★ The Sports Examiner: Chronicling the key competitive, economic and political forces shaping elite sport and the Olympic Movement.★
★ Hey! Our 30 donors have now covered 66% of our technical expenses for the first half of 2023. Please consider a donation. Thank you in advance. ★
★ To get The Sports Examiner by e-mail: sign up here! ★
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Dubi says IOC in no rush to award 2030 Winter Games
2. IBA asks for sanctions against boycotting federation officials
3. Norway becomes 11th association to skip IBA Worlds
4. IOC’s Olympic Esports Series to feature nine sports, games
5. L.A. City timetable on Cornelius Johnson home resumes
The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Director for the Olympic Games, Christophe Dubi, said in an interview that the IOC is not in a hurry to name a host for the 2030 Winter Games, especially since it has candidates with all of the required infrastructure. He remains confident in the progress of the Milan Cortina 2026 project. The International Boxing Association referred for sanctions five senior officials from national federations that plan to boycott the upcoming Women’s World Championships in India that start 14 March. Norway joined the list of those not coming, now totaling 11 national federations, and the head of the Canadian federation said there are countries which will withdraw a fighter if asked to compete against a Russian or Belarussian. The IOC announced more details of its first Olympic Esports Week in June in Singapore with details of nine games to be contested, in nine different sports, including two ports which have never been on the Olympic program. In Los Angeles, the clock is running once more on the City Council to decide whether to declare the Cornelius Johnson home and Olympic Oak a cultural and historic landmark; the Council has until 26 May, but no committee hearing on the designation has been held, or even scheduled yet.
● World Championships ● FIS Freestyle Skiing & Snowboard = FIS Nordic Skiing = ISMF World Championships ●
● Panorama: Russia (German NOC against Russian re-entry) = Football (Women’s World Cup to have Fan Festivals at all sites) = Ski & Snowboard (USSS reaches $20 million travel fund goal) ●
Dubi says IOC in no rush to award 2030 Winter Games
In an interview with The Associated Press, International Olympic Committee Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi (SUI) said the organization is in no hurry to select a host city (or region) for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games.
He explained that the IOC Executive Board – which was reacting to its Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games – has decided to wait and figure out the best way to deal with not only the question of costs and venues, but also whether sites will have the desired weather to host a Winter Games.
“We need to have the right strategy,” he said, noting that an award seven years ahead – as has been the norm in recent decades – may not be necessary now. “[I]f anywhere you go, everything is ready, 100% built, no reason to award the Games seven years out. So we’re not really in a rush. We want to do the right thing.
“For example, should we rotate between Games hosts in the future? Is it something that is appealing for winter sports, appealing for those hosts? And we tend to believe it is the case. Northern Italy ’06, ’26, Sapporo, Salt Lake City is interested as well in the future. So is there a trend whereby once you have invested, you want to re-host in the future? So we need to look into that.”
As for the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina, although the organizing effort has gotten off to a rocky start, Dubi remains confident in the ultimate outcome:
“What is really critical is the constant monitoring. You have to hit all the milestones and this is how you control projects. So no reason to worry. But as in everything, inspect what you expect and this is what we are going to do.”
He also noted that the IOC is not standing in the way of the regional decision to install a new bobsled, luge and skeleton facility on the site of the closed Eugenio Monti sliding track used for the 1956 Cortina Winter Games as part of a larger development project:
“Territory shouldn’t adapt to the Games, but the Games should adapt to the territory.
“We were always clear with the IOC and our partners that if it’s built – and of course now the construction has started, or I should say rather the demolition, which is the first step – we are going to be users in the end because we always felt that it was not necessarily needed for the Games. Now there was a decision made and we respect this decision.”
IBA asks for sanctions against boycotting federation officials
“Disciplinary proceedings were opened against Executive Director/CEO of USA Boxing Mike McAtee, President of Boxing Canada Ryan O’Shea, Czech Boxing Association President Marek Šimák, Swedish Boxing Association Chairman Per-Axel Sjöholm, and Boxing New Zealand President Steve Hartley. The BIIU will also investigate any role in the boycott by the officials of other national federations which have joined the participation boycott.”
The International Boxing Association announced Wednesday that it has asked for sanctions against five national federation officials whose countries are boycotting the IBA Women’s World Championships coming up on 14 March in New Delhi (IND).
The newly-set-up Boxing Independent Integrity Unit will be fully tested by this case. According to the IBA statement:
“The complaint is based on a violation of several articles of the Disciplinary and Ethics Code including article 24 of the Disciplinary and Ethics Code ‘Inciting a Boycott of a Competition’ related to the IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships 2023 in New Delhi, India, and the IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships 2023 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“The International Boxing Association (IBA) reiterates that it will continue doing its utmost to protect the organization and all its member National Federations from any harm caused by individuals.”
