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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. IOC members ask to change rules to extend Bach
2. Bach electrifies Session opening with “Olympic Esports Games” idea
3. IOC undertakes safeguarding and human rights portfolios
4. Olympic power calculus shifting within IOC and Asia
5. Retton making “remarkable progress” against pneumonia
● BULLETIN: The LA28 added-sports program was approved by the IOC Session on Monday, as was the return of weightlifting, and a stripped-down version of modern pentathlon, but boxing’s inclusion was put on hold.
● Four members at the International Olympic Committee’s Session in India asked for a change on the IOC’s election rules to allow two-term President Thomas Bach to serve an additional four-year term. He was non-committal, so far.
● Bach stunned the membership the day before at the formal opening of the Session, proposing the study of an “Olympic Esports Games,” building on the success of the IOC’s initial forays, including this year’s Olympic Esports Week in Singapore.
● The IOC Session approved a new safeguarding pilot project on three continents, and new language in the Olympic Charter referencing “internationally-recognized human rights.”
● Developments which speak directly to potential power shifts within the Olympic Movement include an IOC Ethics report which asks for new elections at the Olympic Council of Asia and the disqualification of Kuwaiti Sheikh Talal, who won in July, and the approval of two rising IOC stars from Jordan and Zimbabwe as the candidates for two Executive Board positions.
● Good news for Mary Lou Retton, with a report of “remarkable progress” against the rare strain of pneumonia she is fighting. The crowdfunding appeal to pay her medical bills has surpassed $430,000 as of Sunday evening.
● World Championships: Beach Volleyball (U.S.’s Cheng and Hughes dethrone defending champs to take women’s Worlds gold!) = Rugby (World Cup final four now down to Argentina, New Zealand, England and South Africa) ●
● Panorama: Los Angeles 1984 (passing of LAOOC senior executive Dick Sargent) = Olympic Winter Games 2020-34 (IOC approves double-hosting concept) = Olympic Games 2026 (Prime Minister Modi says India wants 2036) = Israel (British sports minister rips English FA for not offering the salute it gave to Ukraine) = Athletics (2: Oduduru hit with six-year suspension; Joshua Belet and Meseret Belete win Amsterdam Marathon) = Badminton (China wins three at Arctic Open) = Cycling (4: Vader leads Gree-Tour of Guangxi with two stages left; Consonni wins Tour of Chongming Island; Mathieu and Sakakibara take BMX Racing season titles; Martin and Deng win final BMX Freestyle World Cup) = Football (Germany out-classes U.S. men, 3-1, in friendly) = Swimming (McKeown wins three, nearly get two world records at Athens World Cup) ●
BULLETIN: During the Monday morning portion of the International Olympic Committee Session in Mumbai, India, the IOC membership approved the package of five added sports proposed by the LA28 organizing committee, including baseball-softball, cricket, flag football, lacrosse and squash. The vote, by a show of hands, was almost unanimous, with two against and 2-3 abstentions.
It was noted that these sports will add 742 athletes to the overall total, moving from 10,500 to 11,242, and IOC Program Commission Chair Karl Stoss (AUT) noted that this number will need to be reduced in cooperation with all of the other International Federations. He also explained that the crowding issues in Los Angeles will be reduced by having some of these added sports held outside of California.
A very detailed, 40-minute presentation by LA28 emphasized that all five of these added sports have vibrant professional leagues that can be worked with for promotion, especially emphasizing the enthusiasm and commitment of the NFL for Flag Football. The projection is that these sports will be cost-neutral to the organizing committee, if not revenue-positive.
A further set of votes was taken on the pending sports of boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon. On boxing, there was a surprise, as the decision was postponed, since there is no IOC-recognized International Federation for the sport at present; the IOC de-recognized the International Boxing Association in June. So, boxing’s status for LA28 is on hold for now.
Weightlifting was voted back in (none were against), but subject to enhanced monitoring of the federation’s doping program, now outsourced to the International Testing Agency.
Modern Pentathlon was also voted in, but in a completely new format, with riding removed, obstacle racing included and the fencing ranking round removed so that only one venue will be required in order to reduce costs. Further, the number of competition days will be reduced and the new format must be approved by the relevant stakeholders, including the Olympic Broadcasting Service. The sport survives, but now in a lightweight version compared to Pierre de Coubertin’s vision first implemented in 1912.
The LA28 presentation was opened by Chair Casey Wasserman, who made an unexpected, impassioned address about the importance of supporting Ukraine and of supporting Israel after its attack by Hamas, before transitioning to the LA28 sports program proposal.
In the question-and-answer session that followed the presentation, IOC member Syed Shahid Ali of Pakistan objected to Wasserman’s comments as political, but French member Guy Drut also spoke, recalling that he – as a high hurdler – was in the Olympic Village in Munich during the terrorist incident in 1972, and supported Wasserman’s remarks, and received applause in the room.
Much more to come on the LA28 presentation and the results of today’s votes.
