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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. USOPC review commission loses Dane and Daniels
2. IOC warns ANOC on Indonesia’s World Beach ban on Israel
3. TASS says IOC will review Russian IOC members
4. Roy Jones Jr. asks IOC to retain IBA on Thursday
5. World-record holder Milak out of swimming Worlds
BULLETIN: The International Olympic Committee voted 69-1 (with 10 abstentions) Thursday to withdraw its recognition of the International Boxing Association, believed to be the first such action ever by the IOC against an International Federation. This means there is no IOC-designated federation for boxing; for the time being, this is of no concern, since the IOC is itself managing the qualifying process for Paris 2024, ran the boxing tournament for Tokyo 2020, and can do so again next year.
Two members of the Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics, ex-Olympic sailor John Dane and Purdue University head Mitch Daniels, resigned due to time conflicts. The remaining 14 members still constitute a quorum and a hearing is scheduled for 6 September in Washington, D.C. The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board reviewed the continuing refusal of the Bali government in Indonesia to allow Israeli participants in the upcoming ANOC World Beach Games and expressed concern; the IOC suspended the Indonesian National Olympic Committee over the same issue way back in 1963! IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters that the same rules as to neutrality that apply to Russian athletes per the IOC’s recommendations of 28 March also apply to the IOC’s Russian members. The Russian news agency TASS said that this means an examination of the activities of the two Russian members and two honorary members would be undertaken. Boxing champion Roy Jones Jr., a tireless supporter of International Boxing Association President Umar Kremlev of Russia, sent an open letter to IOC members asking for them not to expel the IBA from the Olympic Movement at Thursday’s special, 140th IOC Session, using the same arguments the federation has been advancing for months. Hungarian swimming star Kristof Milak said he will not compete in July’s World Aquatics Championships, citing bad workouts and his need for a rest. We have seen this before.
● Panorama: Football (3: U.S. names 23-player FIFA Women’s World Cup roster; worries over no Women’s World Cup deal in Japan; good Univision ratings for CONCACAF Nations League) = Skiing (Swiss-Ski indicates interest in new FIS Games mega-event) ●
USOPC review commission loses Dane and Daniels
Two of the 16 originally-appointed members of the Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics have resigned, confirmed Wednesday by Commission co-Chair Dionne Koller, a University of Baltimore School of Law Professor:
“Both Mitch Daniels and John Dane resigned from the Commission due to scheduling conflicts. You may recall that there were significant delays in Congress funding and the federal government standing up our commission, so that we were not able to begin operations until nearly two years after some members had been appointed. This presented scheduling difficulties for Gov. Daniels and Mr. Dane. …
“The Commission has no power to appoint replacements. We do remain fully in compliance with our statutory charge, including quorum requirements. I am not aware of Congress taking steps to replace either Commissioner before our Sept. 30 deadline. Again, as you know, we have repeatedly asked Congress to extend our deadline due to the delays in funding and operationalization, which Congress has not acted on.
“Our public hearing will be in Washington D.C. Sept. 6. More details will follow once they are finalized.”
The Commission was created by the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020, signed into law on 30 October 2020 by President Donald Trump. However, as Koller notes, funding did not come until late 2022 and the start-up efforts have been dogged by delays, primarily from the Congress itself.
Dane, a U.S. Olympic sailor who competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in the Star class, was appointed in January 2021 by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi). Daniels, the former two-term Governor of Indiana and the current Purdue University President, was named in December 2020 by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon).
There are 14 remaining members; the quorum requirement is 11. The Commission’s task is to review the post-Nassar case reforms of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee; participation levels of American athletes, including the disabled, women and minorities; finances and marketing, and the performance of the National Governing Bodies, among other areas.
At least one public hearing is required, and yes, “The Commission may subpoena an individual the testimony of whom may be relevant to the purpose of the Commission.”
IOC warns ANOC on Indonesia’s World Beach ban on Israel
Indonesia’s long-standing anti-Israel policy may cost it another multi-national sporting event this year, and possibly have even more consequences.
Already in 2022, FIFA removed the men’s U-20 World Cup from Indonesia on 29 March, and awarded it days later to Argentina, in view of the refusal of the Bali Governor Wayan Koster to allow Israel – which eventually won the tournament’s bronze medal – to play there. And, FIFA noted that “Potential sanctions against the PSSI [Indonesia’s football federation] may also be decided at a later stage.”
