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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. IOC confirms Russian sanctions in “grim” anniversary message
2. Paris 2024 enjoys some first-phase sell-outs, but some complaints
3. World Indoor Gold Madrid: Nuguse 3:33.69, Roberts 7.39!
4. Portugal and Haiti advance to FIFA Women’s World Cup
5. U.S. wins SheBelieves Cup with 2-0 win over Brazil
In a message posted two days before the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee confirmed the continuing sanctions against Russia and Belarus, with no mention of the continuing discussions concerning re-entry. The Australian government admitted an administrative error in not signing on to the 34-nation resolution against Russian and Belarusian participation, upping the total to 35. The Paris 2024 organizers announced ticket sales to buyers in 112 countries in its first week of “pack” sales, but (as always) there were complaints. In Madrid, new U.S. men’s 1,500 m record holder Yared Nuguse won in 3:33.69, the no. 3 performance in U.S. indoor history. In the FIFA play-in tournament in New Zealand for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, Portugal and Haiti won their games and will enter this summer’s tournament. The no. 1-ranked U.S. women defeated Brazil, 2-1, to win the SheBelieves Cup with a 3-0 record as Mallory Swanson got her seventh goal of the season.
● World Championships: FIS Freestyle Skiing & Snowboard ●
● Panorama: Olympic Winter Games 2022 (ISU joins Valieva appeal) = On Screen (TV audience for USATF Nationals and ISU Four Continents) = Athletics (Devon Allen still hurdling) = Boxing (Ukraine to boycott IBA Worlds) = Football (CONCACAF men;s U-17s) = Gymnastics (World Junior Champs in Turkey still on!) = Weightlifting (Kazakhstan bans six for doping) ●
IOC confirms Russian sanctions in “grim” anniversary message
In an eight-paragraph statement released Wednesday – two days before the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – the International Olympic Committee confirmed that the sanctions against Russia and Belarus “remain firmly in place.”
Importantly, the message did not contain any mention of the IOC’s ongoing discussions about a possible re-entry of Russian or Belarusian athletes to international competition. It did make some interesting comments about the IOC’s role:
● “On this grim anniversary, the Olympic Movement joins calls for peace and stands ready to make its modest contribution to any peace-building efforts.”
● “[T]he IOC sanctioned the Russian and Belarusian states and governments, who are solely responsible for this war, in an unprecedented way: no international sports events organised in Russia and Belarus; no flag, anthems or other national symbols whatsoever displayed; and no government or state officials accredited for any international sports events.”
● “The Olympic Games cannot prevent wars and conflicts. Nor can they address all the political and social challenges in our world. This is the realm of politics. But the Olympic Games can set an example for a world where everyone respects the same rules and one another. They can inspire us to solve problems by building bridges, leading to better understanding among people. They can open the door to dialogue and peace-building in ways that exclusion and division do not.”
The message reiterated the call “Give Peace a Chance,” and noted that it has continued to support Ukraine during the conflict:
“[T]he IOC has tripled its Solidarity Fund for Ukraine so that the athletes have every support to overcome the tremendous challenges they are facing to make their Olympic dream come true. Some 3,000 athletes have already benefitted from the help the IOC Solidarity Fund is offering through the NOC of Ukraine. These efforts take the form not just of financial aid, but also logistical support and ensuring that Ukrainian athletes can continue to take part in competitions by providing travel support, training facilities, accommodation, equipment and uniforms, amongst other things.”
The Australian government said that an administrative error was responsible for the country not being included in the 34-nation statement issued Monday from Great Britain, calling for Russian and Belarusian athletes not to be permitted to participate in international competitions.
Reuters reported that the Australian “government was in accord with the sentiments expressed in the statement.”
Paris 2024 enjoys some first-phase sell-outs, but some complaints
“Launched on 15 February, the first phase of ticket sales for the Olympic Games ‘Make Your Games’ packs has got off to a flying start with strong demand extending to 112 different nations. Some sports and disciplines have already sold out in less than a week, including climbing, fencing, judo, breaking, skateboarding, BMX racing and BMX freestyle. But fear not, more tickets for these sports/disciplines will be available in the next phase of sales.”
The Paris 2024 organizers saluted the first week of ticket sales as a success, but did not provide any totals on the numbers of tickets sold so far in the first-phase “package” sales effort. It was reported that French customers bought two-thirds of the tickets sold so far.
