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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Kiefer wins fourth straight Pan Am fencing gold
2. Measuring error spoils “world record” walk by Garcia
3. Activists target Paris 2024 office for protest
4. FIFA bans Rubiales for three years; appeal coming
5. Jeux de la Francophonie: success, disaster or both?
● Olympic women’s Foil champ Lee Kiefer of the U.S. won her fourth straight Pan American Games gold medal on Monday, rolling undefeated through nine straight matches to add to her 2011, 2015, 2019 victories. She led a four-gold day for the U.S., which now has 171 total medals and 72 golds.
● A bad error by the contracted course measurer left the Pan American Games women’s 20 km Walk route some 3,000 m short and caused all of the times for the event to be annulled, depriving the athletes of possible world-ranking points and Olympic qualifying times. The course was changed to the right length for the men’s event, and the organizing committee said it was not responsible. A roof leak at a municipally-owned arena caused a semifinal match to be stopped and the next-day bronze-medal match to start late, and once again the organizers said it was not their fault. The fault was in quality assurance, which is assuredly up to the organizing committee.
● Activists trying to get the local and regional governments to do more for refugees and the homeless protested Sunday night with a projection on the Paris 2024 offices and with posters mocking the Olympic motto. On Monday, the French Interior Minister praised the work of the security services during the just-completed Rugby World Cup and said the effort for the Olympic Games would be 10 times as big.
● The FIFA Disciplinary Committee banned former Royal Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales for three years for his antics after Spain won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in August. He promises to appeal.
● The staging of the 2023 Jeux de la Francophonie – the Games of French-speaking countries – was considered a great success in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but now the country’s finance minister says that the event was supposed to cost $48 million, but actually cost $324 million! An audit team is in Kinshasa now.
● Panorama: Winter Games 2030 (French survey shows 70%-plus support for 2030 bid) = World Combat Games (Ukraine leads the medal table in Riyadh) = Athletics (shortlist for Fair Play awardees announced) = Football (Messi and Bonmati lead Ballon d’Or winners) = Gymnastics (Retton posts first message since coming home from hospital) = Ice Hockey (former NHL player dies in freak skate-cut accident) ●
Kiefer wins fourth straight Pan Am fencing gold
Tokyo Olympic champion Lee Kiefer continued her dominance at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, winning her fourth straight women’s Foil gold on Monday as part of a four-gold day for the Americans:
● Fencing: Lee Kiefer, women’s Foil
● Surfing: Zane Schweitzer, men’s Stand-Up Paddleboard racing
● Surfing: Connor Baxter, men’s Stand-Up Paddleboard surfing
● Surfing: Candice Appleby, women’s Stand-Up Paddleboard racing
Kiefer won all five matches in her group, then cruised through the elimination rounds by 15-6, 15-8, 15-8 over Canada’s Jessica Guo and then 15-6 against another Canadian, Eleanor Harvey. Kiefer, now 29, won her first Pan Am gold in 2011 at age 17 and topped the podium again in 2015, 2019 and now in 2023. No other American fencer has won more than twice in the Pan American Games.
The U.S. won three golds on Monday in the Stand-Up Paddling events in surfing, matching Peru, which took three golds in the men’s Shortboard – an Olympic event – with Lucca Mesinas winning his second Pan Am gold (also in 2019), and taking both Longboard events, with Benoit Clemente and Maria Fernanda Reyes.
The U.S. football teams are also progressing well. The men’s U-22 squad – in line with the U-23 requirements for almost all players at Paris 2024 – has reached Wednesday’s semifinals against Chile in Valparaiso after finishing 2-1 in its group, losing only to Brazil by 1-0.
The women’s squad, the U.S. U-19 team, won all three of its group games and is in Tuesday’s semifinals against Chile in Vina del Mar.
The in-stadium track & field events started Monday, with Peru’s Luz Rojas taking the women’s 10,000 m in 33:12.19, ahead of Laura Galvin (MEX: 3:15.85) and American Ednah Kurgat (33:16.61).
The Dominican Republic won the Mixed 4×400 m in 3:16.05, with Marileidy Paulino anchoring in 49.83, beating Brazil (3:18.55) and the U.S. squad of Demarius Smith, Honour Finley, Richard Kuykendoll and Jada Griffin (3:19.41).
