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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Bach explains stance on possible term extension: it’s personal
2. LA28 added-sports program to rely on pro-league outreach
3. LA28’s Wasserman speaks out for Ukraine and Israel at the IOC Session
4. Milan Cortina 2026 sliding events to be outside Italy
5. WADA says RUSADA still not compliant
● Asked directly about his view of the request of some International Olympic Committee colleagues that he serve a third term, President Thomas Bach of Germany explained that he will speak with the members concerned and announce any decision later. It’s a matter of personal respect, he said.
● The expansion of the LA28 sports program to 35 – the most in Olympic history – also brings opportunities to work with some of the biggest U.S. sports leagues, especially Major League Baseball and the National Football League. But with 742 athletes added, it was noted that some of the events could be played at sites outside of Los Angeles, or even California!
● LA28 Chair Casey Wasserman gave an impassioned address in support of Ukraine and Israel, unusual at a Session, and in contrast to the IOC’s non-committal comments on Israel as opposed to its full-throated support of Ukraine.
● The drama over the building of a new sliding track in Cortina d’Ampezzo for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games is over, with the government agreeing that an existing site outside of Italy needs to be used. A selection is expected by the end of the year.
● The World Anti-Doping Agency stated that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency is still not compliant, but that RUSADA has challenged its ruling and will go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to try and overturn it.
● Panorama: Asian Games (Asiad doping total up to 12) = Pan American Games (WADA withdraws non-compliant tag from PanAm Sports) = Russia (Viner says Russian athletes should not go to Paris with ROC suspended) = Athletics (Kenyan marathoner Ekiru given 10-year ban) = Boxing (Asian confederation votes to stay with IBA for now) = Cycling (new women’s hour record for Italy’s Bussi) = Sailing (USOPC inquiry found misconduct by ex-U.S. Sailing execs) ●
● Schedule: Due to a timing conflict, there will be no TSX post on Wednesday (18th), but back again on Thursday. ●
Bach explains stance on possible term extension: it’s personal
The news conference with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (GER) following the second day of the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai (IND) on Monday was primarily concerned with two topics: a possible third Bach term as requested by Algerian member Mustapha Berraf and three other speakers on Sunday, and cricket.
Bach was asked repeatedly about whether he will ask for, or agree to accept changes to the Olympic Charter that will allow him to serve beyond the end of his second term in 2025. To the opening question, he explained:
“Well, the situation was as follows: I had heard some rumors before that some members who wanted and want me to continue my mandate, but I did clearly not expect that this would come to the Session, that it would be brought up in the Session. Now, after yesterday, I had a number of conversations with a number of IOC colleagues and from this I can conclude that there were mainly two motivations for them, which are coming together.
“There are a number of these colleagues that think and feel that an election campaign, so early before the election would, or is, disrupting the preparations for the Olympic Games Paris, which are so important for the entire Olympic Movement and this is why they would like to avoid this, and then they all wanted to express their recognition for the work having been accomplished by the IOC in the last 10 years and they wanted to show their strong support for this.
“And as I said yesterday, I believe this is a human [thing], that I was really touched and I appreciate it very much this show of support and friendship for me. And for these reasons, it is a matter of mutual respect and personal relationship that you do not dismiss such a sign of support and of friendship out of hand.”
Bach was pressed about the appearance of a failure in good governance if he were to accept a third term, and specified how he will handle it:
“From what I have heard from these members is they are concerned about an early campaign at this moment, which would disrupt the preparations for the Games in Paris, and for the rest, you may understand that such an answer you don’t give out [to] offend and you don’t give out over the media.
“But this has to be discussed with the people concerned and then the media will be informed.”
And to a third question, he also threw some cold water on the plan, but did not reject the request outright, preferring a personal approach:
“Yesterday, I made it clear how loyal I am to the Olympic Charter, and having been a co-author of the Olympic Charter also speaks for the fact that I’m thinking term limits are making a lot of sense, and are necessary, and, again, at the same time it’s a matter of respect and mutual respect for these members that the answers are not given over the media, but in a direct context.”