There has been some negative chatter, of course, as is always the case in the initial sales phase. FrancsJeux.com noted on Wednesday:
“The Paris 2024 OCOG reminds us in its latest press release: one million tickets are offered at an entry price of 24 euros, for all sports (with the exception of surfing, which is not ticketed). and on all sales phases. But the organizers omit to specify that nearly half of this million places are not intended for the general public. They have already been acquired by the State and local authorities, as part of a ticket office with a social vocation.”
A story in the Paris daily Le Monde characterized the public reaction to the tickets available and their prices:
“[M]any people have had difficulty with regard to the prices of the tickets. ‘Sport for all they say: That needs to be reviewed,’ ‘A disgrace,’ ‘It is not the Olympic Games for everyone:’ The frustrated tweets have flooded in. …
“Many people have said they have given up when confronted by the amounts to pay. Quoted on Monday by Le Parisien, the Organizing Committee assured that tickets priced at €24 were still available for canoeing, rowing, rugby and tennis and that athletics, wrestling, water polo and volleyball were accessible from €50. When single tickets are sold from May 11, tickets for €24 should be available again.”
The Paris 2024 announcement noted, however, the next phase – with more on offer – is coming in May:
“The sales period itself will start on 11 May, with tickets available for the ceremonies and all sports, including finals of the most sought-after events.”
World Indoor Gold Madrid: Nuguse 3:33.69, Roberts 7.39!
New American men’s 1,500 m indoor record holder Yared Nuguse made an emphatic statement that his performance at the Millrose Games in New York was no fluke, winning impressively at the World Athletics World Indoor Gold meet in Madrid (ESP) on Wednesday.
Nuguse set U.S. records in the mile (3:47.38, no. 2 all-time) and the 1,500 m (3:33.22 en route) at Millrose and stormed to victory in Madrid in 3:33.69, overtaking home favorite (and Worlds 1,500 m bronze winner last year) Mohamed Katir on the final straightaway. Katir finished in 3:34.32, with countryman Adel Mechaal third in 3:34.82 and American Grant Fisher fourth in 3:34.99, a lifetime best.
Nuguse’s win is the no. 3 performance in U.S. indoor history, and Fisher moves to no. 5 on the all-time U.S. indoor list.
Daniel Roberts got the only other U.S. win in the meet, in the men’s 60 m hurdles, winning the final in 7.39, a lifetime best and the 14th man (and 11th American) to ever run under 7.40! Roberts beat Cuba’s Roger Iribarne (7.48) and fellow American Freddie Crittenden (7.51), with Michael Dickson of the U.S. fifth in 7.52.
Women’s World Shot champ Chase Ealey of the U.S. suffered a rare loss, throwing 19.64 m (64-5 1/4), second to Canada’s Sarah Mitton, who got her second-best throw ever indoors to win with 19.76 m (64-10).
Finland’s Reetta Hurske won the women’s 60 m hurdles in a national record of 7.79 to move to no. 3 on the year list.
World leaders Miltiadis Tentoglou (GRE) and Liadagmis Povea (CUB) won the men’s long jump (8.15 m/26-9) and women’s triple jump (14.65 m/48-0 3/4), respectively.
Portugal and Haiti advance to FIFA Women’s World Cup
All but one of the contestants for this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in July and Australia are now set, with two slots filled on Wednesday in the inter-confederation play-in tournament in New Zealand.
In the Group A final in Hamilton, Portugal defeated Cameroon, 2-1, dominating the game, but only winning in stoppage time on a penalty kick! An early goal from Diana Gomes in the 22nd minute looked like the game-winner, but Cameroon tied it in the 89th minute (!) on a Ajara Nchout score.
However, there were 11 minutes of all-on stoppage time and at 90+2, Cameroon defender Estelle Johnson was called for a hand ball in the box while trying to stop a shot and after a video review, Portugal was awarded a penalty. Carole Costa buried the shot and the Portuguese held on to win, despite 19 fouls and five yellow cards for Cameroon.
Portugal will play in the difficult Women’s World Cup in Group E, with the no. 1-ranked U.S., Vietnam and the Netherlands.
In the Group B final in Auckland, Haiti defeated Chile, 2-1, with Melchie Dumornay scoring at 45+1 and 90+8 for a 2-0 lead. Chile got a goal in at 90+11 by Maria Rojas, but the game ended after 16 minutes of stoppage time with Haiti heading to its first Women’s World Cup ever.
The Haitians now advance to Group D at the Women’s World Cup, facing England, Denmark and China.
