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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Douglass wins 200 m medley, China wins two in Fukuoka
2. Routs for Germany and Brazil in Women’s World Cup
3. Paris 2024 celebrates LVMH, Air France, IDFM sponsorships
4. Queensland aims at 2032, not rescuing Commonwealth Games!
5. Stoss takes over IOC’s Winter Host Commission
Kate Douglass and Alex Walsh went 1-2 for the U.S. at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka in the women’s 200 m Medley, the first American gold of the meet. The U.S. has eight medals in the first two days, but only one win so far. At the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Germany (6-0 over Morocco) and Brazil (4-0 over Panama) were impressive, and the tournament has now sold more than 1.5 million tickets, an all-time record. The Paris 2024 organizers celebrated a new, major partnership with the luxury-goods LVMH Group, a major boost for their domestic sponsorship budget, along with smaller deals with Air France and the Iles-de-France Mobilities authority. And depending on which poll you believe, either 72% or 59% of French residents think the 2024 Games will be good. In the aftermath of Victoria pulling out of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, Tom Tate – mayor of the 2018 host Gold Coast – is championing his city – in Queensland – as a rescuer, but the Queensland government is interested only in the already-secured 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane. The International Olympic Committee named Austrian Karl Stoss as the new head of the Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games, replacing Romanian member Octavian Morariu, who is also a French citizen; the French National Olympic Committee is now planning a 2030 Winter bid and Morariu would have a conflict of interest.
● Panorama: Aquatics (the ties between Michael Phelps and new 400 m Medley world-record holder Leon Marchand) = Athletics (much more on Kipyegon’s 4:07.64 mile world record … and the future!) = Basketball (first use of approved, all-glass floor!) = Cycling (Lippet wins Tour de France Femmes second stage) = Skiing (major agreement to allow FIS to implement its central-sales strategy) = Tennis (sniping at ITF chief Haggerty in advance of September election already starting) = Wrestling (Poland dismissed as World U-20 Champs host over not issuing visas) ●
Douglass wins 200 m medley, China wins two in Fukuoka
The United States medal machine was in good form at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, winning four more medals on day two of the swimming competition, and its first gold, from Kate Douglass.
The Olympic bronze medalist from Tokyo in the 200 m Medley, Douglass came to Fukuoka number two on the world list at 2:07.09, behind only Canadian star Summer McIntosh, who decided not to swim in this event. She led the qualifying, but had to chase teammate Alex Walsh for most of the final.
Walsh came in as defending World Champion and was second after the Fly leg, then took over on the Backstroke – fastest in the field at 31.96 – and led through the Breaststroke leg and into the final turn. But Douglass had moved up from fifth after the Backstroke and zoomed into second on Breaststroke, but still 0.85 behind Walsh. But a brilliant 29.83 Freestyle leg over the last lap pulled her ahead of Walsh and to the finish in 2:07.17, with Walsh at 2:07.97. China’s Yuting Yu was third in 2:08.74.
This was Douglass’s fifth career Worlds medal in two years, and she has a lot more swimming to do this week. Walsh now has three Worlds golds and a silver in two Worlds so far. Australia’s Kaylee McKeown, the 2022 silver medalist and no. 3 on the year list, was disqualified in her semifinal for a stroke violation.
China won twice on Monday, with Haiyang Qin winning the men’s 100 m Breast with a wire-to-wire performance. He had the co-equal-fastest reaction time, led at the turn by 0.12 over American Nic Fink and blasted the field on the final lap to win in 57.69, an Asian Record, now no. 2 on the all-time list (Britain’s Adam Peaty now has the top 14 performances in history). Behind him was a wild scramble, as Fink faded slightly and he, Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA) and Dutch star Arno Kamminga all touched together, in 58.72! It’s Fink’s fifth career Worlds medal (2-2-1), over the past two seasons.
The women’s 100 m Butterfly final came next, with Tokyo silver medalist Yufei Zhang the fastest qualifier and the favorite. She did not disappoint, leading Torri Huske of the U.S. by 0.01 at the turn, but coming back in 30.09, 0.21 faster than anyone else and winning in 56.12. Canada’s Maggie MacNeil, expected to be a big presence at these Championships, roared past Huske in the final 50 m to take second, 56.45 to 56.61, with Australian star Emma McKeon fourth (56.88). Gretchen Walsh of the U.S. was eighth in 57.58.
Huske, 20, won six (!) medals at the 2022 Worlds (3-0-3) and already has a silver and bronze in Fukuoka.
