2030.

● The new Centre Aquatique Olympique, purpose-built for the 2024 Olympic Games, but a legacy facility for the Saint-Denis area, was formally inaugurated on Thursday. French President Emmanuel Macron said there was a “plan B” for the opening ceremony on the Seine River if security concerns merit changes.

● Russia media reported that many Russian athletes are deciding not to go to Paris, even if qualified, due to the requirement to perform as a “neutral.” United World Wrestling removed Russia’s two-time Olympic wrestling gold medalist Abdulrashid Sadulaev from qualifying, for actions taken in support of the war against Ukraine.

● NBC released its U.S. Olympic Trials broadcast schedule, with coverage of six sports and wall-to-wall coverage of swimming, diving, track and gymnastics from 15-30 June.

World Championship: Curling (Edin and Gushue clinch playoff spots at men’s Worlds) ●

Panorama: Paris 2024 (athletes will sit, not march at Paris closing) = Athletics (84% of top-eight finishers at 2023 Worlds had 3+ out-of-competition doping tests) = Swimming (Rio-Tokyo champ Peaty takes world lead in 100 Breast) = Tennis (WTA signs three-year deal for finals in Saudi Arabia) = Weightlifting (more world records at Phuket World Cup) ●

Australian athletes rip Brisbane 2032 plan as “embarrassment”

Queensland Premier Steven Miles and his government rejected both the planned rebuild of the Gabba Stadium and the idea of a new, A$3.4 billion stadium in Brisbane suggested by a review committee as poor value for money. (A$1 = $0.66 U.S. today)

Instead, a renovation of the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre (QSAC) for athletics, the Gabba, and SunCorp Stadium – also known as Lang Park – for football and other sports is proposed, with the view to cost efficiency and legacy use, albeit at more than A$2 billion combined.

That’s not what some of Australia’s famous athletes want.

In a letter released Tuesday, past stars such as London 2012 women’s 100 m hurdles champ Sally Pearson and 2004-08 triple Olympic swimming gold medalist Liesel Jones and others – 14 in all – demanded something bigger and better:

“We, the undersigned, representing current and former Queensland Olympians and Paralympians, implore you to revisit your decision to host the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics events at the current Queensland Sport and Athletic Centre at Nathan.

“While we understand that you want to get the best value for taxpayers out of the Games, we do not believe that the QSAC site represents that, not just financially but also in terms of a legacy for Brisbane and Queensland. And frankly, a main stadium with a capacity of only 40,000 would be an embarrassment which in no way would represent the go-ahead spirit of Queensland.

“Also, the QSAC facility is the nursery of athletics in this state, and any disruption to the site could only hurt our performance in our home Games. We all remember the magnificent event that Sydney put on in 2000. Queensland deserves something equally spectacular, without a centrepiece that would reek of compromise. It’s not too late to change your mind, Mr Miles.”

Swim star Ariarne Titmus, the reigning Olympic champ in the 200 and 400 m Freestyles, previously said that a new, national aquatics center should be built. Current plans call for the swimming events to be held in a temporary pool inside a massive new arena, which is planned to be constructed as part of the 2032 plan.

Miles shot back later in the day:

“They’re entitled to their opinions but we listen to Queenslanders. They’re talking to me about their hospital, about their school, about how hard they’re finding it to make ends meet.

“When Queensland is facing those kinds of day-to-day challenges, I can’t justify spending billions more on stadiums, no matter how many swimmers ask me.”

Observed: That the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre would be the site for ceremonies is certainly an open question, as Suncorp Stadium/Lang Park seats 52,500 now and could be a better ceremonies site.

The demand by more than a dozen elite athletes for billions in new spending certainly puts them at odds with the International Olympic Committee’s drive to make the Olympic Games less expensive and less complex. And Miles is quite right in pointing out it’s not their money at stake, it’s taxpayer money.

Commonwealth Games 2026: Singapore not interested either

“Commonwealth Games Singapore and Sport Singapore have studied the feasibility of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games and have decided not to make any bid to host the Games.”

Wednesday’s statement came just more than two weeks after Malaysia also decided to pass on hosting the 2026 edition, citing too little time and too much potential cost.

