TSX REPORT: IOC confident in Seine Olympic water quality; 79% like 2034 Winter Games in Utah; ISU limits jumps but not somersaults!

The Paris 2024 torch, pictured over the Seine River (Photo: Paris 2024)

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1. Dubi: “very confident we will swim in the Seine”
2. Euro star Lobalu earns place in Paris as refugee
3. Euro 24 and U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials starting up
4. New poll shows 79% of Utahans support 2034 Winter Games
5. ISU limits figure skating jumps, but OKs somersaults!

● International Olympic Committee Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi said the Executive Board was briefed Thursday on the improvements to the drainage in the Seine River and expressed high confidence that the open-water and triathlon events will be held there.

● The IOC extended an invitation to European 10,000 m champ Dominic Lobalu to join the IOC’s Refugee Olympic Team for Paris 2024. Although he ran for Switzerland at the Europeans, he is not yet a Swiss citizen and therefore cannot be part of the Swiss team at the Games. A team from Afghanistan will compete in Paris, with three men and three women, but no official of the Taliban government will be accredited for the Games.

● Two big events are getting started, the UEFA EURO 2024 football championship in Germany, with England and France as the favorites, and the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, in Indianapolis. The U.S. is expected to field a deep and talented team, but will be competing in a temporary pool on the field level of the Lucas Oil Stadium!

● New polling for The Deseret News showed that 79% of Utahans approve of having the 2034 Olympic Winter Games there, a figure which has remained consistent across three years of surveys. Similar strength of support has also been seen in polling in Los Angeles for 2028.

● The International Skating Union’s figure skating branch approved rules changes to reduce the number of jump sequences in Singles and Pairs beginning in the 2026-27 season, and approved somersaults in competition, effective immediately. A comprehensive presentation was made on how the ISU plans to expand its fan base and impact in all of its disciplines.

Panorama: LA28 (Bell to chair Cultural Olympiad) = World Anti-Doping Agency (Tunisian anti-doping head still detained) = Athletics (3: Bromell out for Trials due to injury; European Athletics awards €50,000 Gold Crowns; Schwarzman pledges $15 million in USATF Foundation grants) = Cycling (stars Valente and Dygert named to U.S. track cycling team for Paris) = Football (filing asks Euro Court of Justice to consider player’s right to rest in calendar war with FIFA) = Swimming (Aussie magic: McKeown swims no. 2 time ever in women’s 200 m Backstroke) ●

Dubi: “very confident we will swim in the Seine”

Confident. In a word, that sums up the International Olympic Committee’s view on the promised water quality in the Seine River for the open-water swimming events and the triathlon at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

At Thursday’s news briefing following the second day of the IOC Executive Board in Lausanne, Executive Director for the Olympic Games Christophe Dubi (SUI) said the issue was mentioned during the Paris 2024 briefing:

“Certainly an explanation by Prefect [of the Ile-de-France Marc] Guillaume. He made clear that it was understood that now, with the full infrastructure in place, especially the well of Austerlitz, they will be able to cope with the request for swimming in the Seine.

“So, very reassuring. He mentioned, however, that the rains of these last days – torrential rains over the last weeks, even, more than days – made it more complicated, but they felt very confident hat the whole program they had designed is in place.

“So, no reasons to doubt. We are very confident as well that we will swim in the Seine this summer.”

The renovation of the Paris water treatment system, at a cost of about $1.5 billion U.S., is a signature effort of the City of Paris for the 2024 Games, and both the Paris Mayor, Anne Hidalgo, and French President, Emmanuel Macron, have said they plan to swim in the Seine prior to the Games.

Because of the level of pollution levels in the river for more than a century, swimming has been banned since 1923, but Hidalgo has said that she wants to designate three areas for public swimming after the Games.

As Dubi noted, the issue is the weather. The new treatment concept included the construction of two giant reservoirs to capture rainwater that had overflowed the existing treatment system and caused direct discharge of sewage into the river. The new basins, one inaugurated in April and one coming on line later in June, are designed to end this problem.

