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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. BRICS declaration barely mentions sport; six to be added
2. RFEF head Rubiales to resign; FIFA opens inquiry
3. U.S. figure skaters ask to observe Valieva hearing
4. USA Gymnastics unveils “cat” mascot; name voting open
5. World Boxing doubles in size with new additions
● The BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) Summit in South Africa produced no diatribe against the International Olympic Committee or the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, but the five-member group said it would expand for 2024 and had additional applications pending, which could impact the Olympic Movement in the future, perhaps as soon as 2025.
● Luis Rubiales, head of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, is set to resign at a special federation assembly in view of his “unacceptable” conduct in the aftermath of Spain’s 1-0 win over England in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final in Australia. FIFA announced its own disciplinary inquiry to Rubiales’ conduct, and could suspend him.
● The U.S. Figure Skating Team from the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games sent a letter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, asking to have an observer at the September hearing of the Kamila Valieva doping appeal. If possible, the skaters asked that the same courtesy be offered to the Japanese and Canadian teams. None of these federations are a party in the case.
● USA Gymnastics unveiled its mascot, a friendly cat, on Thursday, and is asking fans to send in names, with the winning moniker to be announced at the conclusion of the Artistic Nationals on Sunday.
● World Boxing announced six more members, bringing the total to 12, with more applications already being reviewed. All have left the International Boxing Association, which was de-recognized by the International Olympic Committee in June.
● World Championships: Gymnastics (Varfololeev, 16, sweeps Rhythmic apparatus titles!) = Shooting (40-something Cernogoraz and Lin Yi win Trap golds) ●
● Panorama: Brisbane 2032 (renovation of The Gabba said not necessary, A$1.5 billion adjacent private development project announced) = Equestrian (multiple candidates for 2026 Worlds, in pieces) = Wrestling (UWW suspends Indian federation) ●
● Special coverage of the World Athletics Championships is being posted daily;
for Thursday, click here ●
BRICS declaration barely mentions sport; six to be added
In the post-Soviet world, declarations of regional political organizations usually don’t get much attention on sports sites, but many eyes in the Olympic Movement were on the XV BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa that concluded on Thursday.
The 94-paragraph Johannesburg II Declaration did not mention the Paris 2024 Olympic Games or the International Olympic Committee at all, and mentioned sport way at the back:
“84. We welcome the establishment of a Joint Working Group on Sports to develop a BRICS Sport Cooperation Framework, during South Africa’s Chairship in 2023. We look forward to the successful holding of the BRICS Games in October 2023 in South Africa. We commit to provide the necessary support for BRICS countries to participate in international sport competitions and meetings held in their own country in compliance with relevant rules.
“85. We emphasize that all BRICS countries have rich traditional sport culture and agree to support each other in the promotion of traditional and indigenous sports among BRICS countries and around the world. We encourage our sport organizations to carry out various exchange activities both online and offline.”
The 2023 BRICS Games in South Africa has never been mentioned by Russia (or anyone else) and Russia will become the BRICS Chair for 2024 and is planning a BRICS Games from 12-23 June – ending a month prior to the Paris 2024 opening. The Russian plan is to hold the 2024 BRICS Games in Kazan, which will also be the host of the XVI BRICS Summit, that will include six new members.
The “BRIC” group – Brazil, Russia, India, China – held its first group summit in 2009 and added South Africa (“BRICS”) in 2010, but has now decided to expand again:
“90. We appreciate the considerable interest shown by countries of the global South in membership of BRICS. True to the BRICS Spirit and commitment to inclusive multilateralism, BRICS countries reached consensus on the guiding principles,
standards, criteria and procedures of the BRICS expansion process.
“91. We have decided to invite the Argentine Republic, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to become full members of BRICS from 1 January 2024.
“92. We have also tasked our Foreign Ministers to further develop the BRICS partner country model and a list of prospective partner countries and report by the next Summit.”
There is additional interest in the group from others, including Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Palestine, Senegal, Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam. Another 16 have shown some interest.
Observed: These developments are, of course, well beyond the realm of sport, but could impact international sport in the future. The BRICS group is hardly cohesive, with China and India often in conflict and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine not supported, but also not commented on.