Koster has continued to maintain this stance against any Israeli participation in the upcoming World Beach Games, a property of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), scheduled for 5-12 August in Bali. ANOC has said it expects all qualified athletes and nations to participate, noting the political posturing moves of such rhetoric ahead of national elections in Indonesia in 2024.
At Wednesday’s International Olympic Committee news conference following the second day of its Executive Board meeting, Director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC Relations James MacLeod (GBR) explained that the issue was discussed in Lausanne:
“The World Beach Games are the property of ANOC and the recommendation was that ANOC should look at this situation very closely. …
“Whenever an issue like this happens, whether it be in Indonesia, or any other country, that is restricting access to all athletes, advisories do go to the International Federations to tell them to be very careful in allocation of events.
“As you know, for the Olympic Games, there is a principle of ensuring all athletes can be able to participate in those Games unfettered by access [restrictions] to the Games.”
For Indonesia and the IOC, there are echoes from the past here. In 1962, the IV Asian Games were held in the national capital, Jakarta, and both Israel and the Republic of China (Taiwan) were not allowed to participate. Israel was excluded due to the still-in-effect national policy favoring Palestinians, and the Indonesians favored Communist China over Taiwan, so visas were not issued to any team members.
In response, the IOC suspended the Indonesian National Olympic Committee, which responded by holding its own Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO) in 1963! Indonesia was re-admitted by the IOC in June 1964, but was told that no athletes who had participated in the GANEFO would be allowed to compete in Tokyo. On the day prior to the Tokyo opening, Indonesia withdrew in protest and skipped the 1964 Games.
Chatter about whether Koster will maintain his stance is increasing; entries for the World Beach Games will be finalized in early July and, at that point, decisions will have to be made.
If Indonesia continues to refuse to allow Israel to compete, ANOC will have to decide whether to cancel, postpone or find someplace to move it on really short notice. The IOC, whose institutional memory unquestionably includes the 1962-64 incidents, could decide to penalize the Indonesian NOC, keeping it out of the Paris 2024 Games, or perhaps assigning its qualifiers to the Refugee Olympic Team.
TASS says IOC will review Russian IOC members
As the International Olympic Committee has distributed its recommendations on the status of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competition, it has been criticized for not applying the same qualification standards to its own members from Russia: former tennis player Shamil Tarpishchev (75, elected in 1994) and women’s vault world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva (41, elected as an athlete rep from 2016-24).
According to the Russian news agency TASS, that’s changing. IOC spokesman Mark Adams (GBR), responding on Wednesday to a Tuesday question about the Russian members, read a statement:
“In order to avoid having different standards between the athletes, the national officials and the IOC members in Russia, the same conditions to participate in the IOC [and in] international events apply. The IOC Ethics Commission has noted that two of the conditions mentioned in the IOC Executive Board’s recommendations apply to the IOC members: one is the active support of the war, and two, is the contractual situation vis-a-vis Russian military or national security agencies.
“The situation of the IOC members concerned shall be assessed at the time of the event of the invasion on the 24th of February 2022, and since then. Considering the last point, the past contractual situation of athletes at a time before the beginning of the war shall not be taken into consideration.”
He then added, “Those are the guidelines that are applied to IOC members, and honorary members and all necessary work has been carried out to the satisfaction of the Ethics Commission.”
So, is the check on the current and former Russian IOC members already complete, or in the future? TASS reported:
“Mark Adams said that the IOC Ethics Committee would be holding inspections in regard to current and honorary members of the IOC from Russia, which besides Isinbayeva and Tarpishchev also includes four-time Olympic swimming champion Alexander Popov [honorary member].”
Isinbayeva is well known for her involvement with the Russian military, although whether she is involved now is not completely clear. Her Wikipedia biography notes:
“In the Russian club competitions she represents the railroad military team; she is formally an officer in the Russian army, and on 4 August 2005 she was given the military rank of senior lieutenant before being promoted to captain in August 2008.”
A 6 March 2022 story in The Times (London) – after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began – indicated that she was still contracted to the Russian Army. She is due to participate in the IOC’s remote Session on Thursday to consider the expulsion of the International Boxing Association, headed by Russian Umar Kremlev.