France’s Maxime Grousset had the fastest heat and semi time in the men’s 50 m Fly, but in the final it was Italy’s defending World Champion, Thomas Ceccon, who emerged with the win in 22.68. Portugal’s Diogo de Matos Ribeiro was a surprise second at 22.80, with Grousset taking the bronze in 22.82. Dare Rose of the U.S. was sixth in 23.01.
Ceccon’s performance – he’s now no. 7 all-time – was all the more impressive since it came 29 minutes after his world-leading semifinal win in the men’s 100 m Backstroke (52.16)! There were three world leaders on Monday:
● Men/100 m Back: 52.16, Thomas Ceccon (ITA) ~ semifinals
● Men/100 m Breast: 57.69, Haiyang Qin (CHN)
● Women/100 m Fly: 56.12, Yufei Zhang (CHN)
The U.S. now has eight total medals (1-5-2) to lead all countries, ahead of Australia (4-0-0) and China (2-0-2).
Tuesday’s finals include the men’s 200 m Free, the women’s 1,500 m Free (can Katie Ledecky win her fifth world title in this event?), the women’s and men’s 100 m Back and women’s 100 m Breaststroke.
A huge upset in the women’s water polo quarterfinals, as the four-time defending champion U.S. women were eliminated in the quarterfinals, 8-7, by Italy.
The game was 4-4 at halftime, and 6-6 after three quarters, and Italy went up 8-6 with 2:57 left. Jordan Raney finally got a U.S. score with 21 seconds to go, but it was not enough. The U.S. Worlds streak is over; it will be their first major event without a medal since the 2013 Worlds in Barcelona.
Maggie Steffens led the U.S. with four goals and Maddie Musselman added two; Sofia Giustini led Italy with three scores.
In the other quarters, the Netherlands beat Canada, 17-10, and will face Italy; Australia upset Greece, 9-8 and Spain overcame Hungary, 12-9.
Routs for Germany and Brazil in Women’s World Cup
Second-ranked Germany and no. 8 Brazil both opened their 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaigns with impressive wins in Australia, while Italy had to struggle to finally defeat Argentina:
● Group G: Italy 1, Argentina 0 ● A lot of near-goals marked this game, which was tightly played with 36 fouls and six yellow cards in Auckland (NZL).
It was finally decided in the 87th on a header by substitute striker Christiana Girelli that popped into the left corner of the net, off of a long cross by defender Lisa Boattin from the left side into the middle of the box.
Argentina almost started with a spectacular goal, but striker Mariana Larroquette‘s bicycle kick after 54 seconds ended up wide of the Italian goal. Italian midfielder Arianna Caruso (15th) and striker Valentina Giacinti (42nd) both scored, but had the goals waved off for offsides in the first half, which ended scoreless.
In the 49th, Argentine defender Eliana Stabile’s corner kick almost went in, but was punched away awkwardly by Italian keeper Francesca Durante. Another Stabile free kick in the 72nd almost produced a score on the fly but was saved, and on the rebound, Larroquette could not handle it and her touch went out of bounds.
Down 1-0, Argentina almost scored at 90+7 off a fearsome free kick by midfielder Florencia Bonsegundo that Durante had to punch away to save the win.
● Group H: Germany 6, Morocco 0 ● There were questions about the Germans after a 3-2 friendly loss to Zambia at the start of the month, but their first match, in Melbourne (AUS) was decided quickly.
In the 11th minute, striker Alexandra Popp headed in a perfect cross from the right side of the pitch from midfielder Lina Magull to the center of the box for a 1-0 lead, followed in the 39th by a second Popp score on a header. This time it came from midfielder Klara Buhl on a swerving corner kick that moved toward the center of the box and Popp’s head for a 2-0 lead.
That was the score at half and the German pressure unraveled Morocco in the second half. Buhl made it 3-0 just a minute into the second half, kicking in a loose ball off a scrum that began with her cross from the left side. Morocco suffered own goals off ricochets from German shots in the 54th (off defender Hanane Ait El Haj) and the 79th (off defender Yasmin Mrabet) before Lea Schuller’s final score off a rebound in the 90th.
The Germans ended with 74% possession and a 16-7 edge on shots against a very much overwhelmed Moroccan team.
● Group F: Brazil 4, Panama 0 ● Brazil got two first-half goals from Ary Borges in her first World Cup appearance to take control of their match in Adelaide (AUS) on the way to a 4-0 win and a hat trick for the Brazilian midfielder.
The scoring started in the 19th as midfielder Adriana sent a perfect cross from the left side across the goal to an untroubled Borges at the far post for a header and the 1-0 lead. In the 39th, defender Tamires sent another cross from left to right and Borges’ header was saved by Panamanian keeper Yenith Bailey. But the rebound came right back out and Borges slammed it in for a 2-0 edge at half.
