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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Biles carries U.S. women to record-setting Worlds Team gold
2. FIFA awards 2030 World Cup to six countries!
3. FIFA starts 2034 World Cup bids, OKs UEFA’s Russia proposal
4. UEFA signals hosts for Euro 2028 and Euro 2032
5. Sapporo’s 2030 Winter Games bid may re-emerge
● The U.S. women won their seventh straight FIG Artistic World Championships Team gold in Antwerp, Belgium, led by Simone Biles, who won her fifth Team gold and extended her record for the most medals won at a Worlds to 26.
● The FIFA Council surprised with an early announcement that it will offer one candidate to the FIFA Congress for the 2030 FIFA World Cup, the Spain-Portugal-Morocco bid, but with three games to be played in South America to celebrate the centennial of the event, which debuted in Uruguay in 1930.
● The FIFA Council also opened the bidding for 2034, with Saudi Arabia now a big favorite to be awarded the tournament as bids will only be accepted from Asia or Oceania and the Saudis already being back from the Asian confederation. The Council also endorsed UEFA’s decision to allow Russian U-17 teams back into competitions without flags or anthems.
● UEFA accepted a joint bid from Italy and Turkey for the men’s 2032 European Championships, meaning that the British-Irish bid to host the 2028 Euro in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland, will be unopposed.
● Sapporo’s pro-Winter Olympics mayor announced a new plan for a 2030 Olympic Winter Games candidature, after the bid had been suspended with fading public support due to expanding costs and the Tokyo 2020 post-Games corruption scandals. The new bid concept is being studied and could be formalized by the end of the month.
● Panorama: Boxing (African elections and Mandela Boxing Cup postponed) = Cycling (Cavendish returning for Tour de France record try) = Shooting (veteran stars dominate first U.S. Olympic Trials stage) = Volleyball (men’s Olympic qualifying continuing in Rio, Tokyo and Xi’an) ●
Biles carries U.S. women to record-setting Worlds Team gold
She was and is the world’s greatest gymnast and American icon Simone Biles led her U.S. team to a seventh straight World Team title on Wednesday at the FIG Artistic World Championships in Antwerp (BEL).
This was no cakewalk, however. The U.S. lost a key player before the event got started as Joscelyn Roberson, 17, suffered a left leg injury during Vault warm-ups and could not compete. So, the 2021 Worlds All-Around runner-up, Leanne Wong, was brought in and contested three of the four events. Round-by round:
● Rotation 1: China scored 43.032 on the Uneven Bars to lead all teams, with the U.S. second, scoring 42.966 on Vault. Wong led off at 14.066, followed by Shilese Jones at 14.100 – second-highest in the event – and then Biles with a 14.800, the second-best score of the day to Brazil’s defending World All-Around champ Rebeca Andrade (14.900). The American total was the best on the day.
● Rotation 2: The U.S. took the lead, scoring 43.265 on the Uneven Bars, while China fell to 41.732 on Beam. Jones was outstanding, scoring 14.633, with Skye Blakely scoring 14.166 and Biles drumming up a 14.466. The U.S. total turned out to be the best of the day, ahead of China (43.032).
● Rotation 3: Things got interesting for the U.S. when Wong fell during her Beam routine; she finished at 11.700 and opened the door for others. But Jones contained the damage with a 13.600 and Biles finished at 14.300 – second-best on the day – to total 39.600 and hold a tight 125.831 to 124.063 edge on China.
● Rotation 4: Now China suffered, with three modest scores on Vault, totaling just 39.099 for the event, finishing eighth. The U.S. was on Floor, with Wong solid at 13.166, Jones better at 13.566 and Biles clinching the gold with the best score of the day at 15.166 for a 41.898 total, second-best to Brazil (42.166).
The total showed the U.S. with a 167.729 to 165.530 win over Brazil, which had a strong finish on Vault, with France passing China for third, 164.064 to 163.162..
This was the seventh straight women’s team title for the Americans, extending their own record of six from last year. Romania won five in a row from 1994-2001, but now Biles herself owns five Worlds Team golds herself.
With the win, the U.S. women have 15 total medals in this event (9-4-2), tying Romania for the most ever (15: 7-5-3) and passing the USSR (14: 11-3-0).
Biles sets new records with every medal she wins, and she took her 26th Worlds medal in this event (20-3-3); the next best is Vitaly Scherbo (URS-CIS-BLR: 1991-96) with 23 total. The amazing Biles has her next competition on Friday with the women’s All-Around and then apparatus finals on Saturday and Sunday.
The men’s All-Around is up on Thursday.