Roy Jones Jr. asks IOC to retain IBA on Thursday
Continuing his unwavering support of International Boxing Association President Kremlev, Seoul Olympic silver medal winner and multi-time professional boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. – a dual American-Russian citizen – circulated an open letter on Wednesday to International Olympic Committee members, asking them not to expel the IBA during the specially-called 140th IOC Session on Thursday.
His message included the familiar themes he has expressed before:
● “The IBA has made significant contributions to the development and growth of boxing worldwide over the past couple of years, and I would like to reiterate my previous message to the IOC. The IBA and boxing are intrinsically linked, and removing the IBA’s recognition by the IOC would effectively exclude the entire sport of boxing.”
● “Despite the criticism the IBA has faced, it is hard to believe that their visible progress has gone completely unnoticed. This attempt to demean boxing appears to be a poorly orchestrated political game with no ultimate winner.”
● “The management of the LA2028 boxing event is uncertain if the IBA is excluded. Without the integrity that the IBA has established through officials’ integrity checks, we cannot ensure fair and transparent competitions at the Olympics. This was evident in the IBA World Championships, which were held at the highest level, awarding gold medals on the podium and providing impressive prize money for the athletes’ families. Such provisions are not present at the Olympics.”
● “[T]he suspicious bouts in Rio 2016 highlight the dead-end that arises from non-transparent politics orchestrated by IOC member and IOC EB representative CK Wu. I firmly believe that achieving clean and transparent boxing in the Olympics is impossible without the involvement of the IBA.”
● “There is no doubt that the Olympics holds great importance for boxers. However, the IOC should support the development of international federations instead of severing their funding and opportunities based on biased opinions. Political involvement should have no place in sports. The IOC’s recommendation lacks democratic principles, and the actions of the IOC executive board lack transparency. I implore IOC members not to support the recommendation to withdraw the IBA’s recognition.”
There is little chance that the IOC membership will believe any of this, in view of the IOC staff report which came to completely opposite opinions on every point. But Jones Jr. also closed with a prediction that indicates that even if expelled from the Olympic Movement, Kremlev has no intention of going away:
“The IBA will continue to forge ahead regardless of the circumstances, hosting events and supporting and uniting boxers and national federations. I firmly believe that boxing has a bright future ahead, free from political interference.”
The 140th IOC Session video is on YouTube from 6 a.m. Eastern time (noon in Lausanne) on Thursday.
World-record holder Milak out of swimming Worlds
Hungary’s Kristof Milak, 23, is the world leader in the men’s 200 m Butterfly (1:52.58) and equal-third in the 100 m Butterfly (50.80), both from the national championships in mid-April, two months ago.
Now, he’s “hit rock bottom” and will not compete in July’s World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka (JPN). What?
Let’s be clear, Milak is a star. He won the Tokyo silver behind American Caeleb Dressel in the men’s 100 m Fly, 49.45-49.68 – with Dressel setting the world record – and won gold in the 200 m Fly in 1:51.25. He won the 2022 World Championship golds in both event, winning the 100 m Fly in 50.34 and the 200 m Fly in a world record of 1:50.34.
Now, Milak is out of the Fukuoka Worlds and his statement via the Hungarian Swimming Federation included:
“I’m not on the level either physically or mentally to race against the worlds’ best swimmers.
“I’m still trying to find a satisfying answer why this had to happen – still, I know myself well enough to be aware that I’m not even close to my top shape, those 100% which is required to reach the top and I’m not the one who would be [satisfied] with anything less.
“Now I’ve hit rock-bottom, but I have to emphasize that this does not come with any worries from my side. I’ve accepted this, and I honestly hope that everyone else can also do that. To see that any athlete can face a period like this in his career, when you need to step back, recharge the batteries in order to be ready for the next challenges.
“While I’m still available for any administrative and other obligations top athletes may have, now I’m facing a new task – to devote this summer to quality and well-thought relaxation. This way I can restart my training and the competitions with a lot more energy, with a much better approach, so I can reach the level I’ve used to have. …
“Don’t be afraid – I’ll be back soon!”
Wow. While Milak had the idea to expand his events to include the 100 and 200 m Freestyles – he ranks 25th worldwide from his 48.40 and 1:46.68 wins in April at the Hungarian nationals – and while that didn’t happen, not many predicted he would just drop out.
