★ The Sports Examiner: Chronicling the key competitive, economic and political forces shaping elite sport and the Olympic Movement.★
★ To get The Sports Examiner by e-mail: sign up here! ★
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. IOC Executive Board expected to advance 2030-34 Winter hosts
2. France’s Perec suggests four Paris ‘24 torch lighters
3. Paris transit authority doubles Games-period fares
4. Cloud connectivity reducing Olympic TV infrastructure
5. Russia’s Kolesnikov: the Olympics is not everything
● The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board begins a three-day meeting on Wednesday and is expected to advance Salt Lake City’s bid for the 2034 Olympic Winter Games and one or more bids for 2030 from France, Sweden and Switzerland.
● Triple Olympic gold medalist Marie-Jose Perec of France said she would be honored to be the final torchbearer for Paris 2024, but would prefer to see a four-person team light the cauldron at the opening next 26 July.
● The regional transit authority in France that includes Paris announced that public transit fees will be more-or-less doubled during the Olympic and Paralympic Games period in 2024 in order to help recoup €200 million in added costs.
● The Olympic Broadcasting Services team is gearing up for Paris 2024, with 8,300-plus staff producing 3,300 feeds from the International Broadcasting Center. However, new cloud technologies introduced at Tokyo 2020 will help to reduce the size of the IBC and the number of people from right-handing broadcasters who have to be in Paris to produce their domestic shows.
● Russian swimming world-record holder Kliment Kolesnikov, a two-time Olympic medal winner in Tokyo said that while the Olympic Games is an important achievement for an athlete, it should not be the most important thing in their lives.
● World Championships: Football (France and Germany advance to men’s U-17 World Cup Final) ●
● Panorama: Athletics (Cain settles suit vs. Salazar, Nike) = Basketball (Boylen named USAB Coach of the Year) = Football (Mexico draws big TV audience, not so much for USMNT) ●
IOC Executive Board expected to advance 2030-34 Winter hosts
A three-day meeting of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board will commence Wednesday in Paris, with the star attraction being the report of the Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games.
A news conference is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Paris (12 noon Eastern time) – to be streamed live on the IOC’s YouTube channel – and IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) is expected to announce that one or more bidders for the 2030 and 2034 Olympic Winter Games will be advanced from the “continuous dialogue” stage to “targeted dialogue.”
In the new host-city selection process, the IOC eliminated the costly public beauty contests that had sometimes led to subtle, obvious or even direct bribery in favor of a private discussion protocol by which the IOC Executive Board would recommend where to stage future Olympic, Winter and Youth Games, with confirmation by vote of the IOC Session.
The entire bid concept for future Games has been completely revamped by the IOC under Bach, now emphasizing as little construction as possible, with venues now allowed to be spread even across multiple countries, with the implicit understanding that if necessary, a central “Olympic Village” would not exist.
The Future Host Commission for the Winter Games has said it is only considering one candidate for 2034: Salt Lake City (USA), which very successfully hosted the 2002 Winter Games. Its bid package is far advanced, even to the point that local, state and national government guarantees required by the IOC have been obtained, along with agreements for the use of the same venues as in 2002, along with Olympic Village housing at the University of Utah. Perhaps no bid in Olympic history has gone so far before any formal selection by the IOC, and Salt Lake City is broadly expected to be endorsed.
The 2030 situation is more complex, as three bids have been quickly assembled over the past few months, from two regions of southern France, and spread-out bids from Sweden and Switzerland. All three foresee mostly, if not totally, private financing of the event, and no all-new venues, with some refurbishments of existing sites.
The Swedish bid would place the bobsled, luge and skeleton events at the existing World Cup track in Sigulda (LAT), across the Baltic Sea, and center many of the other events around Stockholm. The Swiss bid is a national effort, using venues across the entire country that also host World Cup events; the bid has drawn good public and political support in place of the historic disinterest in Olympic events which would require public financing.
For 2030, the IOC might pick more than one bid for “targeted dialogue,” giving themselves a back-up option in case one country is unwilling to provide the myriad of guarantees on access, cargo, security and the like. The Olympic Charter does not allow the election of a future Games host in a Session held in that country, so if the French bid is advanced, the selection of the 2030 host may not be able to be made at the 2024 Session prior to the Olympic Games being held in Paris.
But Salt Lake City could be selected for 2034. The Future Host Commission for Winter has been asked to consider a permanent rotation of the Winter Games in locations which are forecast to be cold enough in the future to offer natural snow, and the Commission liked the idea of allocating 2030 and 2034 now to give it more time to consider this concept. If implemented, Salt Lake City could begin the rotation program in 2034 and host again in 2050.
Beyond the Winter Games selection, the Executive Board will hear reports about the International Federations and National Olympic Committees. On Thursday, progress reports on the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics (Gangwon), 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games and 2026 Youth Olympic Games (Dakar) will be heard. The Friday session will be devoted to Paris 2024, including a visit to the Olympic Village, which is nearing completion.
No report on Los Angeles 2028 is scheduled.