The third goal, in the 48th, was a thing of beauty, as Borges received a pass in front of the net, but with two defenders in front of her, back-passed to striker Bia Zanetatto, who finished into an open net for a 3-0 lead. Borges got a third goal in the 70th, heading in another perfect entry pass from substitute striker Geyse Ferreira from beyond the box for the 4-0 final.
Brazil controlled the match with 73% of possession and a 32-6 advantage on shots, including 10 shots on goal vs. two for Panama.
Tuesday’s games start with Colombia-South Korea in Group H, and the second round will start with New Zealand and the Philippines, and Switzerland-Norway, both in Group A.
FIFA announced that the 1,500,000th ticket for the Women’s World Cup – an all-time record and the ticket-sales target – was sold to a New Zealand family attending the Italy-Argentina match in Auckland (NZL). Maria Strong bought the ticket as part of a five-ticket buy for her family, including her husband and three children.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (SUI) participated in a special ceremony, and offered free tickets for the family for the remaining matches at Eden Park in Auckland, which will include a round-of-16, quarterfinal and semifinal match!
Paris 2024 celebrates LVMH, Air France, IDFM sponsorships
The bells are ringing for the Paris 2024 Olympic organizing committee, with the one-year-to-go celebrations being readied for Wednesday (26th). On Monday, the long-awaited, top-tier sponsorship agreement with luxury-goods maker LVMH Group was announced, a major step for Paris 2024 to reach its domestic sponsorship goal of €1.226 billion (about $1.356 billion U.S. today).
The announcement noted specific roles carved out for LVMH units:
“Paris 2024 will entrust several essential roles to artisans from the LVMH Group. These include the design of the Olympic and Paralympic medals by Chaumet. The ultimate emblems of the quest for victory and surpassing oneself, the medals figure among the iconic symbols and traditions of the Olympic Games. An iconic Paris jeweler with centuries of heritage, Chaumet will apply its savoir-faire to create the design of these exceptional pieces that materialize the ultimate reward for athletes after years of sacrifice and commitment to performance.
“Moët Hennessy wines and spirits Maisons will provide their exceptional products as part of hospitality programs during the Olympic and Paralympic Games and will help ensure a superb quality experience for guests. Sephora will be a partner for the Olympic Torch Relay, proposing activations for the public all along the relay route, as well as at Group locations along the itinerary and at stops.
“Between now and the opening ceremony, LVMH and its Maisons – in particular Louis Vuitton, Dior and Berluti – will present, with approval from Paris 2024, the different aspects of their engagement, enabling LVMH to become the ‘Artisan of All Victories’. During the Games, LVMH will also provide direct support for certain athletes whose exemplary journeys make them ‘Artisans of All Victories’. The first is swimmer Léon Marchand, who at the age of 21 has already won three world champion titles, is the world record-holder of the 400 meter individual medley, and is a leading medal hope for the French Olympic team.”
Last week, Air France joined as an Official Partner of the organizing committee and the Ile-de-France Mobilites (IDFM) government transportation authority became an Official Partner of the Games. The IDFM announcement noted that its plan for the Games period is to allow every spectator to attend all of the Games events in its region via public transit. An increase of about 15% above normal traffic is projected; about 1,000 extra buses will be arranged to handle 200,00 accreditees during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Further, the French organizers asked Toluna-Harris Interactive to poll French residents aged 15 and above for the seventh time about their view of the upcoming Games. The results were positive:
● 72% were in favor of the Games, 28% against
● 75% of men were in favor, 69% of women
● 80% of those polled aged 18-24 were in favor
The overall total of 72% in favor was up from 68% from the last poll in June, but down from the 76% level in April of this year.
Some 65% said they would be following the Games next year live on television, 59% said they would follow on social media and 33% said they would go to a fan zone.
However, another poll, by the French firm Odoxa, showed only 59% in favor of the Games, down 17 points since September 2021. The continuing worries are over cost (68%), the environmental impact (65%), transportation (64%), and security (63%).
But, as the FrancsJeux.com site notes, “At this stage of the preparation, nothing very worrying, especially since these figures are largely contradicted by the success of the ticket office [6.8 million sold] and the call for volunteers (320,000 candidates).”
Queensland aims at 2032, not rescuing Commonwealth Games!
Last week’s stunning withdrawal by the State of Victoria (AUS) as the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games has, predictably, sent shock waves through the international sport community, some of which are rolling back on Australia.
The Mayor of Perth, in Western Australia, has said he is interested in the event, but the most controversial idea came from the always-enthusiastic Tom Tate, Mayor of Gold Coast in Queensland, which successfully hosted the A$1.2 billion Commonwealth Games in 2018 (about $809.7 million U.S. today).