Observed: Two things come to mind immediately. The first is the echo of Dressel’s decision to leave the pool because he needed a break. At the 2022 Worlds, Dressel won the 50 m Fly and led off the winning men’s 4×100 m Free, and posted the no. 2 qualifying time in the 100 m Free, and then left, citing health issues. He is just now returning to fitness and is expected to try for the 2023 U.S. team for the Worlds at the USA Swimming nationals next week. Shakespeare was right in Henry IV: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
Second is the out-sized importance of the Olympic Games compared to everything else. The World Championships will have most of the same entries as will Paris 2024, but that’s the Olympics and Fukuoka is not. So Milak is taking his rest now, not in an Olympic year.
Query whether Milak would withdraw if it were Paris in front of him vs. the World Aquatics Championships, which will come again in 2025 in Singapore and 2027, back once again in Budapest.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Football ● The U.S. Soccer Federation announced the 23 members of its FIFA Women’s World Cup team, including nine veterans and 14 newcomers.
There are nine members of the champion 2019 squad back: keeper Alyssa Naeher, defenders Crystal Dunn and Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett, midfielders Julie Ertz, Lindsay Horan and Rose Lavelle and forwards Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe.
Morgan, O’Hara and Rapinoe will appear in their fourth Women’s World Cup, and Ertz and Naeher made their third. The newcomers include keepers Casey Murphy and Aubrey Kingsbury; defenders Alana Cook, Emily Fox, Naomi Girma and Sofia Huerta; midfielders Savannah DeMelo, Kristie Mewis, Ashley Sanchez and Andi Sullivan, and strikers Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith, Alyssa Thompson and Lynn Williams.
The roster did not include scoring ace Mallory Swanson, almost unstoppable in the early-season games, but sidelined after a left patella tendon break – that required surgery – during the 8 April friendly with Ireland. Her expected recovery will take at least six months. Injuries also sidelined other U.S. stars such as Sam Mewis, Tierna Davidson and others.
The U.S.’s first match will be on 22 July against Vietnam. A send-off match against Wales will be played on 9 July in San Jose, California.
In Japan, no rights fee deal for the FIFA Women’s World Cup has been struck, the last major market still in limbo, with national team coach Futoshi Ikeda worried about the impact of having their team blacked out at home:
“For women’s soccer to develop in the future in Japan, it’s important we have many people watching and supporting us.
“I think it’s important that the tournament is broadcast and I really hope everyone will be able to watch. Whether it will be broadcasted or not we don’t know yet, but it is important to show it on television and I really hope everyone can watch it.”
The tournament opens on 20 July; if no deal is struck, the matches would be available via FIFA’s online application, but without commentary in Japanese.
The semifinal and final rounds of the men’s CONCACAF Nations League drew respectable audiences on U.S. television:
● 15 June: 927,000 on Univision for CAN-PAN
● 15 June: 2.286 million on Univision for MEX-USA
● 18 June: 1.293 million on Univision for PAN-MEX (3rd)
● 18 June: 1.818 million on Univision for CAN-USA (1st)
The English-language coverage of these games was only on the Paramount+ streaming service. No doubt there were plenty of English-speaking fans who found the Univision channel number in their cable guides.
● Skiing ● Switzerland is the first country to raise its hand to show interest in the massive new FIS Games concept for 2028, that will encompass 10 disciplines (including Para) over 16 days and more than 100 events. The Swiss-Ski announcement included:
“In a ‘Letter of Intent,’ Swiss-Ski informed the FIS on June 19, 2023 that the umbrella organization for Swiss snow sports, together with St. Moritz/Engadin, is very interested in examining the documents received regarding the FIS Games 2028 and doing so to evaluate whether a Swiss candidacy to hold this new major snow sports event is an option. …
“In 1928 the first Olympic Games in Switzerland took place in St. Moritz. Exactly 100 years later, if the candidacy were successful, the premiere of the new FIS Games, a kind of ‘mini winter Olympics,’ would take place in the same place. The number of disciplines and competitions, which, unlike the Olympic Games, would all be outdoor events, are also part of the concept to be developed, as is the examination of other possible competition locations inside and outside the canton of Graubünden. The costs of any FIS Games cannot yet be estimated; they are also the subject of a concept to be developed jointly with the FIS.”
Letters of intent to bid for the 2028 FIS Games are due by 1 August, so there’s time for others to get in. But Swiss interest is a good sign of early interest in what could be an impactful new winter-sport program.
For our updated, 651-event International Sports Calendar (no. 2) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!