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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Government spending for Milano Cortina 2026 at €2.165 billion?
2. Euro Champs swimming ends with Sjostrom’s 28th career medal
3. Success of Munich ‘22 driving Olympic dreams for Germany
4. Indian High Court now takes over Indian Olympic Association
5. Former Tokyo 2020 Executive Board member arrested for bribes
The Milan Cortina 2026 Winter Games is supposed to be a cost-efficient event, but new government reports show possible spending related (broadly) to the Games will eclipse €2 billion and that the organizing committee will be provided with a loan equal to 25% of its projected budget! The European Championships in swimming finished in Rome with Italy the top medal winner, but Swedish sprinter Sarah Sjostrom becoming the all-time individual medal winner with 28. The so-far-successful, nine-sport European Championships in Munich is driving new interest in a future Olympic bid for Germany, but it is seen as a long process with a pro-Olympic referendum likely. After India’s national football federation was suspended for government interference by FIFA, now the country’s National Olympic Committee is being taken over by a three-member committee appointed by the Delhi High Court; what will the IOC do? In Tokyo, a former Executive Board member of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the heads of a major clothing firm that was an “Official Supporter” of the Games were arrested on bribery charges. It never ends.
Government spending for Milano Cortina 2026 at €2.165 billion?
In the typically confused cost accounting attached to an Olympic Games, the originally-promised €1 billion in governmental support spending for the Milan Cortina 2026 Winter Games has now increased to perhaps €2.165 billion ($1 U.S. = €1.02 at present).
Reported in an update from the infrastructure company set up for works related to the Games in a bulletin of the regional government of Veneto, the spending list details projected costs in three different groups, each divided into “essential non-deferrable works” – these are must-haves to conduct the Games – and “essential” programs, many of which are long-term infrastructure items which are being done now as they can be lumped in with the Games.
The must-have programs total €286 million but the less-important “essential” items now total €1.879 billion. Samples of the must-have items, many of which also have long-term uses:
● €85.0 million to renovate the Cortina bobsled-luge run
● €50.0 million to renovate the speed skating arena
● €47.8 million for the Olympic Village in Cortina
● €23.5 million to renovate the ski-jumping facility
● €20.0 million for a new cableway system for alpine skiing
● €17.6 million for a new cableway system for freestyle and snowboard
● €11.5 million for the cross-country skiing stadium
● €11.0 million for the Olympic Village in Guardia di Finanza
● €10.0 million to create the medal plaza and other renovations
● €6.5 million for snow-making equipment for biathlon
(During the bid phase, the International Olympic Committee proposed that bobsled, luge and skeleton could be held at the existing facility in St. Moritz, Switzerland, saving a lot of effort and money. A Cortina City Council member has now suggested moving the events to Innsbruck, Austria.)
Then there are the other projects, characterized in one report as “works that have been awaited for decades” and are road and railway programs that are not required for the Games, but have been approved to support it. Originally tagged at €1 billion, the cost of these projects has risen 88% in three years!
According to the Rome newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, much of the added spending on the actual Games-related costs and some of the infrastructure spending is relieving the financial pressure on the regional governments, who “would have had to redo at their own expense” and now will benefit “without in any way burdening the state coffers.”
Moreover, the concern over the work of the organizing committee, formed in 2019, is such that the federal funding decree also allows for a €400 million loan for the staging of the Games, which has a budget of €1.58 billion; that’s 25%! No wonder the Italian government has decreed that a new Board be installed.
The International Olympic Committee will provide $652 million in cash to Milan Cortina, but as for the expected €550 million in domestic sponsorship revenue, the newspaper sniffs, “to date, a pure utopia.” And:
“It must be said that between 2019 and today times, as [Lombardy President Attilio Fontana] also recalled, have definitely changed between pandemics and the increase in the prices of raw materials and energy, which added to bureaucracy, delays and the inaction of the [organizing committee] have created a paralysis and an enormous delay in the preparation of the event. Thus, the formula of state support ultimately turned out to be the best, perhaps the only one, for the ‘Olympics of autonomy’ and ‘at no cost’. Or presumed such.”
The budget pressures on Milan Cortina 2026 come along only weeks after the Paris 2024 organizers also noted the difficulties of keeping spending on track due to inflation and supply-chain disruptions. It isn’t easy.
Euro Champs swimming ends with Sjostrom’s 28th career medal
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, 29, is one of the great sprinters in the history of the sport, with four Olympic medals and 20 World Championships medals in her career. And she added to her career lead in European Championships medals with a swift anchor on the women’s 4×100 m Medley Relay to bring Sweden home first.
Swimming at the Foro Italico in Rome in her seventh Euros, Sjostrom had to come from behind with a blazing 52.04 final leg to earn Sweden the win in 3:55.25 to 3:56.36 for France. It was her third gold in Rome and fifth total medal to give her 28 career European medals (17-7-4), more than anyone in history.
