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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. IOC grabs hold of G7 mention of sport as validation
2. France unveils “Tous les Jeux” program with 401,220 tickets
3. Racism vs. Vinicius Junior in Spain, anti-Semitism from Iraq
4. IBA suspends five likely breakaway federations
5. WADA says more than 200 Russia doping sanctions so far
A small mention on neutralizing any identification of Russians or Belarusians in international sport was included in the G7 Summit statement on Ukraine and was seized upon by the International Olympic Committee as validation for its policies. Well, not quite. The French Ministry for sports and the Olympic Games announced the distribution plan for 401,220 tickets it is buying for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. More ugly racist incidents are plaguing Spanish football, notably against Brazilian striker Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid. At the FIE men’s Epee Grand Prix in Istanbul, the Iraqi men’s team withdrew rather than fight against Israel. The International Boxing Association suspended five possibly breakaway national federations for refusing to say they would never join the new World Boxing group, or have U.S. boxers as part of a future tournament. The IBA is also trying to placate the IOC by “allowing” its technical officials to work at the IOC’s Olympic qualifying competition at the upcoming European Games in Poland. The World Anti-Doping Agency said that more than 200 sanctions have been imposed on Russian athletes as a result of WADA’s investigations and receipt of the LIMS database from the infamous Moscow Laboratory, center of the Russian state-sponsored doping program from 2011-15.
● Panorama: Archery (D’Ameida and Kim win Shanghai World Cup) = Athletics (five new world leads, Coleman 9.78w in Bermuda) = Badminton (China wins Sudirman Cup again) = Cycling (3: France’s Armirail surprise Giro leaders; Vollering takes Vuelta a Burgos Femininas; Australia’s Martin wins UCI BMX Freestyle) = Fencing (2: Massialas and Sauer win FIE Grand Prix; FIE approves 17 Russian fencers for competition) = Rugby (New Zealand wraps up men’s Seven Series title) ●
IOC grabs hold of G7 mention of sport as validation
In the G7 Leaders’ Statement on Ukraine, released last Friday (19th), there was a two-sentence mention of sport in the ninth item in the 11-point declaration:
“We are also paying attention to the impact of Russia’s aggression on international sport. While fully respecting the autonomy of sporting organizations, we are focused on fair sporting competition as well as on ensuring that Russian and Belarusian athletes are in no way appearing as representatives of their states.”
On Monday, the International Olympic Committee wasted no time in citing this language as validation of its position:
“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) welcomes the reference to sport in the Group of Seven (G7) Leaders’ Statement on Ukraine, which they issued during their summit in Hiroshima, Japan. The statement says that the G7 are “fully respecting the autonomy of sporting organizations” and want to ensure that “Russian and Belarusian athletes are in no way appearing as representatives of their states”. This is fully aligned with the position of the IOC in this respect. …
“Unfortunately, a few countries, in particular European ones, are going beyond these very strict IOC recommendations. They are putting in place obstacles to prevent athletes from their own countries from participating in international competitions, and against organisers of international competitions on their territory.”
Said IOC chief Thomas Bach (GER);
“The IOC warmly welcomes the G7 support for the autonomy of sport and for the IOC’s recommendations on the participation of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport, only as individual, neutral athletes. This commitment to the autonomy of sports organisations comes at a crucial time, when it is threatened by a few governments. Therefore, we are very grateful to the G7 Leaders for their unequivocal statement.”
In fact, the G7 did not confirm the IOC’s position in detail, since multiple sports ministers from the G7 countries have publicly questioned the IOC’s so-far-incomplete definition of what constitutes a “neutral” athlete.
Different international federations are already coming to different conclusions, for example fencing (FIE), which has rejected multiple Russian and Belarusian athletes attempting to return to international competitions, where the International Judo Federation waived in all but two proposed athletes for Russia and Belarus for its recent World Championships.
One of the key questions not answered – yet – by the IOC is whether state funding of an athlete disqualifies an athlete from “neutral” status. Lucy Frazer, the British Secretary of State of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has explicitly insisted on this point, but no reply has come either from the IOC or the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), which has said it could/might/should/will play a coordinating role in this, but has not done so so far. Its Council will meet at the end of the month.
