The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: IOC’s Bach reports Paris 2024 “on track,” Russian insults called “a new low”; U.S. Senate hearing talks SafeSport improvement

U.S. Center for SafeSport chief executive Ju'Riese Colon (U.S. Senate Commerce Committee video screen shot)

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1. Bach: “Paris is on track to welcome the world”
2. IOC blasts Russian insults of it and Bach as “a new low”
3. Bach calls Brisbane 2032 worries “fake news”
4. U.S. Senate committee hearing focuses on SafeSport
5. NBC announces re-formatted Peacock for Paris 2024

● International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach told reporters that the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are “on track” for a successful staging in July, with full confidence in the organizers and the French security authorities.

● In view of highly insulting Russian comments about the IOC, including “racism and neo-Nazism,” spokesman Mark Adams said the language was “unacceptable” and “reaches a new low.”

● Bach called reports of a discussion among Queensland officials to possibly renounce hosting of the 2032 Olympic Games “fake” and underscored the IOC’s strong preference for the use of existing and temporary facilities, not new ones.

● A U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing focused on issues with the U.S. Center for SafeSport and how improvements can be made, including consideration of federal funding and a revision of the jurisdiction of the Center vis-a-vis the U.S. National Governing Bodies.

● NBC shared details of new features of its Peacock streaming service for the 2024 Games, including an NFL RedZone-like “Gold Zone” to follow the hottest events taking place in Paris and ways to easily transfer from seeing multiple sports on the same screen to following the one you like best, right now.

World Championships: Figure Skating (Hendrickx and Levito 1-2 after women’s Short; Canada leads in Pairs, in Montreal) ●

Panorama: Paris 2024 (2: football draws completed; Champions Plaza available for medal re-allocations presentations in Paris) = Boxing (World Boxing invites federations to join) = Cycling (Philipsen sprints to win at Classic Brugge-De Panne) = Shooting (USA Shooting confirms Paris Shotgun team) = Volleyball (2025 FIVB men’s Worlds in the Philippines) ●

Bach: “Paris is on track to welcome the world”

“The preparations are going extremely well. …

“All together, Paris is on track to welcome the world and to deliver exceptional Olympic Games, in line – and fully in line, from the start to the finish – with Olympic Agenda 2020.

“So these Olympic Games Paris 2024 will be younger, they will be more urban, they will be more inclusive, they will be more sustainable and, as you know, the IOC has allocated the same number of quota places for male athletes and for female athletes, so they will be the first Olympic Games with full gender parity.”

That’s International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach (GER) giving the Paris 2024 status in a nutshell, speaking at a Wednesday news conference following the close of the two-day IOC Executive Board meetings; the Board received briefings from the organizing committee during its session yesterday.

He noted one significant issue that added time was spent on:

“We talked also about what has to be on everybody’s mind and what unfortunately you know has to be a major concern for every organizer of a big event in world, and this is security.

“There, we received another very comprehensive report by the [French] Interministerial Delegate [for Sport], Mr. Michel Cadot, and as a result, I can inform you that we have full confidence in the French authorities, and the French authorities, [in] their turn they can also benefit from a very close cooperation with their international partners.”

And Bach reiterated his hope that the Paris Games can be a hopeful event in a difficult world:

“The people around the globe are fed up with all the hate, the aggression, the extremely negative news, wars, conflicts they are facing day in and day out. And you really get the feeling that they, as we, in our hearts, they are longing for a positive message. They are looking for something what is unifying them in all these divisions and aggression. And they are looking for something what gives us hope in these otherwise so dark times.”

Asked if the IOC can actually help make peace, Bach once again explained the IOC’s position in the world and what it can contribute:

“We don’t have the power to make peace and to convince people not to hate each other, not to be so aggressive. Our mission is to send a signal, to set a symbol that despite all of these what is happening in the world, it is still possible to come together. And this is what we feel and … that this is a feeling of many, many millions or even billions of people around the globe.”