Chile’s Lucas Nervi scored an upset win in the men’s discus at 63.39 m (207-11), with two-time defending champ Fedrick Dacres (JAM) finishing third at 61.25 m (200-11). Americans Joseph Brown (60.14 m/197-4) in fifth and Dallin Shurts seventh (57.00 m/187-0).
Brazil’s Isabela Rodrigues won the women’s discus at 59.63 m (195-7); American Elena Bruckner was sixth at 57.61 m (189-0) and Veronica Fraley had no legal mark.
Tiffany Flynn of the U.S. won a bronze in the women’s long jump (6.40 m/21-0), which was won by Natalia Linares of Colombia at 6.66 m (21-10 1/4).
Overall, the U.S. continues to lead with an eight-medal day (4-0-4) and has 171 medals in all (72-45-54), with Brazil – thanks to 14 medals (7-2-6) in Judo – charging into second place with 123 medals (37-47-39), followed by Canada (105: 35-32-38) and Mexico (89: 35-22-32).
The competitions continue through 5 November; the event is being shown on the Panam Sports Channel (sign-in required).
Measuring error spoils “world record” walk by Garcia
There was very little surprise in seeing Peru’s 2022 World Champion Kimberly Garcia breeze to victory in the women’s 20 km Walk at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
But her posted time was a ridiculous 1:12:26, which would not only be a women’s world record, but would have shattered the men’s 20 km mark of 1:16:36, set in 2015 by Japan’s Yusuke Suzuki!
The walkers knew something was wrong right away. Said Garcia afterwards:
“We realized it since the first kilometer. The time did not coincide with the distance. It was more about us focusing on our feelings, not to lose control.
“It didn’t affect myself alone, I wanted the Pan American record. Other girls wanted a spot in the Olympic Games. It is a shame that will not happen because the weather, everything was fit for good timings.”
So, the course was obviously short and officials determined that the route was actually about 3,000 m light and the men’s race that followed was delayed for more than an hour while an adjustment to the route was made to ensure the proper distance.
The Santiago 2023 organizers were compelled to issue a statement:
“In relation to the Women’s Race Walk event held today in Parque O’Higgins, we inform that the official race times are null and void due to a measurement problem that is the exclusive responsibility of the Pan American Athletics Association (APA).
“The expert commissioned by APA, Mr. Marcelo Ithurralde, did not take accurate measurements of the route the athletes took during the race.
“As established by international regulations, APA is the only organization authorized to carry out measurements and therefore is responsible for the official distance of the competition.
“For its part, the Santiago 2023 Corporation is in charge of hiring the expert designated by APA and facilitating his work in the field of competitions.
“We deeply regret the inconvenience for the athletes, their coaches, the public and the attending press, but this situation cannot be attributed to the Organizing Committee.”
The Pan American Athletics Association posted its statement on Instagram (computer translation from the original Spanish):
“Although the medals of the Peruvian Kimberly García, who won the gold, of the Ecuadorian Glenda Morejón, who was silver and the bronze of the also Peruvian Evelyn Inga, will remain, the times will not be homologated nor will they be officially validated so they will not be counted in the athlete rankings.
“The above happened due to problems of the organization of the race with the measurement of the route, which ended with the triumph of the Peruvian Kimberly García, who reached the finish with a time of 1h12:26, a record that surprised for this type of race, because it was almost 12 minutes faster than the world record of the race, which is 1h23:49 and belongs to the Chinese Jiayu Yang.
“Behind García came the Ecuadorian Glenda Morejón (1h12:43) and the Peruvian Evelyn Inga (1h14:16), whose times are part of a total of 12 runners who completed the race with a time below the world record, due to the measurement error.”
The men’s race, apparently contested at the full 20 km distance, saw David Hurtado (ECU) win in 1:19:20.
Observed: This is a bad error, as it directly impacts the integrity of the competition and ruins the opportunity for the athletes to obtain world-ranking points or Olympic qualifying marks in a championship race.
The process was right: hire the approved course measurer. But there was no check on the course after the survey was done, so no check on the accuracy of the measurer. That’s unacceptable in a championship event, and while the marathons went on last week without incident, losing results in a race like this – with good, cool conditions – is tragic for the athletes concerned.
Reuters noted other issues at the Games, such as leaks at the handball arena on Saturday that cut short the Brazil-Chile women’s semifinal. Santiago 2023 issued a statement which again refused responsibility:
“[T]he Santiago 2023 Corporation wishes to clarify categorically that it bears no responsibility for the poor quality and deficiencies in the venue’s roof. … Among the obligations and commitments assumed by the Municipality is: Repair of the roof of the venue, mainly addressing leaks from rainfall. Carried out by the infrastructure department of the Municipality.”