The IBA, under Russian President Umar Kremlev, has defied the International Olympic Committee’s request that athletes from Russia and Belarus not be allowed to participate in international competitions, and if so, without any national recognition, flag or use of anthems in awards ceremonies. Kremlev has ordered that Russians and Belarusians can compete without any restrictions.
On Monday, Boxing Canada President O’Shea posted a statement confirming non-participation, which included:
“We know that the upcoming Women’s World Championships scheduled for March 14th-26th, 2023 in India will include both Russian and Belarussian [sic] athletes in the competition. Most recently, we have learned that there are a growing number of countries who have decided to boycott the World Championships to uphold the values of the Olympic Movement, and several other countries who will participate in the competition but will require their athletes to withdraw from competition if they draw a boxer from Russia or Belarus. Additionally, there are ongoing discussions amongst several Boxing Federations and their governments related to the legality of the prize money at stake for gold, silver, and bronze medalists.
“Given these circumstances, the Board of Directors of Boxing Canada have decided to uphold the decision of the IOC and the values of the Olympic movement and not participate in the 2023 World Championships. We understand the implications that this decision will have on our national team athletes and we are working diligently alongside our [High Performance Director] and national team coaches to find a suitable replacement tournament to continue developing our [High Performance] athletes in preparation for the Pan American Games Qualifiers as well as the 2024 Paris Olympics.”
Observed: This action by the IBA only continues to drive it away from the IOC and to threaten not only boxing’s place in the Los Angeles 2028 Games, but at Paris in 2024. A sport can only be removed by action of the IOC Session, which will meet in Mumbai (IND) in the fall, but the IOC Executive Board has already indicated it has no more patience for the Kremlev regime.
Kremlev’s comments in a 10 February post, after the announcements from the U.S. and Ireland that they would skip the Worlds, will be long remembered:
“This decision doesn’t belong to the athletes themselves. Not one of the sports administrators or politicians in the world is entitled to deprive athletes of their dream to become World Champions. Boxers dedicate their whole life to the sport, while administrators and politicians come to and go. Those, who are doing this to our athletes, are worse than hyenas and jackals, they violate the integrity of sport and culture. I urge all my colleagues to clear their organizations of such hyenas, as I can’t call them another way.
“IBA will do its utmost to help athletes from the USA to come and participate in the World Boxing Championships and will assist them, including financially. For this, we have our Financial Support Programme. We will fight for each and every country to give them a chance to participate in our tournaments representing their flag and anthem. For those administrators and politicians who are deciding for the athletes, shouldn’t be involved in the sport.”
Norway becomes 11th association to skip IBA Worlds
Monday’s announcement from Norwegian Boxing Association President Odd Haktor Slake was short and direct:
“The Norwegian Boxing Association’s board has decided not to participate in IBA championships and events where Russians or Belarusians participate. This decision applies to all our boxers, clubs, judges and officials.
“In the immediate future and in practice, this will mean that we will not participate in the upcoming [World Championships] in India and Uzbekistan, or in the [European Championships] in Armenia.
“We in the Norwegian Boxing Association, together with the Nordic Olympic and Paralympic Committees and sports federations, take this opportunity to confirm our steadfast support once again to the Ukrainian people and their demand for peace. . #standwithukraine #stopwar”
The Norwegians have joined with Canada, the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.S., and, of course, Ukraine, in walking away from the upcoming Women’s World Championships in India that begin on 15 March.
This list may expand as reports have noted possible walkaways from Germany and other Nordic countries.
Non-participation in the IBA Worlds will have no impact on Olympic qualification, as the IBA is not involved in the process (despite its pronouncements to the contrary). For Europe, the first step in qualification will be the European Games in Poland this summer; qualification from the Americas will start with the Pan American Games in Chile.
IOC’s Olympic Esports Series to feature nine sports, games
More details were released on the IOC’s first Olympic Esports Series, to be held in Singapore from 22-25 June, including the specific sports and games to be contested:
● Archery: “Tic Tac Bow”
● Baseball: “WBSC eBASEBALL: POWER PROS”
● Chess: “Chess.com”
● Cycling: “Zwift”
● Dance: “JustDance”
● Motor sport: “Gran Turismo”
● Sailing: “Virtual Regatta”
● Taekwondo: “Virtual Taekwondo”
● Tennis: “Tennis Clash”
Two of the sports selected are not now part of a recent, current or future Olympic sports: chess and motor sport. Baseball was part of Tokyo 2020 and Breaking will debut at Paris 2024. The other five are part of the current program. Additional sports and games could still be added.