But if there are heavy rains, there could be problems.

The triathlons come first, on 30-31 July for the men’s and women’s races and on 5 August for the mixed relay. The open-water 10 km swimming races are scheduled late in the Games on 8-9 August. This spaced-out schedule allows the organizers some flexibility to re-schedule the races if the (heavy) rains come.

Euro star Lobalu earns place in Paris as refugee

One of the feel-good stories of the European Athletics Championships in Rome was the performance of Swiss distance runner Dominic Lobalu, a refugee from South Sudan who left at age eight in 2006, went to Kenya and became part of the World Athletics Athlete Refugee Team, competing at the 2017 World Championships in London.

In 2019, he competed in the Harmony Geneva Marathon and decided to stay. Five years later, in Rome, he won a bronze medal in the men’s 5,000 m on 8 June and won the 10,000 m on the 12th. And now he is going to Paris, thanks to an IOC Executive Board decision on Thursday:

“Considering that Lobalu has a refugee status in Switzerland, verified by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and has recently achieved the World Athletics standard for participation in the Olympic Games (5,000m), he is fully eligible to be included in the IOC Refugee Olympic Team with immediate effect.

“Although Lobalu was recently allowed by World Athletics to represent Switzerland in World Athletics competitions (despite not having Swiss nationality), the EB confirmed that he is not eligible to represent Switzerland at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 because he is currently not a Swiss national, in accordance with Rule 41.1 of the Olympic Charter.”

The IOC also achieved one of its long-standing goals, announcing that Afghanistan will participate in Paris with six athletes, including three women:

“The EB confirmed that the IOC-recognised NOC and its leadership (including the NOC President and NOC Secretary General in exile) continue to be the IOC’s only interlocutor for the preparation and participation of the Afghan NOC team in the Olympic Games Paris 2024. No representative of the de facto authorities/Taliban government will be accredited for these Games.”

The three men will compete in athletics, judo and swimming and the women in athletics and cycling.

The IOC is also assisting the National Olympic Committee of Sudan, currently in exile due to the civil war there, with getting athletes to Paris. One athlete is currently qualified in athletics and the IOC expects a team from 3-9 athletes once all of the qualifications are completed.

Euro 24 and U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials starting up

Two big events get going this week, with the European Championship in men’s football in Germany and the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The UEFA EURO 2024 kicks off on Friday in Munich with Germany and Scotland and the 24 teams will continue with group play through 26 June, in six groups:

A: Germany, Hungary, Scotland, Switzerland
B: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania
C: Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia, England
D: Poland, Netherlands, Austria, France
E: Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine
F: Turkey, Georgia, Portugal, Czech Republic

The two teams from each group and the four highest-ranked third-place teams will continue to the round of 16 starting on 29 June. The quarterfinals will be played on 5-6 July, the semis on 9-10 July and the final on 14 July at Berlin’s Olympiastadion.

Matches will be played in Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart.

England, which was runner-up in 2020 to Italy, is the co-favorite in the tournament along with France, followed by Germany, Portugal and Spain. The longest odds are for Georgia and Slovakia.

Prize money of €331 million (about $360 million U.S.) will be offered, with each team receiving €9.25 million plus match bonuses of €1 million for a win and €500,000 for a draw. Advancement to the round of 16 is worth €1.5 million, to the quarter-finals an added €2.5 million, and to the semi-finals another €4 million. The runners-up will receive €5 million more and the winners will get €8 million. (€1 = $1.07 U.S.).

In the U.S., the matches will be on FOX or FS1.

While EURO 2024 will last for a month, the 26 men and 26 women who will represent the U.S. in swimming will be determined from Saturday (15th) through the following Sunday (23rd) at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.

This time, the event will be held for the first time in a football stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Temporary pools have been installed for competition, warm-up and training on the field level with seating of up to 30,000!