The Commonwealth Games Federation made a subsidy offer of £100 million (about $126.5 million U.S.) to both countries, after receiving A$380 million (~$237.6 million U.S.) from the state of Victoria (AUS) in 2023, after it pulled out of its hosting agreement, citing high projected costs.

This leaves the Commonwealth Games, started in 1930 as the British Empire Games, in Hamilton (CAN) potentially with no host for 2026 and none on the horizon. Since Victoria pulled out, other cities or regions in Australia have not come forward – a short-lived bid from Gold Coast was shut down as Queensland said it was concentrating on the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane – and no one else has indicated an interest.

The event was successfully held in Birmingham, England in 2022; that could be the last one for a while. Costs, which included the construction and renovation of several venues, has been estimated at £778 million (~$984.1 million U.S. today).

The Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive, Katie Sadleir (GBR), told Agence France Presse last month:

“The process to determine a host for the 2026 Games is continuing at pace with interested Commonwealth Games Associations. While acutely aware of the incredibly tight timeframe, we have encouraged proposals that will reset the Games.

“Alongside this process, we have accelerated work to refresh and reframe the Games. This has included exploring innovative new concepts and event opportunities.”

Observed: This could be the end of the Commonwealth Games altogether, or it could be disassembled into individual championships, or morph into something else.

One of the elements which has hurt events of this type is the enormous expansion of competitive opportunities – whether Grand Prix or World Cup-type series – in each individual sport, greatly lessening the need for multi-sport games to offer chances for top-quality competition.

That’s only going to increase, making it even more difficult for the Commonwealth Games to survive, unless it is re-imagined or finds a country wanting the publicity shot that such events bring.

Aquatics Centre inaugurated in Paris, “Plan B” for opening?

The major new sports venue built for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, the Centre Aquatique Olympique, was formally handed over for operations on Thursday, in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The facility is in the Saint-Denis area, close to the Stade de France and will seat up to 5,000 for the Games, depending on its configuration. For Paris 2024, it will be the home of artistic swimming, diving and water polo matches. Seating will be reduced to about 2,500 for post-Games use.

The cost came in at €180 million (about $195.2 million U.S.), overseen by the government’s SOLIDEO agency, responsible for Olympic construction.

During the inauguration event, Macron was asked if he expected trouble from the Russians related to the Games, and replied “Without a doubt, including in the field of information.

“Every day it is putting out stories saying that we are unable to do this or that, so (the Games) would be at risk.”

An aide added later, “There is a hardening from Russia, which we have been seeing for several months.”

As for the opening ceremonies on the Seine River, Macron added:

“We will be ready. We are preparing several scenarios. If the threat were to evolve, if we considered that circumstances made it necessary, we have back-up scenarios.”

Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera told the France 2 channel, “Today there is no specific terror-related threat targeting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

She also pointed to the opening and noted, “It’s not because we are not talking about a Plan B that there isn’t one.”

Fewer and fewer Russians willing to go to Paris as neutrals

The popular Russian site Sport-Express.ru posted a Wednesday story headlined, “‘We decided that it was impossible to perform.’ Many Russian athletes refuse the Olympics,” detailing specific sport groups which have elected not to go to Paris, or to even try to qualify (computer translation from the original Russian):

● “There are fewer Russian athletes ready to go to the Olympic Games in Paris in a neutral status literally every day. The day before, representatives of rowing and sailing announced their refusal to participate in the Olympic selection. Given previous refusals, the pool of our potential neutral Olympians continued to narrow.”

● “And it’s not to say that Russian rowers didn’t think about participating in them: in March, qualifying races were held in Mingachevir, Azerbaijan, as a result of which a team was even created to participate in the European qualifying rounds. But the team will never go to Szeged [qualifying races]. And here’s why. The national team’s coaching staff and athletes held a general meeting, deciding to refuse Olympic selection on the terms of the IOC and the International Rowing Federation. And on April 2, this decision was supported by the Russian Rowing Federation.”

● “Russian archers, who, we recall, won two silver medals at the Tokyo Games in 2021, abandoned the Olympics in Paris. ‘Firstly, our leading athletes represent Dynamo or CSKA. We interviewed the entire team. The team said that without a flag and anthem, in a gray uniform, they have no desire to participate in the selection and in the Olympic Games. Secondly, there is a sports component. The strongest athletes refused to participate. It turns out that from the point of view of elite sports this is not serious. The sporting principle is violated. The best athletes refused to participate in the Olympic Games,’ Vladimir Yesheev, head of the Russian Archery Federation, told SE.”