Qualification play to reach the finals in Singapore has begun. It’s worth noting that the IOC regulations concerning Russia and Belarus apply here too:
“Each featured game in the Olympic Esports Series 2023 has its own competition format and entry requirements. In addition to this, these requirements will align with the current IOC recommendations on the participation of athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports, and should be followed by the IFs and publishers.”
More details on the actual format of the Olympic Esports Week finals is still to come in April. The IOC was quite pleased with the participation in the 2021 Olympic Virtual Series, with more than 250,000 entrants from more than 100 countries.
So far, no word whatsoever on any e-sports integration with the Olympic Games per se.
L.A. City timetable on Cornelius Johnson home resumes
The clock is now running again on the continuing question of whether the Cornelius Johnson Residence and Olympic Oak at 1156 South Hobart Boulevard in Los Angeles will be designated as a Historic-Cultural Monument.
The time limit for an action by the (1) Planning and Land Use Committee [PLUM] and then by the (2) Los Angeles City Council was tolled back in August, but has now been restarted under order of new Mayor Karen Bass. The lack of action has worried proponents of the designation.
Historical preservation advocates Kim Cooper and Richard Schave wrote in a plea to the Council on 19 February to recently-appointed 10th District Council member Heather Hutt:
“Your district is home to one of the most remarkable living landmarks in Los Angeles, the Olympic Oak presented to gold medalist Cornelius Johnson at the 1936 Berlin Games. The tree, and the home where Johnson lived and trained, are under consideration to become a protected Historic Cultural Monument.
“But it is now more than six months since the Cultural Heritage Commission voted unanimously to recommend designation, and there has still been no scheduled PLUM Committee hearing. Meanwhile, the tree continues to suffer from neglect and the likely severing of roots when the other Johnson family home to the north was demolished for a large new building.
“Also, last month the property was listed on the MLS as a ‘fixer,’ with no mention of the special tree and the suggestion that an [Accessory Dwelling Unit] could be built in its place. On Saturday, February 18, 2023, the tree and home were featured on the national CBS Saturday Morning program, as a feel-good story for Black History Month.
“Isn’t this the perfect time to schedule the PLUM hearing and then on to full City Council to formally designate 1156 South Hobart Boulevard / Cornelius Johnson Residence and Olympic Oak as an Historic-Cultural Monument? Once declared a landmark, we believe it will be easier for a preservation minded owner to come on board to save the tree and reactivate the home as the living history they represent.”
The tree was in dire straits in 2022, but The Huntington – a library, art museum and botanical garden complex in San Marino, California – was allowed to install a watering system in September, 2022 at its expense, so that the tree can be saved.
The deadline for action by the City Council is now 26 May 2023.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Freestyle Skiing & Snowboard ● More surprises at the FIS Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard World Championships in Bakuriani (GEO), but also more medals for two celebrated women’s stars.
Sochi 2014 Olympic gold medalist Eva Adamczykova (nee Samkova) added to her glittering resume with a gold in the women’s SnowCross final, earning her third career Worlds medal and second gold, to go along with her 2019 victory. She’s medaled in three straight Worlds: gold-bronze-gold.
She beat Australia’s Josie Baff, 20, who had won two career World Cup medals coming in, and American legend Lindsey Jacobellis, 37, who won her eighth Worlds medal in this event (6-0-2), going back to 2005!
The men’s final went to Austrian Jakob Dusek, 26, in his second World Championships and who had won exactly one World Cup race in his career before Wednesday. Now he’s World Champion, ahead of German vet Martin Noerl and Beijing 2022 bronze medalist Omar Visintin of Italy.
The SnowCross event was moved up by two days due to rough weather coming in; the Worlds continue through Sunday, weather-permitting.
● Nordic Skiing ● At the 43rd FIS Nordic Skiing Worlds in Planica (SLO), Norway continued its march to the medal stand, but there was a shocker in ski jumping that relegated the Vikings to the silver.
The men’s 15 km Freestyle Individual was a Norwegian sweep, with Simen Hegstad Krueger winning his second gold of the Championships, after the 30 km Skiathlon last Friday. He finished in 32:17.3, just ahead of Harald Amundsen (32:22.7, his second career Worlds medal) and defending champ Hans Christer Holund (32:42.0, his fifth career Worlds medal). And Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, winner of the Sprint, was fourth (32:42.9)!
Scott Patterson was the top American, in 15th (33:50.4).
Norway is now four-for-four in the men’s cross-country events, with two to go.
