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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. IOC Exec Board picks France, Salt Lake City and Swiss!
2. Analysis: experience and money behind the decisions
3. Salt Lake City team rejoices at designation for 2034
4. Felix one of 32 candidates for IOC Athletes Commission
5. Figure skating viewing up for Ziegler’s shock win in Osaka
● The International Olympic Committee Executive Board approved the recommendations of its Future Host Commission for the Winter Games for “targeted dialogue” for the French Alps bid for 2030 and Salt Lake City for 2034. It also surprised with the naming of the Swiss bid for “privileged dialogue” to work towards an award of the 2038 Winter Games. Sweden was left out, again.
● What happened and why? The IOC went with what it felt were sure hands for 2030 and 2034, giving France another Games just six years after Paris 2024 so at least some of the same staff – and sponsors – could continue, and taking advantage of the expertise in Salt Lake City, which has hosted winter-sport events since the 2002 Winter Games there. And there is an important financial incentive for the IOC to go to Salt Lake City in 2034.
● The overjoyed Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games will plot its next steps at a meeting on Friday and celebrate the IOC’s announcement with a ceremony at the Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron Plaza at the University of Utah.
● The IOC announced 32 candidates for four spots on the IOC Athletes’ Commission to be voted on in Paris next summer, with track & field superstar Allyson Felix of the U.S. on the ballot.
● The U.S. audience for the ISU figure skating Grand Prix hit a seasonal high for the NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan, to see highlights of Ava Marie Ziegler’s surprise win.
● World Championships: Handball (IHF women’s Worlds open in Norway and Denmark) ●
● Panorama: Paris 2024 (2: road restrictions coming in Olympic areas; three more Russians change nationality) = Olympic Games (Dubi warns of change of summer Games dates due to climate) = Pan American Games (Brazil’s Matera topped Parapan Ams with eight golds!) = World University Games (Para sport – wheelchair basketball – coming to WUG 2025 in Germany) = Canoe-Kayak (Leibfarth sweeps U.S. Slalom Nationals) = Swimming (U.S. Open to showcase stars like Douglass, Dressel, King, Ledecky and more) ●
IOC Exec Board picks France, Salt Lake City and Swiss!
Salt Lake City’s confirmation as the International Olympic Committee’s “target” to host the 2034 Olympic Winter Games was the only expected outcome of Wednesday’s IOC Executive Board meeting in Paris.
Continuing to make up the new selection process on the fly, the Future Host Commission recommended – and the Executive Board approved – the selection of the French Alps proposal for 2030 for “targeted dialogue” and created a new concept of “privileged dialogue” for Switzerland’s bid for 2038. Sweden’s bid was, for a second consecutive time, left behind.
Winter Games Future Host Commission Chair Karl Stoss (AUT) detailed the reasons for the selections in a 56-minute news conference, including:
“The IOC will now start more detailed discussions with the preferred hosts, led by their [National Olympic Committees] with the aim to award the two editions at the 142nd IOC Session in July in Paris.
“In addition, the IOC Executive Board decided to grant the non-edition-specific project Switzerland 203x a special status by inviting it into ‘privileged dialogue’ for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games 2038.
“Why? As you know, there are four current parties with an interest in hosting the Olympic Winter Games: France, USA, Sweden and Switzerland. Commission members were deeply impressed by all four projects: technical excellence, passion for Olympic Winter sport and commitment to the sustainability principles of Olympic Agenda 2020+5.
“What really stood out about the French Alps and Salt Lake City-Utah projects were the vision for the athlete’s experience, alignment with the regional and national socio-economic development plans, and the very strong support from the public and from the levels of government.
“The Commission felt strongly that the other interested parties would benefit from more time to optimize the athlete’s experience of their future Games, and to continue to build on the burgeoning foundations of public and political support.
“Switzerland 203x has great potential with its project aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020+5, and the principles of sustainability, cost reduction, environmental protection and legacy. Today’s decision was made on these positive elements.”
