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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Want to compete at the World University Games? It’s $2,595 + air!
2. Sponsor GE Appliances adds $100,000 for Canadian women’s team
3. Russian gymnasts losing interest due to competition ban
4. New Canadian hosting option for 2030 Commonwealth Games?
5. UEFA to refund all Liverpool tickets from Champions League final
With USA Swimming declining to field an American team for the 2023 World University Games in Chengdu (CHN), the U.S. International University Sports Federation has opened the door to any eligible U.S. swimmer (age 17-25, in college or a year after) to apply, but with a cost of $2,595 plus airfare! Canada Soccer sponsor GE Appliances donated C$100,000 to be used for the Canadian Women’s National Team to help in its labor dispute with the federation; it hopes other sponsors will follow. The head of the Russian artistic gymnastics team says motivation is becoming difficult for its athletes, with little or no prospect of being able to compete internationally, including at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. With Hamilton, Ontario unable to get provincial support for funding a centennial Commonwealth Games in 2030, a possible bid from Alberta for Calgary and Edmonton is to be explored. UEFA announced that all Liverpool supporters who attended the almost-catastrophic 2022 Champions League Final will have their ticket purchase costs refunded.
● Panorama: Athletics (3: More than 3,000 get Six Star Medal at Tokyo Marathon; Omanyala’s 9.81 discarded; World Athletics finds women undercovered at Eugene Worlds) = Baseball (Netherlands and Panama win World Baseball Classic openers) = Football (2: Brazil wants Women’s World Cup ‘27; Relevent wins appeal on FIFA-USSF collusion case) = Shooting (Rhode wins two at ISSF World Cup) ●
Want to compete at the World University Games?
It’s $2,595 + air!
Most American teams at international sporting events, such as the Olympic Games or Pan American Games or individual-sport World Cups, are selected and supported by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee or individual-sport National Governing Bodies.
But occasionally, they’re not. At least in swimming, the World University Games is one of those, taking place this year in Chengdu (CHN) after being postponed from 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
SwimSwam.com shared a flyer from BTI Events, LLC, inviting student-athletes – at least 17 years of age and no older than 25 years of age on December 31, 2023 and either enrolled in college or within a year of graduation – to “compete for the USA!”
Without USOPC or U.S. National Governing Body support, the athletes (or friends and family) are responsible for the cost of competing:
● $2,595 for seven days in the athlete village
● “USA team apparel” included, but apparently not uniforms
● Marching in the Opening or Closing ceremonies
● Meals and ground transport included
● Cost of air travel to Chengdu is additional
● Chinese visa fees are additional (if any)
The U.S. member of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) is the U.S.-International University Sports Federation (US-IUSF), which has handed off the team logistics for the World University Games to BTI Events. While the USOPC used to support the WUG, it was dropped many years ago.
There are 18 sports in the WUG in 2023; USA Swimming is not supporting a team for this event, so it’s open to any eligible athlete who can pay for it. Team sports have usually been filled by individual university teams, but individual sports appear to be open. The U.S. men’s basketball team in Chengdu will be provided by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), with the women’s team coming from the University of Louisville.
Sponsor GE Appliances adds $100,000 for Canadian women’s team
The continuing drama of the sixth-ranked Canadian women’s national football team and the national federation over labor issues has led to an added C$100,000 (~$72,452 U.S.) donation from sponsor GE Appliances Canada.
Bob Park, the GE Appliances Canada chief brand officer, told The Canadian Press:
“I think this dispute between Canada Soccer and the women’s national team had gone on for a fair amount of time. We really wanted to get involved, really to be a positive force in soccer.
“We’re really in soccer for one big reason, and we want to be known as a true corporate supporter of the game in Canada. In order to do that, we want to align with a partner, in this case Canada Soccer, and we expect that our brand values are shared and they exhibit those values in their actions.
“Of late, that’s been a little bit more of a challenge, so we wanted to offer up some solutions. … [It’s] really to encourage other sponsors or potential sponsors or current sponsors to come forward and pitch in as well.”
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that while an interim agreement was announced last week, it’s only a first step as far as the women’s team is concerned:
“The women say while they have told Canada Soccer they will play in the April FIFA window, their participation is contingent on ‘meaningful progress being made with respect to a number of bargaining issues.’”
Russian gymnasts losing interest due to competition ban
The head coach of the Russian gymnastics program, Valentina Rodionenko, said that the international competition ban on Russian athletes is impacting athlete motivation. She told the Russian news agency TASS:
“I say right away: the lack of international starts has a big impact. You see, there is no incentive, so it’s difficult for them and us to make them work. It’s very difficult, purely psychological.”
