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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. LA28 added sports OK; 2030 and 2034 Winter double allocation on
2. IOC suspends Russia, offers no condolences to Israel
3. IOC creates four-sport Olympic qualifiers next year
4. IOC approves Wright as U.S. biathlete; Mollaei to Azerbaijan
5. Crouser, Lyles nominated for Men’s World Athlete of the Year
● On Friday morning, the International Olympic Committee Executive Board accepted the five added sports requested by the LA28 organizing committee, agreed to reinstate boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting on the 2028 program, and approved the recommendation of the Winter Games Future Host Commission for a double allocation next year of the hosts for the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games. The LA28 Games will now be the largest ever at 36 sports and will surpass the 10,500 athlete limit, with the details to be worked out by the end of 2024. The double allocation of Winter hosts is very good news for Salt Lake City, the leading candidate for 2034.
● On Thursday, the IOC Executive Board suspended the Russian Olympic Committee indefinitely, but said this had no impact on whether “neutral” athletes from Russia or Belarus will be able to compete in Paris in 2024. The IOC issued no statement on the Hamas attack on Israel, but asked about it, its spokesman read a bland statement expressing “sympathy” with “innocent victims.”
● The Executive Board announced two qualifying “festivals” to be held in Shanghai and Budapest next year for Olympic qualifying in BMX-Freestyle, break dancing, skateboarding and sport climbing.
● New Zealand biathlete Campbell Wright, a 2021 World Junior Champion in the sprint, was approved for nationality transfer to the U.S. Former Iranian judo World Champion Saeid Mollaei, who transferred to Mongolia after being told to throw matches to avoid competing against an Israeli, transferred nationality again to Azerbaijan.
● World Athletes posted its nominees for Men’s World Athlete of the Year, including Americans Noah Lyles and Ryan Crouser.
● World Championships: Beach Volleyball (four U.S. teams in quarterfinals at Worlds in Mexico) = Rugby (quarterfinals this weekend) ●
● Panorama: Asian Games (two more doping cases, total now 10) = Swimming (World Aquatics moves open-water World Cup out of Israel) = Taekwondo (2: Tunisia won two at Taiyuan Grand Prix; Iranian star withdraws with potential to face an Israeli) ●
● Now available: our exclusive 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023, 2024, and beyond, by date and by sport: click here! ●
LA28 added sports OK; 2030 and 2034 Winter
double allocation on
On Friday, the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board made a long list of decisions, shared by IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) and Sports Director Kit McConnell (NZL) at a news conference:
● The LA28 additional-sports request for baseball-softball, cricket, lacrosse, squash and flag football was approved and sent on for approval by the IOC Session. The concept for all of the team sports is for six-team tournaments for men and women, with the team sizes yet to be determined.
● All three of the sports that were previously off of the LA28 program were brought back in: boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting. It was noted that boxing has no international federation, that modern pentathlon would have been excluded if riding had been continued and that the improvement in doping control in weightlifting has been satisfactory.
● International federations requested adding a total of 16 disciplines to the Games, but all were rejected except for Beach Sprint in rowing, which will replace the Lightweight Double Sculls. It was the only replacement discipline proposed.
● The result of now having 36 sports – the most ever in an Olympic Games – on the LA28 program will require an athlete total beyond the 10,500 quota, but that the increase is to be managed carefully. The specific number of athletes in all sports and per discipline within sports will be determined at the end of 2024.
● The IOC’s Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games submitted a report stating that by 2040, there would be 10 countries in which the snow sports could be reliably held. In order to figure out a future plan for a permanent rotation or some other way to hold future Winter Games, a double allocation of Winter Games hosts for 2030 and 2034 is to be made in 2024.
● The Winter Games host-selection timetable now foresees the Future Host Commission moving to “targeted dialogue” with potential hosts for specific Games as early as the end of October, but certainly in November, with the IOC Executive Board to review its recommendations at its November meeting. This is great news for Salt Lake City for 2034, but also means that there is considerable pressure on the potential 2030 bidders – France, Sweden and Switzerland – to get their programs together quickly.