IOC members ask to change rules to extend Bach
It had been whispered for a while. Who can possibly replace International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (GER) in 2025? No one. So let’s change the rules and let him serve longer.
The idea is now out in the open. Near the beginning of Sunday’s first day of the 141st IOC Session, Algerian member Mustapha Berraf, the fourth to speak in an open-forum segment, and the President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) was recognized and read from lengthy prepared remarks, which included (quoting the simultaneous interpreter):
“I also listened to your speech yesterday with great attention and I must say I was very concerned listening to you about the future and particularly with regard with the measures that we need to take to ensure that our Movement will be able to maintain its solidarity [and] credibility. …
“The Covid-19 period and the dysfunction between certain parties at war are being the perfect illustration and thanks to our mobilization and thanks to our solidarity organized by you, our President, Thomas Bach, that we were able to save the Olympic and sports movement, and to allow all the athletes of the world to continue to allow them to divert their sports and their abilities.
“I want to bring to your attention the fact that questions which I asked to speak about have been the subject of a large discussion with the Executive Board in ANOCA, of which I am the representative and the majority of African members of the IOC, which approved them in a large majority.
“A number of the Olympic Charter provisions that were adopted in 2021 and which deal with the fact that there should be a secret ballot to elect our President for eight years, a period of office which could be renewed for a period of four years. You were elected on the 10th of September 1993 [actually 2013] and on 10th of March 2021, you were re-elected for a period of four years.
“There have been a number of changes and crises that you have had to deal with, which you have dealt with very well, thanks to the support of us all. The changes that you have to face, we have to face in the IOC, takes place at a time of great divisions in the world, and I think it is necessary, really, that we have this exceptional leadership which you have shown.
“Therefore, on behalf of the African National Olympic Committees, and the African members of the IOC, suggest that we make the necessary arrangements so that President Thomas Bach should be allowed to carry out an additional term of office, which would allow the IOC to go through this period of torment with a President who has proved his mettle, and which will allow the IOC to prepare a transition in a very much more serene manner. …
“Dear friends, in conclusion, let me just say that our demand to extend the term of office is being done on behalf of the entire Executive Board of ANOCA, and which takes into account the general interest of our Movement.
“On this occasion, I would like to extend to you the thank-you on behalf of the Executive Board and also I’d like to congratulate the illustrious members of the IOC. And I’d like to say that under your leadership, we have been able to deal with all the changes on the planet, and also having given to our continent, Africa, the possibility for the first time in its history to be able to organize an Olympic Games. Senegal and Africa will do their best to be up to the task which brings with it this exceptional responsibility.”
Africa has 16 members in the IOC, out of 99 in total. But among the next five speakers, three directly supported the added-term idea:
● Luis Mejia Oviedo (DOM; elected in 2017)
● Camilo Perez Lopez (PAR; elected in 2018)
● Aicha Garad Ali (DJI, elected in 2012)
In addition, Japan’s Morinari Watanabe, elected in 2018 and the head of the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique expressed warm appreciation for Bach, saying at the end of his remark “I love you,” but also mentioned the importance of good governance. Bach smiled back and replied, “Thank you for your love.”
Last to speak in the open forum was Australian John Coates, head of the IOC’s Legal Commission, who spoke while leafing through the Olympic Charter and noted:
“It is not an easy matter to change the Charter. It requires that the proposed modifications to the Charter are included on an agenda, our agenda, that is circulated 30 days in advance of the meeting. And there is also a requirement that in respect of any proposed change of rule or by-laws, the IOC Executive Board considers them and presents a report to the Session, the same Session where it will be proposed to consider them.”
So, any change would require approval of the IOC Executive Board and a ballot measure presented to the members by the middle of next June. Plenty of time.
Bach did reply, but was non-committal, saying in part:
“I think I can summarize these interventions and first of all, say thank you very, very much for your kind words of support, because I think these words of support are not only directed to me, there are directed to all of us, of what made us to overcome the challenges we had was exactly this unity, this support which you expressed with regard to many items over all the time. And we can only be credible if we are appealing to all these divisive forces in the world, if we are appealing to respect the unifying power of sport, if we ourselves are unified. Otherwise, we have no credibility. If we are divided, how can we teach others about unity and our unifying power.
“And I think I can interpret your words there also in this direction. And I will not hide that they went straight to my heart, because you know how much I always emphasize this unity, and how much I always appreciate this support, this friendship and even the love expressed by Mr. Watanabe.
“Having said this, you also know that I am very loyal to the Olympic Charter. Being a co-author of this Olympic Charter, it drives me to be even more loyal to the Olympic Charter. …
“So thank you very, very much again, and I am really touched by your support and your friendship, and in this spirit of support and friendship and unity, I hope we can also have this Session and take the decisions in this Session which we can take.”
There was no applause or cheering in the room during the statements; of the 99 IOC members eligible to come to Mumbai, 12 were absent, notably including the Russian members Shamil Tarpishchev and Yelena Isinbayeva.
