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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Italian government still thinking about Turin track for 2026
2. IOC’s Winter Games rotation idea dead for now
3. LA28 events and sport quotas coming February 2025
4. Russia furious at IOC’s transfer of allegiance actions
5. Ethiopian marathon star Gemechu suspended for doping
● The endless search for a bobsled, luge and skeleton venue for the Milan Cortina 2026 Winter Games went sideways again as the Italian government is again considering refurbishing the abandoned Turin 2006 track, with the decision coming next week.
● The concept of a permanent rotation of host cities or regions for the Olympic Winter Games is on hold, with the International Olympic Committee happy with the hosts it has lined up for 2030 (France), 2034 (Salt Lake City) and possibly 2038 (Switzerland).
● With the list of sports now complete, the International Federations are being asked to specify the events and number of athletes for the 2028 Los Angeles Games, with the final program and quotas to be fixed by February 2025. With the five added sports, the total number of athletes will run past the preferred 10,500 total, but will be kept as low as possible to reduce costs.
● The head of the Russian Olympic Committee blasted the IOC for its approval of three transfers of allegiance by Russian athletes to France, Serbia and Israel, saying that Russia – whose Olympic Committee is suspended – was not consulted.
● More doping suspensions announced by the Athletics Integrity Unit, including Ethiopian women’s marathoner Tsehay Gemechu, ninth-fastest ever at 2:16:56 from March’s Tokyo Marathon.
● World Championships: Football (France and Germany face off for FIFA men’s U-17 World Cup) ●
● Panorama: Beijing 2022 (Valieva decision could be in February) = International Olympic Committee (2: Japan’s gift albums during Tokyo bid were acceptable; Kissinger saluted by IOC chief Bach) = Olympic Council of Asia (IOC ethics decision accepted and Singh continues as acting chief) = Paralympic Games (Russia wants to move from European to Asian confederation) = Figure Skating (ISU looking to help figure skater clear music for competitions) = Football (2: 2030 and 2034 World Cup bid agreements received; FIFPRO survey says 30% of Women’s World Cup players received $30,000 annually or less) = Swimming (Douglass wins two, McIntosh bests Ledecky at U.S. Open) ●
Italian government still thinking about Turin track for 2026
What has supposedly a closed chapter in the organization of the Milan-Cortina Olympic Winter Games in 2026 has been reopened … for a week.
At Thursday’s news conference following the International Olympic Committee Executive Board meeting in Paris, Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi (SUI) offered a surprise announcement about the venue search for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton:
“I don’t want to dwell too much into the detail here, but a decision will be made by the government on the 5th of December with respect to one project they are looking into: Cesana.
“I want to be crystal clear and re-affirm the following regarding Cesana. This is a project that the government has re-opened. As far as the IOC is concerned, and we insisted, including during the last Executive Board and the Session in Mumbai, that only existing and functioning venues should be considered at this point in time.
“We respect the decision of various levels of government to look into Cesana, nevertheless, we have also worked with the organizing committee so that they are in a position should this project not be adopted – and we feel that it will certainly be the case – to look outside of Italy. So they have contacted a number of NOCs and, here as well, we have been clear that it has to be an existing and functioning track. Obviously, these NOCs have great facilities to offer.”
The Cesana Pariol track was built for the Turin 2006 Winter Games at a cost of about €110 million (€1 = $1.09 U.S. today), but was abandoned in 2012.
The Milan-Cortina bid projected a new sliding track in Cortina to replace the famed Eugenio Monti track used for the 1956 Winter Games, but the project was abandoned in view of ever-increasing costs. The IOC has urged, even at the bid stage, to use an existing track in a neighboring country such as Austria or Switzerland, but was rebuffed.
When building a new Cortina track was finally dismissed, there was a call from politicians to keep any spending inside Italy and the Cesana Pariol idea was surfaced. However, this facility will also need renovation of €30 million or more and time is short, as test events are desired to be held in early 2025.
