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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Bach: “Paris 2024 will ignite a new era”
2. Estanguet says Paris 2024 is on track
3. Observed: true impact of the Commonwealth Games mess
4. Vingegaard’s time trial win nearly clinches Tour defense
5. Gardiner 400 m world lead; Alfred beats Richardson in Hungary
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany spoke with reporters on Tuesday and enthused over the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, calling them the first of a ‘new era.” He continued to defend the IOC’s stance on Russian and Belarusian athletes, and said that economic pressures on sporting events will continue and that only those events and elements which are “essential” are safe. In Paris, the head of the 2024 organizing committee, Tony Estanguet, also held a news conference, expressing confidence in the progress so far, on construction, budget, staffing and the ambition of the organizing committee to be as innovative as possible. In the aftermath of the withdrawal of Victoria as host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, there was pushback against the approach of the state government on facilities and some disbelief on the estimate of A$6-7 billion. What the withdrawals in Victoria and in Indonesia for the ANOC World Beach Games show is that politics top a signature on a contract every time, a crucial lesson for any mega-event organizer going forward, anywhere. At the Tour de France, defending champ Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark just about wrapped up his defense with a brilliant time trial to take a seemingly-insurmountable 1:48 lead over two-time winner Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia. At the Istvan Gyulai Memorial meet in Hungary, Tokyo Olympic men’s 400 m champ Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas took the world lead at 43.48, St. Lucia sprinter Julien Alfred beat American Sha’Carri Richardson in the women’s 100 m and U.S. teen star Erriyon Knighton suffered a surprise loss in the men’s 200 m. But more meets are coming.
● World Championships: Aquatics (4: China wins eighth diving title; Beck and Wellbrock sweep open-water 5 km; Spain wins Artistic Team Technical; U.S. women beat Australia in polo) ●
● Panorama: Paris 2024 (Opening ceremony test held with 30 boats on Seine) = Winter Games 2030 (France to launch two-region bid) = Commonwealth Games 2026 (London maybe? Perth Mayor wants in!) = IOC (Isinbayeva cleared of any pro-war activities) = Doping (India doping inquiry completed) ●
Bach: “Paris 2024 will ignite a new era”
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany, now 10 years as the head of the Olympic Movement, took questions on Tuesday in advance of the year-to-go milestone for the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad in 2024.
Noting that this will be the first Games organized since the passage of his massive “Olympic Agenda 2020″ reform package in 2014, Bach enthused that “Paris 2024 will ignite a new era of Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
He highlighted his usual themes of venue re-use, gender equality and balanced budgets. He was asked about how secure he felt about the support of the French government, notably on the issue of Russian and Belarusian participation. He did not waver for a moment:
“We are fully aligned in our approach [with the French government]. …
“We feel the great support and encouragement to accomplish our mission, to get the world together and to be a unifying factor and not add to the too many divisions we have already now.
“And because of this, we are confident that in one year from now, we can accomplish this mission, and, again, we are doing our best. Right now, it is more to monitor the situation on the field of play, whether the rules are respected, the conditions are respected by everybody. Then at a later stage, we can take further decisions. …
“We have as a mission, to unite all the athletes of the world in a peaceful competition. We have the responsibility not to punish athletes for the acts of their governments, and this is something, you know, what the athletes around the world who support our approach are also expressing that they do not want to be held responsible for the actions of their governments.”
Bach was also asked about the recent rioting in the Paris area over the shooting of a teenager:
“We are very sorry for the victims, and in particular, the victim of this riot. We are feeling with everybody affected. At the same time, we are can note that these riots were not related to the Olympic Games in any respect, and that we can feel a great support of the French people for this Olympic Games.
“We are very confident that the Games can, and will, happen in a peaceful environment, and that the sports-loving French people will celebrate the best athletes of the world as they have just celebrated the best cyclists of the world – and are still celebrating – during the Tour de France.”