France’s Perec suggests four Paris ‘24 torch lighters
France’s Marie-Jose Perec was a dominant force in the long sprints in the first half of the 1990s, winning Olympic gold in the 400 m at Barcelona and then the 200 and 400 m in Atlanta, plus 400 m World Championships golds in 1991 and 1995. She was the flagbearer for the French team at the opening of the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Now 55, she one of the obvious possibilities to be light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris next summer, but told Agence France Presse that she has other ideas:
“If I were chosen, it would make me really happy. I would be very touched. But if it was up to me to choose, I wouldn’t just take one person to light the cauldron. I would take a man and a woman disabled sports as well as an able-bodied man and woman.
“I would mix people because that’s what France is today. We’re talking about inclusion. If you say that the [Olympics and Paralympics] are one, if you made this mascot and this logo, you have to follow your logic to the end.
“An inclusive team, I think that would be the most beautiful message that France could send in these dark times.
“Today, with what we’re going through, you can’t just put black or white. And women, we have to see them. It’s a decision that makes such a mark, which is very political. The whole world’s eyes are on you.”
The novel Paris 2024 opening ceremony will take place on 26 July on the Seine River, but the location and logistics of the cauldron and the lighting portion of the ceremony have not yet been revealed. The identity of the final torchbearer is usually a closely-guarded secret until the ceremony itself.
Paris transit authority doubles Games-period fares
The Ile-de-France Mobilities authority, which runs the region’s public transit system, says that it will increase the service level by 15% during the time of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Someone has to pay for that, and the transit authority wants visitors coming to the Games to be the ones who do.
On Monday, Valerie Pecresse, President of the Ile-de-France Regional Council, announced that fares will be increased:
“During the Olympics and the Paralympics, the Ile de France region will dramatically increase its transport offer. It is out of question that the residents support that cost.
“We’re going to create a new pass, the Paris 2024 pass, that will allow visitors to travel through the whole Ile de France region. It will cost 16 euros a day, and up to 70 euros a week. It is the fair price.”
A single-trip ticket will be €4 from 20 July to 8 September, from a week prior to the Olympic opening to the day of the Paralympic closing. (€1 = $1.09 U.S.)
Current pricing is €2.10 for a single-trip ticket, €8.45 for a day, €30 for a week and €84.10 for a month-long pass, so the Games-period tickets will be 90% more for a single ticket, 101% more for a day and 233% more for a week.
The Ile-de-France Mobilities annual budget is €10.5 billion per year and €200 million in additional revenue is hoped for from these increases. Costs for holders of monthly, annual and special transit passes will not be affected by the special pricing.
Cloud connectivity reducing Olympic TV infrastructure
Although not as obvious as the competition sites, the infrastructure required to televise the Olympic Games worldwide is perhaps the most complex task in the staging of the event. But advances in technology have helped to curb the continuous expansion of the space and people needed.
The Paris 2024 Olympic Games will be broadcast across the globe, but primarily by a central team known as OBS, for “Olympic Broadcasting Services.” Formed in 2001, the core team of 160 staff in Madrid (ESP) grows to more than 8,300 during the Games and produces the basic coverage used by all broadcasters.
For decades, that meant that the signals from each of the competition and support sites were routed to a central International Broadcast Center, where rights-holding broadcasters set up their own studios to produce programming for their own country. NBC, as the American broadcaster, generally took up the most space.
But a major innovation for the Tokyo 2020 Games – held in 2021 – is changing this. Chinese technology giant and IOC sponsor Alibaba created, in conjunction with OBS, an “Olympic Cloud” system which allowed all of the signals captured at the Broadcast Center to be distributed via satellite and ground links to the home studios of broadcasters.
This groundbreaking advance allowed rights-holders to send fewer people to the Games – they could keep them at home – and reduce the ever-growing space needed for the IBC:
● 2016 Rio: 85,400 sq. m (about 919,000 sq. ft.)
● 2020 Tokyo: 45,000 sq. m (about 484,000 sq. ft.)
● 2024 Paris: 40,000 sq. m (about 431,000 sq. ft.)
Even so, the broadcast project is still extraordinary, with OBS to produce more than 11,000 hours of coverage, of which only about 4,000 will be the sports and ceremonies. The rest will be clips, highlights and loads of pre- and post-event coverage, including interviews and specially-created social-media content.
The production, in High Definition and Ultra High Definition (4K and 8K), will eventually offer 3,300 different feeds from the IBC, from 47 production units at 36 venue production compounds, more than 1,000 camera systems, more than 20 multi-camera replay systems and more than 3,600 microphones.
Bandwidth of 100 Gbps – gigabits per second – has been reserved for Olympic broadcast traffic.
The effort isn’t cheap. The IOC owns OBS and pays the television production costs for the Games, which ran to $439.6 million in 2021 alone.
All of this will support worldwide viewer on every kind of devise; 3.05 billion people watched some part of the Tokyo Games in 2021. Senior network executives and media analysts will be watching one metric especially closely: the share of viewing on over-the-air and cable television vs. viewing on streaming platforms. For Tokyo, 93% of all viewing was on television, but will the streaming revolution reach the Olympics in Paris?