He’s ready to do it again, but he needs money. And the Queensland government has its eyes firmly on Brisbane’s Olympic Games in 2032. Said Queensland Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe:
“He’s always out there making sure he’s boosting and spruiking the Gold Coast and why wouldn’t he.
“The reality is I’m a bit more in deputy mayor Donna Gates‘ camp when she said earlier this week that the idea was ludicrous, we didn’t have the right time.”
Tate, however, is undeterred: “Just give us four weeks, I’ll show you a road map of how we can deliver it, it’ll be great for Queensland.”
But Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is not interested:
“Even though the Gold Coast is a wonderful venue, it does have the venues and the infrastructure, it does have the transport, but we cannot afford to spend more money on another games.
“We are committed to the Olympics, we are focused on the Olympics, but there may be an opportunity for another state to put their hand up.”
Victoria is breaking a signed agreement with the Commonwealth Games Federation – among others – regarding the 2026 and whether through negotiations or lawsuits, all of the agreements involved will have to be retired, no doubt at Victoria’s expense.
Stoss takes over IOC’s Winter Host Commission
With the pending submission of a French bid for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games, Octavian Morariu, the head of the International Olympic Committee’s Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games, stepped down on Friday to avoid a conflict of interest.
Morariu is Romanian, but also has French citizenship; the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) announced that it is bidding for the 2030 Games with the regions of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
In his place will be highly-regarded member Karl Stoss of Austria, who is hardly a stranger to the process, having been a member of the Future Host Commission since its formation in 2019. He has a long history in banking and casino regulation, and has been the head of the winter-obsessed Austrian National Olympic Committee since 2009.
With Morariu leaving the Commission, the IOC appointed cross-country star (and three-time World Champion) Astrid Jacobsen (NOR) to replace him.
The change has already inspired questions about the IOC’s timetable to select a 2030 Winter Games host, with Salt Lake City definitely preferring 2034, and an award for 2030 due in 2024. France is now the third country, along with Sweden and Switzerland, to be considering a bid for the 2030 Winter Games.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Aquatics ● Some footnotes to the brilliant men’s 400 m Medley world record of 4:02.50 by France’s Leon Marchand on Sunday. He broke Michael Phelps’ mark of 4:03.84 from 2008, and Phelps was in Fukuoka to see the race himself as a commentator for NBC’s Peacock service and congratulated Marchand. And Phelps’ legendary coach, Bob Bowman, is also Marchand’s coach, as a star at Arizona State, where Bowman has been the head of the swimming & diving program since 2015.
● Athletics ● More on Kenyan star Faith Kipyegon’s brilliant world women’s mile record of 4:07.64 in Monaco last Friday, starting with the splits (one mile is 1,609.34 m):
● 400 m: 62.6
● 800 m: 2:04.6 (62.0)
● 1,200 m: 3:06.8 (62.2)
● 1,600 m: 4:06.3 (59.5)
● 1,609 m: 4:07.64 (1.3)
Her 1,500 m time en route was 3:51.41, the no. 8 performance of all time, and she now owns four of the eight! She said afterwards:
“I really enjoyed the race. I came for that, I wanted to chase the world record and thanks God, it was amazing. And just before the World Championships. I was really looking forward to running here. I have done good training so far and I just came for it. The time – yes – it was really good because the race was well planned. It just went smoothly and to accomplish the world record, that is amazing. …
“I do not know how I am doing this because it just keeps going really in a good way. I was feeling healthy and just focusing myself for this world record. When I started this season, my goal was to just break the 1,500 world record. It was still in my head and in my mind. Thank God I did also the mile and the 5,000. So many.
“I want to defend my world title at 1,500 m in Hungary but I am going to double also with the 5,000 in Budapest.”
As for three records in three different events – all at different distances – in the same year, the only one in recent years would have been Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, with his 9.58 and 19.19 sprint double at the Berlin Worlds in 2009, then adding the 4×100 m relay on the third leg in a world record of 37.31 with Steve Mullings, Michael Frater and Asafa Powell on anchor, in the same meet. But it has been done.
U.S. distance star Mary Slaney captured world records in 1982 in the women’s mile (4:18.08 on 9 July), 5,000 m (15:08.26 on 5 June) and 10,000 m (31:35.3 on 16 July).