Observed: This is a new – and not totally unexpected – development and the accusations will immediately begin that this was all planned in advance, with Berraf reading from a lengthy prepared script in French. But the real question is whether Bach will agree to serve and whether the IOC membership will go along with this. As Berraf said, Africa is already pledged. But it will take more votes than they have to make this work.
The only sure thing that can be said is that any of the members who have been touted as possible IOC President material for 2025 are sidelined until Bach – now 69 – announces whether he will accept an extra four-year term.
The current rules require that IOC members can serve through the end of the year in which they turn 70, but the Session can extend the age limit by four years by a majority vote. Bach, however, was elected in 1991 and members elected prior to 1999 may serve to age 80. The Presidential term is fixed at a first term of eight years and a second term of four years.
Bach electrifies Session opening with “Olympic Esports Games” idea
“The younger generation has a completely new way of thinking. They are living digital lives right now. We must not ignore their thinking if we do not want to jeopardize our own future. We must empower them to guide us with their young mindset. We have to be in the driver’s seat.”
With that introduction in his remarks at the opening of the IOC Session in Mumbai, IOC President Bach explained that electronic sports are a part of the IOC’s future now, not later:
“Another dimension of this digital revolution is esports. There are 3 billion people playing esports and gaming around the world. It is estimated that over 500 million of them are interested specifically in esports which includes virtual sports and sport simulations. What is even more relevant to us: a majority of them are under the age of 34.
“This is why we took the strategic decision to engage with esports in a holistic way. We chose an approach that would allow us to be active in the esports space while staying true to our values that have guided us for over a century. With respect to esports, our values are and remain the red line that we will not cross. Our crystal-clear position is gaining more and more respect in the esports community. One of the leading publishers even adapted their popular game to conform fully with our Olympic values – so that players shot at targets, not at people. …
“This was a promising start. But it is just that: a start. It is like in any sport: after the promising start, the real race still lies ahead.
“To compete successfully in this race, I have asked our new IOC Esports Commission to study the creation of:
“Olympic Esports Games.”
“[Artificial Intelligence] and esports – these are our two opportunities. To seize these opportunities and to manage the risks, we need a new mindset. We need the mindset of the young people. We have to trust and to empower them, because the pace of change will be exponential.
“It is “change or be changed” once again.”
The Olympic Esports Commission is chaired by France’s David Lappartient, who is also the President of the Union Cycliste Internationale and the CNOSF, the French National Olympic Committee.
IOC undertakes safeguarding and human rights portfolios
The IOC Session took a couple of remarkable actions, initiating a “safeguarding” program for athletes on three continents and agreeing to changes to the Olympic Charter that refer to human rights.
The safeguarding project is described as:
“[A] plan to establish two pilot regional safeguarding hubs in Southern Africa and the Pacific Islands. The plans build on existing initiatives in those regions. In addition, the IOC [Executive Board] supported the initial work for a European safeguarding hub.
“The new regional hubs will act as central coordination points, and will provide athletes with independent guidance, and help them access psychosocial support, legal aid and any other assistance that they may need. This will be delivered through existing services, available locally, in the athletes’ own language and with an understanding of their culture and local context.”
It’s rather amazing for a worldwide organization like the IOC to undertake an effort that has to be locally based within communities, certainly the work of National Olympic Committees and their national sport federations. But the announcement also clarified that, once again, only the IOC has the money, interest and is willing take some level of responsibility:
“In response to the request by Olympic Movement stakeholders and International Federations (IFs) in particular for the IOC to take the lead in addressing the critical challenges related to safeguarding in sport at local level, the IOC created a dedicated Safeguarding Working Group in March this year.
“Chaired by EB member and Deputy Chair of the IOC’s Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Commission HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, the working group’s remit is to consider the best approach to establishing independent safeguarding systems and structures at national level, which will ensure that resources are directed to where they are most needed to support athletes and build safeguarding capacity in sports organisations.”
The IOC announced a $10 million fund to assist in this area earlier this year. The over-arching concept was also described:
“The pilot hubs in Southern Africa and the Pacific Islands will build on existing initiatives in the regions, and will have in-depth knowledge and understanding of local safeguarding measures, and the legal landscape and services available, so that they can guide anyone harmed in sport – from grassroots through to elite level – towards trusted services, particularly those designed to support their well-being.
“Where there are gaps in the available services, the hubs will seek to mobilise resources and partnerships to address them. The hubs’ primary focus will be on response, in order to ensure that any person who has been harmed in sport has a direct point of contact who can offer immediate assistance and access to local support.”
The IOC Session also approved changes to the Olympic Charter that incorporate references to human rights. The two key language changes are to the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” no. 1 and no. 4:
● Modification to no. 1, in pertinent part:
“Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for internationally recognised human rights and universal fundamental ethical principles within the remit of the Olympic Movement.”