This is only getting more complex, not less. The only true statement seems to be that each federation has, in fact, complete leeway to do as it pleases.
France unveils “Tous aux Jeux” program with 401,220 tickets
The French government announced details of its “Tous aux Jeux” program for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with 401,220 tickets to be distributed mostly to youth and to volunteers in the sports movement. The recipient groups:
● Most of the tickets are for the Paralympic Games, with 298,600 tickets to be distributed (74.4%), 1,920 tickets for the opening and 100,700 for the Olympic Games (25.1%).
● 258,800 tickets will go to youth through schools across mainland France.
● 100,100 tickets for volunteers in French sport, “including approximately 70,000 tickets distributed directly via sports federations approved by the ministry or affiliated to the committee. French National Sports Olympics (CNOSF).”
● 17,400 tickets to individual with disabilities and their caregivers.
● 24,920 for public officials, for “the State agents of categories B and C directly involved in the preparation or the delivery of the Games.”
As noted by the split of tickets in favor of the Paralympic Games, the program is specifically aimed at using the event as an educational program:
“By massively opening access to the Paralympic Games, organized from August 28 to September 8, 2024, the State is therefore choosing to allow more than 200,000 young people to discover this spectacular sporting event during their school time, which promotes the values of diversity and inclusion, and necessary to accompany the change in society’s view of disability.”
No further update from Paris 2024 after the roaring start of the second phase of ticket sales, with 1.5 million tickets on offer – for all sessions now – and two-thirds sold in the first two days on 11-12 May.
Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said after the sales storm:
“We expected the criticism, we were warned that the sales periods were a difficult time. But we underestimated the scale.
“With four million registered in the draw for 1.5 million tickets on sale, we knew that some people would be disappointed.”
The FrancsJeux.com site reported Friday that the ongoing sales program, the sessions of track & field are not offered correctly, based on an old schedule. This concerns eight sessions of the sport, with more events in three, and less in five of the sessions. The listings are being corrected.
Racism vs. Vinicius Junior in Spain, anti-Semitism from Iraq
Racism in sports continues to dog athletes and events, in this case in Spain in football and by Iraq in fencing.
“We have a problem of behavior, of education, of racism. And as long as there is one fan or one group of fans making insults based on someone’s sexual orientation or skin color or belief, then we have a serious problem. A serious problem that stains an entire team, an entire fan base and an entire country.”
That’s Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales on Monday, commenting on continued abuse hurled at Real Madrid’s speedy Brazilian striker Vinicius Junior. The latest incidents came during a Sunday match at Valencia, which defeated Madrid, 1-0, with Vinicius Junior compiling a video of offensive actions, such as chants, gestures from “fans”; he was even hung in effigy off a bridge in Madrid.
The video asked, “When will it be enough? Racism is a crime. Not to punish is to be an accomplice.”
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti (ITA) said, “Nothing will happen, because this has already taken place several times in other stadiums and nothing has been done. Nothing. We have to evaluate this situation, because it is very serious.”
F.C. Barcelona coach Xavi (ESP) told The Associated Press, “If there’s an insult, out, we stop playing, it’s over. I think it’s the message to the president of the league and the federation. We have to put an end to this. It’s the right time.”
Vinicius Junior is hardly alone as a target of abuse, but his high profile has elevated the issue. Prosecution of such crimes is a governmental exercise, of course, and moves slowly.
At the FIE men’s Foil World Cup in Istanbul (TUR), the Iraq team withdrew after being drawn to face Israel in their opening-round match on Sunday. The Jerusalem Post cited a statement from the Iraqi Fencing Federation:
“The Iraqi national team withdrew from the individual races in the World Cup fencing championship, which is taking place in Istanbul and qualifies for the Paris Olympics after the lottery pitted it against the team of the ‘occupying Israeli entity.”
“The decision to withdraw came in compliance with the law criminalizing normalization approved by the Iraqi parliament, in rejection of the occupying Israeli entity, and in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.”
The Post noted:
“Last year, the Iraqi parliament passed legislation criminalizing any form of ‘normalization’ with Israel, banning all Iraqi citizens from having any political, economic, cultural, or any other form of communication with Israeli citizens, even through social media. The punishment set for such interactions with Israelis is the death sentence or imprisonment.”