So, it’s wait and see. Now that the request has been made, there will be jockeying to convince Bach to stay on or leave. What is even more unclear now, in a time of wars against Ukraine and Israel, is which IOC member makes the most sense to take over in 2025.
LA28 added-sports program to rely on pro-league outreach
One of the most interesting aspects of the presentation by LA28 of its now-approved proposal to add five more sports to its program – baseball-softball, cricket, flag football, lacrosse and squash – was the tie in each case to an existing International Federation or professional sports league.
Said LA28 Chair Casey Wasserman:
“We are excited to embark on game-changing collaborations with major professional leagues that will unlock massive opportunities to amplify the Olympic and Paralympic story and captivate new audiences.”
This is important, with each of the five sports having a significant professional league that plays in the U.S.:
● Major League Baseball (USA)
● Major League Cricket (USA)
● National Football League (USA)
● Premier Lacrosse League (USA)
● Professional Squash Association (GBR)
At the top of the list, of course, is the National Football League, with LA28 Sports Director Niccolo Campriani (ITA) telling the Session:
“Flag Football is the future, and the tip of the spear for American Football’s international growth, with approximately 20 million flexible players across over 100 countries with gender balance in participation.
“Lastly, the inclusion of flag football opens the door to a game-changing partnership with the NFL, the world’s largest professional league. NFL commitment in this journey is total – not a one-and-done – reflecting its long-term determination to collaborate with the International Federation of American Football and the Olympic Movement in the interest of sports worldwide.”
Expect to see a commercial relationship between the NFL and LA28, with flag football being showcased in tournaments prior to 2028 to ramp up interest in the sport both in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The same can be true for cricket, but most likely with the International Cricket Council, the worldwide governing body of the sport. The fledgling Major League Cricket has franchises in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and New York, but it’s worth noting that the ninth ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will be played in the West Indies (seven countries) and Dallas, Miami and New York in June 2024, with a U.S. team automatically included as a host country.
What is not clear is whether Major League Baseball players would participate in the 2028 Games. The World Baseball Classic is played during the spring training period, not during the regular MLB season, and while Commissioner Rob Manfred did not make any predictions on play availability, Wasserman told the Los Angeles Times, “We’ve had great conversations with MLB and the players union.”
The addition of all these sports and the approval of weightlifting and modern pentathlon (with boxing on hold) will surge the athlete total well beyond the Olympic Charter’s prescribed limit of 10,500. The IOC Program Commission’s report stated that 742 additional athletes can be expected, bringing the total to 11,242.
Where to put all these people? Is there room at the Olympic Village at UCLA?
There are some interesting ideas, and IOC Program Commission Chair Karl Stoss (AUT) explained:
“As a result of including a number of team sports, it was understood that approval of the package would be likely to take the athlete quota above the Olympic Charter specification of approximately 10,500. It was also highlighted that some of the sports, including team sports, may take place at existing and dedicated venues outside of Los Angeles and California.”
That opens many possibilities, some of which could be iconic.
Baseball games at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Fenway Park in Boston and Yankee Stadium in New York? Lacrosse at NCAA championship sites like Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium? Flag Football at AT&T Stadium in Dallas?
And the possibilities go further. There has been chatter that canoe slalom competitions could be moved from a temporary facility in Los Angeles to the world-class Riversports Rapids facility in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
And what about taking advantage of the world’s best waves for surfing, on the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii?
These are all possibilities, not to mention out-of-area matches for football preliminaries, as was done at the Los Angeles 1984 Games – at Stanford, California, Boston, Massachusetts and Annapolis, Maryland – and the possibility to “nationalize” the 2028 Games to a modest extent could be another game-changer for the Olympic Movement in the U.S.