● Modification to no. 4, in pertinent part:
“Every individual must have access to the practice of sport, without discrimination of any kind in respect of internationally recognised human rights within the remit of the Olympic Movement.”
The language is very carefully written so as not to apply to issues outside of sport, or to sports which are outside of the Olympic Movement. There is also no specific reference to what constitutes “internationally recognized human rights.” But this continues the IOC’s march, accelerated by Bach, to line the IOC up with the guidelines of the United Nations as a stamp of approval.
What these changes will mean in actual practice is anyone’s guess. And that was intentional.
Olympic power calculus shifting within IOC and Asia
Beyond the now-raised question of whether the IOC’s Bach might serve beyond the current 12-year limit, watchers of the power intrigue inside the Olympic Movement were especially attentive to two actions in the last few days:
(1) The continuing drama over the 8 July elections at the Olympic Council of Asia, where Kuwaiti Sheikh Talal Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was elected by 24-20 over World Aquatics President and fellow Kuwaiti Husain Al-Musallam, has escalated via a report from the IOC’s Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Paquerette Girard Zappelli (FRA).
Reuters reported that her report to the OCA stated that the organization should “declare the elections held on 8 July 2023 as invalid, to review the OCA Constitution, in particular to make it compliant… with regard to the election process, transparency, and checks and balances.” She suggested that new elections be held.
The IOC Ethics Commission has ruled that the OCA election process was tainted by the appearance of the former, long-time OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, an IOC member who self-suspended himself in 2018 over a Swiss forgery case in which he was convicted in 2021 (the case is on appeal). Sheikh Ahmad was the President of the OCA from 1991-2021 and against direct instructions, flew to the OCA elections assembly in Bangkok (THA) to lobby for his younger brother, Sheikh Talal. Sheikh Ahmad was suspended from the IOC for three years, and Girard Zappelli said in a letter to the interim OCA President, Randhir Singh (IND), that Sheikh Talal should have been declared ineligible to stand for election.
The brothers have filed an action against the IOC over this issue with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Sheikh Ahmad was a high-profile power broker within the IOC and at FIFA, but his actions inside and outside of sport have sidelined his influence in the Olympic Movement; it is worth noting that he is hardly inactive as he is the minister of defense in Kuwait.
(2) Not directly related to the Olympic Council of Asia election issues was the nomination and election of two highly-important IOC members to the Executive Board: Jordan’s Prince Feisal Al-Hussein and Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry.
Al-Hussein was first elected to the IOC Executive Board in 2019 and will serve a second term. Now 56, he is also a board member of the OCA since 2007 and could be an IOC-approved nominee for President if and when a new election is held. As for the IOC, Al-Hussein was a member of the Coordination Commission for the Tokyo 2020 Games and is the Vice Chair of the Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Commission since last year. Under Bach, he is clearly on the rise.
Coventry, the Zimbabwe Minister for Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, had a high-profile role heading the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission from 2018-21 and served as an Executive Board member from 2018-21. She is the head of the IOC’s Games Optimisation Group and was just appointed to head the new IOC Safeguarding Working Group (see above). A seven-time Olympic swimming medalist (2-4-1) from 2004 and 2008, she has been consistently mentioned as a possible successor to Bach (if he does not agree to seek an additional term). She would be the first IOC President from Africa and the first woman, both of which would be in line with Bach’s emphasis on diversity.
Already on the Executive Board and whispered as possible Bach successors are Aruban attorney Nicole Hoevertsz, the head of the Coordination Commission for LA28, and Juan Antonio Samaranch, Jr. (ESP), who served as the Coordination Commission head for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games and the son of legendary IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who served from 1980-2001, among others.
Observed: These developments are completely in line with Bach’s plan for succession (if he does not serve an additional term). Now 69, he is already attentive to the future. But that does not mean that he will get what he wants in terms of a successor. But he is not letting the future – whenever that is – take its course without his input.
Retton making “remarkable progress” against pneumonia
Los Angeles Olympic icon Mary Lou Retton is improving per daughter Shayla Schrepfer’s post on Saturday, which included:
“Mom’s progress is truly remarkable. Prayers have been felt and have been answered.
“Although she remains in ICU, her path to recovery is steadily unfolding. Her fighting spirit is truly shining.
“Her breathing is become stronger, and her reliance on machines is diminishing.
“Though it’s a lengthy journey, witnessing these improvements is incredibly heartening! She’s responding so well to treatments.”
Retton, 55, was hospitalized to treat a rare strain of pneumonia and her family opened a Spotfund.com crowd-funding site since she is uninsured. The site opened last Tuesday (17th) and as of the end of Sunday, had raised $434,870 against a $50,000 goal from 8,033 donors.
As a 16-year-old, Retton famously won the All-Around at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, winning by just 0.05 over favored Ecaterina Szabo from Romania. Retton won five medals in L.A. in all, including a team silver and won five medals in all (1-2-2).
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Beach Volleyball ● The FIVB World Championships concluded in Tlaxcala, Mexico, with the American duo of Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes becoming the first U.S. gold medalists in 14 years.