Lithuanian comeback star – and 2022 World Champion – Ruta Meilutyte defeated world-record holder Benedetta Pilato (ITA) to win the women’s 50 m Breast final, 29.59-29.71. It’s the no. 2 performance in the world for 2022 and the second European title for Meilutyte in the event; she also won in 2014.
Sixteen-year-old Lana Pudar (BIH) won the women’s 200 m fly in 2:06.81, a national record and now no. 6 on the 2022 world list. German Isabel Gose won the women’s 400 m Free in 4:04.13 to deny home favorite Simona Quadarella (ITA: 4:04.77) a triple-triple: Quadarella had won the last three Europeans in the 800 and 1,500 m Frees and was going for three in a row in the 400.
Britain’s Ben Proud completed a rare World Championships + Commonwealth Games + European Championships triple, winning the men’s 50 m Free in 21.58, adding to his win in this event in 2018. Italy’s Thomas Ceccon, the World Champion in the 100 m Back, took his first European title in 52.21; he also won the 50 m Fly earlier. Germany’s Lukas Maertens, the Worlds runner-up, won the 400 m Free in 3:42.50, the third-fastest time of the year; he has three of the top four.
Italy dominated the final swimming medal count with 35 total (13-13-9) to 15 for Hungary (5-7-3) and Great Britain (4-5-6). A total of 20 countries won medals.
Success of Munich ‘22 driving Olympic dreams for Germany
The head of the German National Olympic Committee (DOSB), Thomas Weikert, said during a national ARD television interview that the success of the nine-sport European Championships in Munich over the past week has rekindled interest in a future Olympic bid.
“I think you can organize Olympic Games without everything being on a massive scale. Here is a very good event with nine sports and you can see that you can build on that …
“We are thinking about Olympic Games in Germany – winter or summer. We are thinking about it but will first ask the members. We will issue a timeframe at the next [DOSB] general assembly in December.”
Berlin tried for the 2000 Games and numerous bids from other cities have failed since the 1972 Games were held in Munich. But last Thursday, more than 55,000 showed up for the opening of the European Championships – a centerpiece of the 50-year commemoration of the 1972 Games – and interest in the sports has been high. The German national ARD channel reported an average television audience of 4.15 million (18.1% market share) for the athletics competitions on Tuesday evening.
DOSB Vice President Verena Bentele told ARD, “If we have a concept that involves people, that is sustainable, then we will also be able to trigger enthusiasm for the Olympic and Paralympic Games here. And that is our job now, and we will work on it.”
An ARD commentary notes that the view of the populace will be the key. Referendums killed the potential bids from Munich for the 2022 Winter Games and Hamburg for 2024. And with the current political factions in Germany at present, “no new application without a pro-Olympic referendum.”
This is a long-term project that should push German ambitions beyond a 2036 Games, which would be 100 years since the infamous Nazi Games of 1936. But for the future and noting the enormous success of the 2006 FIFA World Cup and now the Munich Europeans, Olympic ambitions in Germany are more than dreams.
Indian High Court now takes over Indian Olympic Association
A few months ago, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had aspirations of hosting a future Olympic Games and bidding for a Youth Olympic Games. It will host – as of now – the International Olympic Committee as its 2023 Session in Mumbai.
But the IOA may be suspended by then.
The Delhi High Court – the highest authority in the New Delhi region, but subordinate to the Supreme Court of India – issued a ruling on Tuesday that placed the IOA under the control of a three-member Committee of Administrators:
“It is better that a legitimate body represents the cause of sportspersons than one simply masquerading as the real champion of Indian sports. Fairness and legitimacy need to imbue all public affairs. Recalcitrant entities which defy adherence to rules of the game, while continuing to unjustly enjoy government’s largesse and patronage, must be called-out.”
The IOA is in trouble for not following the Indian Sports Code regarding elections in the aftermath of the resignation of Narinder Batra in July, who is also being investigated for misuse of Hockey India funds.
However, FIFA just suspended the All India Football Federation as it was also taken over by court order for similar issues; such direct governmental control is seen as impermissible under the FIFA Statutes. How long will the IOC wait before issuing a similar order?
Observed: The situation in India is confused as Batra was at the center of sport in the country, as head of the IOA, as the President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and as an IOC member. He has resigned all three posts and the resulting power vacuum has created multiple problems for multiple sports bodies with the Indian Sports Code regarding elections and representation.
But it demonstrates that even large countries can have major complications that run their National Olympic Committees and national sports federations afoul of their governments – who fund them – as well as the IOC and the International Federations.
Former Tokyo 2020 Executive Board member arrested for bribes
Tokyo prosecutors arrested former Tokyo 2020 organizing committee Executive Board member Haruyuki Takahashi, 78, on Wednesday in a case concerning bribes of about ¥51 million (~$380,000) from a Tokyo 2020 supplier.
Takahashi, a former senior managing director of Japan’s largest advertising agency Dentsu, is accused of receiving money from the publicly-traded, 600-store men’s clothing firm Aoki Holdings for “preferential treatment in the process of selecting sponsors from January 2017 to June 2021.”