Speaking specifically of Tokyo Olympic men’s Team gold medalists Nikita Nagornyy and Artur Dalaloyan:
“It’s very difficult to get these guys to work during suspension, because they understand that the Olympics in 2024 may be the last in their sporting life. This attitude, when you understand that you’re not getting into Paris, that’s it.
“Every day we receive reports that many countries are protesting. They are asking not to allow Russia, there is not only a political issue, there is a question of competition.”
Russian athletes won four medals in men’s Artistic Gymnastics in Tokyo (1-1-2) and four in the women’s division (1-1-2); both won the Team gold and bronzes in the Individual All-Around (Nagornyy and Angelina Melnikova). China also won eight total medals, and the U.S. won six.
New Canadian hosting option for 2030 Commonwealth Games?
The inaugural edition of the British Empire Games was held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 1930, but an effort to bring the 2030 Commonwealth Games back there imploded due to a lack of provincial funding support.
Now, a centennial Commonwealth Games may still be held in Canada, as reports indicate that a bid from Alberta – Calgary and Edmonton – is in the works.
A 2030 Hamilton event was projected to cost about C$1 billion; the Province of Alberta is willing to explore the possibilities of a bid for 2030 with two experienced cities. Calgary was the site of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games and Edmonton hosted the 1978 Commonwealth Games and the 2001 World Athletics Championships.
Canada has hosted the Commonwealth Games four times: first in Hamilton in 1930, when Vancouver in 1954, Edmonton in 1978 and Victoria, B.C. in 1994. Since then, England and Australia have hosted twice, as well as Malaysia, Scotland and India, with a third Australian-hosted Games coming in Victoria in 2026.
The Interim Evaluation Report on the quite successful 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham (ENG) prepared by professional services firm KPMG and published in January noted that £654.1 million ($774.8 million U.S.) in public money was spent on the effort, but showed a significant return:
“In net terms, taking account of expenditure and resultant economic activity which would have been incurred anyway had the Games events not taken place in the West Midlands, this equates to a net [gross value added economic] impact of:
“– at least £200.9 million of net GVA in Birmingham [$238.0 million U.S.];
“– approximately £396.9 million of net GVA in the West Midlands (including Birmingham) [$470.2 million U.S.];
“– approximately £764.7 million of net GVA to the UK economy (including the West Midlands and Birmingham) [$905.8 million U.S.].”
UEFA to refund all Liverpool tickets from Champions League final
Liverpool supporters who bought tickets for the disastrous 2022 UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France in the Paris area that was plagued by security woes and nearly became a deadly trap for spectators on one side of the stadium will have their purchases refunded.
UEFA announced Tuesday:
“Refunds will be available to all fans with tickets for gates A, B, C, X, Y and Z where the most difficult circumstances were reported. In addition, all fans who according to the access control data did not enter the stadium before 21:00 CEST (the originally scheduled kick-off time), or who were not able to enter the stadium at all, will be eligible for a refund. Finally, UEFA will offer refunds to all fans who purchased accessibility tickets along with those of their accompanying persons.
“Given these criteria, the special refund scheme covers all of the Liverpool FC ticket allocation for the Final, i.e. 19,618 tickets. Due to the nature of the original ticket sales process, whereby Liverpool fans purchased tickets from Liverpool FC and not directly from UEFA, UEFA has requested that the club implements the refunds to ensure personal data protection and for ease of process. The club has kindly confirmed that it will implement the special refund scheme. Accordingly, UEFA will reimburse Liverpool FC the total value of these tickets and the club will then process the refunds to its supporters.”
The statement also noted that Real Madrid ticket buyers and non-affiliated purchasers can also apply for refunds directly through UEFA. Said UEFA General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis (GRE):
“We have taken into account a huge number of views expressed both publicly and privately and we believe we have devised a scheme that is comprehensive and fair. We value the input from the Liverpool FC supporter organisations Spirit of Shankly (SoS) and Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association (LDSA) as well as the open and transparent dialogue throughout this period. We recognise the negative experiences of those supporters on the day and with this scheme we will refund fans who had bought tickets and who were the most affected by the difficulties in accessing the stadium.”
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Athletics ● The World Marathon Majors program has a special designation for individual runners who complete all six of the races – Tokyo, Boston, London, Chicago, Berlin and New York – called the “Six Star Medal.”
A stunning total of 3,033 runners earned their medal at the Tokyo Marathon, the most ever in a single race. Some 40 finishers completed a second tour of all six races; five did it for a third time and one for a fourth time!
The Tokyo race had been especially elusive due to coronavirus restriction on entry to the country. The cumulative total of Six Star Medal winners is now over 11,000.