USA Swimming has a downloadable “Swimming Watch Party Kit” available, with the full schedule and some fun games.

A total of 28 events will be contested – 14 each for men and women – with heats in the morning at 11 a.m. Eastern, shown on USA Network and NBC’s Peacock streaming service. The finals will be held each evening at 8 p.m. Eastern on NBC.

USA Swimming explains the Olympic qualifying process this way, noting the team limits of 26 men and 26 women:

● “The first-place finisher in each event, as well as the top-4 finishers in the 100m and 200m freestyle events (due to relays), are the first priority to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team”

● “If spots remain, second-place finishers in each event are given second priority to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team”

● “If spots remain, the fifth-place finishers in the 100m and 200m freestyle events qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team as relay-only swimmers”

● “If spots remain, the sixth-place finishers in the 100m and 200m freestyle events qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team as relay-only swimmers”

The U.S. leaders going into the Trials on the 2024 world list:

50 m Free: Ryan Held (21.68: 7th on the 2024 world list)
100 m Free: Chris Guiliano (47.49: 2nd)
200 m Free: Luke Hobson (1:45.26: 8th)
400 m Free: David Johnston (3:46.99: 20th)
800 m Free: David Johnston (7:48.20: 16th)
1,500 m Free: Charlie Clark (14:57.44: 12th)
100 m Back: Hunter Armstrong (52.68: 3rd)
200 m Back: Jack Aikins (1:56.21: 9th)
100 m Breast: Nic Fink (58.57: 3rd)
200 m Breast: Matt Fallon (2:08.18: 7th)
100 m Fly: Caeleb Dressel (50.84: 5th)
200 m Fly: Luca Urlando (1:55.63: 16th)
200 m Medley: Carson Foster (1:56.97: 7th)
400 m Medley: Carson Foster (4:10.79: 6th)

50 m Free: Kate Douglass (23.91: 2nd)
100 m Free: Kate Douglass (52.98: 7th)
200 m Free: Katie Ledecky (1:54.97: 6th)
400 m Free: Katie Ledecky (3:59.44: 3rd)
800 m Free: Katie Ledecky (8:12.95: 2nd)
1,500 m Free: Katie Ledecky (15:38.25: 1st)
100 m Back: Regan Smith (57.51: 2nd)
200 m Back: Regan Smith (2:03.99: 2nd)
100 m Breast: Lilly King (1:05.67: 5th)
200 m Breast: Kate Douglass (2:19.30: 2nd)
100 m Fly: Torri Huske (55.68: 1st)
200 m Fly: Regan Smith (2:04.80: 2nd)
200 m Medley: Kate Douglass (2:07.05: 2nd)
400 m Medley: Katie Grimes (4:32.45: 3rd)

At Tokyo in 2020, Dressel won five golds in all, Bobby Finke won the 800-1,500 m Frees, Ledecky won the 800-1,500 m Frees and Lydia Jacoby won the women’s 100 m Back. In all, the U.S. led the medal count in swimming again, with 30 medals (11-10-9) to 21 for Australia (9-3-9).

The swimming trials are the start of a massive two weeks on NBC, with diving to follow, as well as track & field (21-30 June) and gymnastics (27-30 June).

New poll shows 79% of Utahans support 2034 Winter Games

One of the reasons that the Salt Lake City bid for the 2034 Olympic Winter Games is sailing toward confirmation by the International Olympic Committee in July is the overwhelming, steadfast support for the event within the state.

The Deseret News released a new poll on Tuesday, showing 79% approve or strongly approve of bringing the Games back to Salt Lake City, with only 14% opposed and 7% who said they did not know.

The breakdown noted that 48% “strongly supported” having the Games and another 31% approved. The poll surveyed 889 registered voters in Utah and has a margin-of-error of 3.4%.