The calamitous collapse of the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria earlier on Tuesday, and the recent cancellation of the ANOC Beach Games in Indonesia were also brought up, and whether the future of the Olympic Games is secure. Here, Bach had no doubts:
“I don’t have any concerns for the Olympic Games, because with our Games Optimization model, we are showing new ways of financing Olympic Games in a solid way, coming up with balanced budgets and very sustainable solutions. …
“What we have, on the other hand, said from the beginning of the pandemic, that after the pandemic – when once the health crisis is over – that the world will see economic and financial crises and challenges and this has been exacerbated by the Russian invasion in Ukraine and all the consequences.
“There, everybody is affected, and, of course, also sport, and I think all International Federations, all sports events organizers are called upon, and we have called upon them several times, to look very carefully which events to organize under which circumstances, and whether every event is really necessary, or it’s just nice to have.
“You know, we are not living in a time where you can look so much at the ‘nice to haves.’ We have to concentrate on the essentials. This is what we are doing with the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Bach took some extra time to weigh in on the implosion of the ANOC World Beach Games and the supposed lack of financing that required their cancellation:
“Allow me a side remark, whether the cancellation of the ANOC Beach Games was really a financial issue. There, one can have some serious doubts about this given the history there in Bali with the FIFA [U-20] World Cup and the discussion before about the Israeli participation in such Games.”
Estanguet says Paris 2024 is on track
“We want to offer the best of our country and the most beautiful face of France when we welcome the world on July 26, 2024, and to date, we are ready, we are on schedule and once again the ambition is still extremely strong.”
That’s Paris 2024 chief – and three-time Olympic gold medalist – Tony Estanguet, speaking to a news conference on Tuesday, following a three-day meeting of Chefs de Mission and the finish of the organizing committee’s first test event, in sailing in Marseille.
In a 47-minute monologue to open the session, Estanguet went through the various aspects of the organizing effort, highlighting what he said its three key elements: to be ready to stage the Games, have the resources needed to stage the Games and to “maintain our ambition” until the end.
On funding, he explained:
“The Paris budget is still under control at €4.4 billion (~$4.94 billion U.S.), 96% here from the private sector. I say this with a smile, I know you know this information, but I realize it is not always easy to get this message across, so thank you for helping us. …
“In terms of partnerships, things continue to progress rather well, we have recently crossed the billion-euro mark in secured income provided by our Paris 2024 partners. It is the first time that a sporting event in France has raised so many resources from companies and partnerships, so we are indeed delighted.”
He said that 22 new partners had joined in since the beginning of the year, with more coming:
“We were at 80% of our objective by the end of 2022; the objective is to secure 92% at the end of the year 2023, so we continue with enthusiasm and serenity for this objective.”
Estanguet also underlined that 90% of the goods being supplied to Paris 2024 are from French companies.
Another €1 billion in revenue has come from tickets and hospitality, with 6.8 million tickets sold so far out of a projected Olympic inventory of 10 million.
He was also happy with the progress on construction, which is in the hands of the government-run Solideo group: “the deadlines have been respected.” The International Broadcast Center was turned over to the organizers on 10 July, with the Olympic Village to be completed and turned over by March of 2024. The new aquatics center is expected in April and the Arena Porte de la Chapelle in June, for badminton and rhythmic gymnastics.
On security, he noted that existing venue operators – like the famed Roland Garros tennis grounds – already have this area under control for their own events, and will be contracted by Paris 2024 to provide for this during the Games. The work now is to develop and execute the program for remaining sites, about half of the total. This is expected by the end of the year, with any shortfalls to then be discussed with French law enforcement.
There are 300,000 applications for the 45,000 volunteer positions, a success so far.
He said the transport sector had seen “a lot of progress” over the prior six months, both with the public transit authorities, but also with the IOC in the use of shared facilities for accredited officials of all types, excepting competing athletes, who will always be separate.
Further, concerns over spectator crowding is being worked on through the development of a communications program direct to attendees as to how best travel to these events. Estanguet said that in this area, the “rate of progress that is rather very assuring.”