Something was wrong with the world-leading men’s 100 m mark of 9.81 from 2022 Commonwealth Games champ Ferdinand Omanyala (KEN) in Nairobi on 25 February.
The mark, as well as the breakthrough 9.94 runner-up time for Samuel Imeta, was supposedly into a headwind of 4.8 m/s, highly unlikely and pointing to timing or wind measurement issues for the race. Omanyala was not concerned:
“The season has just started and what matters for me is that I am at peak fitness. In all this, I believe God is saying something, which is that the world record is just around the corner. I can smell it and it will be sooner rather than later before I set it.”
World Athletics announced the results of a survey by digital agency Redtorch about the balance of reporting on men vs. women in athletics coverage from the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon. In short:
“[T]he agency explored the differences in representation of female and male athletes in online news across English-speaking countries including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, Kenya, South Africa, the United Kingdom and United States.
“Results showed a 42% female/58% male split in overall search returns when the spotlight was on specific athletes. However, when looking through the lens of individual disciplines, more significant differences were recorded: the biggest being a 32% female/68% male split among throwers.”
The review of search-engine returns of media reports showed a 59-41% split for men over women’s reports in running events, 56-44% for men over women in jumping events, 68-32 in throws, but 53-47 for women over men in road race reporting.
Moreover, the review of social media audiences showed women with a 56-44% edge. The federation added:
“Among World Athletics’ pledges for International Women’s Day in 2023 is to promote more, better, and fairer coverage of the sport’s female athletes by conducting and/or commissioning research across the entire media landscape, including a third online abuse study at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 , which will track abuse directed at male and female athletes on social media in order to better protect female athletes and take action against those who target athletes online.
“World Athletics will also continue to commission articles, features and other content throughout the year highlighting the ground-breaking women in our sport. This will include developing a podcast series to tell stories of pioneering women and the challenges they face, including protection of female sport, motherhood, mental health, and safeguarding.”
● Baseball ● The World Baseball Classic opened in Taichung (TPE) on Wednesday with the Netherlands defeating Cuba, 4-2, in the opener, thanks to a three-run sixth inning and a single from catcher Chadwick Tromp that scored second baseman Jonathan Schoop and right fielder Josh Palacios.
A full house of 15,540 at Taichung International Stadium saw the nightcap, with Panama pounding host Chinese Taipei, 15-4. The Panamanians scored five in the fourth and sixth in the sixth inning Second baseman Jonathan Arauz got three hits and two runs batted in and shortstop Ruben Tejada, right fielder Luis Castillo and first baseman Jahdiel Santamaria all had two hits and two RBIs.
Pool B begins on Thursday in Tokyo, with Australia facing South Korea and host Japan playing China.
● Football ● The Brazilian sports ministry announced Wednesday that the government, in concert with the national football federation, is preparing a bid for the 2027 Women’s World Cup.
Other known bids are expected from a consortium of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands and also from South Africa. The U.S. has indicated interest in 2027, but more likely for 2031.
A potentially important lawsuit against FIFA and U.S. Soccer for restraint of trade in putting on foreign league matches on U.S. soil can go to trial.
New York-based Relevent Sports Group sued both FIFA and the U.S. federation for not allowing it to host an Ecuadorian Liga Pro match between Barcelona and Guayaquil in Miami in 2018. A District Court opinion in 2021 had disallowed the suit, but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the finding, allowing the matter to proceed. The opinion noted that FIFA’s policy – announced in 2018 – that national league matches may not be played outside of the league’s home country, could be the result of collusion between it and U.S. Soccer:
“Relevent plausibly alleges that the 2018 Policy reflects a contractual commitment of head-to-head competitors to restrict competition.”
Relevent had tried to promote a LaLiga match between Barcelona F.C. and Girona FC. in Miami in 2018, but U.S. Soccer would not provide a sanction for the match.
● Shooting ● Great start for the U.S. at the ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Doha (QAT), with two wins and two silver medals in the first three events!
Ageless wonder and six-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode, now 43, triumphed in the women’s Skeet final, winning a shoot-off with fellow American Sam Simonton, 6-5, after a 38-38 tie. It’s Rhode’s 23rd World Cup gold and her second this year; her first was in 1996!
Two-time Olympic Skeet champ Vincent Hancock won silver in the men’s Skeet final, falling to Italy’s Rio 2016 gold medalist, Gabriele Rossetti, 39-38.
Then, Hancock and Rhode teamed up to win the Skeet Mixed Team title, 6-0, over France. The Americans each hit 12 targets without a miss!
Competition now turns to Trap and will continue through Sunday.
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