What is sure is that the LA28 Games is now the largest in Olympic history with at least 35 sports and possibly a 36th if boxing is finally approved. Said Stoss:
“We have to start tomorrow to talk together with the IFs and also with the Olympic program in total how and in which way we could reduce in the different disciplines and to find here a good balance between the new sports – the five new ones – and the traditional ones we have to do.”
LA28’s Wasserman speaks out for Ukraine and Israel at the IOC Session
In a remarkable address to begin the LA28 Olympic organizing committee’s presentation at the IOC Session in Mumbai, Wasserman gave an impassioned address in support of Ukraine and Israel, well beyond what the IOC’s official statements have said:
“From the moment we started our Olympic journey, LA28 has made celebrating the diversity of our city and region a cornerstone of our mission. We look forward to welcoming, respecting and celebrating all athletes and people of the world when the Games come to Los Angeles in 2028.
“Los Angeles is also home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the United States. And many of our Jewish families escaped persecution from other parts of the world. My own family fled to America from what is now Ukraine due to the pogroms that eliminated most of the Jewish population. Had they not, I would not be standing here today.
“Now, nearly 100 years later, I am deeply concerned about the people of Ukraine. We must help them in their time of need. They face an unfathomable path without us.
“I’m proud to be Jewish, as is the former Mayor of Los Angeles, now the American ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, who is here with us today. There are no words that can fully capture the devastation and shock over the massacre in Israel on October 7th. The world is still reeling from the largest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust. There is no justification for this organization’s taking of hostages and the slaughter of innocent lives. I unequivocally stand in solidarity with Israel.
“But let me clear. I also stand with the innocent civilians in Gaza who did not choose this war.
“Unfortunately, the Olympics are not immune to the times we live in. At its worst, it is a platform for hate to express itself on the world stage, and we will always remember the 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team who were taken hostage and murdered in Munich. But at its best, it is an opportunity for sport to show the world a better path, with peace and unity. And we will always remember the triumph of Jesse Owens in 1936 in the face of unspeakable evil.
“So as stewards of this Movement, let us all be relentless and show what is possible when we understand each other and our differences, and embrace those challenges of the times with respect and dignity. The world has never needed the Olympic Games more to be a beacon of light and hope and let us all rise to the challenge together.
“That is exactly why we started this journey more than eight years ago and we knew our city’s history with the Games would be the perfect foundation. And it is our city’s history with the Games that also serves as our inspiration for the sports program we are here to discuss.”
After the lengthy presentation of about 40 minutes, the questions period opened with a comment from Pakistani IOC member Syed Shahid Ali:
“I just have one minor observation. So in my humble opinion, the initial presentation and the preamble, I thought the political content tended to overshadow the sports part, which is the main object of the presentation of the preparedness of the host country for the next Olympics.”
But sitting to Ali’s right was 1976 Olympic high hurdles champion Guy Drut of France, who responded in French with his own view (per the simultaneous interpretation):
“I just wanted to subscribe to all the words said that are being expressed by Casey. In 1972, as you may know, I was in Munich. They were my first Olympic Games, so I was there, in the Village. I experienced that day, the 5th of September, when we were closed in in the Village. [Former IOC member] Walter Troger was the Mayor of the Village at the time.
“So I actually experienced it first hand, these sad events which cost the lives of 11 of our Israeli friends, as Casey was saying; our brothers from Israel, I should say.
“But since then, in spite of terrorism, in spite of wars, in spite of geopolitical developments of all sorts, in spite of pandemics, the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games have always come out unvanquished in spite of these terrible events.
“And I do not doubt that in the future, Brisbane in 2032, Los Angeles in 2028, or next year in Paris 2024, that the whole world , but particularly the athletes, the Olympians, the Paralympians will maintain unforgettable memories in their minds and in their hearts of what they will experience at that time.”
Drut received applause from the room after his remarks.