One more example: Russian President Vladimir Putin attended only by videoconference, as he is subject to an arrest warrant for countries who have affiliated with the International Criminal Court, as South Africa has. The South Africans would have been obliged to arrest him if he attended in person.
But as the BRICS group expands, keep an eye out for political moves within sport, and alliances which could be formed to influence future events, such as the 2025 election of a new head of the International Olympic Committee.
For now, the Paris 2024 Games appear safe, but international tensions could mount ahead of the 2028 Los Angeles Games, just as they did for the 1984 Games, where a reciprocal boycott after the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games kept 15 countries away. That action was widely considered a failure vis-a-vis the success and legacy of the Los Angeles Games, but required IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch to work overtime to get everyone (well, almost everyone) to attend the Seoul Games in 1988.
The next IOC President could be selected on the membership’s view of who will be most capable of doing so again, a qualification far from questions of climate change, gender equity and sustainability so dear to current chief Thomas Bach of Germany.
RFEF head Rubiales to resign; FIFA opens inquiry
Amid reports in Spain that Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF: Royal Spanish Football Federation) President Luis Rubiales will resign at the federation’s emergency general assembly on Friday in view of his actions at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final in Sydney (AUS), FIFA has opened its own inquest:
“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee informed Luis Rubiales, President of the Spanish Football Association, today that it is opening disciplinary proceedings against him based on the events that occurred during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ on 20 August 2023.
“The events may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.”
Those sections include:
“13. Offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play
“1. Associations and clubs, as well as their players, officials and any other member and/or person carrying out a function on their behalf, must respect the Laws of the Game, as well as the FIFA Statutes and FIFA’s regulations, directives, guidelines, circulars and decisions, and comply with the principles of fair play, loyalty and integrity.
“2. For example, anyone who acts in any of the following ways may be subject to disciplinary measures:
“a) violating the basic rules of decent conduct;
“b) insulting a natural or legal person in any way, especially by using offensive gestures, signs or language;
“c) using a sports event for demonstrations of a non-sporting nature;
“d) behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute;
“e) actively altering the age of players shown on the identity cards they produce at competitions that are subject to age limits.”
Rubiales was reported to made one or more inappropriate gestures at the end of Spain’s 1-0 win over England and then – infamously – planted an uninvited kiss on midfielder Jenni Hermoso during the medal presentation ceremony.
He apologized in a video posted later on Sunday, but Spain’s Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called his actions “unacceptable” and the apology as “not sufficient.” Rubiales, 46, was a defender in his playing days, and was elected in 2018, with his current term to expire in 2024.
U.S. figure skaters ask to observe Valieva hearing
USA Today’s Christine Brennan posted a letter from the members of the 2022 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team, asking to be allowed to have an observer physically present at the 26-29 September hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport for the Kamila Valieva case.
The one-page, four-paragraph letter to Court of Arbitration for Sport Director General Mathieu Reeb (SUI) includes:
● “We come before you with one simple request: to be granted a seat for one of our representatives to observe the upcoming hearing regarding Ms. Valieva’s anti-doping rule violation … We make our request seeking much-needed transparency that we have been largely denied throughout this arduous process.”
● “We are not the only ones affected – the Japanese and Canadian teams have also been unfairly enmeshed in this turmoil and we ask CAS consider granting a member of each team observer status as well.”
● “We are incredibly disappointed that have 500 days have passed since our Olympic triumph, and yet we still have not received our medals. But in no way to we intend to influence the outcome of this hearing, nor do we intend to be a distraction. Nothing can turn back the clocks on this saga, but being permitted to observe the hearing would be a small step towards achieving transparency that we skaters and the entire world deserve.”
The nine members of the U.S. squad are signatories.
Brennan’s analysis, posted on Twitter:
“A brilliant move by U.S. Figure Skating and the U.S. silver-medal-winning 2022 Olympic team to ask for a seat in the Kamila Valieva hearing next month in Switzerland. If CAS denies the request, it looks terrible and secretive, like it’s hiding something.”