There is one more spot remaining, in Group C, with Paraguay and Panama to play in Hamilton on Thursday.
U.S. wins SheBelieves Cup with 2-1 win over Brazil
After a rough end to its 2022 season, there was concern about whether the U.S. would end up winning its fourth straight SheBelieves Cup in Frisco, Texas on Wednesday evening. No worries; the U.S. beat Brazil, 2-1, to finish with wins in all three games.
But it was not easy. Brazil had a great chance in the first half as midfielder Kerolin Nicoli sent a hard shot from right to left from just outside the U.S. goal that just went wide in the 30th minute. The U.S.’s Alex Morgan scored in the 45th, but was called offside.
Then, just as in the game against Japan, the U.S. got a score just before the half, as a Lindsey Horan lead pass found scoring ace Mallory Swanson, running between defenders. Her shot was blocked, but ricocheted out to the top of the box, where Morgan was waiting and after a dribble, sent a left-footed laser into the left side of the net for the 1-0 lead at 45+3. The Americans had 56% of possession and just a 7-6 edge on shots, but had the one that counted.
Brazil went on offense as soon as the second half started and midfielder Adriana nearly tied it as she smashed the crossbar from the top of the box in the 50th minute. Then Morgan almost scored for the U.S., sending a back-kick in front of goal almost over the head of Brazilian keeper Lorena in the 53rd, but the inventive try was saved.
The Brazilian pressure continued, but the U.S. finally got out on the break in the 63rd, as midfielder Rose Lavelle dribbled to the top of the box, then dished to the right to Swanson who finished past Lorena in the 63rd for a 2-0 lead. It’s her seventh goal in five games this season and 32nd of her career for the U.S.
Brazil kept coming. A Nicoli blast in the 82nd had to be saved by U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher, then a brilliant cross by substitute defender Bruninha found substitute striker Ludmila for a header between two defenders in the 90th minute that sailed past Naeher to cut the deficit to 2-1, but that’s how it ended.
The U.S. ended with 52% of possession and a 19-14 edge on shots, but gave up its first goal of the year. In six games, the Americans have a 14-1 goals-against total.
In the first game, Japan schooled Canada, 3-0, with Kiko Seike scoring in the 26th and Yui Hasegawa converting a penalty kick in the 41st for a 2-0 halftime lead. Jun Endo scored the final goal in the 77th. Japan had 55% of possession and a 13-3 edge on shots. The Canadians were obviously out of sync, impacted by their continuing struggle with their federation over pay and support issues.
The U.S. won its sixth title in the eight editions of this tournament, winning all three games. The final standings:
1. 9 points, United States (3-0, 5-1 goal differential)
2. 3 points, Japan (1-2, +1)
3. 3 points, Brazil (1-2, -2)
4. 3 points, Canada (1-2, -3)
The American women had trouble scoring at the end of 2022, but Swanson has been a revelation, scoring seven of the U.S.’s 14 goals – in just five games – so far this season. Any game plan against them in the future now has to account for Swanson, as well as Morgan.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Freestyle Skiing & Snowboard ● The first-ever running of the Snowboard Mixed Team Parallel Slalom at the 2023 FIS Snowboard World Championships in Bakuriani (GEO) was golden for the Italian duo of Aaron March and Nadya Ochner, who swept to victory on Wednesday.
Paired against Austria’s men’s Parallel Slalom gold medalist Andreas Prommegger and women’s bronze medalist Sabine Schoeffmann in the final, both March and Ochner won their races by 0.74 and 0.29 seconds, respectively, to take the gold.
Swiss Parallel medalists Dario Caviezel and Julie Zogg defeated the second Italian team, of Maurizio Bormolini and Lucia Dalmasso to win the bronze.
Weather permitting, the Freestyle men’s and women’s Freestyle Aerials finals will be held on Thursday.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Winter Games 2022: Beijing ● The International Skating Union announced that it has also appealed the one-day sanction penalty against Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva levied by the Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. The announcement included:
“The ISU conducted a full review of the RUSADA decision and case file has decided to lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The ISU is of the opinion that all young athletes must be protected against doping. Such protection cannot happen by exempting young athletes from sanctions.
“Within the appeal, the ISU is seeking a period of ineligibility at CAS’s own discretion, starting from 25 December 2021 and disqualification of all results achieved during this period including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.”
The ISU joins the World Anti-Doping Agency in the appeal of the Russian decision; it is possible that the IOC could appeal as well.