The women’s handball bronze-medal match on Sunday was held up for more than two hours due to the leaks, but was eventually played.
This speaks to quality control by the Santiago 2023 organizers, and a shortage of time, money and people. There are issues in every mega-event like this, but a mis-measured course (which could have been determined by an odometer check in a car) and a leaky roof are pretty obvious things to miss. But with short staffing, the quality assurance from double-checking and triple-checking isn’t available. And Garcia and the other women’s walkers paid for it.
Activists target Paris 2024 office for protest
The Paris 2024 organizing committee became the backdrop for Sunday evening protests and a coordinated promotion by a reported 70 non-governmental organizations, urging the City of Paris and other authorities about homeless and others on the streets in advance of the 2024 Games.
Agence France Presse reported that posters parodying the Olympic motto were slapped on walls, stating, “FASTER to empty Ile-de-France of precarious populations,” “HIGHER towards the exploitation of undocumented workers,” “STRONGER in the security response against people on the street,” “TOGETHER let us demand that excluded people are taken into account.”
A projection of the words, “The Other Side of the Medal” was shown on the Paris 2024 office building for a short time on Sunday evening, and the organizations issued a joint letter asking for “an ambitious and concerted policy … to guarantee continuity of care of people in situations of precariousness and exclusion, before, during and after the Games.”
The Associated Press report noted “Paris police routinely clear out tent camps housing migrants from around the world, citing public health and safety, but the French capital remains a magnet for people fleeing conflict or poverty, and camps routinely resurface.”
The Paris 2024 organizers said they would meet with the activists next week.
Observed: Expect more of this as the Games get closer. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a petition in Japan to cancel the Tokyo 2020 Games drew more than 200,000 signatures in the first 48 hours it was posted in May of 2021, but had no impact.
FrancsJeux.com reported that French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin spoke about the security measures taken for the just-concluded Rugby World Cup, which included 11,000 national police officers and 3,000 municipal officers, who made 781 arrests across the seven weeks of the tournament.
Darmanin said the Olympic effort would “tenfold” compared to the Rugby World Cup: “The Ministry of the Interior will be ready to organize the opening ceremony, to ensure the safety of spectators and teams. We will be perfectly there.”
FIFA bans Rubiales for three years; appeal coming
The FIFA Disciplinary Committee announced Monday that it has banned “Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish Football Association (RFEF), from all football-related activities at national and international levels for three years, having found that he acted in breach of article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.”
This is the follow-up to FIFA’s 90-day suspension of Rubiales on 26 August that was ongoing until 26 November. Now, Rubiales, who resigned as the President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation on 11 September, is out of football until late 2026.
Article 13 describes “Offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play” and states that disciplinary measures can be imposed for:
● “a) violating the basic rules of decent conduct;
● “b) insulting a natural or legal person in any way, especially by using offensive gestures, signs or language;
● “c) using a sports event for demonstrations of a non-sporting nature;
● “d) behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute”
This is the latest turn in the post-Women’s World Cup Final behavior of Rubiales from 20 August, who most notably forcibly kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso in the medal presentation ceremony. The issue exploded in Spain and worldwide, forcing Rubiales to resign after he initially pledged to fight any disciplinary actions against him.
The Spanish women’s team – the Women’s World Cup winners – have continued to push for better conditions for the team from the RFEF, with the federation pledging to do better.
Rubiales said he would appeal the decision to the FIFA Appeals Committee.
Jeux de la Francophonie: success, disaster or both?
Confusion reigns in the aftermath of the 2023 Jeux de la Francophonie, a multi-sport event which unites French-speaking countries and began in 1989, and which was held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo from 28 July to 6 August for about 2,000 athletes from 37 countries in eight sports and a host of cultural competitions.
That the event came off at all was considered a great success, but now there is widespread concern over how much it cost.
International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF), the governing body of the Games, has sent an audit team to Kinshasa, amid reports from Congo Finance Minister Nicolas Kazadi that the event – which was supposed to cost $48 million U.S. – instead cost $324 million!
The IOF had approved a Games budget of €66.9 million or about $70.0 million U.S.