They had to win over the defending champions, Brazil’s top-seeded Ana Patricia Ramos and Duda Lisboa (BRA), 21-16 and 24-22 for a sweep and the first World Championships medal for both U.S. stars.
This was the third meeting this season between the two teams in a championship final, with Cheng and Hughes winning the Tepic Elite 16 tournament in March and the Brazilians winning Gstaad Elite 16 in Switzerland in July.
Cheng (nee Claes) and Hughes were NCAA champs at USC in 2016 and 2017 then came to the professional ranks, but separated in 2018. They reunited in 2022 and made the two Beach Pro Tour finals this season before the Worlds. They won the first U.S. women’s title since Jen Kessy and April Ross. U.S. women’s pairs had lost three straight Worlds finals since, in 2011, 2017 and 2019.
In the third-place match, Americans Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth won their first Worlds medals with a 15-21, 21-19, 15-8 win over Australia’s Tokyo 2020 silver medalists Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy (AUS).
Nuss and Kloth are a relatively new pair, starting together in 2021, and have been quite successful, winning eight medals in 19 starts in Beach Pro Tour play (4-2-2) and now a Worlds medal! It’s only the second time that U.S. women won two medals in one Worlds; Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan won silver and Liz Masakayan and Elaine Youngs took bronze in 1999.
The men’s title match was another surprise, with 16-seed Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner (CZE) defeating David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig (SWE), the no. 2 seeds, by 21-15, 17-21 and 15-13. The Czech duo were the 2022 European runners-up, but won their first Worlds medals. They had won twice on the Beach Pro Tour this season and were hottest when it counted most.
In the third-place match, 11th-seeded Bartosz Losiak and Michal Bryl (POL) won their first Worlds medals with a 21-17, 21-18 win over Americans Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner (USA). It’s the third time Brunner has finished fourth at a Worlds, also in 2015 with Nick Lucena and in 2022 with Chaim Schalk.
● Rugby ● The 10th Rugby World Cup is on to the semifinals, with Argentina to face three-time champion New Zealand next Friday, and undefeated England taking on defending champ South Africa.
The quarterfinal matches were thrillers, starting with Argentina’s 29-17 win over Wales, with each side scoring two tries, but Emiliano Boffelli scoring 14 points himself on four penalties and two conversions. Wales led by 10-6 at half, but Boffelli scored 11 points in the second to lead the Argentine comeback.
New Zealand dislodged the top-ranked Irish in their quarterfinal by 28-24, taking a 13-0 lead in the first half, but saw almost all of it disappear by halftime, leading just 18-17. The second half was taut, with Will Jordan scoring a try in the 53rd (Jordie Barrett conversion) for a 25-17 lead and after a penalty try cut the lead to one again, Barrett kicked a penalty in the 69th minute for the 28-24 final.
England got up by 21-10 at half against Fiji, but then had to hold on as Peni Ravai and Vilimoni Botitu scored tries for a 24-24 tie in the 68th minute. But Owen Farrell scored on a drop in the 72nd and a penalty in the 78th to finish with 19 points and advance to the semis.
The last quarterfinal was a clash between second-ranked France and third-ranked South Africa, which turned into a classic. The French managed a 22-19 lead at the half, but points were hard to come by in the second half. France’s Thomas Ramos scored on a penalty for a 25-19 French lead in the 54th, then Eben Etzebeth scored a try for South Africa in the 67th with a Handre Polland conversion to take a 26-25 lead and then Polland added a penalty for a 29-25 edge. France managed only a 73rd-minute penalty from Ramos and could do no more and lost by a point before 79,386 at the Stade de France.
In the semis this week:
● 20 October: Argentina (4-1) vs. New Zealand (4-1)
● 21 October: England (5-0) vs. South Africa (4-1)
Both games will be played at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis in the Paris area, with the championship final on the 28th.
With four matches left, attendance has reached 2,123,718, an excellent average of 48,266.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 1984: Los Angeles ● Dick Sargent, one of the key players in the transformational Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee and a key confidant of Peter Ueberroth, has passed at age 89.
His obituary reported that Sargent died peacefully on 5 October in Laguna Nigel, California after a period of declining health. He will be remembered as a tireless, can-do personality who always saw an opportunity or a solution rather than a problem. And he was among the most fun, entertaining and warm personalities to have a drink or dinner with ever.
Sargent, a World War II veteran (Army), graduated from San Jose State and with his lifelong friend Ueberroth, prospered in the travel business, helping to build one of the largest travel concerns in the U.S. He was one of the earliest hires by Ueberroth in the fledgling LAOOC in 1979 and was a key player in the earliest negotiations with the competition and Olympic Village venues, as well as on security and television sales.
As the organizing committee expanded, Sargent became the “fireman.” If there was an impossible-to-solve issue, Ueberroth assigned it to his friend. Perhaps the most chaotic was the initial organization of the 15,000 km cross-country Olympic torch relay, designated to start on 8 May 1984 and run across the U.S. and ending up at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on time for the opening of the Games on 28 July.