Bach, at his news conference, was asked about the conflict and where he has been full-throated in support of Ukraine, stuck to his non-judgmental line on the attack on Israel:
“The IOC Executive Board members have, at the very beginning of our meeting here, already expressed their very strong feelings over this extremely tragic and regretful events in the recent days and expressed our sympathy with the innocent victims of this terrible violence.
“At this moment, we cannot see an effect yet on the participation in sport; you have of course the immediate reactions: some events which should have taken place in Israel had to be postponed, the athletes in Israel and Palestine are facing a war situation and there cannot, of course, continue their sports life as usual. But we don’t know how long this will take and which more long-term effects it may have.
“That’s beyond our knowledge and there we have to wait and keep monitoring.”
Milan Cortina 2026 sliding events to be outside Italy
“We were informed two days ago by the Italian government that we had to find another solution using already existing equipment.
“We will therefore study different options for organizing the events outside Italy.”
That statement from Milan Cortina 2026 Chair Giovanni Malago, also the head of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), confirmed that the rebuilding project of the famed Eugenio Monti track built for the 1956 Olympic Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo is dead.
The IOC had long moaned about the project, citing the cost and noting that alternate, existing facilities were available, for example at Innsbruck in Austria or St. Moritz in Switzerland, or Konigssee in Germany. Norwegian Kristin Kloster Aasen, the head of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for Milan Cortina 2026, told the Session, “we welcome this outcome.”
However, the new sliding track was being developed by the Veneto regional government as part of an amusement and sports center, but when requests were made for builders, none came forward. Malago took some pains during his presentation to the IOC Session in India that the responsibility for the provision of the track – or its movement elsewhere – is not with the organizing committee, but with the governmental infrastructure group for the Winter Games.
There will be costs to do bobsleigh, luge and skeleton competitions elsewhere, of course. At the Session, Karl Stoss, who among multiple offices is also the head of the Austrian Olympic Committee, was already lobbying to have the events in Innsbruck, and a selection is due by the end of the year.
The Milan Cortina 2026 organizers emphasized that its sponsorship program is gathering speed and that the overall budget for the event, targeted at €1.5 billion, is secure at €1.5 to 1.6 billion (about $1.58 to $1.69 billion U.S.) .
WADA says RUSADA still not compliant
The World Anti-Doping Agency issued an update on the situation with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, explaining that the agency is not even ready to be considered to be compliant:
“The non-compliance in this case was a result of a non-conformity relating to national legislation that was identified during a virtual audit in September 2022 and not addressed to date. …
“[S]ince the end of the two-year period of consequences imposed by CAS, WADA has been assessing and monitoring RUSADA to see whether it meets all the reinstatement conditions contained in the CAS decision. Until all the reinstatement conditions are met, RUSADA cannot be considered for reinstatement. In addition, RUSADA will not be eligible for reinstatement under the CAS Award until the non-conformity related to its national legislation (described above) is resolved.”
RUSADA, for its part, has challenged the WADA position and so the matter is headed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a hearing, meaning it will be more months before any decision is reached.
WADA noted that there are four non-compliant organizations at present, including the anti-doping organizations of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Gabon and Russia, as well as the International Fitness and Bodybuilding Federation.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Asian Games ● The International Testing Agency continues to post notices of new doping positives and provisional suspensions from the recently-concluded 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou (CHN). New announcements came Friday for boxer Chinzorig Baatarsukh (MGL) and kabbadi athlete Adil Hussain of Pakistan, bringing the total from the Games to 12 so far.
● Pan American Games ● The World Anti-Doping Agency has now ruled PanAm Sports to be compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, with modifications to its anti-doping program satisfying the current requirements. This is good news with the Pan American Games in Santiago (CHI) beginning on Friday!
