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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. World Athletics Champs open Friday, plagued by visa issues
2. IOC recognizes Thorpe as sole winner of 1912 multi-events
3. British Olympic stars pan pre-Paris 2024 FINA Worlds
4. Paralympic control ceded to IFs for biathlon and skiing
5. U.S. women top Costa Rica, 3-0, on to CONCACAF W final
The long-awaited first World Athletics Championships in the United States starts today in Eugene, Oregon, amid controversy over visa issues to enter the U.S. and in the smallest venue to ever host the Worlds, the new Hayward Field. But the competition is expected to be great. The International Olympic Committee has, after 110 years, recognized American icon Jim Thorpe as the “winner” – and not co-champ – of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon. Three of Britain’s swimming stars are criticizing the dates of the just-announced 2024 FINA Worlds just months before the Paris Games and may not compete. In a sign of the continuing evolution of Paralympic sport, biathlon and skiing are now under the control of the IBU and FIS and no longer managed by the International Paralympic Committee. And the U.S. and Canada will face off next Monday for the CONCACAF W Championship and a berth in the Paris 2024 Games.
World Athletics Champs open Friday, plagued by visa issues
“The Oregon22 organising committee and World Athletics are working closely with the USOPC to follow up on Visa applications, the majority of which have been successfully resolved.
“We continue to follow up with those outstanding visa issues.
“International travel in general has become more challenging due to the pandemic and we are extremely grateful for the help and experience of the USOPC in helping to resolve issues that have come up in the last few weeks.”
That’s the statement coming from the Oregon22 organizers of the first-ever World Athletics Championships in the United States after waves of stories and tweets on Tuesday and Wednesday by athletes unable to obtain entry visas in time to compete.
Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala, no. 3 on the men’s world 100 m list for 2022, finally got his travel permit on Thursday and will be traveling overnight to Eugene, where the heats of the men’s 100 m begin at 6:50 p.m. Pacific time; he’s expected to arrive just a few hours prior. No heat sheets were posted for the men’s 100 m by 10 p.m. Pacific time Thursday; watch for Omanyala to somehow be in a later race.
And the complaints have started about the athlete housing at the University of Oregon. Belgian 400 m star Kevin Borlee, who ran for Florida State and is competing in his sixth Worlds, told RTBF Belgium:
“Frankly, it’s disrespectful and unworthy of an event like this, world championships that are still aimed at top athletes. All year round, we make efforts to take care of recovery, sleep, these important little things that make the difference in the life of an athlete. And there, we land in the United States, we expect everything is big and on top and we find ourselves in a tiny room with really uncomfortable mattresses. Fortunately, we are all housed in the same boat, except the team from the United States who live elsewhere.”
All the noise takes away from the action on and inside the track, which is expected to be sensational:
● The weather is expected to be good but warm: 84 F high for Friday and only one day projected at 90 F, on Tuesday; otherwise, highs of 81-87 F and very little chance of rain. Wind could be an issue, projected at 8-10 miles per hour (3.6 to 4.5 m/s).
● NBC has strong coverage on its Peacock streaming service and weekday coverage on USA Network and weekend broadcasts on CNBC and NBC.
● Track & Field News has posted its formcharts for men and women, projecting 33 total medals for the U.S. and 14 wins, which would be far more than any other country. The all-time medals record is 31 by the doped-up East German team in 1987, followed by 30 for the U.S. in London in 2017.
The award of the Worlds to be U.S. and to the smallest facility it has ever been held in – the rebuilt Hayward Field in Eugene – was based on the belief that it would be a catalyst for the sport in the United States, but that is yet to be seen. What is true is that you will see a lot of carping in the press about the conditions, but brilliance on the field.
(Long-time British journalist Pat Butcher has already complained, “Doha  was bad enough, ridiculously high temperatures and pathetically low crowds; following that with Eugene, aka Nowheresville, Oregon is compounding a felony, and is a further measure of the decline in interest and importance of Track & Field Athletics, whose heyday is getting increasingly distant.”)
The Sports Examiner will post session-by-session coverage of the Worlds; sign up here to receive our reports by e-mail shortly after each session concludes.