This new poll is consistent with Deseret News polling from the last two years, conducted in concert with the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah:

2023 (Jan.): 82% approve (55+27), 12% disapprove, 6% don’t know
2022 (Jul.): 79% approve (44+35), 16% disapprove, 5% don’t know

Also worth noting is that the 2024 poll was conducted by a different firm from the 2022-23 polls – HarrisX this time – and had 10% more respondents, but retained the same strong support.

The support in Utah is similar to that seen for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. A Los Angeles Times poll released in February 2022 showed 76% approval of the Games and 16% disapproval. A July 2023 national survey taken by the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics reported that the event “positively impacts the United States” by 78-4% (779-36) with 15% saying no impact and 3% not sure.

A March 2023 Los Angeles Times poll asked about the Games in a different way. Surveying only residents of the City of Los Angeles, 57.2% said the 2028 Olympics would be good for L.A., 20.2% said it would be bad, 16.2% said it won’t matter, and 6.2% undecided or refused to answer the question.

Those results were far better than for the question of whether Los Angeles was a good or excellent place to live: only 47.8% agreed, 33.2% said it’s just fair and 17.6% called it “poor”!

ISU limits figure skating jumps, but OKs somersaults!

Major rules changes in figure skating were approved Thursday at the International Skating Union Congress in Las Vegas, changing the number of jumps allowed, but also removing the ban on somersaults.

After lengthy discussion, multiple groups of proposals were approved, with some rejected. A package of proposals in the Singles and Pair Skating Technical Rules – nos. 234-246 – was passed which will revamp the allowed elements in all programs:

Illegal Elements/Movements (proposal 236 for rule 610):
● Removed “somersault type jumps”
● Reason: “somersault type jumps are very spectacular and nowadays it is not logical anymore to include them as illegal movements”

Singles (proposal 239 for rule 612):
● Six jump elements allowed instead of seven
● Three spins maximum, with one a choreographic spin

Pairs (proposal 245 for rule 621):
● Two lifts allowed instead of three
● One choreographic lift allowed, no choreographic sequences
● No pair spin combinations, but one choreographic pair spin OK

These changes were sold as a move to a more “well-balanced program,” reintroducing more choreographic and expressive elements and lessening the overwhelming scoring impact of jump sequences. One of the outcomes of these changes will be lower scores.

One of the discussion points was the timing of these new elements, since the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Italy is coming up quickly. So, at the request of the ISU Council, the implementation of the changes on the jumps and other items in the 234-246 package were delayed to the 2026-27 season, after the Milan Cortina Games have concluded (the vote on this was 31-25).

However: three items were approved to be instituted immediately – for the 2024-25 season – including the approval of somersault jumps.

ISU Director General Colin Smith (GBR), who came from years of running the FIFA World Cup and that federation’s other championships, gave the Congress an in-depth look on Monday at new concepts to drive growth in figure, speed, short track and synchronized skating.

The two pillars of the strategic plan were the athletes and the fans, both current and future. Said Smith:

“Delivering events is often referred to as the ‘experience delivery business,’ and we want to make sure that people become absorbed in the sport of skating, and if not already, become engaged fans of our sport.”

He explained over more than 40 minutes a series of initiatives the ISU has started, or wants to start to take the single focus of the competitions and expand them:

● “Athlete showcasing: our skaters are athletes, they are the stars of the show. We need to help them want to help us, so featuring hashtags, helping our athletes delivering in their social media and working with us also to develop and promote the sport.”

● “Stadium dressing, fan zones, sponsor activations, food and drink, merchandise, comfort for our fans when they go to watch our events.”

● “We want to curate the show so it’s not only about watching what’s on the ice, but creating an entertainment, a show while they are there, where the performances on the ice are front and center.”

Central to these improvements will be better television production, with more graphics, more live scoring and more “stuff” as shown in a rocking video: “skaters as heroes, more entertainment, more action, more drama, more behind the scenes, more moments of joy, more analysis, more interviews, more insights … more of what fans and skaters love.”