FIFA awards 2030 World Cup to six countries!
In a dramatic gesture, the FIFA Council cleared the way for the tri-country bid from Spain, Portugal and Morocco to be selected as the host for the 2030 FIFA World Cup, but with games also played in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay:
“In 2030, the FIFA World Cup will unite three continents and six countries, inviting the entire world to join in the celebration of the beautiful game, the Centenary and the FIFA World Cup itself. The FIFA Council unanimously agreed that the sole candidacy will be the combined bid of Morocco, Portugal, and Spain, which will host the event in 2030 and qualify automatically from the existing slot allocation subject to the completion of a successful bidding process conducted by FIFA and a decision by the FIFA Congress in 2024.
“Additionally, having taken into account the historical context of the first-ever FIFA World Cup, the FIFA Council further unanimously agreed to host a unique centenary celebration ceremony in Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, where the first ever FIFA World Cup took place in 1930, as well as three World Cup matches in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay respectively.”
The selection of match hosts in six countries resolved the question of the South American claim to hosting in the centennial year of the FIFA World Cup, and brought the tournament back to Europe, which last hosted in 2018 (Russia). It will be the first World Cup in western Europe since Germany in 2006, the second-ever in Africa after South Africa in 2010 and the second in an Arab country in eight years.
All of this is easier now that the tournament has been enormously expanded – beginning in 2026 – to 48 entries and 104 matches. Said FIFA President Gianni Infantino (SUI) of the opening matches in South America:
“The first of these three matches will of course be played at the stadium where it all began, in Montevideo’s mythical Estádio Centenário, precisely to celebrate the centenary edition of the FIFA World Cup.”
Said Alejandro Dominguez (PAR), President of the South American confederation CONMEBOL:
“It’s a historic event and CONMEBOL is happy. We’re honoring the memory of those who came before us and today we’re at the level. We appreciate again the confidence that FIFA and our colleagues showed for a historic event and date.
“The good thing is that in having three countries, three hosts, we’re talking about almost no other investment more than what already exists. And that’s very good news because we all know that in that context, unfortunately we’re not able to compete if this had been a question of investment or money demands.
“If this had been a competition where our governments had to commit the funds which today countries commit to be hosts, I think it would have been an irresponsible proposal from us. And I think we wouldn’t have been able to either because we know that there are other countries who have much better economic conditions and fewer priorities than our nations. So I think this is a super responsible and very viable proposal.”
All six teams which will host matches will be automatically qualified for the tournament. The formal award of the 2030 FIFA World Cup will come in 2024 at the FIFA Congress.
FIFA starts 2034 World Cup bids, OKs UEFA’s Russia proposal
The FIFA Council was busy on Wednesday, also starting controversies about the 2034 FIFA World Cup and about Russian participation.
The FIFA decisions also included the start-up of the 2034 World Cup contest, with noteworthy constraints:
“It was also agreed that in line with the principle of confederation rotation and of securing the best possible hosting conditions for the tournaments, the bidding processes for both the 2030 and 2034 editions be conducted concurrently, with FIFA member associations from the territories of the [Asian Football Confederation] and the [Oceania Football Confederation] invited to bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2034.”
This potentially gives the tournament to Saudi Arabia, which has declared its candidacy for 2034 and which has the Asian confederation’s support, according to a Tuesday statement by AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa (BRN):
“I am delighted to note that the [Saudi Arabian Football Federation] have presented their intention to bid for the FIFA World Cup in 2034.
“The entire Asian football family will stand united in support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s momentous initiative, and we are committed to working closely with the global football family to ensure its success.”
If Saudi Arabia is indeed the Asian candidate for 2034, it will be a walkover winner to host the World Cup, as Australia is now part of the Asian confederation as well. The only possible host from the Oceania confederation would be New Zealand, where the reception for the 2023 Women’s World Cup was not as ravenous as in Australia.
The Saudis have invested heavily in football as a vehicle for widening its profile outside of the energy sector, and has already been selected to host the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup.
The Football Supporters Europe fan group posted this message:
“FIFA continues its cycle of destruction against the greatest tournament on earth. Horrendous for supporters, disregards the environment and rolls the red carpet out to a host for 2034 with an appalling human rights record. It’s the end of the World Cup as we know it.”
The FIFA Council also lifted the suspension of Russian U-17 teams:
“Following the decision of the UEFA Executive Committee on 26 September 2023 to once again allow the participation of Russian representative youth teams at U-17 girls and boys level, the FIFA Council approved an extension of this decision to the FIFA U-17 World Cup and FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup for which UEFA’s competitions serve as a qualification pathway, thus lifting the suspension on teams from Russia taking part in these tournaments.