IOC recognizes Thorpe as sole winner of 1912 multi-events
Completing a process which took 110 years, the International Olympic Committee has declared American Jim Thorpe as the formal winner – again – of the 1912 Olympic decathlon and pentathlon in Stockholm.
Thorpe won both events and was saluted as the “greatest athlete in the world,” but was disqualified in 1913 by the Amateur Athletic Union of the U.S. and the IOC for having played minor league baseball in 1909 and 1910, making him a professional athlete. Thorpe passed in 1953, but his family continued the effort to have him reinstated. The IOC, under Juan Antonio Samaranch, reinstated Thorpe in January 1983 and his family was presented with replica medals at a colorful ceremony at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.
However, he was only declared a “co-champion” with Ferdinand Reinhardt Bie (NOR) in the pentathlon and Hugo Weislander (SWE) in the decathlon. The IOC’s new decision, first reported by the Phoenix-based IndianCountryToday.com, now shows Thorpe as the winner in both events, with Bie and Weislander as the silver medalists, as they were in 1912.
ESPN quoted IOC President Thomas Bach (GER): “This is a most exceptional and unique situation. It is addressed by an extraordinary gesture of fair play from the concerned National Olympic Committees.”
Thorpe, a Sac and Fox, was one of the greatest athletes in history. He was a legendary All-American college football player at Carlisle Academy and went on to careers in the National Football League (a 1923 All-Pro) and in Major League Baseball from 1913-19. He was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame.
British Olympic stars pan pre-Paris 2024 FINA Worlds
“I ain’t going.”
“It’ll be interesting to see what athletes thought having a World Championships after 3 years in a row of them that it would be a good idea with the Olympics that year too. January just isn’t the right time [in my opinion].”
“I’d love to which (if any) athletes were asked about this decision: July 2023 Worlds … 6 months later … Jan 2024 Worlds and then July 2024 Olympics. A totally bizarre decision and one I hope gets reconsidered! Surely just move it to 2025?”
Those were the reactions of British Olympic swimming medalists (1) James Guy (two relay golds), (2) Adam Peaty (100 m Breaststroke gold) and (3) Duncan Scott (200 m Free, 200 m Medley silvers) to the FINA announcement that a 2024 World Championships would be held in Doha (QAT) from 2-18 February, six months ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Due to chaos caused by the Covid pandemic, the regular cycle of FINA Worlds for 2019-21-23-25 has been completely disrupted, with Worlds in 2022 (Budapest as a replacement), Fukuoka (2023), now Doha in early 2024 and, supposedly, Kazan (RUS) in 2025, although with the war in Ukraine, the latter event is in doubt.
The tug-of-war over athlete schedules and preferences will continue, with wide reporting of a FINA plan to qualify relay teams for Paris via the Doha Worlds except for the top three placers in the relays at the 2023 Worlds in Fukuoka. In contrast, for Tokyo, the 12 top teams from the 2019 Worlds qualified and the next-fastest four countries also qualified on time.
Swimming is a sport which has traditionally not raced that much, although the experience of the International Swimming League has changed some attitudes. But when it comes to training for the Olympic Games, nothing – not even World Championships – has stood in the way. And what of the ISL is able to re-start its program in 2023, which runs in the late fall and into January?
Paralympic control ceded to IFs for biathlon and skiing
Demonstrating the continuing integration of Paralympic sport, governance of four of the 10 sports now managed by the International Paralympic Committee have been handed over to the International Biathlon Union (IBU) and the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS).
This is a sea-change for the IBU and FIS, which will oversee Para Biathlon (IBU and FIS jointly) and Para Alpine Skiing, Para-Cross Country Skiing and Para Snowboard (FIS), with transition meetings now underway. The FIS Congress approved the move with 94% in favor at its May Congress.
A 2019 governance report, agreed to by the IPC’s General Assembly, determined that the sports currently under IPC control – Alpine Skiing, Athletics, Biathlon, Cross Country Skiing, Dance Sport, Ice Hockey, Powerlifting, Shooting, Snowboard and Swimming – should be either handed over to the International Federation for the able-bodied section of the sport, or a separate governing body should be created. Said IPC President Andrew Parsons (BRA):
“At the 2021 IPC General Assembly, IPC members provided a strong mandate for the IPC to cease acting as the international federation for 10 sports by the end of 2026. Para alpine skiing, Para cross-country and Para snowboard will be the first sports to depart the IPC, alongside Para biathlon, while good progress is being made on the remaining six.”