Stoss made specific mentions of the attractiveness of the French and American programs:
● “Positives for the French Alps project: the vision of the rejuvenation of the Alps and [to] bring sustainable tourism in this region; the Games plan: maximum use of venues, five to four clusters, alignment with the development plans and Olympic Agenda 2020+5. Experience and skills in winter sports hosting and best practices of Paris 2024, that means sustainability integrated in every area from transport to finance, aligned to the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“And public, private sector and the highest possible government support.”
He noted that the French will be required to specify a venue for speed skating, not included in the present submittal, either on a temporary basis, or elsewhere in France or even in another country. A new ice hockey hall is proposed in Nice, but has not been confirmed; the bid organized from two regions: Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes (AURA) and Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur (PACA).
● “Positives of the Salt Lake City-Utah: that was the vision of build on the legacies on 2002 and create a future for venues and sports programs. Games plan: very compact master plan, no capital investment required. Experience in U.S. of hosting major international events in most Olympic winter sports. Exceptional public support and the highest level of national, state and city government support.”
As for the Swiss concept, while Stoss commended the available venues and expertise in winter sports competitions, but underlined that further demonstrations of public support – possibly through a referendum – and business and political support are needed. Moreover, the Swiss plan to distribute the event across the country, without an Olympic Village, has to be refined. Said Stoss:
“They have to show us a more comprehensive venue plan. The venue master plan was spread all over the country and they have to bring it more closer to some hubs, that means maybe four clusters and to bring the Olympic spirit to the Olympic Villages. So at the moment, we don’t have Olympic Villages, we have just different accommodations all over the country, and we have to discuss now in the next few years, it means latest ‘til [the end of] 2027 to bring up this new master plan as well as hopefully the guarantees and maybe a referendum. … We will encourage them – go for a referendum – then the situation will be clear for all of us.”
There is a lot of work to be done on this project. If the Swiss program cannot be formulated by the end of 2027, the bidding for 2038 will be re-opened.
Sweden’s program was praised as sustainable and “technically excellent,” but the Commission believes more has to be done to drum up enthusiasm from the public, from government and from the business sector. The financial projections for domestic sponsorship and for ticket sales were felt to be too high.
Stoss also gave a rough timeline of the next steps, saying the selected bids “have now to do their homework”:
● Feb. 2024: Submission of more detailed plans
● Mar. 2024: Submission of the required guarantees
● Apr. 2024: Site visits
● May 2024: Future Host Commission evaluations reports
● Jun. 2024: IOC Executive Board review
● Jul. 2024: IOC Session vote
Multiple questions were asked about Sapporo (JPN), once the front-runner for 2030, but now in chaos. The Japanese Olympic Committee told the IOC it was not a candidate last October, but it would be welcome to bid for 2038 if the Swiss are not able, or for 2042 as there would interest in an Asian candidature on the basis of continental rotation.
The IOC Executive Board will continue to meet on Thursday and visit the 2024 Olympic Village on Friday.
Analysis: experience and money behind the decisions
“This is one of the great opportunities for the French bid, to use all the sponsors from 2024, and they discussed already with some of the big companies in the country, and they would like to support it as well, so they have a really great [foundation] for the sponsorship. …
“With all the experience from Paris 2024 and to use it also for the next step to the Winter Games, that is a big advantage comparing to the other competitors here.”
That was IOC Future Host Commission Chair Stoss, speaking about the decisions which will likely place Olympic and Winter Games in the same countries six years apart for France (2024 and 2030) and the U.S. (2028 and 2034). And experience and money are at the heart of it.
The IOC’s Olympic Games Executive Director, Christophe Dubi (SUI), commended the Salt Lake City-Utah bid, noting:
“They have brought all the guarantees needed already, at this point in time, so it is extremely strong. …
“In Salt Lake City, we’ve had a partner now for three years now, and they’ve been incredibly patient, incredibly thorough and were able to rally everyone behind what is a superb project.”