Sargent had to deal with intractable opposition from the Hellenic Olympic Committee in Greece, which stridently objected to the LAOOC’s fund-raising program, which offered a “Youth Legacy Kilometer” run with the torch for a $3,000 donation that was split among the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Special Olympics. Some $10.95 million was raised, and the Greeks only relented and agreed to light the flame in the traditional manner at Olympia and turn it over to the LAOOC in the final week before the ceremony. As was his norm, Sargent had a back-up plan, arranging for an alternate flame to be lit and secretly brought to New York from the IOC headquarters in Switzerland!
Sargent returned to the travel industry after the Games, but took time out to organize the Long Beach (California) Centennial celebration in 1988 and worked on many other sports-related projects, notably in sailing. Near the end of his life, he was exploring opportunities for an institute or museum related to the impact of the 1984 Olympic Games that he and his friend Ueberroth helped make such a success.
Sargent is survived by his wife Pat and his children Tony and Michelle.
● Olympic Winter Games 2030-34 ● The IOC Session approved the concept of a double allocation of the 2030 and 2034 Olympic Winter Games. From the announcement:
“The proposal was made in order to allow more time for the Olympic Movement to address the challenges made clear by the preliminary findings of a report looking at the impact of climate change on the Olympic Winter Games, which was also presented to the IOC EB on Friday. It reveals a reduction in the pool of potential hosts by 2040, and further by mid-century.”
Winter Games Future Host Commission head Karl Stoss (AUT) told the members:
“Whilst we look forward to celebrating 100 years of the Olympic Winter Games next February, there is no doubt that we are facing great challenges, and our goal is to ensure we can continue to hold successful Games in the future.
“A double allocation would bring security for the Olympic Movement in solid traditional winter sport and climate-reliable hosts until 2034, while allowing the IOC time to reflect on the long-term future of the Winter Games.”
This is good news for Salt Lake City, which has a ready-to-go bid for 2034, while the 2030 situation is more fluid, with no clear candidate, but activity toward a bid in southern France, Sweden and Switzerland. The announced timeline:
“Should the Commission feel that it is in a position to do so, it will recommend the opening of a Targeted Dialogue to the IOC EB at its meeting in November, with a view to an IOC Session election in 2024.”
● Olympic Games 2036 ● Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an impassioned and direct speech at the opening of the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai (IND) that included:
“India is eager to host the Olympics in the country. India will leave no stone unturned in the preparation for the successful organization of the Olympics in 2036, this is the dream of the 140 crore Indians.
“India is also eager to host the Youth Olympics taking place in the year 2029.”
With that, the formal entry of India into the 2036 race has started, with many countries discussing the idea with the IOC’s Future Host Commission. The attribution of the 2036 Games probably won’t come before 2026 at the earliest, but more likely in 2027 or 2028.
● Israel ● Lucy Frazer, the British Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport pointedly criticized the English Football Association last week on X (ex-Twitter):
“I am extremely disappointed by the FA’s decision not to light up the Wembley Stadium arch following last weekend’s horrific terrorist attacks in Israel, and have made my views clear to the FA.
“It is especially disappointing in light of the FA’s bold stance on other terrorist attacks in the recent past.
“Words and actions matter. The Government is clear: we stand with Israel.”
Reuters reported that “Wembley, the home of England’s national football team, has previously lit up its iconic arch with the colours of Ukraine, Turkey and other countries in solidarity. However, it will not do the same for Israel, media reports said.”
The FA posted a statement last Thursday that made no reference to Israel or its attackers:
“On Friday evening, we will remember the innocent victims of the devastating events in Israel and Palestine.
“Our thoughts are with them, and their families and friends in England and Australia and with all the communities who are affected by this ongoing conflict. We stand for humanity and an end to the death, violence, fear and suffering.
“England and Australia players will wear black armbands during their match at Wembley Stadium and there will also be a period of silence held before kick off.”
● Athletics ● “Divine Oduduru has been banned for six years by a three-member Disciplinary Tribunal for committing two Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) of Possession of Prohibited Substances and the Attempted Use of a Prohibited Substance or Method and ordered to pay World Athletics US$3000 towards its expenses regarding the case.”
The Athletics Integrity Unit’s announcement explained that the suspensions were an outcome of the U.S. Justice Department investigation of American Eric Lira under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which alleged Lira as the distributor of doping substances to Oduduru and fellow Nigerian star Blessing Okagare:
“The Prohibited Substances found in Oduduru’s apartment were two boxes of Somatropin, “Xerendip” and “Humatrope”, which were identified as human growth hormone; a plastic ziplock bag labelled “IGF LR3” – an abbreviation for synthetic or “recombinant” Insulin Growth Factor – containing three vials, and two boxes of recombinant erythropoietin (EPO). According to testimony, one of the boxes of EPO was open and had only one of six vials remaining.”