Russia’s Kolesnikov: the Olympics is not everything
The world-record holder in the men’s 50 m Breaststroke, Russian Kliment Kolesnikov, 23, won a Tokyo Olympic silver in the men’s 100 m Backstroke and a bronze in the 100 m freestyle. But he told the Russian news agency TASS that the Olympic Games is important, but not everything:
“It has not lost its meaning in general, the Olympics remains the best thing that can happen in an athlete’s life, but it is no longer the meaning of life; there is no need to link the two.
“By doing this, people then start to suffer from depression. It’s right to approach it simply as a competition, after which you forget about it all. Besides the Olympics and swimming, there are other things you can do and enjoy.”
He was asked if his attitude was forged after he competed in Tokyo in 2021:
“Absolutely. And not because of the fact that sanctions were imposed. It happened right after the Olympics. I had a change of heart about it all then. You prepare for them as a boy who has a dream to get there and win. But in the end you get into a tough, reality-filled adult life, where you realize that you are interesting only when you show something. So I’ve rethought my goals and objectives. I try to just catch a high from swimming, setting my personal records and world records.
“If you look from the athlete’s side, the Olympics are cool competitions, an unattainable level in terms of organization. It’s cool to be part of the swimming community, to see guys from different countries. But looking at it from the outside after the performance and realizing where it led to, it becomes awkward.”
Kolesnikov competed for the “Russian Olympic Committee” in Tokyo in 2021 and whether and under what circumstances he might be able to compete in Paris in 2024 is unclear.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Football ● France and Germany entered the FIFA men’s U-17 World Cup semis with perfect records and stayed that way – barely – and will meet in the final on Saturday in Surakarta (INA).
Argentina took a 2-1 halftime lead on Germany in the first semifinal on Tuesday (28th), on goals by striker Agustin Ruberto in the 36th minute and just before halftime at 45+4, overcoming a ninth-minute opener from forward Paris Brunner.
Brunner scored again in the 58th to tie the game on a right-footed shot from the top of the box that found the right side of the net and the Germans went up, 3-2, on forward Max Moerstedt‘s header in the 69th. It took a third Ruberto score, this time at 90+4 on a shot from the center of the box, to even the match and bring on the penalty shoot-out.
The Germans went up, 2-0 and 3-1, then Brunner completed the 4-2 shoot-out win on the fifth penalty shot, keeping them unbeaten at 6-0.
It wasn’t much easier for France (6-0), which was down to Mali by 1-0 at halftime on a stoppage-time rebound score from wing Ibrahim Diarra at 45+4. But the game changed in the 55th, as Mali defender Souleymane Sanogo was sent off with a red card after a video review of a foul. Now playing against 10, France scored a minute later on defender Yvann Titi’s header off a free kick into the middle of the box to tie the match.
And despite resolute defending, the French managed to get the lead in the 69th off a free kick, a swerving laser from attacking midfielder Ismail Bouneb that found the right side of the net for what turned out to be the game winner. Mali had 54% possession and a 20-9 edge on shots, but could not overcome Sanoyo’s red card, as midfielder Hamidou Makalou’s shot from distance hit the crossbar in the 89th.
Mali and Argentina will meet in the third-place game on Friday, also in Surakarta.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Athletics ● A lawsuit filed by former distance star Mary Cain, now 27, against former coach Alberto Salazar and Nike has been settled, according to the Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon.
Cain, a Bronxville (N.Y.) High School star who set prep records at distances from 800 m to 5,000 m in 2013-14 and represented the U.S. at the 2013 World Championships in the women’s 1,500 m at age 17, trained with the Nike Oregon Project under the direction of Salazar from 2013-16. She last competed in 2020 and has turned to triathlon in recent years.
Alleging emotional and physical abuse by Salazar and a lack of oversight by Nike, she filed suit in October 2021, asking for $20 million in damages. The Oregonian reported, “A clerk for the judge said a Nike attorney notified the court yesterday that the case had been resolved.”
● Basketball ● USA Basketball named Jim Boylen as its Coach of the Year on Tuesday, honoring his stewardship of a team of G-League players and free agents through the FIBA men’s World Cup qualifying process.
Boylen’s roster continuously changed for the six FIBA qualifying windows, but his teams – and a total of 52 players – compiled a 9-3 record and placed the U.S. in the FIBA World Cup, where it finished fourth overall and qualified for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Boylen, 58, was the head coach at the University of Utah from 2007-11 and of the Chicago Bulls of the NBA from 2018-20. He is currently an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers.
● Football ● There was strong interest in the CONCACAF Nations League last week … for Mexico, but not much for the U.S.
The second leg of the home-and-home with Trinidad & Tobago on Monday (20th) drew 305,000 viewers on TNT at 7 p.m. Eastern, after 152,000 watched the pre-game show.
But the Mexico-Honduras match on Tuesday did 2.08 million combined between UniMas (1.612 million) and TUDN (469,000). And the Argentina at Brazil World Cup qualifying match that turned into a riot and was delayed by almost a half-hour had 1.499 million on Telemundo and another 230,000 on Universo.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!