● Russia ● The head of the All-Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation, Irina Viner, told he Russian news agency TASS that as the IOC has suspended the Russian Olympic Committee, Russian athletes should refuse participation at Paris 2024:
“I think that this was to be expected. As our president says, ‘if a fight is inevitable, you have to strike first.’ I think that we should be the first to refuse participation in the Olympic Games. We are being squeezed and humiliated so much that I don’t see a positive outcome here in which we can perform.”
● Athletics ● Another long suspension announced by the Athletics Integrity Unit, this time a 10-year ban of Kenyan marathoner Titus Ekiru, the sixth-fastest marathoner in history with his 2:02:57 win at the Milano Marathon in Italy in 2021. Well, not no. 6 any more:
“This sanction follows a comprehensive investigation which revealed Tampering by the 31-year-old to obstruct the AIU’s probe into two Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs), using “false/misleading information and documentation”. Ekiru tested positive twice for the Presence of Prohibited Substances, or their metabolites or markers, in his in-competition urine samples at marathons which he won in 2021: the Generali Milano Marathon on 16 May 2021 (triamcinolone acetonide) and the Abu Dhabi Marathon on 26 November 2021 (pethidine and its marker norpethidine).
“In addition to the ban – which runs from 28 June 2022 (the date of Ekiru’s provisional suspension) until 27 June 2032 – Ekiru’s results on and since 16 May 2021 have been disqualified, resulting in the forfeiture of all prizes and money. Ekiru’s victory in the Generali Milano Marathon would have made him the sixth-fastest marathoner of all time.”
The investigation showed that, in collusion with a physician, medical-care documents were back-dated or forged, so Ekiru received a four-year ban for tampering, an additional two years for aggravating circumstances and another four years for a second tampering violation.
Ekiru’s best marathon time reverts to 2:04:46 from the 2019 Milano Marathon.
● Boxing ● The Asian Boxing Confederation voted to remain within the International Boxing Association until a new Olympic boxing federation is named by the IOC. The vote showed 31 of the 35 attending national federations present at the ASBC Congress in Thailand were in favor.
The IOC has been clear that the IBA will not be involved in Olympic boxing since it was de-recognized last June, but no new federation for boxing has yet been approved.
● Cycling ● A new record for the women’s hour in track cycling, with Italy’s Vittoria Bussi covering 50.267 km (31.23 miles) at the Velodromo Bicentenario in Aguascalientes, Mexico on Friday (13th).
That shattered the mark of 49.254 km by Dutch star Ellen van Dijk in 2022 in Grenchen (SUI). Bussi had previously held the hour record from 2018-21, set at the same track, at 48.007 km.
● Sailing ● The U.S. Sailing Association (USSA) made public the 16 October summary report prepared by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee on retaliation accusations against athletes for raising issues about the governing body. In brief:
“Specifically, the USOPC found multiple instances of attempted retaliation or actual retaliation by members of USSA against athletes for raising concerns regarding staff and the Olympic Operations program and against an Athlete Representative based on their perception that the Athlete Representative was responsible for the former Executive Director of US Olympic Sailing’s departure.
“The USOPC also found that the USSA members retaliated in some instances based on their lack of understanding of the role of athlete voice and due to the absence of a formal process to collect and document concerns that fall outside USSA’s Grievance procedures, which hindered USSA’s ability to sufficiently protect the Athlete Representatives.
“Finally, the USOPC did not find evidence to support allegations that the Olympic Operations staff favored some athletes over others based on the athletes’ preferred method of training. Instead, the USOPC found that there was a lack of clarity surrounding the allocation of athlete resources, in the absence of which some athletes perceived the Olympic Operations staff as weaponizing the resource allocation process to favor certain athletes.”
The specific issues arose during the period from September 2022 to March 2023 and the USOPC inquiry included interviews of 29 individuals, including 11 athletes and 10 USSA staff members. There were findings against two individuals now departed from the USSA, but also a finding that the USSA was not “in violation of any of its obligations under the Ted Stevens Act or the USOPC’s Bylaws and related policies.”
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!