Okagbare was given a total suspension of 11 years in 2022 and Oduduru’s suspension began on 9 February 2023 and will expire on 8 February 2029, when he will be 32. All of his results since 12 July 2021 have been nullified.
Oduduru was a sensation for Texas Tech in 2019, winning the NCAA titles in the men’s 100 m and 200 m in 9.86 and 19.73. He was a two-time Olympian for Nigeria at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, but did not make the final at either Games.
Kenyan Joshua Belet and Ethiopia’s Meseret Belete won the Amsterdam Marathon on Sunday in 2:04:18 and 2:18:21, respectively.
Belet moved away from the leak pack after 30 km and won going away, with fellow Kenyans Cybrian Kotut second (2:04:34) and Bethwel Chumba (2:04:37) third. Belet, 25, moved to no. 9 on the 2023 world list with the win, in his third career marathon, all this year.
Belete also moved to no. 9 on the year list, moving away from three challengers around the 40 km mark and winning easily, 1:29 ahead of Meseret Abebayehu (ETH: 2:19:50) and 1:51 ahead of Dorcas Tuitoek (KEN: 2:20:02).
● Badminton ● China took three titles at the BWF World Tour Arctic Open in Vantaa (FIN), starting with an all-China final in the women’s Singles, with third-seed Yue Han defeating countrywoman Zhi Yi Wang, 16-21, 22-20, 21-12.
In the women’s Doubles, Sheng Shu Liu and Ning Tan swept Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai (THA), 21-13, 24-22, and in the all-China final of the Mixed Doubles, top-seeds Yan Zhe Feng and Dong Ping Huang dispatched Zhen Bang Jiang and Ya Xin Wei, 21-14, 21-15.
The men’s Singles was an all-Malaysian final, with no. 8 seed Zii Lia Lee defeating Tze Yang Ng, 21-14, 21-15.
The Danish men’s Doubles team of Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen won in straight sets over Wei Chong Man and Kai Wun Tee (MAS), 21-18, 21-17.
The BWF World Tur moves to Odense, Denmark for the Victor Denmark Open, starting on Tuesday.
● Cycling ● The final race of the UCI World Tour for 2023 is the five-stage Gree-Tour of Guangxi in China, which will finish on Tuesday. The first two stages were flat, won by Italian sprinters Elia Viviani over teammate Jonathan Milan, and then Milan won the second stage.
The mostly flat, 134,3 km third stage in Nanning was another mass sprint finish, with a Dutch sweep by Olav Kooij, Rick Pluimers and Marijn van den Berg, all timed in 3:04:09. On Sunday, a flat, 161.4 km stage finished uphill, with a win for Milan Vader (NED) in 3:43:45, two seconds up on Remy Rochas (FRA) and eight seconds over an eight-member chase pack, with Hugh Carthy (GBR) getting third.
With the win, Vader took the overall lead after four stages, six seconds up on Rochas and 14 up on Carthy. There are 16 riders within 29 seconds of the lead with two mostly-flat stages remaining.
The UCI Women’s World Tour’s China leg started with the Tour of Chongming Island, with Mylene de Zoete (NED) winning the flat first stage at the head of a mass sprint in 2:34:47 for the 108.9 km course.
The 128.6 km second stage was also a flat sprinter’s event, with Hanna Tserakh of Belarus (a “neutral”) winning in 3:18:11. The third and final stage on Saturday was another mass sprint at the end of 112.3 km, won by Italian Chaia Consonni over Daria Pikulik (POL) and Martina Fidanza (ITA). That gave Consonni the overall victory in 8:40:21, with de Zoete nine seconds back and Pikulik 10 seconds back in third.
The women’s season finishes Tuesday with the one-day Tour of Guangxi.
The final BMX World Cup races of the season – nos. 9 and 10 – were in Santiago del Estero (ARG), with 2022 U.S. champ Cameron Wood taking Friday’s final in 30.328 over France’s Romain Mathieu (30.430) and Australian Bodi Turner (30.891).
Mahieu came back on Saturday to win his fifth World Cup race in the seasonal finale in 30.089, trailed by Tokyo Olympic Champion Niek Kimman (NED: 30.530) and Britain’s Quillan Isidore (30.967).
With five wins, Mahieu was an easy winner of the seasonal title with 3,543 points, ahead of teammate Joris Daudet (3,094) and Diego Arboleda (COL: 2,159).
Australian star Saya Sakakibara won Friday’s women’s race in 32.143, just ahead of 2018 World Champion Laura Smulders (NED: 32.280) and American Felicia Stancil (33.073). Sakakibara completed the weekend sweep on Saturday, winning in 32.074, ahead of Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist Merel Smulders (32.976) and American two-time World Champion Alise Willoughby (33.394).
Sakakibara also won five races on the season and took the 2023 World Cup title with 3,775 points to 3,044 for Britain’s Olympic champ Bethany Shriever, with Laura Smulders third (2,680), Willoughby fourth (2,480) and Merel Smulders – Laura’s younger sister – fifth (2,334).