“This is conditional on these teams playing under the name of the ‘Football Union of Russia’ rather than ‘Russia,’ in the absence of their national flag, their national anthem, their national-team kit and equipment, and instead playing in neutral colours.”
Interestingly, the Russian news agency TASS posted a story Wednesday which included:
“Russian national teams will not be allowed to participate in tournaments under the auspices of the International Football Federation (FIFA) until the end of a special military operation in Ukraine. This was reported by the FIFA press service.”
The FIFA Council decision was noted to apply only to the U-17 teams and not to any others.
The next FIFA U-17 World Cups that Russian teams could participate in are the November 2024 tournament for girls in the Dominican Republic and the 2025 boys U-17 World Cup, as yet unassigned.
The UEFA decision was met with immediate criticism, with the national federations of Denmark, England, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden and Ukraine stating they will not play against Russian teams. Further, Sweden said it will not allow a Russian team to compete at the 2024 girls U-17 European Championship next May.
UEFA signals hosts for Euro 2028 and Euro 2032
The hosts for the UEFA European Championship for 2028 and 2032 became clear on Wednesday, with UEFA issuing a statement that it has accepted a joint bid from Italy and Turkey for 2032.
Turkey withdrew its stand-alone bid for 2028, leaving the five-federation bid from England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales for 2028. The formal selection will come at the UEFA Executive Committee meeting on 10 October, in Nyon (SUI).
Multi-country hosting is nothing new for UEFA, which held its Euro 2020 tournament – played in 2021 due to the pandemic – in 11 countries. England hosted the tournament in 1996 and had matches in 2021, as did Scotland. Italy hosted the 1968 and 1980 Euros; this will be the first time for Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Turkey.
Germany will host in 2024; the tournament has been expanded to 24 teams from 55 member associations.
Sapporo’s 2030 Winter Games bid may re-emerge
After imploding under the strain of expanding costs and the blowback from the continuing post-Tokyo 2020 organizing committee scandals last December, Sapporo’s bid for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games may be resurrected.
A Tuesday story by Japanese state broadcaster NHK said that a new bid plan has been formulated and is being reviewed, with an eye to preventing the corruption issues which came out following the Tokyo Games about sponsorship bribes and the rigging of bids.
The Japanese ad giant Dentsu was the Tokyo 2020 sponsorship marketing engine and the new plans call for less concentration of authority in any one outside firm, and more organizing committee oversight is recommended.
The pro-bid Sapporo Mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto – re-elected in April for a third term – has asked for governance changes to include better gender equality, and better checks on operations to avoid the Tokyo 2020 corruption issues.
Sapporo was once seen as the front-runner for 2030, and is well-known to the International Olympic Committee’s Future Hosts Commission, but the situation it previously knew has changed considerably. Salt Lake City is focused on 2034 and serious bid development for 2030 is underway in Sweden, Switzerland and in a two-region confederation in France. No decision on a 2030 host is expected until 2024.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Olympic Committee, a necessary partner for the bid, has not yet agreed to support any new plan. JOC President Yasuhiro Yamashita said last June that “Under the current circumstances, 2030 will be quite hard,” with polling well under 50% approval for the bid. Newer polls are better, but hardly convincing.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Boxing ● The International Boxing Association announced that the Mandela African Boxing Cup, scheduled to be held in Durban (RSA) from 9-14 October, was postponed to 2024. This is all about politics, per the IBA statement:
“The event received wide support from more than 235 boxers representing 34 nations that were registered to participate.
“The joint decision of IBA, AFBC and the South African Boxing Organization was taken following the postponed African Boxing Confederation Congress, initially slated to coincide with the boxing tournament. Due to the present circumstances, the postponement is motivated by the difficulty most delegates have faced in obtaining visas, and the haste observed in the organization of this event which ultimately led to the postponement.
“IBA Secretary General and CEO, Chris Roberts claimed that ‘In adherence to the high standards of organization we strive to maintain, the parties have unanimously agreed that it is in the best interest of all participants to postpone the competition. Our vision is for the Mandela African Boxing Cup to be a landmark event in the boxing community, and as such, we believe it warrants the extra time to ensure its success. Furthermore, considering the pivotal nature of the AFBC Congress, particularly with its Presidential elections, it is imperative that we give it the due prominence.’”
Thirty of the 50 African federations have protested the candidate clearances made by the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit Nominations Panel; also on Wednesday, the AFBC announced the postponement of elections:
“[I]n this case the postponement is motivated by the difficulty most delegates have in obtaining visas and the uproar caused by the disputed publication of the list of definitively selected candidates.