It was announced at the IOC Session in India in October that a site outside of Italy would be used, and when the Cesana idea was brought up again on 2 November, it was squashed by the IOC the next day, saying in a statement, “The IOC has been very clear over the last years that no permanent venue should be built if there is not a clear and viable legacy plan” and that “only existing and already operating tracks must be considered.”
Now it is here again, for at least a week. Available tracks are fairly close by, in Austria (Igls) and Switzerland (St. Moritz), both of which are regulars on the IBSF (bob and skeleton) and FIL (luge) World Cup calendars.
IOC’s Winter Games rotation idea dead for now
With the selection of the French Alps bid for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games and Salt Lake City for 2034, and the preference for selection of Switzerland for 2038, the IOC has shelved its concept of a permanent rotation of Olympic Winter host cities.
Olympic Games Executive Director Dubi explained Thursday that the concept was discussed by the Winter Future Host Commission and during the Executive Board meeting:
“The discussion on rotation took place indeed in the [Future Host Commission], since it was a request from the Executive Board to look into two things. One, the future of the Winter Games and second, the possibility of rotation.
“However, it remained as a study, since we had very, very good proposals and one of the key features of the current process is that strategically, when the Executive Board sees an opportunity [that] it can decide to award more than one edition and this was supported as you remember in Mumbai with a further step, although different, but which was made for 2038.
“So, the notion of rotation once more was discussed; there are different ways and means to look into it, but currently, if we look into what has been decided yesterday, 2030, 2034, with an option or a hand that was crossing the table towards Switzerland in what is called a ‘privileged dialogue.’ So at this point in time, no need to go back to what will remain at this in time, very strong studies.”
Dubi expanded on this in his answer to another question, which showed that the IOC’s choices for 2030-34-38 could all end up – someday – as part of a permanent rotation:
“The objective here was to look into a distant future – 2050 – to understand which regions out of all those that have hosted the Games or could potentially host the Games would be reliable in the future.
“And don’t quote me on this, but I think we are somewhere at 11-12 reliable climatic regions; I’m not speaking about the city, but regions.
“So as a result, yes, we have to look into this and see where it is feasible in the future. Now, when it comes to this study’s impact on rotation, since the three that we’re looking into are climate reliable; if you connect the dots, you understand why I said we didn’t push on the notion of rotation.
“However, for sure, any future decision will have to be based on climate studies.”
The discussion from Wednesday’s news conference urged Sapporo or other hosts in Japan to look into a possible 2042 bid if the Swiss project for 2038 can be re-shaped as the IOC desires. With a three-continent rotation over the 2030-34-38-42 span, it is possible that the same host regions could begin a rotation beginning in 2046!?!
LA28 events and sport quotas coming February 2025
In the aftermath of the inclusion of all five sports proposed by the LA28 organizing committee – baseball-softball, cricket, flag football, lacrosse and squash – the number of athletes for the third Los Angeles Games is now confirmed to sail past the IOC’s preferred limit of 10,500.
The IOC Sports Director, Kit McConnell (NZL) explained the process ahead:
“Firstly, we take a step back and as we discussed in Mumbai, the first time we had OCOG-proposed sports approved into the program was in Tokyo, where there also was included on team sport – baseball-softball – and there, we were above the 10,500, exactly 11,092 from memory.
“In Paris we included the OCOG-proposed sports – the four of them – within that quota of 10,500 while reaching gender equality as you know, but that was also because all of those sports were individual sports, which then allowed relatively low athlete quotas by sport.
“With Los Angeles, the package of sports they put forward, as you well know, included four out of five team sports and really represented a fantastic package that reached out to different groups around the USA and internationally, and we know the importance of team sports in the USA, and approving those as a package it was clear that we would have to go beyond the 10,500.
“We will obviously limit how far and also limit as far as possible any impacts on the existing sports currently within the program, and the actual and final numbers will be finalized now in that process I outlined at the start that will take us through to the first quarter of 2025. So, no working with each of those federations, we’ll work with them to look at the event program and the athlete quotas and all of that will be finalized at the start of 2025.”