No response from the International Fencing Federation on Monday.
IBA suspends five likely breakaway federations
In its continuing war with national federations who oppose its leadership, the International Boxing Association announced Monday:
“Four National Federations were suspended following violations and charges based on the IBA Constitution and Membership Policy due to their participation in a rogue boxing organization as decided by the IBA Board of Directors.
“The four consisting of the New Zealand Boxing Association, German Boxing Association, Swedish Boxing Federation, and the Dutch Boxing Federation were guilty in breaching the rules and regulations and were suspended as IBA members. All of them were given the right to be heard but none refused categorically their participation in the rogue governing body nor distancing themselves from the organization.”
A set of three conditions were offered for re-admission, including a commitment not to participate in any other boxing federation and condemning “any attempts to establish an alternative international boxing federation.”
The Czech Boxing Federation was also suspended for holding its annual Grand Prix tournament, in which U.S. boxers – now not members of the IBA – competed. Its re-admission requirements also include a guarantee “that only eligible boxers from member National Federations will participate in its events going forward.”
The IBA also suspended the Liberia Boxing Federation and Federation of Boxing of Equatorial Guinea for not providing annual reports under the IBA rules.
Further, the IBA passed new regulations to try and recruit its boxers away from suspended national federations:
“In addition, the IBA established Rules of participation in the Competitions of the Boxers and Officials affiliated to the suspended National Federations. It was decided that the athletes of the suspended NFs will still take part in IBA owned and sanctioned competitions, however, must be registered through the IBA Sport Department directly.”
The new World Boxing federation is still in formation, but USA Boxing and the five now-suspended national federations are obvious early choices to join.
The IBA, still on suspension by the IOC, agreed Saturday:
“to allow all its Boxers, Technical Officials, and Coaches of the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC) to freely participate in the upcoming European Games 2023 which constitutes part of the IOC Olympic Qualification System (OQS) as they pursue their Olympic aspirations.”
This is an about-face for the IBA, which had threatened any officials who had indicated a desire to work on these Olympic qualifying matches. But it is now trying to placate the IOC, knowing that the future of boxing in the 2028 Olympic Games is in serious jeopardy – not currently on the program – and the future of the IBA as a recognized governing body is in even worse shape:
“The IBA will continue to put its athletes and stakeholders first and this goodwill gesture towards the IOC is the first step and the IBA will continue to strive for open and free dialogue with the IOC for the benefit of boxing, its athletes, and the stability and quality of the Olympic Games.
“The IBA reiterates its desire for cooperation as we work to regain our Olympic recognition.”
A decision on boxing and the 2028 Los Angeles Games is expected later this year.
WADA says more than 200 Russia doping sanctions so far
Russia’s state-sponsored doping program from 2011-15 was centered at the now-infamous Moscow Laboratory of the “Russian Anti-Doping Agency,” and the leak of lab data and the later retrieval of the lab records in 2019 have kept anti-doping authorities busy for years in pursuing sanctions.
The work has not stopped, but the World Anti-Doping Agency declared last week that the lab data has now resulted in more than 200 sanctions being levels against Russian athletes involved in doping during that time:
“As of today, a total of 203 Russian athletes have been sanctioned by 17 Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) with an additional 73 charged, as well as another 182 cases that remain under investigation.”
That’s a total of 458 cases in all, with 60.3% either already sanctioned or charged. It’s worthwhile to note that despite delaying and obfuscation efforts by the Russian “anti-doping “ authorities, WADA noted that its effort in “‘Operation LIMS’ was able to forensically recover much of the data that had been manipulated and/or deleted, which led to hundreds of strong cases being built against athletes who had been part of Russia’s doping program.”
It’s also important to note that WADA distributed much of this data to others for action and did not take the lead in most cases. In athletics, the Athletics Integrity Unit continues to hand out suspensions due to abuses during the 2011-15 period, as is the International Testing Agency, which is now responsible for anti-doping programs for multiple international federations.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Archery ● At the World Archery World Cup II in Shanghai (CHN), Brazil’s Marcus D’Almeida, the 2021 Worlds silver winner, won the men’s Recurve final against 41-year-old Korean star Jin-Hyek Oh, the London 2012 winner, by 6-4 in the final.