“The operations budget increased from 12 to 78 million dollars, while investment expenses increased from 36 to 246 million dollars. The time needed to organize these Games increased from a few months to around three years, revealing planning and management errors.”
But the organizing committee chief, Isidore Kwandja, tells a different story:
“We are surprised to learn on social networks that the cost of the Games would have reached 324 million dollars, while the initial budget was 66.9 million euros, which we have not yet received in full.
“Where did these funds go and who managed them? If the budget exceeded forecasts, the reasons must be sought elsewhere, and not within the national Games management, which maintained rigorous management.”
Kwandja also noted that there were expenses that turned out to be wasteful, but only to try and meet the needs of the athletes:
“At the request of France and Wallonia-Brussels, we flew in a new covering for the athletics track. It cost us $2.3 million. All this to finally learn that France and Wallonia-Brussels would not send athletes [in athletics].”
What a mess.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Winter Games 2030 ● A modest survey in one of the French regions bidding for the 2030 Winter Games showed 73% in favor of the Games bid, in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. An earlier poll in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes showed 81% in favor.
The new poll had a small response group of 806 people, but also showed more enthusiasm among younger respondents. The French bid is expected to be submitted by 7 November.
● World Combat Games ● The third World Combat Games concluded in Riyadh (KSA) on Monday, finishing an 11-day program that included 16 mostly non-Olympic sports and 207 total events.
Ukraine was the big winner, with 53 total medals and 21 golds (21-17-15), ahead of host Saudi Arabia (51: 12-20-19) and Kazakhstan (48: 12-13-23).
“Independent Neutral Athletes” from Russia and Belarus won 18 medals, as did the U.S. (1-4-13) for equal-seventh overall. A total of 87 countries won medals.
The event was clouded by the implosion of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), but now continues under the sponsorship of SportAccord, which absorbed GAISF. Future editions are expected in 2025 and 2027, with the next host expected to be announced next spring.
● Athletics ● The nominees for the International Fair Play Award were announced on Monday:
● Daniel Ebenyo (KEN), men’s half marathon
● Letsenbet Gidey (ETH), women’s 10,000 m
● Sifan Hassan (NED), women’s 5,000-10,000 m
● Shericka Jackson (JAM) and Sha’Carri Richardson (USA), women’s 200 m
● Nina Kennedy (AUS) and Katie Moon (USA), women’s vault
● Jessica Warner-Judd (GBR), women’s 10,000 m
Voting includes fan input on the World Athletics social-media sites through 5 November, with the finalists to be announced on 7 November and the winner on 11 December.
● Football ● Argentina’s Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or for the eighth time as the world’s top men’s player, while Spanish midfielder Aitana Bonmati won the women’s prize, in a live awards ceremony in Paris.
Messi, 36, previously won the trophy in 2009-10-11-12-15-19-21; no one else has won it more than five times. Messi was selected over Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (Manchester City).
Fellow Argentina star Emiliano Martinez was honored as the top goalkeeper, Haaland won for best striker and England’s Jude Bellingham was selected as the top under-21 player.
Bonmati won the women’s award ahead of Australia striker Sam Kerr and Spanish forward Salma Paralluelo.
The Socrates Award for off-the-field contributions, went to Brazilian striker Vinicius Junior for his work against racism, especially in Spain.
● Gymnastics ● Mary Lou Retton, the gymnastics icon from the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, shared a short Instagram post on Monday with her first message since being hospitalized with a rare form of pneumonia, which included:
“I am overwhelmed with the love and support from the world as I fight. I am forever grateful to you all!
“I’m with family continuing to slowly recover and staying very positive as I know this recovery is a long and slow process. …
“When the time is right, I will be sharing more information about my health issues and hope I can help others who may face the same battle as me.”
Retton, now 55, is recovering at home after being unable to breathe on her own and admitted to a Houston hospital for treatment.
● Ice Hockey ● Tragedy in Britain, where former NHL player Adam Johnson (USA) died after a freak accident in which he suffered cuts to the neck and throat from an opponent’s skate during the Nottingham-Sheffield EIHA Challenge Cup match in Sheffield on Saturday evening.
Johnson, 29, who played with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2019-20 season, was taken to a local hospital and died there. Originally from Minnesota, he moved to Europe to play in Sweden during the Covid-19 pandemic, then back to the American Hockey League, to Germany last season and with Nottingham this season.
The English Ice Hockey Association immediately mandated that players wear neck guards beginning on 1 January 2024.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!