At the IOC Session in October, it was projected that the number of added athletes from these five sports would total 734, bringing the total to 11,234; varying sources have shown as many as 11,656 athletes in Tokyo in 2021. In response, several International Federations are worried about reductions in the number of athletes to be allowed in their sports. McConnell tried to be reassuring on Thursday:
“We now need to work with each of the International Federations to finalize their respective event programs and athlete quotas. To do that, there was a framework established today as we do for each edition of the Games, and the federations are asked to consider any proposals in regard to the evolution of their program and athlete quotas within that framework. …
“It’s very much focused on the athletes, again, in terms of the competitions, the athlete input into the proposals and allowing us to not only showcase, but engage with the emerging generation of athletes in each sport. …
“We’re very conscious around costs and complexities, so any evolution of the event program will have to take into account the cost and complexity, and there we’re not looking – clearly – for any events which require new venues. All of the events from the respective sports will have to fit in to the existing competition structure and plan, and equally will have to work within the existing IF quotas.”
The framework stresses athlete and fan excitement, but also cost concerns, including:
● “Avoid any increase to the respective sport-specific quota allocation compared to the Paris 2024 programme
● “Demonstrate a positive and sustainable impact on the Games and host, focusing on ensuring compelling and high-value sessions, while reducing the cost and complexity of operations, e.g. number of competition and training days
● “Use only existing venues and fields of play with no major adaptations”
The discussions over the next 14 months will be interesting so say the least.
Russia furious at IOC’s transfer of allegiance actions
At Wednesday’s IOC Executive Board meeting, transfers of allegiance were approved for nine individuals, including three Russians, with cyclist Valeriia Liubimova moving from Russia to France; wrestler Georgi Tiblov from Russia to Serbia and cyclist Mikhail Yakolev from Russia to Israel.
On Thursday, Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov went ballistic, writing on his Telegram page (translation by the Russian news agency TASS):
“The Executive Committee of the Russian Olympic Committee did not consent to the transfer of the Russian nationals mentioned in the IOC statement to the jurisdiction of other national committees. We consider it inadmissible to indulge in arbitrarily and selectively interpreting the Olympic Charter.
“The aggressive anti-Russian stance of destructive elements in the Olympic Movement keeps sterilizing international sports from political neutrality, but in return ‘allows’ functionaries to ignore and violate international law, their own regulations and common sense.
“Just think about it, a single sports organization has come to the point where it assumes the right, beyond its own jurisdiction, of imposing sanctions against sovereign countries, while possessing neither formal status nor even some signs of being a subject of the system of international relations.
“Just like in the case of the ROC’s suspension under a far-fetched pretext, another mockery of the Olympic Charter, we will demand legally justified explanations and will keep protecting our rights in line with established norms.”
The changes of nationality must be requested by the National Olympic Committee of the athlete’s new country, approved by the International Federation concerned and the NOC from which the athlete is transferring. However, the IOC noted that the Russian Olympic Committee is suspended, implying that it was not consulted.
More bad news for Russia, this time in badminton, as the Badminton World Federation (BWF) announced the 11 November suspension of the National Badminton Federation of Russia.
The suspension was on the same grounds as the IOC’s suspension, for the takeover of Ukrainian sports organizations in the occupied areas of Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.
The suspension will be confirmed or lifted by the BWF Annual General Meeting in April 2024 in China. Individual “neutral” athletes from Russia are still to be allowed into competitions.
The Russian federation stated, “We will, of course, prove the injustice of this decision by all legal means.”
Ethiopian marathon star Gemechu suspended for doping
The 2023 Tokyo Marathon women’s runner-up, Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu, was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit for “Use of a Prohibited Substance/Method (ABP).”
The AIU site does not include specifics, other than the charge is based on comparisons with her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), which records an athlete’s “normal” testing values. Now 24, Gemechu moved to no. 9 all-time on the women’s all-time marathon list with her 2:16:56 finish at Tokyo in March.
She finished sixth at the 2019 women’s World Cross Country Championships and was a Team gold medalist; Gemechu was disqualified in the Tokyo Olympic 10,000 m in 2021 and did not finish at the World Championships marathon in Budapest (HUN) this summer.