Now World Athletics President Sebastian Coe (GBR) captured the world records in the men’s 800 m (1:42.33), 1,500 m (3:32.03) and mile (3:48.95) during his magical 1979 season. A year before, Kenyan – and Washington State – star Henry Rono set world records in the 5,000 m (13:08.4 on 8 April), Steeple (8:05.4 on 13 May), 10,000 m (27:22.47 on 11 June) and 3,000 m (7:32.1 on 27 June) in three months of the greatest running ever seen. And there were others before him.
Now, the discussion will inevitably turn to when a woman will break the 4:00 barrier for the mile. Looking at the men’s 4-minute mile, it took 21 years to go from New Zealand’s Jack Loverock and his 4:07.6 mark in 1933 to 1954 for Roger Bannister (GBR) to run 3:59.4. That period was impacted by World War II, but Swedes Gunder Hagg and Arne Andersson did lower the mile record from 4:06.4 in 1937 to 4:01.4 in 1945.
Kipyegon is only 29. After taking almost four seconds off the record in Monaco, how low can she go?
● Basketball ● The game may never be the same again, after the introduction of the first FIBA-approved glass floor for basketball.
Yes, glass. Which means it can be turned into a giant LED screen, and a lot of other things. The ASB GlassFloor court was shown off in Madrid (ESP) for the quarterfinals of the FIBA women’s U-19 World Cup, initially for the Spain-Canada game won by the Spanish. The announcement noted:
“The ASB GlassFloor can also feature the ability to add player tracking to the video floor, making it possible to display live stats and athletic achievements on the floor, providing fans with enhanced interaction and better engagement as well as an enhanced show staging with additional options for sponsorship and marketing.”
● Cycling ● Stage two of the Tour de France Femmes was a hilly, 151.2 km ride to Mauriac, that came down to a mass sprint, with German Liane Lippert getting to the line first in 4:13.43, with the first 11 finishers given the same time.
Lippert just beat out first-stage winner Lotte Lopecky (BEL) and Italy’s Silvia Pesico and Kopecky retained her race lead, now with 49 seconds on Lippert and 59 seconds on seven riders, including favorite Annemiek van Vleuten (NED).
Tuesday’s stage 3 is another hilly course of 147.2 km with a flat finish – perfect for sprinters – before a more difficult fourth stage with the climbs at the end of the course.
● Skiing ● A breakthrough between the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) and Infront, the marketing agency for many of the largest national federations, which will allow FIS to energize its centralized marketing strategy.
Swiss-based Infront and its national federation partners have been in the way of the FIS centralized sales project, in view of its contracts through the 2025-26 season. The framework agreement announced Monday will create an eight-year partnership from 2026-27 to 2033-34. The key terms included, according to FIS:
● “Minimum compensation more than €100 million above current terms
● “Commission-based agency agreement with a minimum sales guarantee of more than €600 million
● “FIS in full control over the sales process
● “Infront to provide exclusive marketing implementation and international media operations services”
FIS President Johan Eliasch (SWE) is convinced that a FIS-controlled sales process is essential to the future of skiing, and the agreement will allow FIS to use highlights on its social-media platforms and create streaming platforms for markets which do not now have television-rights carriage agreements. It has made a huge financial bet on that vision.
● Tennis ● German Tennis Federation head Dietloff von Arnim is beginning his effort to unseat American two-term President David Haggerty as head of the International Tennis Federation in elections on 24 September.
Von Arnim told the London-based CityAM.com that the well-publicized but ultimately unsuccessful financing deal to support the Davis Cup with a 25-year tie-in worth up to $3 billion continues to be a problem:
“Quite simply we can say it has been a failure. Germany was against it. I’m not against the format change but with that approach – not to our astonishment – it could not work.
“I think the future of Davis Cup now is very difficult. We changed the format of it many times in the last years. None really made it possible to refinance this project. …
“I think tennis needs a wake-up call. Tennis is asleep at the wheel at the moment.”
Haggerty is one of two U.S. members of the International Olympic Committee at the moment – along with Anita DeFrantz – but his position is tied to his ITF presidency.
● Wrestling ● United World Wrestling announced that its World U-20 Championships have been switched to Amman (JOR) after the Polish government refused to issue visas to Russian wrestlers entering as neutrals.
The event was slated for Warsaw from 14-20 August; the UWW notice included:
“Adhering to UWW’s regulations, which require the organizer to ensure equal participation for all athletes, free from any discrimination based on passport or other criteria, and considering the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee, UWW was compelled to find an alternative host after Poland failed to ensure the same.”
The head of the Russian wrestling federation, Mikhail Mamiashvili, that Finland has done the same thing with the World U-23 Championships scheduled for Tampere from 23-29 October, although that event is still listed by the UWW. He said it will be removed from Finland on the same grounds.
For our updated, 787-event International Sports Calendar (no. 3) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!