The remaining six include the summer Olympic sports of Athletics, Shooting and Swimming, the winter sport of Ice Hockey, and Powerlifting and Dance Sport.
U.S. women top Costa Rica, 3-0, on to CONCACAF W final
It was a struggle early in 95 F heat in San Nicolas de la Garza (MEX), but the U.S. Women’s National Team struck twice in the first half and stopped Costa Rica, 3-0, in the first semifinal of the CONCACAF W Championship.
Although the Americans had the best of the play in the first half, and almost completely controlled the last 25 minutes, it was 0-0 after multiple missed chances for most of the half. But the ball possession and the pressure paid off; after a corner in the 34th minute, an Andi Sullivan shot was blocked, rolled on the ground and was popped into the goal by Emily Sonnett for a 1-0 lead and Sonnett’s first international goal.
The U.S. continued looking for chances and in the third minute of stoppage time, a brilliant backheel pass by Rose Lavelle in the box found Mallory Pugh for a left-footed score for a 2-0 halftime lead. The Americans had 61% of the possession – it looked like more – and a 8-0 edge in shots.
The second half was more U.S. offense, but better Costa Rican defense and offense (thanks to subbing in some of its better players) that actually made U.S. keeper Casey Murphy handle the ball a couple of times under pressure. The U.S. had some chances, but didn’t score until 90+4 when a Kristie Mewis lead pass was brought down by Alex Morgan, who couldn’t get a shot, but Ashley Sanchez was in position for a right-footed laser for the 3-0 final. The Americans ended with 64% possession and a 15-2 final total on shots.
In the second semi, Canada outclassed Jamaica, 3-0, on goals by Jessie Fleming (18th minute), Allysha Chapman (64th) and Adriana Leon in the 76th.
That brings up a rematch of Canada’s iconic 1-0 win over U.S. in the Tokyo Olympic semifinals on a Fleming penalty in the 75th minute, on the way to the gold medal in 2021; the U.S. took the bronze.
The medal matches will come on Monday (18th) in Guadalupe, with the winner qualifying for the Paris 2024 Games and the runner-up and third-place team playing at a later date for the second Olympic berth from CONCACAF.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● World Games 2022: Birmingham ● The 11th World Games is heading toward the close this weekend in Birmingham, Alabama, with champions crowned in several sports that have featured as standard or “added” events at the Tokyo Games.
The U.S. women won the Softball title, defeating Japan, 3-2, in the final, with two-time Olympic silver winner Monica Abbott, 36, getting the win, and Veddriq Leonardo (INA) and American Emma Hunt winning the Sport Climbing Speed titles.
In Rhythmic Gymnastics, individual events were featured – only the All-Around is an Olympic event – with Daria Atamanov of Israel winning Ball and Ribbon. Bulgaria’s Boryana Kaleyn won on Hoop and Italy’s Sofia Raffaeli won on Clubs.
With 143 of 223 events complete, Italy leads all medal-winners with 42 (10-20-12), followed by Ukraine (32: 9-9-14) and Germany (30: 18-2-10). The U.S. is seventh with 21 (8-9-4).
Still to come are the much-anticipated Flying Disc Mixed Ultimate tournament, and the three divisions of Tug of War, at one time an Olympic event itself.
A highlight was the debut of Flag Football in the World Games as an invitational sport, under the direction of the International Federation of American Football, supported by the National Football League. The U.S. won the men’s final, played with five-a-side teams, by 46-36 over Italy, while Mexico won the women’s gold over the U.S., 39-6.
The IFAF announced a “Vision28″ program to lobby for inclusion as an added sport at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games; the pitch:
“Flag football is a short, non-contact format of American football, which is the United States’ most popular sport. Flag is played by teams of five and prioritizes speed, creativity and athleticism – qualities that align with modern sports consumption habits and are popular with Gen Z audiences. It is also adaptable to a wide range of venues – stadiums, indoor arenas and temporary urban sports parks – making it a flexible and low-cost proposition for multi-sport event organizers.”