Bach noted that with the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee (see item 2 below), that invitations – if any – for “neutral” Russian athletes for Paris 2024 would be made directly to the athletes themselves, or by the relevant International Federation, or through their national (Russian) federations, but not through the Russian Olympic Committee.
IOC suspends Russia, offers no condolences to Israel
On the opening day of the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board meeting in Mumbai, India, a decision was announced to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee:
“The unilateral decision taken by the Russian Olympic Committee on 5 October 2023 to include, as its members, the regional sports organisations which are under the authority of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Ukraine (namely Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia) constitutes a breach of the Olympic Charter because it violates the territorial integrity of the NOC of Ukraine, as recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in accordance with the Olympic Charter.”
The announcement went on to note that this has nothing to do with the potential participation of “neutral” athletes from Russia or Belarus. It will end any funding of the Russian Olympic Committee; the ROC is already suing the IOC for about $9 million it says it is owed as a share of the IOC’s TOP sponsorship program.
The Russian Olympic Committee’s response included:
“The IOC made another counterproductive decision today, heavy with obvious political overtones, thus confirming de-jure what was done de-facto back in February 2022.
“Russian athletes, the overwhelming majority of whom were unjustifiably barred from international competitions, are unaffected by this decision as nothing has changed in regard to neutral status.”
Russian sports minister Oleg Matytsin’s statement included:
“By making such decisions, the IOC demonstrates total dependence on political and business conditions, losing authority and independence. … This only confirms that in its current form, the International Olympic Committee no longer adequately represents and protects the interests of world sports and athletes and is significantly losing weight and competence as an international regulator.”
The IOC issued no statement on Thursday concerning the attack by Hamas – the elected leadership of Gaza – on Israel, or the discussion of any sanction on the Palestine National Olympic Committee.
In contrast, on the same day that Russian invaded Ukraine – 24 February 2022 – the IOC issued a statement condemning the breach of the Olympic Truce, which included:
“Following recent events, the IOC is deeply concerned about the safety of the Olympic Community in Ukraine. It has established a task force to closely monitor the situation and to coordinate humanitarian assistance to members of the Olympic Community in Ukraine where possible.”
Asked about last Saturday’s Hamas attack at Thursday’s news conference, IOC spokesman Mark Adams (GBR) read a bland, pre-written response:
“At the start of the IOC Executive Board, the IOC E.B. members expressed their very strong feelings over these tragic events in the recent days and expressed their deepest sympathy with the innocent victims of this terrible violence.”
At Friday’s briefing, Bach said that contact was made with the Israel Olympic Committee last Saturday when the attacks began, but did not condemn Hamas or mention any contact with the Palestine Olympic Committee. He did essentially repeat Adams’s statement, almost word-for-word.
The IOC Executive Board has nominated Israel’s Yael Arad, the country’s first Olympic medalist (judo in 1992) and the head of the Israel Olympic Committee, to be a new member of the IOC at the Mumbai Session. She is in Mumbai and it will be instructive to see whether she is, in fact, elected.
IOC creates four-sport Olympic qualifiers next year
Following its Olympic Agenda 2020+5 promise to create new events to raise the profile of smaller sports, the IOC announced a two-stage Olympic qualifying competition series for BMX-Freestyle cycling, break dancing, skateboarding and sport climbing.
Some 464 athletes are expected to compete, with more than half of the Olympic qualifying places to be settled in the two events:
● 16-19 May 2024: Shanghai (CHN)
● 20-23 June 2024: Budapest (HUN)
The international federations for these sports will be responsible for the competitions. With the exception of the BMX-Freestyle, for which the number of worldwide competitions is pretty limited, the other sports are run by much smaller federations which do not receive shares of IOC television revenues: the World DanceSport Federation, World Skate and the International Federation of Sport Climbing. They all have events, but this will be a significantly higher profile than for most of their programs.