He called the sailing test event in Marseille, concluded last Sunday, a “real success,” especially for the first event actually organized by and for the Paris 2024 organizing committee.
Estanguet also emphasized the importance to “maintain the ambition” of the organizing committee, noting that Paris will offer unique ceremonies for both the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in the middle of the city, with the first-ever mass-participation road races and a significant environmental program. We want, he said, “to be as creative as possible, to show the best of our country on the occasion of these Games; it is only once every 100 years.”
Observed: true impact of the Commonwealth Games mess
The stunning reversal by the Victoria State government on Tuesday, handing back the hosting duties for the 2026 Commonwealth Games over cost issues just 16 months after agreeing to host it, is reinforcing significant lessons for the international sports community in the post-pandemic era.
In Australia, the recriminations have already started, with Craig Phillips, the head of Commonwealth Games Australia, issuing a Tuesday statement which included:
● “The announcement made by the Victorian Government today is beyond disappointing.”
● “The multi-city model for delivering Victoria 2026 was an approach proposed by the Victorian Government, in accordance with strategic roadmap of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).”
● “The stated costs overrun, in our opinion, are a gross exaggeration and not reflective of the operational costs presented to the Victoria 2026 Organising Committee board as recently as June.“
● “Beyond this, the Victorian Government wilfully ignored recommendations to move events to purpose-built stadia in Melbourne and in fact remained wedded to proceeding with expensive temporary venues in regional Victoria.”
● “The Victorian Government, however, has jeopardised Melbourne and Victoria’s standing as a sporting capital of the world.”
Phillips told a news conference that he was informed of the decision from Victoria at about 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. “I certainly feel let down by the government,” said Phillips, who explained that Commonwealth Games Australia will welcome interest from other states in Australia who might have interest, and “we’ll be doing all we can to be sure that the numbers produced today by the Victorian Government are not taken on face value. They are certainly not a strong indication of what the Games would actually cost.”
He said that he, a member of the 2026 organizing committee board, said he had never heard of the A$6 billion budget figure mentioned by the Victorian government until about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning: “The decision had already been taken by the time the government got to talk to us.” (A$1 = $0.68 U.S.)
Were there options? Phillips said cost-containment discussions were already under way:
“There were some measures which could have brought some of the venues back into Melbourne without compromising the desire to have content in regional Victoria. We still were very much supportive of the regional content, but also saw the pragmatic value of moving some of those venues back to Melbourne.
“The velodrome is the best example of that. You have a purpose-built velodrome here at John Cain Arena, but we’re continuing to prosecute running a games in a temporary venue in Bendigo that would have no legacy value. … We think the regional model is still an important one to have, but you’ve got to balance up the pragmatic with some of your ambitions. That’s what we were trying to do.”
And he ripped the Victorian government, which had agreed to host the event in April 2022; “We thought we had a Games. We thought we had a willing host of the Games here in Victoria, but today obviously showed that wasn’t the case. …
“I would be very careful, if I were an international sporting body, coming and doing business in this state in the future.”
Observed: Phillips’ last remark is the most important, but not specific to Victoria. Any government which is looked to for funding for a mega-event is now suspect.
The Indonesian government threw away the FIFA men’s U-20 World Cup because Israel was going to play in it. Then it canceled the ANOC World Beach Games with a month to go, supposedly because of funding issues, but really over Israel again. IOC chief Bach went out of his way to note that Tuesday morning.
Indonesia had contracts with FIFA and the Association of National Olympic Committees for both. They meant nothing compared to the internal, pro-Palestine politics of the country, especially with national elections coming next February. FIFA doesn’t seem too upset, as it just awarded its men’s U-17 World Cup – returned by Peru – to Indonesia, to be held in November. Israel did not qualify for that event.
Now comes Australia, with a shining reputation for putting on glorious sporting events, including two Olympic Games and five Commonwealth Games. There was a contract, signed and sealed. And now, nothing.