“The Board of Directors, meeting on September 30, 2023, therefore decided to postpone the Extraordinary Congress scheduled for October 13, 2023 in Durban, South Africa, to a date to be communicated to you in due course.”
● Cycling ● British sprint star Marc Cavendish, 38, announced his retirement earlier this year, ending his career as the 2011 World Road Champion, and with 34 stage wins at the Tour de France, tied with Belgian legend Eddy Merckx (1969-75) for the most ever.
Now, Cavendish is coming back to try for the record in 2024, saying on Wednesday:
“I was looking forward to not having to get up and train in any weather condition and not be away from home; spend time with the kids.
“Ultimately, I’d miss racing. I love racing. But I was happy, I was in a happy place, and I knew I could go out on top. Obviously, it wasn’t the finish I hoped for, crashing at the Tour de France.
“I spoke to the kids and I said, ‘What should dad do?’ They said, ‘Carry on.’ It was an odd question. So, here we are – just one more year, eh?”
He has signed with the Astana Qazaqstan team for one more season. Cavendish has an impressive total of 54 stage wins between the three Grand Tours, with 17 at the Giro d’Italia and three in the Vuelta a Espana.
● Shooting ● The first stage of the U.S. Olympic Trials concluded on Tuesday at Ft. Moore in Georgia, with veteran stars dominating the results:
● Men/10 m Air Pistol: Tokyo Olympian James Hall, fourth at the U.S. nationals, leads his fellow Tokyo squad-mates Jay Shi and Nick Mowrer (also the 2023 national champ), 574-572-571.
● Men/25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol: Tokyo Olympian and 2023 national champ Henry Leverett had the best second two-round score of 1,161 and won the final, 28-25, over fellow Tokyo Olympian (and 2023 nationals runner-up) Keith Sanderson, who led the two-round shooting at 1,162.
● Men/10 m Air Rifle: Ivan Roe, the 2022 U.S. nationals bronze medalist, piled up a significant lead, scoring 631.8 across six rounds to lead 2023 national champ Brandon Muske (628.6) and Tim Sherry (627.1).
● Men/50 m Rifle-3 Positions: The 2023 U.S. Nationals runner-up in this event, Roe was again the leader at 1,178 for the two rounds and won the final at 457.0. Second was Mowrer at 452.5 after tying for fourth in the two-round scoring (1,169).
● Women/10 m Air Pistol: National bronze medalist Katelyn Abeln won the final at 241.4 over nationals fourth-placer Ada Korkkin and Tokyo Olympian Alexis Lagan (218.1), with Lagan piling up the best two-day score of 1,147.
● Women/25 m Sport Pistol: 2023 Nationals runner-up Lagan won the six-round event with a total of 582, ahead of nationals fourth-placer Lisa Emmert Traciak (579) and 2023 national champ Abeln (579).
● Women/10 m Air Rifle: Olympic Mixed Team silver winner Mary Tucker won a tight final from 2023 national champ (and Tokyo Olympian) Sagen Maddalena, 252.3 to 251.7, after Maddalena led the two-day total at 1,260.9, with Tucker close at 1,259.1. Rio 2016 gold medalist Ginny Thrasher was fourth in the final at 207.4.
● Women/50 m Rifle-3 Positions: U.S. nationals runner-up Maddalena posted the top score across six rounds of 586, attended closely by Gabriela Zych (584) and 2023 nationals bronze winner Molly McGhin (583). Tucker was fourth (582) and Thrasher fifth at 581.
The next stage is for the Pistol events, to be held in Colorado Springs on 5-7 December. The second stage of the Rifle trials comes from 11-13 December, also in Colorado Springs.
● Volleyball ● The FIVB men’s Olympic Qualification Tournaments are ongoing in Brazil (Rio), China (Xi’an) and Japan (Tokyo), with the top two teams in each advancing to Paris.
This is a round-robin tournament, with eight teams per site, and will conclude on Sunday. So far:
In Rio, Germany leads at 4-0, with Cuba at 3-1, World Champion Italy at 3-1 and Brazil at 2-1 the remaining contenders.
In Tokyo, the U.S. is 4-0 and has cruised past Egypt (3-0), Finland (3-0), Turkey (3-1) and Tunisia (3-0). Slovenia is also 4-0 and two face off on Friday. Serbia and Japan are both 3-1.
In Xi’an, the 2014-18 World Champions, Poland, lead the standings at 4-0, chased by Canada (3-1) and Argentina (3-1).
For our updated, 787-event International Sports Calendar (no. 3) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!