These events also have small quotas for Paris 2024, making them easier to handle:
● BMX-Freestyle: 2 events and 24 athletes
● Break Dancing: 2 events and 32 athletes
● Skateboarding: 4 events and 88 athletes
● Sport Climbing: 4 events and 68 athletes
The Shanghai event will be held at the Huangpu Riverside; in Budapest, the Ludovika Campus will be used.
IOC approves Wright as U.S. biathlete; Mollaei to Azerbaijan
The IOC Executive Board also approved several changes in nationality, including one which could have significant impact for the U.S. at the Milano Cortina 2026 Winter Games.
Biathlete Campbell Wright, 21, was approved to compete for the U.S. as a transfer from New Zealand; he has dual citizenship, having been born in New Zealand to two American parents.
He won the IBU World Junior Championships 10 km Sprint in 2023, and debuted at the IBU World Cup in November 2021 at age 19. He was reportedly the second teenager ever to score points in an IBU World Cup, and competed for New Zealand at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, placing 32nd in the men’s 20 km and 75th in the 10 km Sprint.
Said Wright, who trained with the U.S. team last season:
“I have made the decision to swap nations to the U.S., because it gives me the best chance to be able to reach my goals. To reach the top in any sport is hard, and it’s only made harder without the proper team around you. So if I want to be the best biathlete I can be, changing to Team USA is the clear option.”
The IOC also approved a nationality change for 31-year-old judoka Saeid Mollaei from Mongolia to Azerbaijan, his third country, after originally wrestling for Iran. Mollaei won the 2018 World 81 kg Championships for Iran, then was infamously ordered by Iranian officials to throw matches at the 2019 Worlds in order not to face Israel’s eventual World Champion, Sagi Muki.
Mollaei went to Germany, then accepted a citizenship offer from Mongolia, for whom he competed at Tokyo 2020 and won the Olympic 81 kg silver medal. He fought for Mongolia in 2022, but the International Judo Federation approved his transfer to Azerbaijan allowing him to compete in the 2022 IJF World Tour, winning the Baku Grand Slam.
Crouser, Lyles nominated for Men’s World Athlete of the Year
World Athletics announced its nominees for its 2023 Men’s World Athlete of the Year, including two Americans among the 11 choices:
● Neeraj Chopra (IND) ~ Worlds javelin gold medalist
● Ryan Crouser (USA) ~ Worlds shot put champ and world-record setter
● Mondo Duplantis (SWE) ~ Worlds vault champ and world-record setter
● Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR) ~ Worlds Steeple gold medalist
● Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR) ~ Worlds 5,000 m gold, 1,500 m silver
● Kelvin Kiptum (KEN) ~ Marathon world-record setter
● Pierce LePage (CAN) ~ Worlds decathlon gold medalist
● Noah Lyles (USA) ~ Worlds 100-200m gold medalist
● Alvaro Martin (ESP) ~ Worlds 20 km and 35 km champion
● Miltiadis Tentoglou (GRE) ~ Worlds long jump gold medalist
● Karsten Warholm (NOR) ~ Worlds 400 m hurdles champion
According to the announcement:
“The World Athletics Council and the World Athletics Family will cast their votes by email, while fans can vote online via the World Athletics social media platforms. … The World Athletics Council’s vote will count for 50% of the result, while the World Athletics Family’s votes and the public votes will each count for 25% of the final result.”
Balloting is open until 28 October.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Beach Volleyball ● The FIVB World Championships are heading toward the medal round in Tlaxcala, Mexico, with the quarterfinals set for Friday and for American duos still playing:
● Anders Mol & Christian Sorum (NOR: defending champions) vs. Ondrej Perusic & David Schweiner (CZE)
● Pedro Solberg & Guto Carvalhaes (BRA) vs. Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner (USA)
● Miles Partian and Andrew Benesh (USA) vs. Bartosz Losiak & Michal Bryl (POL)
● Stefan Boermans & Yorick De Groot (NED) vs. David Ahman & Jonatan Hellvig (SWE)
● Ana Patricia Ramos & Duda Lisboa (BRA: defending champions) vs. Katja Stam & Raisa Schoon (NED)
● Mariafe Artacho del Solar & Taliqua Clancy (AUS) vs. Melissa Humana-Paredes & Brandie Wilkerson (CAN)
● Sara Hughes & Kelly Cheng (USA) vs. Taina Bigi & Victoria Lopes (BRA)
● Tanja Huberli & Nina Brunner (SUI) vs. Kristen Nuss & Taryn Kloth (USA)
The semifinals will be played on Saturday and the medal matches on Sunday.