IOC blasts Russian insults of it and Bach as “a new low”

That there were no questions about construction delays, strikes or boycotts says that the Paris Games are moving ahead nicely. But there was nothing nice about Russian replies to the IOC Executive Board announcements from Tuesday, including the introduction of the “AIN” (neutral athlete) flag and anthem, the AIN Eligibility Review Panel and that Russian and Belarusian athletes who are allowed to compete in Paris will not participate in the opening on 26 July.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova ripped into the IOC’s conditions for Paris participation and its criticism of September’s World Friendship Games:

“Absolutely unacceptable, not just politicized, but indeed standing on a par with decisions supported by racial discrimination, is the statement of the International Olympic Committee, which directly called on athletes and states to refuse to participate in the international competition World Friendship Games.

“These decisions demonstrate how far the International Olympic Committee has departed from its stated principles in favor of political expediency and slipped into racism and neo-Nazism.”

She further said that the accusation that Russia is politicizing sports through the staging of the World Friendship Games is “absolutely groundless. This is disinformation. This is what in the West is called fakes.

“Russia is open to sports interaction with all countries on the principles of equality, non-discrimination, in accordance with the spirit and principles of Olympism. … We stand for honest, fair competition.”

Bach was asked about this and replied:

“This is, unfortunately, only one quote, and you know, there are a number of more quotes coming from Russia which are extremely aggressive, and since some of them are personal also, if you allow, I would like to ask Mark Adams to respond to this question.”

Adams (GBR), the IOC spokesman, read a prepared statement:

“We’ve seen some very aggressive statements coming out of Russia today, but there is one comment even which is going beyond that and we’ve even seen amongst one of two ones that link the president, his nationality and the Holocaust, and this is completely unacceptable and reaches a new low.”

But there were others in the same vein. The head of the Russian Wrestling Federation, Mikhail Mamiashvili, raged to the Russian news agency TASS:

“In general terms, everything is clear: not to sit at the table where white people sit.

“That’s why the IOC, a commercial cut-and-sew tent, adopted draconian recommendations, after which [Russian Olympic Greco-Roman 97 kg champ Musa] Evloev, who was photographed in front of a poster with the words ‘No to Nazism,’ has no right to participate in the selection? Is that why we can’t go as a team?

“Condemnation [of the Ukraine invasion], thank God, we do not need; we bow at the feet, kiss the hands, we have been blessed. And then what do the thieves check – who created companies that check for involvement – loyalty and disloyalty? How is that? And where is this said in the Olympic Charter? I’ve been trying to find it in it for two years, but I still can’t find it.

“All this raises a huge number of questions. ‘We’re letting you go, just be good boys.’ What did they call it in the concentration camps, ‘sterilize’? And I don’t want to hear this anthem, why do I need it? I have my own, of my country, where I live.

“Evloev has been preparing for two years, and now who will be responsible for all this? You are members of the IOC, you have a Charter. And if you don’t, then officially take an anti-Russian political position, but you will no longer have the right to be a member of the IOC. What respect do you want for yourselves if you have trampled on everything?”

(Worth noting: Russian propaganda has characterized Ukraine, a democracy, as a “Nazi” state as a justification for its continuing invasion.)

Svetlana Zhurova, a member of the Russian Duma and the Turin 2006 women’s 500 m speed skating winner, continued with her view that the IOC is trying to force a Russian boycott:

“They will follow the path when in the history of the Olympic Games there will be no champions from Russia. As if they will be erased from history, they say, no one is obliging them to write that there were such people. They do this so that we ourselves refuse to go to Paris.

“It’s best for the IOC that we boycott, we’ll give them grist to the mill. To get rid of this problem. And if someone is allowed in, then countries can start boycotting the competition. I think that the guys in such conditions are unlikely to agree [for participation]. There, most likely, many legal nuances are hidden, in particular this concerns the signing of various documents for participation in the Olympics.”

Zhurova appears to be on her own planet; the IOC flatly stated on Tuesday that Russian and Belarusian “neutrals” will not be required to sign any declaration related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also weighed in on the IOC’s decisions, but with a more balanced approach:

“We perceive this negatively, of course. This is the destruction of the idea of Olympism, this is an infringement of the interests of athletes, Olympians. Of course, this is absolutely contrary to the entire ideology of the Olympic movement, it absolutely does not look good on the IOC.

“As for participation, we paid attention to the statements of one of the IOC representatives that there will be no requirements, no additional papers need to be signed, and so on. This is rather positive information. And then we will continue to observe.”