Korea scored a 1-2-3-4 finish in the women’s Recurve, with 19-year-old Si-hyeon Kim defeating Tokyo Team gold medalist Chae-young Kang, 6-0, in the final, and Olympic gold medalist San An winning the bronze by 6-2 against teammate (and five-time Worlds medal winner) Mi-sun Choi.
The Korean men won the team title, 6-2, over China; the Korean women shut out Chinese Taipei, 6-0, in the women’s team final, and Kang and Woo-seok Lee won the Mixed Team title over China, 6-2.
● Athletics ● A very busy weekend in the U.S. and elsewhere, with world-leading performances in five events:
● Men/Hammer: 80.88 m (265-4), Rudy Winkler (USA)
● Women/10,000 m: 29:59.03, Mizan Alem (ETH)
● Women/Shot Put: 20.06 m (65-9 3/4), Chase Ealey (USA)
● Women/Hammer: 80.17 m (263-0), Brooke Andersen (USA)
● Women/Javelin: 66.50 m (218-2), Sigrid Borge (NOR)
The wins for Ealey and Norge came at the “Halle Thrower Day” in Germany, while Andersen and Winkler won at the USATF Throws Festival in Tucson, Arizona. For World Champion Andersen, her 263-0 is a lifetime best and the third women to ever reach 80 m, behind only world-record holder Anna Wlodarczyk (POL) and former World Champion DeAnna Price of the U.S.
Ethiopia’s Alem, the 2021 World Junior Champion at 5,000 m, not only won at the Night of 10,000s in London (GBR), but became the 12th women to break through the 30-minute mark, and is now no. 11 all-time. American Weini Kelati was second with a lifetime best of 31:04.16.
U.S. star Paul Chelimo – Rio silver winner and Tokyo bronze medalist at 5,000 m – won the men’s featured 10,000 m in 27:12.73, a lifetime best, moving to no. 8 all-time U.S. in what was apparently his third career race at the distance, and first since 2019!
There was lots of other action overseas, with Fred Kerley continuing his Asian tour with a 9.91 win at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix meet in Yokohama; his 9.88 in the heats moved him to no. 2 in the world for 2023.
At the USATF Grand Prix in Bermuda, a Puma American Track League meet, all the notable marks were wind-aided, but still great. Christian Coleman ran his fastest all-conditions time since 2019 with a 9.78 win in the 100 m over Noah Lyles (9.80), aided by a stiff 4.4 m/s aiding wind. American Jamal Britt won the 110 m hurdles in 12.99w (+4.0) and Will Claye, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic triple jump silver winner, took that event at 17.45 mw (57-3w, his longest all-conditions jump since 2019.
Tamari Davis of the U.S. won the women’ 100 m in a legal (+2.0) 10.91, and Abby Steiner rolled to a windy 200 m win (+3.1) in 22.06. Olympic champ Jasmine Camacho-Quinn stormed to a 12.17w (+3.5) victory in the women’s 100 m hurdles, the third-fastest time ever run under all conditions. Americans Tara Davis-Woodhall and Quanesha Burks were 1-2 in the long jump with wind-aided bests of 7.11 m (23-4) and 7.04 m (23-1 1/4).
● Badminton ● China repeated as the winner – for the 13th time – of the Sudirman Cup team event, held in Suzhou (CHN).
The heavily-favored Chinese won their three group matches by 5-0, 5-0 and 5-0, the moved into the quarterfinals against Indonesia (3-0) before a tough 3-2 win over Japan in the semis. In the final, it was another shutout, this time over South Korea by 3-0.
● Cycling ● The 106th Giro d’Italia is entering its final week, with a surprise leader in France’s Bruno Armirail on top by 1:08 over 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas (GBR) and Velua a Espana winner Primoz Roglic (SLO).
Thomas was the leader by two seconds over co-favorite Roglic going into the weekend, after Friday’s brutal 207 km stage ending at the Crans-Montana ski resort in Switzerland was shorted to just 76.4 km due to bad weather and safety concerns. Einer Rubio of Colombia attacked in the final 200 m to win in 2:16:21, ahead of France’s Thibault Pinot (+0:06), while Thomas and Roglic finished 9-10.