In discussing both bids, Stoss and Dubi underscored the tie between the organizing expertise of the Paris 2024 team and the ability to turn that around for 2030. And for 2034, the IOC very much wants and needs a U.S. bid:
● The $7.65 billion, six-Games NBC television rights contract will expire in 2032 and the IOC can now offer a home Winter Games to NBC and/or other American broadcasters, and a possible Winter Games in Europe for 2038. The staging of the 2020 Olympic Games and the 2018 and 2022 Winter Games in Asia were ratings-killers for NBC.
● Stoss noted the strong desire of the Salt Lake City-Utah bid – and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee – for a cooling-off period between LA28 and its own hosting to allow for better domestic sponsorship sales options.
● Stoss also emphasized the continuing expertise of winter-sport organization in Utah, dating back to the highly successful 2002 Winter Games. The Utah Sports Commission reported that 2023-24 international competitions are already scheduled for biathlon, bobsled, luge, skeleton, cross country skiing, freestyle skiing, short track and speed skating.
There was no mention of the discussion within the Future Host Commission for the Winter Games on a possible permanent rotation of sites that will have natural snow into the foreseeable future. However, all three of the preferred bids for 2030-34-38 are in such places, allowing the IOC to continue its review of the possibilities while expecting to host its next three Winter Games in possible rotation locations.
And for the critics of the IOC’s choices of sites in places such as Beijing (CHN) in 2008 and 2022 and Sochi (RUS) in 2014, it will be difficult to harder to screech wildly about future Winter Games in France, the U.S. and Switzerland, with all three expecting to finance the events from IOC television rights, sponsorships, ticketing and licensing.
No doubt, there will be other things to complain about.
An interesting answer concerning the IOC’s compliance with its own regulations was given by Dubi. He was asked about Rule 33.4 of the Olympic Charter, which states:
“The election of the host of the Olympic Games takes place in a country having no candidature for the organisation of the Olympic Games concerned.”
Following the rule as written would prohibit the French bid for 2030 from being elected by the IOC Session meeting next July in Paris, right?
No, said, Dubi, replying that this rule only applies to a competitive election – “there are no other bids for the same Games” – and that the confirmation of an already-targeted candidature would not violate the Charter.
Salt Lake City team rejoices at designation for 2034
No election to watch, but there were – believe it or not – watch parties in Salt Lake City to view Wednesday’s news conference and hear the expected news that the effort to return the Games in 2034 had moved to the penultimate step.
Fraser Bullock, the Chief Operating Officer of the 2002 Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) and now the President and chief executive of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, said:
“The decision of the IOC to invite Salt Lake City-Utah into Targeted Dialogue as the Preferred Host for 2034 is a credit to our communities working together to create a welcoming region for sport across our state. For more than a decade, our state and community leaders have united towards this goal. The IOC has recognized our high level of preparedness, with all venues in place and active, as well as overwhelming support from our political and business leaders as well as the public.”
The IOC’s praise for the community support for the bid was echoed by elected officials as well:
● Utah Governor Spencer Cox:
“Our biggest strength as the State of Utah is our unity and partnership. Over the coming months, we will continue to showcase the remarkable attributes of our state and, most of all, our people. We look forward to a decision by the IOC in 2024 to welcome Salt Lake City-Utah as a future host for 2034.”
● Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall:
“The 2034 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have the power to unify our communities and inspire future generations, champions, and leaders of tomorrow. We feel an immense sense of pride in our city today and anxiously look forward to a final decision from the IOC next year.”
The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Olympic Games is chaired by four-time Olympic speed skater Catherine Raney Norman, who led a concerted effort to include athletes in the development of the bid, and noted that “Our continued engagement of athletes in our planning and seeking new, innovative ways to enhance our communities through sport have been recognized by the IOC.”
A joint meeting of the SLC-UT governing board and strategic board will be held Friday (1st) at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah, followed by a 6 p.m. celebration at the Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron Plaza at the stadium, with Cox, Mendenhall, SLC-Utah Committee officials and Utah-resident medal winners from 2002 through 2022 and future hopefuls.
Felix one of 32 candidates for IOC Athletes Commission
The IOC also announced the candidates for the election of four members to the IOC Athletes’ Commission, with 32 athletes nominated by their National Olympic Committees.