Norway is also four-for-four now in Nordic Combined, winning the men’s Team Large Hill event (138 m hill and 4×5 km relay) in 47:20.4, ahead of Germany (47:29.4) and Austria (47:29.7). It’s the second gold for Normal Hill/10 km winner Jarl Magnus Riiber his third win in a row in the Team event; teammate Jorgen Graabak has also been on all three team winners in 2019-21-23.
Amazingly, Germany has won the silver three times in a row and Austria is also the bronze medalist four straight times in the event. For the Germans, Eric Frenzel and Vinzenz Geiger have also been on all three teams and Frenzel has won a medal in this event in five straight Worlds (2-3-0).
The U.S. was eighth in 51:23.6, with Stephen Schumann, Ben Loomis, Niclas Malacinski and Jared Shumate.
The shocker came in the women’s Large Hill (138 m) ski jumping, where Norway’s Maren Lundby – a two-time World Champion – and German Katharina Althaus, already a three-time winner (Normal Hill, Team, Mixed Team) in 2023, were upset by 19-year-old Canadian Alexandria Loutitt!
Loutitt won the World Junior Championships in early February and has a World Cup win to her credit this season, but no one was expecting her to win both rounds and score 264.4 points to eclipse Lundby (254.0) and Althaus (245.9). Wow.
Annika Belshaw was the top American finisher at 83.5 for 32nd place; she did not advance to the final.
● Ski Mountaineering ● At the ISMF World Championships at the Boi Tall resort in the Spanish Pyrenees, France’s Axelle Gachet-Mollaret and Swiss Remi Bonnet defended their world titles in the women’s and men’s Vertical Race competitions.
Defending champion Gachet-Mollaret win her seventh career Worlds gold and 14th career Worlds medal with a decisive 26:22.9 to 26:55.9 victory over Sarah Dreier (AUT), with Alba de Silvestro (ITA: 27:22.2) third. It’s the first Worlds medal for Dreier and sixth (!) for de Silvestro (and her medal in this event since 2015).
Defending champ Bonnet won by more than a minute, 21:54.7 to 22:54.9 over Belgian Maximilien Drion du Chapois, with France’s Gedeon Pochat Cottilloux third (23:05.2). It’s Bonnet’s third Worlds gold and his third straight Worlds medal in this race (bronze-gold-gold); he also won it in 2015.
The Worlds continue through Sunday.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Russia ● “From our point of view, now is not the right time to allow athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport to compete in international competitions again. The acts of war have intensified in recent weeks, especially the attacks on the civilian population. …
“In [19 January call with other National Olympic Committees] call, we clearly expressed our position and said that we can only imagine a re-admission – if it is decided – under very strict conditions.
“For example, true neutrality would have to be guaranteed, i.e. no flags, national symbols or colors should really be worn and anthems played. It remains to be seen how something like this could be guaranteed. Scenes like those in PyeongChang, Tokyo or Beijing are not allowed to appear in Paris. In addition, it would have to be ensured that no athletes from Russia or Belarus who actively support the war start. Then there is the question of doping tests: all athletes who are allowed to start must be sufficiently tested. And our athletes need to know what the qualifying routes to the Paris Olympics are like and have confidence that they will stay that way.”
That’s German National Olympic Committee chief executive Torsten Burmester in an interview posted on the DOSB Web site Tuesday. He acknowledged that it’s not going to be possible to arrive at a conclusion which will be universally admired:
“[T]hat will hardly be possible with this topic. As diverse as the opinions in society are, they are also in sport. We are not so naïve as to believe that we can find a position that unites all those involved in organized sport. Our aim is to formulate a position that is compatible with our values, with the values of sport, and that can endure.“
● Football ● FIFA announced that a FIFA Fan Festival will be mounted at each of the nine cities with a competition site at this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
That’s a first for the Women’s World Cup, with all sites free of charge.
● Skiing and Snowboard ● “[N]o other national governing body has an endowment that provides financial support specifically for its athletes’ travel needs.
“The Beattie Fund is part of the larger Marolt Athlete Endowment campaign, which also raises funds to support coaching, athlete education and sports career transition assistance, in perpetuity.”
That’s from U.S. Ski & Snowboard, which announced that the Bob Beattie Athlete Travel Fund – named for the first full-time coach of the U.S. alpine team – reached its goal of a $20 million endowment to support all levels of USSS teams in alpine, cross country, freestyle and snowboard. The announcement noted:
“The fund was created to specifically close the gap on funding of athlete travel costs to training camps, and domestic and international competitions. While in the past most of those expenses were covered by the team, in recent years a gap in funding created scenarios where athletes were paying to travel with the team.”
Impressive, and needed across other U.S. National Governing Bodies.
For our updated, 929-event International Sports Calendar for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!