Saturday’s stage shook up everything, with a 194 km ride to Cassano Magnago that was made for the sprinters with a long, flat finish. A massive attack at 15 km separated the peloton and Thomas, Roglic and others are way behind the front group that finishes with a sprint by German Nico Denz for his second win of the race in 4:37:30, just ahead of Derek Gee (CAN) and Alberto Bettiol (ITA). The main group finished 21:11 behind and France’s Bruno Armirail held a 1:41 lead on Thomas and 1:43 on Roglic!
On Sunday, a triple-climb route of 195 km that ended in Bergamo was a special day for American Brandon McNulty, who won a final sprint from Ireland’s Ben Healy and Marco Frigo (ITA) in 5:13:39 for his biggest win ever!
Thomas and Roglic picked up a half-minute on Armirail in 32nd and trail by 1:08 and 1:10 entering the final six stages. The stages on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are all for climbers and will test Armirail, 29, to the max. His biggest win to date was the French nationals in the Individual Time Trial in 2022.
Dutch stars dominated the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas in Spain, with Lorena Wiebes winning stages one and three and Demi Vollering, already a four-time winner on the UCI Women’s World Tour this season, taking the second and final stages. Vollering finished with a breakaway win on Sunday on the uphill finish to Lagunas de Neila, 1:35 ahead of Erica Magnaldi (ITA) and taking the overall title by 2:07 over countrywoman Shirin van Androoij, in 11:46:12. American Chloe Dygert was fourth, 2:43 behind the leader.
At the UCI BMX Freestyle extravaganza in Montpelier (FRA), Australia’s Tokyo Olympic champ Logan Martin won the men’s Park final, over France’s 2022 Worlds bronze winner Anthony Jeanjean and American Marcus Christopher.
China’s Huimin Zhou took the women’s final ahead of American star (and 2022 World Champion) Hannah Roberts (USA), Laury Perez of France and 2018 World Champion Perris Benegas (USA) in fourth.
● Fencing ● Rio Olympic silver winner Alexander Massialas of the U.S. scored a major win at the men’s Foil Grand Prix in Shanghai (CHN), winning over Francesco Ingargiola, 15-6, for his third career Grand Prix gold and ninth career medal. It was Massialas’ first Grand Prix win since 2017!
German Anne Sauer won the women’s final, 15-14, over Martina Batini (ITA), Sauer’s first career Grand Prix gold. Tokyo Olympic champ Lee Kiefer of the U.S. lost to 2014 Worlds silver winner Batini in her semi, 15-9, and took a bronze.
In the men’s Epee World Cup in Istanbul, where the Iraqis withdrew instead of facing Israel, it was France’s Alexandre Bardenet who won the individual title, 15-12, over Mate Koch of Hungary. It was Bardenet’s second win of the year and third career World Cup gold.
South Korea’s Sera Song won the women’s Epee World Cup in Fujairah (UAE) with a tough, 14-13 decision over Man Wai Vivan Kong of Hong Kong. Song, the 2022 World Champion, won her second career World Cup, while the no. 1-ranked Kong won her ninth career World Cup medal.
The Russian Fencing Federation said that the International Fencing Federation (FIE) approved 17 of its fencers and 12 support staff, but none of the eight medal winners (3-4-1) from the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The approved fencers will be able to compete in FIE events as neutrals.
● Rugby Sevens ● The 11th and final leg of the HSBC men’s Sevens Series was in London, with New Zealand already assured of its 14th overall title (no one else has more than four).
The All Blacks and Samoa ran through their pool matches with 3-0 records, while Argentina and Canada won their pools with 2-1 marks. Argentina won a defense battle, 10-7, against Samoa in its semi while Fiji knocked out New Zealand, 19-17. In the final, Argentina had little trouble and won by 35-14, with Samoa beating New Zealand, 24-19, for third.
It was Argentina’s third win of the season and they finished second to New Zealand in the final standings, 200-179. Fiji claimed third with 156, over France (151). The U.S. men finished 10th with 98 points.
More weekend summaries coming tomorrow.
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