He also spoke at length about content – digital engagement in all forms and formats, and well beyond the standard platforms – that goes way beyond the on-ice performances as shown on television (for which he also underscored the need for better presentation):

“So how are we going to create this extra content? A lot of it is behind the scenes. A lot of it is off-ice as well, and on-ice we will provide program packaging, with magazine programs and highlight programs. And we work with our partner Infront [Sports & Media] on the distribution.

“So this additional content will add real flavor and flair that we can then further use to promote our sport.”

Delivery also has to expand. The ISU Web site will split into two: one for the existing governance and information side, and another simply for fans, a “front door” for them for all four disciplines of the ISU. Then there’s the ISU app, also to be re-designed to offer continuous engagement opportunities: not just events, highlights and stories, but also games and ways to involve fans at all times.

Smith talked at length about in-arena presentation, modern uses of signage to offer more commercial sales possibilities, and even teased the new look of the now-approved Short Track World Tour, which will have national-team uniforms with team names – such as the Belgian Ice Bears and the French Roosters – and opportunities for new sponsor sales on the uniforms themselves.

And he made a critical point, noting that the ISU needs to create a sense of anticipation each year as its season approaches, so that skating can “own winter:””

“Consistency in the calendar, the predictability of when fans can watch skating is key to helping them join our sport.”

That’s something every sport must agree on, if they are going to grow. Smith’s plans are ambitious, but the Congress was convinced and gave approval for many of the reforms requested.


● Olympic Games 2028: Los Angeles ● The LA28 organizers announced the appointment of Maria Arena Bell as the Chair of the LA28 Cultural Olympiad:

“Bell is an experienced executive and Founder of Vitameatavegamin Productions as well as an arts advocate with more than three decades of experience. A native Angeleno, she served as Board Chair at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles at a pivotal time; chaired P.S. Arts, providing arts education programs in LA County and the Central Valley; and was appointed to the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission; amongst other notable positions.”

The announcement noted that Bell will be contributing her time “as an unpaid volunteer with the LA28 organizing committee, she will report to LA28 Chairman and President Casey Wasserman.”

Bell, 61, won an Emmy Award for her work on “The Young and the Restless” and served from 2013-17 as a member of the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission.

● World Anti-Doping Agency ● The situation surrounding the brief suspension of the Anti-Doping Organization of Tunisia and the arrest of its director has not been resolved.

On Thursday, WADA issued a statement asking for the release and reinstatement of ANAD Director General, Mr. Mourad Hambli, who was detained after he and other officials followed the WADA requirements for the then-suspended organization an at international swimming competition in Tunisia:

“WADA has met with and subsequently written to the Minister of Youth and Sports in the Government of Tunisia urging him to do all that is necessary to secure Mr. Hambli’s release. In addition, on 28 May 2024, WADA wrote to the Tunisian Embassy in Switzerland, the Permanent Mission of Tunisia to the United Nations Office at Geneva and specialized institutions in Switzerland to schedule a meeting with the ambassador to discuss this urgent matter. To date, no response has been received. …

“Reports that the ANAD Director General had been arrested for doing so is a matter of grave concern.”

ANAD was suspended on 30 April 2024 and, as expected at the time, was reinstated as of 15 May due to a change in national laws regarding doping in sports. But Hambli is apparently still in custody.

● Athletics ● Trayvon Bromell, the World Indoor 60 m champion in 2016 and a Worlds 100 m bronze winner in 2015 and 2022, is out for the U.S. Olympic Trials after injuring his leg at the Citta di Savona meet on 15 May. He ran 10.14 in his opener in late April, but was last in 10.87 in the Savona final and will miss a try for his third Olympic team.