This is hardly new; Denver returned the 1976 Olympic Winter Games to the IOC in 1973, and then Lake Placid was awarded the Winter Games for 1980. No harm done, right?
But these episodes underscore this reality: sports organizations, right up to the IOC and FIFA, are minnows compared to countries. FIFA is projecting a sensational $11 billion in revenue for the 2023-26 quadrennial; Indonesia’s budget for 2023-23 alone was $200.73 billion U.S.
And Indonesia is poor, ranking 112th in the world in per-capita Gross Domestic Product.
When you do business with a government, you are subject to its sovereign power, something no sports organization can cope with. That’s the lesson of Victoria’s withdrawal from the 2026 Commonwealth Games, and a lesson which needs to be learned by every international organization that brings its events – sports or otherwise – into a country, especially one which is providing financial support.
One more: Phillips said he thought Canada would host a 2030 Commonwealth Games – the first one was held there in 1930 – and New Zealand has interest for 2034. But the question must be raised now whether this event, nearing its centennial, is – in Bach’s words, “essential” or a “nice to have.”
Vingegaard’s time trial win nearly clinches Tour defense
Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard and 2020 and 2021 winner Tadej Pogacar had been neck-and-neck in the race for the 110th Tour de France title through the first two weeks and 15 stages.
Not any more.
Tuesday’s Individual Time Trial was a mean, 22.4 km ride from Passy to Combloux, with yet another uphill finish, this time an ascent from 556 m to 974 m in the final 6 km. Pogacar came into the stage with a deficit of 10 seconds, and a good record in prior time trials. He started next to last, with Vingegaard to follow.
Pogacar was quick out of the gate, posting the fastest first split at 7.1 km, 33 seconds ahead of everyone else, then 40 seconds up at 16.1 km and 45 seconds up at 18.1 km. But by this time, Vingegaard was already on the course.
And he was brilliant. The Dane was a staggering 49 seconds better than Pogacar by the 7.1 km checkpoint, 1:11 faster at 16.1 km, an unbelievable 1:50 faster at 18.1 and finished in 32:26.
Pogacar’s ride was 34:14, meaning he had lost 1:38 to Vingegaard in the time trial alone and was now 1:48 behind in the overall standings. Barring a crash or injury or both to Vingegaard, he will defend his title on the ride into Paris on Sunday.
Belgian Wout van Aert was third in 35:27, 2:51 behind the winner.
Vingegaard and Pogacar were the only ones in contention to win the race. After 16 stages, Britain’s Adam Yates – fourth in this race in 2016 – moved into third (+8:52), ahead of Carlos Rodriguez (ESP: +8:57) and Australia’s Jai Hindley (+11:15). American Sepp Kuss stands sixth, 12:56 behind the leader.
There is another climbing stage tomorrow, a 165.7 km route with four ascents, but a downhill finish into the ski-resort town of Courchevel and Pogacar will be on the attack. This is a dangerous stage, especially on the descents, but Pogacar may not care. Stage 18 is flat, stage 19 is hilly with a downhill finish and stage 20 on Saturday has four climbs and a last chance for Pogacar.
But Vingegaard – and everyone else – expected to ride into Paris on Sunday as the winner of his second Tour de France in a row.
Gardiner 400 m world lead; Alfred beats Richardson in Hungary
The always high-quality Istvan Gyulai Memorial meet in Szekesfehervar, Hungary was good again on Tuesday, with Bahamian star Steven Gardiner claiming the world lead in the men’s 400 m at 43.74.
The 2019 World Champion and Tokyo Olympic champ, Gardiner has been sidelined by injuries, but looked powerful all the way around to claim a clear win over in his second-fastest time ever, beating Rusheen McDonald (JAM: 44.03, no. 3 in 2023) and American Vernon Norwood (44.63). That makes Gardiner the clear favorite for the Worlds in Budapest next month.