The iconic Allyson Felix, 38, the 11-time Olympic medalist (7-3-1), was nominated by the U.S. and will be a strong candidate for election for an eight-year term; according to the IOC, “All athletes competing at Paris 2024 are eligible to vote in the Athlete365 House in the Olympic Villages during the Olympic Games.”
Further, elected members of the IOC Athletes’ Commission are also eligible for election as IOC members, so Felix could be on a path that will carry her onto the IOC itself.
The 32 candidates for the four slots include multiple Olympic stars, including Felix, taekwondo gold medalist Cheick Sallah Cisse (CIV), Australian canoe slalom four-time Olympic medalist Jessica Fox, Brazilian two-time gold medalist sailor Kahena Kunze, three-time Olympic medalist in BMX cycling, Mariana Pajon (COL), Argentina judo gold medalist Paula Pareto, golf gold medalist Inbee Park (KOR), two-time gold-medal-winning rower Valent Sinkovic (CRO) and three-time fencing gold medalist Aron Szilagyi (HUN).
The election is important for Felix and for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, as there are two American IOC members, Anita DeFrantz (71), elected in 1986, and David Haggerty (66), elected in his position as the President of the International Tennis Federation. A third member, cross-country skiing star Kikkan Randall, was elected to the IOC Athletes’ Commission in 2018 and became an IOC member, but had to step away in 2021 in view of her continuing fight against cancer.
Seven members of the Athletes Commission will be concluding their terms as IOC members in 2024, including Russian women’s pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva, elected in 2016. This will leave Russia with one IOC member, Shamil Tarpischev, 75, who was elected in 1994 and may serve until age 80.
Figure skating viewing up for Ziegler’s shock win in Osaka
Word about the unexpected win by American teen Ava Marie Ziegler at the ISU Grand Prix NHK Trophy in Osaka (JPN) apparently got around, as viewership for the NBC highlights show last Sunday (26th) reached a seasonal high.
An average of 808,000 viewers saw the show, which began at 3 p.m. Eastern time, directly against the NFL late window. That topped the 699,000 who watched the Skate America show in October and the 690,000 for the Grand Prix of Espoo in Finland on 19 November.
The FIS Alpine World Cup from Killington, Vermont – starring superstar Mikaela Shiffrin – which preceded the skating at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, drew a respectable audience of 508,000 vs. the NFL early window. NBC’s “Chasing Gold: Paris 2024″ show that ran at 2 p.m. Eastern and led into the skating, averaged 449,000 viewers.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Handball ● The 26th IHF Women’s World Championship got underway on Wednesday as three nations – Denmark, Norway and Sweden – will host matches, continuing to the gold-medal final on 17 December.
The opening matches were in Group C in Stavanger (NOR), with Austria holding on to beat South Korea, 30-29, despite 11 goals from Korea’s Bit-na Woo, and Norway thrashing Greenland, 43-11 behind seven scores from Camilla Herren.
In Group G in Frederikshavn (DEN), Brazil sailed past Ukraine, 35-20, with Mariana Costa and Bruna De Paula scoring seven goals each, and Spain out-classed Kazakhstan, 34-17, expanding a 14-8 halftime lead. The U.S. did not qualify.
The 32 teams in pool play will continue through 5 December, with 24 teams advancing to the Main Round (6-11 December) and then the quarterfinals on 12-13 December and the medal matches on 17 December.
Norway is the defending champion, defeating France in the final in 2021, with Denmark third by beating Spain in the bronze-medal match.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said Wednesday that traffic restrictions during the Games period will require QR codes to access specific areas which are in Games-related areas.
The codes will need to be used by motor vehicles and motorcycles, but not by pedestrians or bicycles.
There was some instant criticism, which Nunez brushed off, saying, “One can always be the little ugly duckling who sulks in the corner. We know we’ll have lots of those.”
The IOC Executive Board approved changes of nationality for nine athletes on Wednesday, including three more Russian athletes.