Asked if he spoken to anyone in Russia about this or other matters, Bach stated, “No, I have not talked to a minister, or an advisor, or an elected official. I have not talked to the National Olympic Committee. No. I think that answers your question.”

Bach was also asked about what it will take for Russia to return to the good graces of the IOC, and had a concise answer:

That’s very clear: everybody who is following the rules is welcome in the Olympic Movement. So the moment the Russian Olympic Committee is following the rules, they are welcome. And so the ball is in their court at this moment. …

“It’s in their hands.”

Bach calls Brisbane 2032 worries “fake news”

Bach was asked about the controversies in Brisbane for the 2032 Games, amid a report that the Queensland government considered whether to renounce the Games on cost concerns:

“This is mere speculation; all the actors have made it very clear there was no mention of this in any of the conversations or planning they had, so this was some kind of fake news apparently.”

He was further asked whether the IOC was concerned over the decision not to build a large new stadium for the Games, and reacted consistently with his position that has been a major reform he has introduced to the Olympic Movement:

“I can only refer, you know, to the candidature of Brisbane, where it was said that no new stadium or venue would be built for the Games. And this is our position, that we want to have Games being in line with Olympic Agenda 2020, and that means making use of existing venues as far as possible, and if not, looking for temporary facilities, and I understand from two days discussion that there are some scenarios being discussed now after this independent review. …

“At this moment in time, I think we are all aligned with these principles, so I do not have at this moment, major concern.”

The question was asked again, and this time it was Christophe Dubi (SUI), the IOC’s Olympic Games Executive Director who answered in detail:

“We should all take pride in being consistent in what we have said at the time, which are Games that do deliver the goods for the host community. And it’s very important to maintain this line that we said the Games would adapt to the local conditions. It was also the case that maximum use of existing or temporary venues would be made.

“Of course, in this we have no judgement of value with respect to the final venue that will be used. Now there are different scenarios, indeed, President, that were floated and that was the crux of the [Brisbane venue review] report, with one of them being the creation of a new stadium in a new location in Victoria Park. But we understand that the preference would be to look into the renovation of an existing facility.

“And as far as we are concerned, this is a choice that has to be made by the local communities and we will obviously adapt, whatever the size of that stadium will be and whatever the location will be.

“What is of central importance, though, is that the experience for the athletes remains and as far as we are concerned this is the only guiding principle that we have established. And we have received full assurance that it would be the case. …

“The size does not matter. What really is important is to consider the legacy, the choice of the given community. As far as the IOC and the federations we do adapt, we don’t have minimum standards any more. And that’s probably also why so many cities are interested for the future because they know they don’t have to build huge venues. Existing or temporary, whatever the size, we will adapt.”

U.S. Senate committee hearing focuses on SafeSport

In an 80-minute hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) essentially summarized the program in her opening statement:

“The mental-health epidemic in this country, coupled with the increasing reports of abuse of athletes, demands that SafeSport get busy, get your act together and live up to your mission.”

This was essentially a re-hash of the September 2023 hearing of the Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics, with Co-Chair Dionne Koller explaining:

“Our Commission carried out the most comprehensive analysis of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Movement and its governance ever undertaken. Ours was the first independent governmental and bipartisan commission tasked with evaluating this Movement broadly in more than four decades. …

“The findings we shared demonstrate the urgent need for systemic reforms if our nation is to make Movement sports safer, more equitably accessible and better accountable to the public it serves.”

As was the case in the Commission hearing, the U.S. Center for SafeSport chief executive, Ju’Riese Colon, was the central witness and said that new procedures to help streamline its procedures are being announced in the next week or so and would be implemented by 1 April. She admitted that improvement is needed, caused in part by the exponentially-expanding workload:

“When the Center opened our doors seven years ago, we were faced with a daunting task, to undue years of inaction. … Our work has been a catalyst for culture change.

“Reports of abuse and misconduct have increased by more than 2,000% since opening. People are coming forward with their stories, because they know the Center is a resource to them. In our first year, we received roughly 300 reports; last year, we received 7,500, and to date, the Center has received more than 25,000 reports of abuse and misconduct.