The women’s 100 m saw NCAA star Julien Alfred (LCA), now a professional, explode out of the blocks and register a quality win over Sha’Carri Richardson of the U.S., 10.89 to 10.97 (wind: +0.9 m/s), with Americans Tamari Davis (11.02) and TeeTee Terry following (11.09). Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, who lost to Richardson in the 100 m in Chorzow (POL) last Friday, won the 200 m in 22.02 (+1.0) over Ireland’s Rhasidat Adeleke (22.36). Kayla White, Tamara Clark and Dezerea Bryant went 4-5-6 for the U.S. in 22.51-22.77-23.23.
The women’s 400 m hurdles saw Andrenette Knight of Jamaica move to no. 3 in the world in 2023 with a win in a lifetime best of 53.26, ahead of teammates Janieve Russell (53.72, no. 6) and Rushell Clayton (53.79, no. 7).
World Champion and world-record holder Tobi Amusan continued her hot streak in the women’s 100 m hurdles with a quality 12.35 win (-0.5), beating Nia Ali of the U.S. (12.41), Alaysha Johnson (12.50) and Tia Jones (12.51).
The men’s 110 m hurdles was a recovery win for U.S. champ Daniel Roberts of the U.S., who won in 13.12 (+0.5), with Tokyo Olympic champ Hansle Parchment (JAM: 13.14) second.
In the men’s sprints, Jamaica’s 2011 World Champion Yohan Blake won the 100 m in 10.04 (-0.1) and Alexander Ogando (DOM) scored a surprise win over Erriyon Knighton of the U.S., 19.99 to 20.05 (+1.1). This was Knighton’s first loss in a final in 2023 and the first time he did not run 19.95 or faster.
The men’s 800 m was a good win for Australia’s Peter Bol in 1:44.48, beating Gabriel Tual (FRA: 1:44.55) and Americans Clayton Murphy (1:45.53) and Isaiah Jewett (1:46.08). Kenya’s Nelly Chepchirchir broke away from teammate Brenda Chebet in the women’s 1,500 m, 4:00.18 to 4:01.25.
Greece’s Olympic long jump champ, Miltiadis Tentoglou came through on his final try to score an 8.29 m (27-2 1/2) to 8.24 m (27-0 1/2) victory over Jamaica’s 2019 World Champion Tajay Gayle. Americans Jarrion Lawson (7.97 m/26-1 3/4) and Will Williams (7.89 m/25-10 3/4) were 3-4.
A big throws program saw Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs of the U.S. go 1-2 in the shot at 22.51 m (73-10 1/4) and 22.06 (72-4 1/2), while Olympic champ Daniel Stahl (SWE) got a win in the discus at 68.98 m (226-4) with World Champion Kristjian Ceh (SLO: 67.60 m/221-9) third. Ukraine’s Mykhaylo Kokhan scored an upset win in the hammer over Poland’s Olympic champ Wojciech Nowicki, 79.37 m (260-4) to 77.89 m (255-6).
The European season is in full swing; next up is the Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Aquatics ● China continued its march through the diving competition at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, winning its eighth gold in eight tries, this time with a 44-point win in the re-formatted Team Event.
Yuming Bai, Jiuyuan Zheng, Yajie Si and Minjie Zhang combined to score 489.65, the third consecutive win for China in the Worlds Team Event, which had two divers in 2015-17-19-22, but now four, with a single 3 m diver, a 3 m synchro dive, a 10 m dive and 10 m synchro dive.
For Si, it was her fifth career Worlds gold, all in Platform events, and Bai won her second Team event gold (also in 2022); the others collected their first Worlds victories.
Mexico finished second (455.35) and Germany was third (432.15). The U.S. team of Krysta Palmer, Jack Ryan, Jessica Parratto and Jordan Rzepka was fifth at 421.40.
Germany’s Leonie Beck and Florian Wellbrock duplicated their wins from the 10 km open-water swims and won the 5 km races on Tuesday as well.
Beck had won a Worlds 5 km open-water bronze in 2019, and came from behind to overtake Rio 2016 Olympic 10 km winner Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED) in the final meters, winning by 59:31.7 to 59:32.7. Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha, the 2019 and 2022 Worlds winner in this race, was third in 59:33.9, charging up from seventh with a half-lap to go.