● “Even earlier, the leadership of Russian artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, swimming, diving and weightlifting declared their reluctance to perform at international competitions and specifically at the Games in Paris in a discriminatory status. So it is already obvious that in Paris, if we see neutral Russians, it will be at a minimum.”

On Wednesday, 200 m Breaststroke world-record holder Evgeniia Chikunova told Russian MatchTV, “Will I go to the Olympics? No. And I will not receive neutral status. I’ll keep an eye on it. But I don’t see myself as a neutral athlete.”

On Thursday, the Russian federation for sport climbing said its athletes will not compete at the IOC-staged Olympic Qualifier Series 2024, in Shanghai (CHN) from 16-19 May and Budapest from 20-23 June, and therefore, will not qualify for Paris.

A major announcement underlining the eligibility screening of Russian athletes came from United World Wrestling on Thursday, removing two-time Olympic Freestyle champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev, 27, from Olympic consideration:

“Abdulrashid SADULAEV has been ruled out of the European OG Qualifiers in Baku after he failed to meet the eligibility criteria set by the International Olympic Committee for Individual Neutral Athletes.

“The two-time Olympic champion was ruled ineligible by the United World Wrestling Eligibility panel. This third-party panel continuously monitors the eligibility of wrestlers based on the criteria defined by the IOC.

“Sadulaev was declared ineligible after the panel found new information about his support of the Ukraine-Russia war and that he is still officially declared a member of the Dynamo club.

“Each Individual Neutral Athlete goes through a rigorous vetting process by UWW in preparation for any tournament and is examined based on the criteria set by the IOC which rules thorough background and social media checks of individuals from Russia and Belarus.”

Sadulaev had been repeatedly listed as an athlete who should be declared ineligible due to his promotion of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The latest came on 3 April, in a letter from the Ukrainian Ministry of Youth and Sports to IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) and to UWW President Nenad Lalovic (SRB), in which nine wrestlers – including Sadulaev – were singled and named in specific instances of support for the Russian invasion. The conclusion:

“We would like to reiterate Ukraine’s steadfast stance: as long as Russian troops, supported by the Belarusian government, continue their brutal war against the Ukrainian people, Russian and Belarusian athletes must be banned from participating in any international competitions, in any status, including as neutrals. We rely on your solidarity with the Ukrainian sports movement.”

NBC planning U.S. Trials coverage in five sports

Beginning in April and continuing through the end of June, NBC will show U.S. Olympic Trials competitions in six sports – canoeing, diving, gymnastics, rowing, swimming, track & field and wrestling – with its broadcast schedule released on Thursday.

Most of the coverage, of course, is on the Peacock streaming network, but some is on NBC and its related cable channels:

Apr. 06-07: Rowing: Peacock only (2 shows)
Apr. 13-14: Canoe Slalom I: Peacock only (2)
Apr. 19-20: Wrestling: USA Net (2: finals) and Peacock (4)
Apr. 26-27: Canoe Slalom II: Peacock only (2)
Jun. 15-23: Swimming: USA (8: heats)-NBC (9: finals)-Peacock (17)
Jun. 17-23: Diving: USA (1: final)-NBC (7: finals)-Peacock (18)
Jun. 21-30: Track & Field: USA (2: finals)-NBC (8: finals)-Peacock (11)
Jun. 27-30: Gymnastics: USA (1: qualifying)-NBC (3: 2 finals)-Peacock (5)

Much of the USA Network coverage of the swimming trials will be same-day delayed coverage of the morning heats, coming on just prior to the finals on NBC.

Daily primetime coverage is slated for 15-24 June and 27-30 June.


● Curling ● At the 2024 World Curling Men’s World Championship in Schaffhausen (SUI), Sweden’s reigning Olympic champion Niklas Edin and his squad scored two major wins and clinched a playoff spot.

Edin and Sweden defeated John Shuster’s U.S. rink, 6-4, overcoming a 4-3 deficit in the final two ends, then beat Canada’s Brad Gushue, 6-5, in the evening. Those wins brought Sweden to 10-0 and the round-robin leader, with two matches left.