“The names of more than 2,000 individuals are now listed on our Centralized Disciplinary Database. It’s a first-of-its-kind resource, listing individuals who have been restricted or banned from sport, which any parent, local sports league, youth service organization or employer can easily access from our Web site.

“And we’ve delivered more than five million trainings to more than 2 1/2 million participants in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement.”

But she also recognized the situation:

“We are very clear-eyed about why we are here today. … We know change is necessary and are ready to make improvements, particularly as it relates to timeliness of investigations, communication and trauma sensitivity. …

“We must continue to listen and to evolve. We pledge to continue to seek athlete input, and keep Congress and the public informed. This is an inflection point for the Center, and for the entire U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Movement.”

Colon finished her statement with the expected request for more money, but also what that money will buy:

“Increased resources are necessary to these efforts. We expect reports to continue to grow exponentially, especially as new sports such as flag football and lacrosse have a potential to add more than a million individuals to the Movement.

“With additional resources, the Center will move forward with setting maximum ceilings on timeframes for case resolutions, as well as add additional investigative staff to meet the growing demand.”

Grace French, a Larry Nassar abuse survivor and founder of The Army of Survivors, touched on the main athlete complaints about SafeSport:

“The bottom line is SafeSport does not have the trust and respect of athletes, coaches, families or sports communities. For some athletes, reporting to SafeSport can be a first step to healing and accountability, but from our experience, no athlete has seen the Center that way. …

“My primary concern lies in the re-traumatization of survivors of sexual abuse within the SafeSport process. These survivors have been disregarded, hushed through non-disclosure agreements and subjected to excessively lengthy investigations, some lasting years.

“Second, SafeSport must increase transparency of its process and improve communication. SafeSport arbitrarily closes cases without providing details to survivors, and retaining jurisdiction even after closure. This hinders external investigations and accountability.”

USA Hockey Executive Director Pat Kelleher, also the head of the U.S. NGB Council, expressed the concerns of the National Governing Bodies, whose programs are where problems can begin:

● “We believe that all youth sporting organizations should be subject to the same standards NGBs are required to have in place, including background screens, SafeSport training, mandatory reporting and monitoring and auditing of their programs to ensure compliance.”

“The reason we are all here is because our greater sporting community, including the NGBs, have lost faith that the Center will timely, promptly and fairly resolve cases of misconduct.”

● “As the federal government has mandated the operation of the Center, we firmly believe the Center should be federally funded, subject to Congressional oversight.”

Kelleher suggested changes so that SafeSport would be “exercising jurisdiction only over the most egregious cases that require Center involvement,” significantly improve its communications and transparency, and reach “a decision on the merits for every case for which it accepts jurisdiction, which would reduce the number of administrative closures and free up the Center’s resources to address the most serious cases.”

But he was also clear that “anything sexual in nature, needs to go to the Center.”

Colon, French and Kelleher all testified at the Commission hearing last September.

Koller also promoted other aspects of the Commission report, such as independent funding for the Team USA Athletes’ Commission, and removing coordination of youth sport from the responsibility of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the U.S. National Governing Bodies, but these drew no interest from the senators.

On Thursday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will have a hearing on “Timeout: Evaluating Safety Measures Implemented to Protect Athletes” at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.

NBC announces re-formatted Peacock for Paris 2024

One of the areas which clearly needed revision in NBC’s online presentation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was helping viewers find what they wanted to watch on the Peacock streaming service.

NBC announced Wednesday that it has developed multiple new approaches for Paris 2024:

● “Peacock Live Actions,” an interactive tool to allow viewers to find what they want, including the new “Gold Zone” – think NFL Red Zone for the Olympics – which moves from event to event, but allows viewers to choose to concentrate on a specific event.

● “Peacock Discovery Multiview,” another Red Zone-like concept, with four events being shown at once and the ability to click to watch any single event. Up to four Multiview options – 16 screens – will be available at any one time.

There will also be a “Spotlight” feed of the prime events live, a “Browse by Sport” option, a “Search by Star Athlete” for live events or replays and a better, interactive schedule of the competitions.

All pretty important with 329 events being contested across the Games.


● Figure Skating ● The ISU World Championships opened in Montreal (CAN), with two-time Worlds medal winner Loena Hendrickx (BEL) leading the women’s competition after the Short Program.