American Mariah Denigan, eighth at 10 km, finished 18th here, in 1:01:18.3.
Wellbrock, the defending men’s champion in this race, was in front from the start and had 3.7 seconds on Domenico Acerenza (ITA) at the halfway point, with Italian teammate Gregorio Paltrinieri coming on late to grab second, 53:58.0 to 54:02.5 to 54:04.2.
Now 25, Wellbrock owns six Worlds golds in his career, five in open water and the 2019 World title in the men’s 1,500 m Free. He and Beck could both win a third open-water gold in the team relay on Thursday.
American brothers Dylan Gravley and Brennan Gravley finished 17th and 28th in 56:48.5 and 57:20.0, respectively.
Spain won its second Artistic gold, taking the Team Technical gold at 281.6893, ahead of Italy (274.5155) and the U.S. (273.7396), with Anita Alvarez, Jaime Czarkowski, Megumi Field, Andrew Kwon, Jacklyn Luu, Daniela Ramirez, Ruby Remati and Natalia Vega.
The four-time defending champion U.S. women’s water polo squad moved to 2-0 in group play with a 9-5 win over Australia, keyed by a 3-1 third quarter. The U.S. will play China (0-2) in its final group match on the 20th.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● An on-the-water test of the Opening Ceremony parade on the Seine River in Paris was held on Monday, with 39 boats sailing the planned 6 km route, accompanied by an additional 18 vessels for operations, broadcasters and safety.
The test provided opportunities to try out scenarios for resolving boat trouble, engine problems and other things that could go wrong a year from now.
● Olympic Winter Games 2030 ● France has jumped into the 2030 race, with new National Olympic Committee President David Lappartient – also the head of the Union Cycliste Internationale – announcing that the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions will bid jointly.
Sweden and Switzerland are interested in bidding and are working on plans; prior bid interest from Sapporo (JPN) and Vancouver (CAN) has fizzled, while Salt Lake City prefers 2034. France last hosted the Winter Games in Albertville in 1992.
● Commonwealth Games 2026 ● With Victoria’s withdrawal, London (GBR) Mayor Sadiq Khan said his city was a possibility, but that the national government would have to be involved.
More excited is Perth (AUS) Mayor Basil Zempilas, who tweeted:
“Not often you get a second chance like this @CityofPerth
“Here’s how it should work – we tell the @thecgf how much we will pay.
“We tell them ‘here are our venues’ you make YOUR games fit around what we have.
“Perth is in the driver’s seat they need us.
“And a big chunk of what we do spend we spend on building the athletes villages – which the day after the games finish become social and affordable housing for 8000 West Australians.
“We get the event.
“At the right price.
“And social housing for 8000 by 2026.
“Let’s do it.”
● International Olympic Committee ● The Russian news agency TASS reported that the IOC Ethics Commission has cleared Russian member Yelena Isinbayeva:
“Like for the athletes, the situation of the IOC Members concerned has been assessed from the time of the invasion on 24 February 2022 and subsequently. The understanding of the IOC Ethics Commission is that during this period Ms. Isinbayeva has neither had contractual links with the Russian military or security agencies nor supported the invasion or the war in Ukraine.”
Isinbayeva, the world-record holder in the women’s vault, has been publicly seen in an army uniform, with the rank of major, but not recently.
● Doping ● The World Anti-Doping Agency published a report on doping issues in India, closing a four-year inquiry into inconsistent testing and monitoring of athletes there.
In 2022, of the 131 Indian athletes in their Registered Testing Pool, only 103 were tested at all, and by May 2023, the “Operation Carousel” reporting shows 97 “whereabouts” failures by 70 athletes. Combined with seven doping charges against powerlifters, five other doping positives, and whereabouts proceedings, more than a dozen sanctions are moving forward.
For our updated, 787-event International Sports Calendar (no. 3) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!