Aoki Holdings became an “official supporter” of the Tokyo Games in 2018, which allowed it to create apparel – primarily men’s business suits – with the Games logo. The former Aoki chair, Hironori Aoki, his brother Takahisa Aoki, and executive Katsuhisa Ueda, were also arrested
Takahashi had admitted receiving money from Aoki Holdings, but says it was an independent consulting arrangement, and not related to his position as a Tokyo 2020 board member. The prosecutors believe Takahashi used his position to assist Aoki Holdings obtain its status as a licensee.
Observed: It’s another minor stain on the fringes of the successful Tokyo 2020 Games, and a reminder that those who have deep connections that are highly valued by an organizing committee may be susceptible to outside offers. One more headache.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● The FrancsJeux.com site reports that contracts to make Tahiti the site for surfing for the 2024 Olympic Games were signed this week with the Paris 2024 organizing committee.
Commitments for infrastructure, security and the torch relay were all concluded and organizing committee chief Tony Estanguet said of the Olympic preparations, “Adjustments are necessary, but most will be temporary so as not to distort the sites.”
● World Anti-Doping Agency ● A shock for WADA with the sudden passing of Chief Operating Officer Frederic Donze (SUI) on Tuesday.
A WADA statement noted that he “died suddenly today, following a short illness, in Montreal, Canada, at the age of 50.” The statement also included:
“Fred joined WADA in 2002 in the role of Media Relations and Communications Manager. In 2011, he became Director of WADA’s Europe Office and International Federation Relations, in Lausanne, before being appointed COO in 2016. Prior to joining WADA, Fred was a journalist in his native Switzerland, including sports editor of the Geneva-based newspaper, Le Temps.”
● Archery ● An innovative idea that is sure to be copied has come from World Archery, asking to be included in the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Australia.
The sport is not on the proposed program, which has 16 sports so far, including Paralympic events. So the archery federation is suggesting inclusion of a combined able-bodied and para archery program, with (1) four mixed team events (Recurve and Compound) and four doubles events for men and women with one able-bodied and one para archer, or (2) eight individual events (able and para) and the combined doubles events.
Up to five added sports are expected to be added to the 2026 Commonwealth program, with the decision expected by the end of the year. Watch for more of these kinds of proposals.
● Athletics ● Dutch star Femke Bol started her unprecedented quest to win both the 400 m and 400 m hurdles at a major championship with a victory in the women’s 400 m at the European Athletics Championships in Munich.
She won in 49.44, a national record and second in 2022 only to World Champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH), and well ahead of runner-up Natalia Kaczmarek (49.94). Bol will run the 400 m hurdles semis on Thursday and, if qualified, the 400 m hurdles final on Friday. She’s the overwhelming favorite after finishing second at the World Championships in 52.27.
There was a major upset in the women’s vault, as two-time European Champion and Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi (GRE) was beaten by Finland’s Wilma Murto. The Finn, fifth at the Eugene Worlds, cleared a national record 4.85 m (15-11) – equal-second in the world this year – while Stefanidi managed 4.75 m (15-7). Former Arkansas star Tina Sutej (SLO) was third, also at 4.75 m.
Olympic and World Champion Pedro Pablo Pichardo (POR) won the men’s triple jump at 17.50 m (57-5) in the second round, far ahead of Italy’s Andrea Dallavalle (17.04 m/55-11).
Favored Matthew Hudson-Smith (GBR) won the men’s 400 m at 44.53 and Spain’s Asier Martinez was called the winner of the men’s 110 m hurdles over 2018 champ Pascale Martinot-Lagarde (FRA), by 1/1000th of a second – 13.137 to 13.138 – with both given 13.14 (wind: -0.2 m/s). Romania’s Bianca Ghelber – sixth in Tokyo and sixth in Eugene – pulled an upset as the winner of the women’s hammer at 72.72 m (238-7).
● Cycling ● Colombian star Nairo Quintana, 32, the 2014 Giro d’Italia and 2016 Vuelta a Espana champion, was disqualified from his sixth-place finish at this year’s Tour de France for the use of an opioid.
The Union Cycliste Internationale announced the sanction Wednesday:
“The analyses of two dried blood samples provided by the rider on 8 and 13 July during the 2022 Tour de France revealed the presence of tramadol and its two main metabolites.
“In accordance with the UCI Medical Rules, the rider is disqualified from the 2022 Tour de France. This decision may be appealed before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within the next 10 days.”
Per the UCI Medical Code:
“Tramadol is a synthetic opioid analgesic (painkiller) prescribed for the treatment of moderate to moderately severe pain. It is a centrally acting analgesic that affects the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. In addition to the risk of dependence and addiction, commonly reported adverse side effects of tramadol are dizziness, drowsiness and loss of attention, which are incompatible with competitive cycling and endanger other competitors.
“In light of the foregoing, in order to protect each rider’s health and physical integrity and to ensure the safety of the competitions, tramadol is prohibited in-competition.”
Tramadol use is not considered a doping violation and Quintana is not suspended; he is listed as a starter for the 2022 Vuelta a Espana which starts Friday in Utrecht (NED).
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