Gushue (8-2) and Scotland’s 2022 Olympic-runner-up Bruce Mouat (8-2) also clinched playoff berths, with the round-robin matches to finish on Friday. Italy (Joel Retornaz: 7-3) is fourth, and the Swiss and Germans are 5-6 at 6-4 each. Shuster and the U.S. are 5-5 and sitting seventh, outside the playoffs, but will play the Czech Republic and New Zealand and will be favored for two wins.


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● The FrancsJeux.com site reported that Paris 2024 ceremonies director Thomas Jolly (FRA) foresees a different protocol for the Olympic closing ceremony at the Stade de France: no parade of athletes.

Traditionally, athletes from all countries romp into the stadium for a lap of honor, before being seated to watch the show. Jolly’s comments to Telerama indicated athletes will be seated in the stadium and that the ceremony will center on “an Olympic flag relay with Los Angeles 2028 and a big show where only music will resonate.”

● Athletics ● Posted on Thursday by the Athletics Integrity Unit was a look at testing for the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, showing a clear testing focus on athletes who were likely to be finalists:

Total athletes: 2,004
● 45% had 3+ out-of-competition tests
● 28% had 1-2 out-of-competition tests
● 27% had 0 out-of-competition tests

Athletes finishing in the top 8: 329
(in individual events)
● 84% had 3+ out-of-competition tests
● 10% had 1-2 out-of-competition tests
● 6% had 0 out-of-competition tests

All of the top-eight finishers had at least one test – in-competition or out-of-competition – by the end of the championships.

The most-tested teams in the 10 months prior to Budapest 2023:

● 11.4: Kenya average total tests per athlete on the Budapest team
● 11.3: China
● 8.9: Ethiopia
● 7.1: Morocco
● 6.2: United States
● 5.4: Uganda
● 5.3: Nigeria and the Netherlands
● 5.2: India
● 5.1: Spain

The total number of tests was way up from Eugene in 2022, from 6,358 to 8,466 total, and from 4,235 to 5,542 for out-of-competition tests.

● Swimming ● The two-time Olympic 100 m Breaststroke champion and world-record holder, Britain’s Adam Peaty, showed he is ready to defend his title in Paris by winning the British Trials in London this week.

Peaty cruised past the world-leading time by American Nic Fink, 58.53 to 58.57 in the heats, then won the final going away in another 2024 world leader, 57.94, the no. 29 performance of all-time (he owns the top 14 and 21 of the 29).

Perhaps most importantly, it’s his fastest time since the Olympic year of 2021.

● Tennis ● The Women’s Tennis Association announced a three-year agreement with the Saudi Tennis Federation to host the 2024-25-26 WTA Finals in Riyadh, meeting the stated desire of players for more money:

“The agreement with the Saudi Tennis Federation will offer record prize money of $15.25 million at the WTA Finals in 2024 with further increases in 2025 and 2026. The partnership will also support broader investment in the future development and growth of women’s tennis, including the WTA’s plans to grow the global fanbase for women’s tennis through increased investment in marketing, digital and fan engagement.”

This follows the 28 February announcement from the men’s Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) of a multi-year agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

● Weightlifting ● World records continued to fall at the IWF World Cup in Phuket (THA), with lifters from North Korea and China making new entries.

Won-ju Ri won the men’s 67 kg class, and set a world record of 189 kg in the Clean & Jerk, adding a kilogram to the mark set by countryman Jong-ju Pak in 2019. Ri was second in the Snatch to Sergio Massidda (ITA), but with his record C&J lift, won the overall title at 333 kg to 317.

Indonesia’s 2022 Worlds runner-up Rizki Juniansyah set a world record for the combined total to win the 73 kg class, lifting 164/201/365 kg, one kg better than China’s two-time Olympic champ Zhiyong Shi in Tokyo in 2021.

The women’s record-setting continued as well, with China’s Shifang Luo taking the 59 kg division at 248 kg, one kg better than Tokyo Olympic champ Hsing-Chun Kuo (TPE) in 2021. Luo tied for the win in Snatch, won the Clean & Jerk easily and finished with a 248-240 win over Il Gyong Kim (PRK).

The competition, the final qualifier for Paris 2024, continues through the 11th.

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