The European Championships awarded “Gold Crowns” to 10 athletes who were the best in their event groups in terms of their performance on the World Athletics scoring table:

Men/Sprints-Hurdles: Karsten Warholm (NOR), 400 m hurdles
Men/Distance: Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR), 1,500-5,000 m
Men/Jumps: Mondo Duplantis (SWE), pole vault
Men/Throws: Leonardo Fabbri (ITA), shot put
Men/Combo-Road: Johannes Erm (EST), decathlon

Women/Sprints-Hurdles: Femke Bol (NED), 400 m hurdles
Women/Distance: Nadia Battocletti (ITA), 5,000-10,000 m
Women/Jumps: Malaika Mihambo (GER), long jump
Women/Throws: Sandra Elkasevic (CRO), discus
Women/Combo-Road: Nafi Thiam (BEL), heptathlon

Each will receive €50,000 (about $53,687 U.S.), the first time that prize money of any kind has been paid at the Europeans.

Good news for USATF athletes, as one of the sport’s biggest donors has pledged yet more money for support:

“In an unprecedented show of support for Team USA athletes ahead of the 2024 Olympics, Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Blackstone, one of the world’s largest alternative investment firms, has pledged $15 million to the USATF Foundation over the next four years. This brings Mr. Schwarzman’s gifted and pledged support for the Foundation to nearly $30 million since 2013.”

Schwarzman, now 77, will have funded 655 athletes grants after the 2024 grant list is revealed. The new funding will be distributed:

“Every year over the next Olympic cycle, 65 track & field athletes will be awarded $40,000 Stephen A. Schwarzman grants and 35 additional athletes will be awarded $30,000 Stephen A. Schwarzman grants.”

The USATF Foundation Board and other donors have pledged another $10 million in funding to complement Schwartzman’s donations.

● Cycling ● USA Cycling named a strong women’s track cycling team for Paris, led by Tokyo 2020 Omnium champion Jennifer Valente, back for her third Olympic Games.

Valente, 29, has also won Team Pursuit medals at Rio in 2016 (silver) and Tokyo 2020 (bronze) and will be back for more, along with Chloe Dygert, who was on both of those medal-winning teams. They will be joined by Kristen Faulkner and Olivia Cummins.

Valente will also contest the Madison, this time with Lily Williams; Valente and Megan Jastrab were ninth at Tokyo 2020 in the event.

Dygert, 27, will be busy, also qualifying for the road race and the Individual Time Trial.

The only U.S. qualifier in the men’s events is Grant Koontz, in the Omnium.

● Football ● The fight between player unions and FIFA over the ever-more-crowded international match calendar took another step on Thursday, with the English Professional Footballers Association joining the French players union (UNFP) in an action in a Belgian court:

“The claim specifically asks the Brussels Court of Commerce to refer the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The ECJ would be asked to provide a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of EU law as it relates to footballers’ rights under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, including the right of players to take an annual period of paid leave. The ECJ would then send the case back to the court in Belgium for a final ruling which could have a significant and far-reaching impact on the way the football calendar is structured.”

At specific issue is FIFA’s expanded Club World Cup for 2025, moving from seven clubs in a 10-day tournament in Saudi Arabia in December 2023 to a 32-team, 29-day tournament in June and July next year, but other club competitions – for example in UEFA – have also expanded.

● Swimming ● Day four of the Australian Olympic trials produced more fireworks in the pool, starting with the no. 2 performance of all-time from Olympic champion Kaylee McKeown in the women’s 200 m Backstroke.

She split 60.58 and 62.72 to win handily in 2:03.30, not far behind her 2023 world-record swim of 2:03.14. She won by more than four seconds.

Lizzy Dekkers, the 2023 Worlds runner-up in the women’s 200 m butterfly, won that event in 2:06.01, behind her April performance at the Australian nationals in 2:05.20 (no. 3 in 2024). Abbey Connor moved to no. 8 worldwide in second at 2:06.82.

World-record setter Ariarne Titmus got her third win of the meet and moved to no. 3 in the world for 2024 in the women’s 800 m Free, timing 8:14.06. Lani Pallister was second in 8:18.46, now no. 6 on the world list.

Rio 2016 men’s 100 m Free champ Kyle Chalmers won his specialty in 47.75, slower than his 47.63 win at the national championships in April, which ranks fourth worldwide.

The meet concludes on Saturday.

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