The Russian news agency TASS asked Klever Consult sports practice lead attorney Anna Antseliovich (RUS), who said of the request:
“By and large, they have nothing to do there. Observers have no right to make statements, speak and present arguments and evidence. Moreover, their appearance at the meeting, even if they are just silently present, can be regarded as pressure on the arbitrators.
“Please note that CAS does not even disclose their [arbitrator] names in order to avoid this pressure. And here the faces of the representatives of the party obviously interested in the outcome of the case will be visibly looming. It is unlikely that the arbitrators will agree that someone who is really interested only in the outcome of the case, and not in the process, should observe the proceedings.”
The case is complex, actually an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency, International Skating Union and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) against the independent appeal board of RUSADA, which found Valieva had committed an anti-doping infraction with the presence of the banned substance trimetazidine in her 25 December 2021 sample, but sanctioned her with just a one-day penalty, allowing her to compete at the 2022 Winter Games.
USA Gymnastics unveils “cat” mascot; name voting open
As promised, USA Gymnastics unveiled its mascot on Thursday as its national championships in Artistic Gymnastics opened in San Jose, California. The announcement noted the process:
“On March 21, a USAG social post asked ‘Out of all animals in the kingdom, which one do you think would make the best gymnast and why?’ The post solicited a wide range of feedback, from goat to squirrel to lemur.”
The strongest response was for a cat, so often able to stick its landing, no matter the situation, and the project progressed:
“USA Gymnastics then developed multiple artistic renderings and engaged in market testing with fans, athletes, parents, and coaches to choose the final design. Featuring grey fur with white accents; red, white and blue hair; and wearing a red USA Gymnastics t-shirt and blue shorts, the cat is ready to welcome fans to gymnastics – and perform some skills itself.”
The mascot, which will debut in 2024, is not yet named, but will be very soon:
“Fans around the country are invited to submit name suggestions for the mascot online through 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, August 26. The mascot name will be revealed at SAP Center and via social media Sunday after competition concludes at the Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.”
World Boxing doubles in size with new additions
“The National Federations for boxing in Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Honduras and Sweden have completed the process to become members of World Boxing, the new international federation that has been established to keep boxing at the heart of the Olympic Movement.
“The addition of these six countries means World Boxing now has 12 members spread across four continents.”
Thursday’s announcement was no surprise, but a continuation of the process of federations moving away from the International Boxing Association – now unrecognized by the International Olympic Committee – and to a new organization which has a chance to become the IOC’s recognized federation for Olympic boxing.
More federations are expected to join shortly, with many pointing to the need to be a part of the World Boxing group at its first, organizing congress in November. Switzerland is another national federation which has separated from the IBA; it has not yet been announced as a World Boxing member.
Secretary General, Simon Toulson (GBR) noted, “We are receiving more and more interest and requests from National Federations and boxing organisations to join World Boxing on a weekly basis and currently have a number of applications from those wanting to join or going through the membership application process.”
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Gymnastics ● Germany’s 16-year-old Darja Varfolomeev completed a sweep of the four apparatus titles at the FIG Rhythmic World Championships in Valencia, Spain, a feat not achieved since 2011, when Russian Yevgeniya Kanayeva did the same, and also won the All-Around title.
Varfolomeev scored 34.350 on Clubs to edge Boryana Kaleyn (BUL: 33.550) and Ukraine’s Viktoriia Onopriienko (also 33.550). The German star and Kaleyn were also 1-2 on Ribbon, 33.350 to 31.850. Ekaterina Vedeneeva of Slovenia won the bronze – for the second straight year – with 31.100.
Kaleyn won her first individual Worlds medals with the two silvers.
No Americans made any of the apparatus finals. The Group All-Around will be held on Friday and the Individual All-Around on Saturday. Competition finishes with group events on Sunday.
● Shooting ● Trap finals were held Thursday at the ISSF World Championships in Baku (AZE), with London 2012 gold medalist Giovanni Cernogoraz (CRO) – now 40 – taking his first Worlds victory, 44-41, over Marian Kovacocy (SVK). Kuwait’s Khaled Almudhaf finished third (31), ahead of Will Hinton of the U.S. (27).