Cyclist Valeriia Liubimova is transferring from Russia to France; wrestler Georgi Tiblov from Russia to Serbia and cyclist Mikhail Yakolev, from Russia to Israel.
British rower Jamie Copus was approved for transfer from Great Britain to the U.S.
● Olympic Games: Future ● The IOC’s Christophe Dubi explained during Wednesday’s news conference that the Future Host Commissions are also concerned with climate issues for the Olympic Games as well as the Winter Games. As to future hosts, he noted:
“This question is also valid for the summer Games; for certain cities we had in the past, if we go to 2040, it will be very complicated to keep the dates we have today, between mid-July and end of August.”
● Pan American Games ● The biggest medal winners at the Parapan American Games in Santiago (CHI) were noted by the International Paralympic Committee on Wednesday, with swimmer Douglas Matera (BRA) topping the list with eight golds!
Matera won the 100 m Freestyle, 100 m Backstroke and 100 m Butterfly in category S12, the 50 m Freestyle and 400 m Free in S13, the 200 m Medley in class SM13, and was a member of the winning relay teams in the Mixed x100 m Free and Mixed 4×100 m Medley.
The leading women’s winners were five-time gold medalists Maria Carolina Gomes Santiago (BRA: swimming) and Karen Palomeque (COL: athletics). Santiago won the 50-100 m Free in class S12, the 100 m Breast in SB12 and was on the Mixed 4×100 m Free and Mixed 4×100 m Medleys. Palomeque won the 100 m and 200 m in T37, the 400 m in T38 and the T36/37/38 long jump, plus the universal women’s 4×100 m.
● World University Games ● Paralympic sport will debut at the World University Games in 2025 at Rhine-Ruhr (GER), with the addition of 3×3 wheelchair basketball. Eight men’s and eight women’s teams will compete at the Arena-Sportpark in Dusseldorf.
If successful, look for more such events to be added.
● Canoe-Kayak ● Tokyo Olympian Evy Leibfarth swept the women’s honors at the 2023 U.S. Slalom nationals held at Riversport Rapids in Oklahoma City last weekend.
Still 19 and a Worlds bronze medalist in Slalom Cross in 2021, Leibfarth took the women’s C-1 final with a 101.59-second finish on her second run, well ahead of Isabella Altman (125.23). It was closer in the K-1 final, as Leibfarth’s best time cane on the first run at 95.82, with older sister Marcella Altman – also 19 – second at 100.84 on her second run.
And Leibfarth won the Slalom Cross, ahead of Marcella Altman.
The men’s races were won by three different paddlers, with Tokyo Olympian Zachary Lokken taking the C-1 final in 94.64 on his first run from Casey Eichfeld, the two-time Pan Am Games gold medalist from 2015, who completed runs of 94.96 and then 94.80 for second.
Joshua Joseph won the men’s K-1 in 90.82 (two penalties), just ahead of Tyler Westfall (93.07). Kaelin Friedenson took the men’s Cross gold, ahead of Isaac Zimmerman.
● Swimming ● The Toyota U.S. Open is on in Greensboro, North Carolina, with competition through Saturday (2nd) and some superstar entries, including the comebacking Caeleb Dressel, Olympic and World Champion Lilly King, USA Swimming athletes of the year Ryan Murphy, Katie Ledecky and Kate Douglass and Canadian superstar teen Summer McIntosh.
This is essentially a training check for the swimmers, but important with the Olympic year of 2024 on the horizon. Ledecky won the women’s 800 m on Wednesday evening in 8:15.91, the no. 12 performance of 2023, trailed by a lifetime best from Pan Am Games gold medalist Paige Madden (8:29.91).
Charlie Clark of the U.S. (and Ohio State) won the men’s 800 m in 7:50.49, with Tokyo Olympic champ Bobby Finke fourth overall in 7:54.90.
The meet can be seen on NBC’s Peacock streaming service on Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. Eastern, and delayed coverage on CNBC on Sunday (3rd) at noon Eastern and highlights the following Saturday (9th) on NBC at 5 p.m. Eastern.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!