The IFAF claims active federations in 72 countries, and promotes flag football as an effective way to extend the game to women without the violence of the 11×11 tackle format.
● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● A follow-up to Tuesday’s story on the finances of the USOPC, that even with $898.6 million in total assets, it isn’t enough.
The USA Deaf Sports Foundation announced Tuesday that Boston-area designer Jeff Mansfield, a three-time Deaflympian in ice hockey, was elected as the organization’s new president. He had previously served two terms on the USADSF Board and been the liaison with the USOPC.
Mansfield left no doubt of one of his top priorities:
“Deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes deserve more. Today, we are seeing widening disparities between the Olympics and Paralympics on one side and Deaflympics on the other. The time to build a broad movement to invest in Deaf sports is now. Such a movement is necessary to champion the rights, justice, and dignity of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people everywhere.”
No matter how much money the USOPC apparently has, it’s not enough. Not even close.
● Athletics I ● There was lots of talk about taking the World Athletics Championships to Africa and especially Nairobi in Kenya, but the lure of a celebration in front of a full house in Tokyo’s new, 68,000-seat National Stadium was too much to pass up as Tokyo was awarded the 2025 Worlds by the World Athletics Council on Thursday. Per the announcement:
“The other candidates for the event were Nairobi, Silesia [POL] and Singapore, all of which were deemed strong enough and experienced enough to host the event. Tokyo scored the highest of the four candidates in the bid evaluation across the four focused areas: the potential for a powerful narrative; revenue generating opportunities for World Athletics; a destination that will enhance the international profile of the sport; and appropriate climate.”
It will be the second time in Tokyo after the 1991 Worlds, immortalized by the men’s long jump final in which American Mike Powell set a world record of 8.95 m (29-4 1/2) to edge countryman Carl Lewis (8.91 mw/29-2 3/4w), with Lewis winning the men’s 100 m in a world record of 9.86.
The U.S. was also recognized with another Worlds award, this time for cross country. The 2024 cross-country Worlds will be in Medulin and Pula in Croatia and the 2026 Worlds in Tallahassee, Florida. It will be the first cross country Worlds in the U.S. since Boston hosted in 1992.
● Athletics II ● World Athletics confirmed that a total prize purse of $8.498 million will be available for the 2022 Worlds in Eugene, with a $100,000 world-record bonus sponsored by TDK and World Athletics.
The prizes for each event have been upgraded thanks to the use of $2 million in fines paid by the Russian Athletics Federation for anti-doping violations. The top eight finishers will receive $70,000-35,000-22,000-16,000-11,000-7,000-6,000-5,000, with $80,000-40,000-20,000-16,000-12,000-8,000-6.,000-4,000 for relays.
Another award to be decided at the Worlds – as has been the case since 2003 in Paris – will be from the International Fair Play Committee. Its award for an action or moment which epitomizes fair play will be chosen from a list of five nominated by an eight-member jury. Fans will be able to vote for their favorite on World Athletics social media channels in the week following the Worlds to help determine the winner.
● Cycling ● Only a minor change at the top of the 109th Tour de France from Thursday’s 12th stage, a misery-inducing, 165.1 km, triple climb with an uphill finish to the Alpe d’Huez. Five riders ascended the Alpe d’Huez with six minutes on the rest of the peloton, then Britain’s Tom Pidcock moved away with 10 km remaining – all uphill – and won the stage by 48 seconds over Louis Meintjes (RSA), 2:06 over four-time Tour winner Chris Froome (GBR) and 2:29 ahead of American Neilson Powless.
Leader Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) stuck like glue to two-time defending champ Tadej Pogacar (SLO) and they finished 6-5, with Geraint Thomas (GBR) seventh. After 12 stages, Vingegaard still leads by 2:22 over Pogacar, 2:26 over Thomas and 2:35 over Romain Bardet (FRA), who fell from second to fourth. The next three stages are hilly, but challenging, through Sunday.
The 2022 Tour de France has made only a modest impression on the U.S. TV audience, with last week’s stages topping out at 411,000 viewers last Saturday and averaging 350,000 viewers across six shows on USA Network from Tuesday through Sunday (5th-10th).
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