The women’s Trap win went to Chun Lin Yi of Chinese Taipei, 42, who won a Double Trap Worlds gold way back in 2002. She collected her second career world title with a 40-39 final over London 2012 Olympic champ Jessica Rossi of Italy.
In the non-Olympic 25 m Center-Fire Pistol, German Christian Reitz – the Rio 2016 Rapid-Fire Pistol winner – with, scoring 584 points, the same as Peeter Olesk (EST), but decided on criteria. The women’s center-fire pistol final was an Azerbaijan 1-2, with Nigar Nasirova and Narmina Samadova both scoring 554, but Nasirova winning on criteria.
Competitions continue through the end of the month.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 2032: Brisbane ● The current focus of controversy in the early days of the organization of Brisbane 2032 is the renovation and expansion project surrounding the famed Brisbane Cricket Ground, known as “The Gabba.”
The project, which would include an expansion of the area into an entertainment district, with new transit landings and a state-of-the-art sports arena, is now estimated at A$2.7 billion (~$1.73 billion U.S.), a project of the Australian and Queensland governments.
On Monday, Australian Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll told the Federal Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee that the project was not required by the International Olympic Committee, and that the IOC preferred that such projects not be built to be used for the Games.
In fact, the IOC’s review of the Brisbane bid suggested that the athletics and ceremonies could be held at the Carrara Stadium just outside of Gold Coast, which was expanded with temporary stands to seat 40,000 for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Gabba project issues are primarily cost, with legislators asking what the actual, final cost will be.
However, the project is also of interest to private developers, with the Belmonde Property Group and Sub Luxe Group proposing a massive, adjacent development. According to the Tuesday announcement:
“A $1.5 billion, four-tower proposal in Brisbane, designed by architects Cottee Parker, has been submitted to Brisbane City Council for assessment.
“The application proposes to transform a 9,361-square-metre site at 79 Logan Road in Woolloongabba into a tourism hub in time for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.
“Dubbed the Gabba Heart Precinct, the project includes plans to construct four towers ranging from 36 to 41 storeys, with three of the towers used to house more than 1,387 build-to-rent apartments and the fourth accommodating a hotel with 230 rooms and serviced apartments. The towers will rise above three podiums, providing a range of retail and food establishments. The application also proposes an upgrade to the adjacent Jurgens Park to create a community gathering point with art installations and improved amenities.”
● Equestrian ● In the aftermath of the cost-heavy World Equestrian Games, the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) decided to go to a de-centralized World Championships model beginning in 2022, splitting its events between locations willing to host them.
Bidders for the 2026 World Championships were unveiled on Thursday, with Aarchen (GER) – site of the 2006 World Equestrian Games – offering to stage six of the disciplines on offer: Jumping, Dressage, Para Dressage, Eventing, Driving Four-in-Hand and Vaulting.
Two sites – Boekelo (NED) and Burghley (GBR) – offered to host Eventing, and two others – Al Ula (KSA) and Samorin (SVK) – are bidding for Endurance, which was not part of the Aarchen offer.
After a review by an evaluation team, the FEI Board will allocate the events at its meeting on 18 November 2026.
● Wrestling ● United World Wrestling announced the provisional suspension of the Wrestling Federation of India for its continued failure – among other things – to hold elections as required:
“The UWW Disciplinary Chamber decided on Wednesday that it had sufficient grounds to impose the provisional suspension on the body as the situation in the federation has prevailed for at least six months. The Chamber noted that the absence of a regularly elected president and a board does not comply with the UWW regulations and the conditions for membership.
“The Chamber also considered the protection of athletes after the [abuse] allegations against the former President of the WFI and the necessity to restore the functioning of the federation as another ground to impose the provisional suspension.”
Indian athletes can continue to compete, but must do so under the UWW flag.
This is another problem for Indian sport, with the International Olympic Committee’s 141st Session coming to Mumbai in October. The Indian Olympic Committee had hoped to showcase the country as a candidate for the 2036 Olympic Games, but this newest suspension will not help.
For our updated, 787-event International Sports Calendar (no. 3) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!