● Rugby ● After a week’s break following the pool phase, the Rugby World Cup in France will resume with the quarterfinals on Saturday and Sunday (world rankings listed before each team name):
● (7) Wales (4-0) vs. (8) Argentina (3-1) in Marseille
● (1) Ireland (4-0) vs. (4) New Zealand (3-1) in Saint-Denis
● (6) England (4-0) vs. (10) Fiji (2-2) in Marseille
● (2) France (4-0) vs. (3) South Africa (3-1) in Saint Denis
All four semi-finalists from 2019 are still involved; South Africa beat England in the 2019 final and New Zealand defeated Wales for third place.
The semis will be on 20-21 October and the championship on 28 October.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Asian Games ● Two more doping positives from the just-completed Asian Games in China, for basketball players Justin Brownlee (PHI) and Sami Bazi (JOR); this brings the total of Asiad doping suspensions to 10.
● Swimming ● The World Aquatics Open Water World Cup event slated to be held in Eilat, Israel from 1-2 December has been moved to Funchal (POR) due to the Hamas attack on Israel. The new dates are 2-3 December.
● Taekwondo ● The World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Taiyuan (CHN) showed a couple of Tokyo Olympic champions still in great shape.
Olympic champ Panipak Wongpattanakit of Thailand won her class with a 2-0 (3-0, 8-3) defeat of 2022 Worlds silver medalist Qing Guo (CHN) in the women’s 49 kg final. At 57 kg, Skylar Park of Canada, the 2019 Worlds bronze winner, took the title, coming from behind, 4-11, 7-6, 9-7 to take a 2-1 decision over Iranian Nahid Kiyanichandeh.
In the women’s 67 kg final, Aleksandra Perisic (SRB), the 2022 Worlds silver winner, swept aside 2022 62 kg World Champion Sarah Chaari (BEL), 2-0 (2-0, 4-2). China’s Lei Xu won the women’s +67 kg division, taking a 2-0 (6-2, 3-1) final win against Sude Uzuncavdar (TUR).
Tunisia won two golds in the four men’s classes, first in the men’s 58 kg with Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Mohamed Jendoubi taking a 2-1 win over Korean 2019 World Champion Jun Jang in the gold-medal match (1-2, 17-11, 11-8), and then from 2022 Worlds 74 kg bronze medalist Firas Katousi winning a wild final, 2-1, from Geon-woo Seo (KOR) at 80 kg by 4-2, 8-8 and 16-10!
Korean Ho-jun Jin, the 2023 Worlds runner-up, took the men’s 68 kg class with a 10-6, 7-6 sweep of France’s Souleyman Alaphilippe. Russian Tokyo Olympic champ Vladislav Larin, competing as a “neutral,” won at +80 kg, over Uzbek Nikita Rafalovich, the 2022 Worlds 87 kg bronze winner, by 2-1 (2-2, 2-0, 11-1).
A star Iranian fighter, Mobina Nematzadeh, was reportedly withdrawn from the Grand Prix in Taiyuan, to avoid potentially facing an Israeli opponent in the women’s 49 kg class.
Nematzadeh had just come from a silver-medal finish at the Asian Games, losing to China’s Qing Guo in the gold-medal match and would have been a medal contender in Taiyuan (Guo won silver in this weight class). But with Israeli entrants on both sides of the bracket, it was possible for her to face one no matter where she was seeded.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!