At the BMX Freestyle World Cup Park Bazhong (CHN), the final World Cup on the 2023 schedule, the home team took gold and bronze in the women’s final, with 17-year-old Yawen Deng scoring 93.84 points to win over five-time World Champion Hannah Roberts, 22, of the U.S. (91.00) and 2023 Worlds bronze medalist Sibei Sun, 18, of China (89.20).
Roberts won the seasonal title with 3,700 points, ahead of Sun (2,930), with fellow Chinese Huimin Zhou third overall (2,920).
Australia’s Logan Martin, the Tokyo Olympic gold medalist, won the men’s final with a big second run, scoring 96.74 to win over Kim Reilly (GBR: 96.56) and France’s Anthony Jeanjean (95.70). Martin won the seasonal title with 3,820 points, ahead of Reilly (2,910) and Jeanjean (2,890).
● Football ● Germany out-classed the U.S. men, 3-1, in a friendly in Hartford, Connecticut on Saturday, scoring twice in the second half to break a 1-1 tie.
U.S. star forward Christian Pulisic scored a sensational goal in the 27th minute to put the U.S. on top, taking possession of the ball on the left side and then running through five defenders to send a right-footed rocket into the upper right corner of the German goal for a 1-0 lead.
But the Germans were on the attack as well. Midfielder Leroy Sane hit the post in the 17th minute, and Sane and defender Antonio Rudiger had shots blocked before Sane dribbled past six defenders at the top of the box, then pushed the ball to midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who returned it to Sane, whose shot was blocked by U.S. keeper Matt Turner. But the rebound rolled free and Gundogan evened the game in the 39th with a left-footed shot from the left side of he goal.
In the second half, the Germans struck twice in three minutes to take control. In the 58th, defender Robin Gosens got hold of a bouncing ball on the top of the box and sent a left-footed through-ball into the box to a sprinting striker Niclas Fuellbrug, who finished with a low shot that got past U.S. keeper Turner for a 2-1 lead.
In the 61st, it was midfielder Jamal Musiala driving with the ball into the box, but a deflection sent the ball to Fuellbrug, who returned it to a charging Musiala for a left-footed goal, and the 3-1 final.
The Germans broke a three-match losing streak with the win, and controlled possession at 60% and had a 19-6 advantage on shots. The U.S. fell to 4-8 all-time vs. Germany. The U.S. men will play Ghana on Tuesday (17th) at Nashville, Tennessee at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.
● Swimming ● Australia’s Kaylee McKeown was the star of the second World Aquatics World Cup was in Athens (GRE), setting three World Cup records and perilously close to world marks in two events.
McKeown won the 100 and 200 m Backstrokes at the Tokyo Olympic Games and owns the world records in both at 57.45 in 2021 and 2:03.14 from March of 2023. In Berlin, she won the 50 m Back in a world-leading 27.02, moving her to no. 2 all-time and 0.04 off the 26.98 world mark of Xiang Lu (CHN) from 2018.
In the 100 m Back, she won in 57.63, just 0.18 off her own world mark and the equal-sixth performance of all time. McKeown took the 200 m Back in 2:06.02, ahead of Katie Grimes of the U.S. (2:08.01).
Sweden’s five-time World Champion Sarah Sjostrom won the women’s 50 m Butterfly in 24.97, a time that no one else has ever matched and the no. 13 performance in history. She now owns the top 22 performances ever! And Sjostrom was busy, winning the 50 m Free, and second in the 100 m Free and 100 m Fly.
China’s Yufei Zhang, the Tokyo silver winner, took the women’s 100 m Fly over Sjostrom in 56.06 (to 56.92), the no. 2 performance of the year (she’s also the world leader). Zhang also won the 200 m Fly (2:06.73) to be one of four women who won multiple events.
Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey continued her winning ways, taking the 100 m (52.55) and 200 m (1:55.03) Freestyles and World Champion Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) won the 50 (30.23) and 100 m (1:06.70) Breast events.
The sole women’s winner for the U.S. was Grimes, who took the 400 m Medley (4:38.74), an event in which she won the 2023 Worlds silver.
Matt Sates (RSA) won the 100 m Fly (51.82), 200 m Fly (1:55.44) and 200 m Medley (1:58.86) as the only three-event winner on the men’s side.
Two-event winners included American Michael Andrew in the men’s 50 m Free (21.96), 50 m Back (24.79); Danas Rapsys (LTU) in the 200 (1:45.72) and 400 m (3:48.64) Freestyles; Italy’s three-time Worlds gold medalist Thomas Ceccon in the 100 m Free (48.36) and the 100 m Backstroke (52.73); China’s triple World Champion Haiyang Qin in the 100 (58.44) and 200 m (2:08.05) Breaststrokes.
The third and final World Cup of 2023 comes next week in Budapest (HUN).
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!