Hendrickx, the 2022 silver and 2023 Worlds bronze winner, posted a seasonal best of 76.98 to lead by more than three points over American Isabeau Levito (73.73), 2023 runner-up Hae-in Lee of Korea (73.55) and two-time defending champ Kaori Sakamoto of Japan (73.29).

Amber Glenn of the U.S. suffered a fall and was ninth at 64.53, but qualified for the finals.

In the Pairs Short Program, home favorites Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps – fourth in 2023 – took a sizable lead on Japan’s defending champs Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, with a huge lifetime best total of 77.48 points. Miura and Kihara stand second at 73.53, followed by Italy’s Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii (72.88).

Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea were the top Americans, in 10th at 64.44. The Worlds continue through Saturday.


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● The draws for men’s and women’s football were completed and the groups set for Paris, with a few qualifying spots still to be filled:

A: France, United States, New Zealand, playoff winner
B: Argentina, Morocco, Ukraine, Asia no. 3
C: Spain, Egypt, Dominican Rep., Asia no. 2
D: Paraguay, Mali, Israel, Asia no. 1

Women (with world rankings):
A: France (3), Colombia (23), Canada (9), New Zealand (28)
B: United States (4), Germany (5), Australia (12), Zambia or Morocco
C: Spain (1), Japan (7), Brazil (10), Nigeria or South Africa

The men’s competition is for players ages 23 and under, except for three designated players, so the FIFA rankings are of only marginal use.

The new “Champions Park” concept for Paris 2024, placed in the center of Paris at the Trocadero Gardens, brings some of the vibe of the Winter Olympic Medal Plaza to the summer Games, offering music and live events on a giant screen, but also appearances by Games medal winners.

Athletes who won medals on the prior day and have concluded their competitions will be invited for a parade from 5:30 to 7 p.m. daily. The IOC confirmed this week that the Champions Park can also be used for medal re-allocation ceremonies from prior Games, at the discretion of the athlete(s) involved.

The suggestion was made by the IOC Athletes’ Commission and approved by the Executive Board.

● Boxing ● The fledgling World Boxing group issued a statement in response to the IOC Executive Board’s challenge to national federations to form a new International Federation in order to retain boxing at the 2028 Los Angeles Games, including:

“World Boxing will seek recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and, should it choose to engage with us, we are committed to working constructively and collaboratively with National Federations and all stakeholders to develop a pathway that will preserve boxing’s place on the Olympic programme at Los Angeles 2028 and beyond.

“With its comments, the IOC has sent a direct and unequivocal message to everyone connected with the sport and we call upon all National Federations and everyone that cares about boxers and the future of boxing to join and support World Boxing and work with us to ensure that boxing remains at the heart of the Olympic Movement.”

● Cycling ● The red-hot Belgian sprinter Jasper Philipsen successfully defended his 2023 victory at the UCI World Tour’s 48th men’s Classic Brugge-De Panne in Belgium on Wednesday.

Fresh from his victory at Milan-Sanremo on the weekend, Philipsen was perfectly suited to the flat, 198.9 km course and won in 4:22:22, racing to the line ahead of countryman Tim Melier, Dutch rider Danny van Poppel, Jason Tesson (FRA) and Simone Consolini (ITA).

● Shooting ● USA Shooting confirmed the eight Shotgun athletes who have earned Olympic selection for Paris:

Skeet/Men: Vincent Hancock (5th Olympics), Conner Prince (1st)
Skeet/Women: Austen Smith (2nd), Dania Vizzi (1st)

Trap/Men: Derrick Mein (2nd), Will Hinton (1st)
Trap/Women: Rachel Tozier (1st), Ryann Phillips (1st)

Hancock has already won three Olympic golds and is trying to become the first U.S. shooter to win four.

● Volleyball ● The Philippines will host the FIVB men’s World Volleyball Championship in 2025.

It’s only the third time the men’s Worlds will be held in Asia, with Japan hosting in 1998 and 2006. The tournament will feature 32 teams from 12-28 September.

The Philippines is becoming more aggressive in pursuing major championship events, having hosted group and playoff matches of the 2023 FIBA men’s World Cup.

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