● On Screen ● Pretty good television audience for the USATF Indoor National Championships from Albuquerque, New Mexico last Saturday on NBC, with an average of 954,000 tuning in from 4-6 p.m. Eastern time.
That’s a little lower than the 2021 audience on NBC, on the same day (Saturday) and time slot of 990,000, but well down from the 1.448 million audience last year, when the show was on Sunday at noon. The 2023 Nationals audience was also down slightly vs. the 2023 Millrose Games on 11 February (972,000).
Also on was the ISU Four Continents Championships in figure skating from Colorado Springs, Colorado, also on NBC, but on Sunday at 4 p.m. It averaged 783,000 viewers, in contrast with the European Skating Championships on 5 February – 742,000 – but well below the 1.223 million for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships highlights program on 5 February.
● Athletics ● Two-time Olympic hurdler Devon Allen told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he intends to continue his track & field career in 2023, after spending the NFL season on the practice squad of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Allen said he plans to compete at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut and the Penn Relays in Philadelphia in April.
● Boxing ● To the surprise of no one, the boxing federation of Ukraine said that it would not participate in the International Boxing Association’s 2023 world championships in view of it allowing Russian and Belarusian fighters to compete. It’s the ninth federation to announce it will not compete in the IBA Worlds.
Oleg Ilchenko, the Ukrainian federation vice president told a Ukrainian publication:
“Our athletes and representatives of the Boxing Federation of Ukraine do not perform where representatives of Russia and Belarus will perform.”
Ilchenko added that Ukrainian boxers would boycott the Paris 2024 Games if Russian and/or Belarusian fighters are allowed to enter.
● Football ● In the CONCACAF men’s U-17 Championship, taking place in Guatemala, the semifinals are now set, after Canada and Panama each won their quarterfinal on Wednesday.
The Canadians defeated Puerto Rico, 3-0, scoring twice in the first half and once in the second and with a 19-6 edge in shots and 67% of possession. Canada and the U.S. will play in the semis on Friday. The sides played in the group stage, with the Americans winning, 1-0.
The Honduras-Panama game was tight, with no score at halftime. But in the 50th minute, Honduran defender Brayan Vaquedano scored an own goal to put Panama up, 1-0, and a Jonathan Pierre goal at 90+1 made it 2-0. Russel Cruz scored at 90+3 for Honduras to cut it to 2-1, but it ended there. The game had only 13 total shots, but 40 fouls and seven yellow cards. Panama is now into the semis against Mexico on Friday.
● Gymnastics ● This is a little hard to believe, but the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique announced that the Turkish Gymnastics Federation plans to go ahead with staging the second Artistic World Junior Championships in Antalya from 29 March to 2 April.
Antalya is about 340 miles to the west of the earthquake area and so not impacted as much by the devastating earthquakes that have hit Turkey and Syria earlier this month.
● Weightlifting ● The Kazakhstan anti-doping agency identified doping violations by six weightlifters and has imposed sanctions of up to eight years in the case involving Tokyo 2020 men’s bronze medalist Igor Son.
Son won the men’s 61 kg bronze, lifting a combined total of 294 kg, but in an out-of-competition test on 2 March 2022, he tested positive and as he had previously been suspended for doping in 2015 after the World Junior Championships, but had his sanction reduced as he showed it came from a dietary supplement.
This time, he was banned for eight years, until 28 March 2030. As the test came after the Games, his medal and awards are not impacted.
Son was one of six lifters to be sanctioned, also including Alexey Drozdov (2021 World Junior 61 kg silver medalist), Ablay Auelkhanov (2021 World Junior 55 kg champ), Yulia Potassova, and Rufina Chalkarova (2021 World Youth Champs +81 kg winner), who received four-year suspensions to 28 March 2026. Karina Zhunuspayeva was disqualified until 21 October 2025.
The Kazakh anti-doping authority also caught Taekwondo fighter Zhassurbek Israilov, who tested positive for meldonium and will be disqualified until 18 November 2025.
Observed: Although the IOC’s comments regarding the International Weightlifting Federation in specific have been positive since its 2022 elections, this is a reminder that doping has not been eradicated from the sport.
Weightlifting has had its athlete quota reduced to 120 total athletes in Paris for 2024 from 260 in Rio in 2016 and 196 in Tokyo in 2021. It is not on the program for Los Angeles 2028 at present, but could be reinstated this year.
For our updated, 929-event International Sports Calendar for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!