The AIU also suspended Kenyan distance runner Beatrice Toroitich, 41, for steroids: “Norandrosterone, 19-Noretiocholanolone, Clomifene, Canrenone.” She is a 2:27:41 marathoner from 2012.
A two-year ban was placed on Rwandan marathoner John Hakizimana, 27, the ninth-placer at this summer’s World Athletics Championships marathon (2:10:50) for the presence of the prohibited substance Triamcinolone acetonide. His suspension began on 27 October and was only two years as the review panel found his use was unintentional.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Football ● The last two undefeated teams in the FIFA men’s U-17 World Cup – France and Germany – will meet on Saturday for the trophy in Surakarta, Indonesia.
Both are 6-0 after winning their groups and moving through difficult elimination games. All together, the French have been more efficient, scoring 10 goals and giving up just one so far, while the Germans played nail-biter after nail-biter, winning their knock-out matches by 3-2 over the U.S., 1-0 over Spain and 4-2 on penalties in their semi vs. Argentina after a 3-3 tie. The Germans have scored 16 goals so far, but have conceded seven.
Paris Brunner and Max Moerstedt have both scored four goals for the Germans, while Joel Tincres is the only French player to reach three so far, while Ismail Bouneb has two.
Both sides have history in this tournament, with the French winning in their only final in 2001 and the Germans also in one final, but losing – as West Germany – in the first tournament way back in 1985. France won the 2019 bronze and the Germans took third in both 2007 and 2011.
On Friday, Mali is back in its second bronze-medal match in three editions, finishing fourth in 2017, and facing Argentina, which was fourth in 2013.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Winter Games 2022: Beijing ● The decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the Kamila Valieva (RUS) doping case that involves the figure skating Team Event, may not be decided until mid-February.
In the minutes of the 27 November 2023 meeting of the International Skating Union Council, it was stated:
“The Council noted that the Court of Arbitration for Sport expects to publish its decision regarding the arbitration proceedings involving the ISU, WADA, RUSADA and Ms. Kamila Valieva by February 12, 2024.”
The continuing tug-of-war over Valieva’s positive test for trimetazidine on 25 December 2021 has held up the finalization of the results of the Team Event, won on the ice by Russia, with the U.S. second and Japan third. While the Russian Anti-Doping Agency imposed a four-year ban, the independent RUSADA appeals board gave her a one-day suspension which allowed her to continue competing at the Games. She finished fourth in the women’s competition.
The matter was filed on appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with the World Anti-Doping Agency requesting a four-year ban, the International Skating Union asking for a two-year suspension and RUSADA asking for a sanction which would be as little as a warning.
● International Olympic Committee ● A question was raised at Thursday’s IOC news conference about the gift “albums” which were authorized by Japan’s then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as an inducement/promotion for IOC members to vote for Tokyo as the host city of the 2020 Olympic Games.
Referred to by former Japanese lawmaker and now Ishikawa Governor Hiroshi Hase in a 17 November speech, IOC spokesman Mark Adams (GBR) said there was nothing to investigate from its side, explaining “In any case, an album is a token of appreciation which is in line with IOC policy.”
Hase later retracted his remarks after being corrected on his facts by the Education Ministry.
The IOC issued a statement of condolence following the passing of Honour Member Henry Kissinger, the famed former U.S. Secretary of State from 1973-77 and a key player in ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam, opening relations with China and in improving relations with the USSR.
Kissinger died Wednesday at age 100; IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) said:
“When I was elected IOC President in 2013, I approached him and asked whether he would be ready to advise the IOC and me, as he had done through the IOC 2000 Commission. He immediately said yes. Since then, we spoke regularly and became friends. He gave me invaluable advice in all the many geopolitical issues the world and sport had to face in recent years. I will greatly miss a brilliant man and a warm-hearted friend. My thoughts are with his beloved wife Nancy and all his family.”
● Olympic Council of Asia ● The OCA’s member National Olympic Committees “ratified by two third majority the OCA Executive Board’s decision of 19th October 2023 to approve the report of the IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer regarding the OCA elections held in Bangkok on July 8.”
This unusual confirmation means that the OCA elections in which Kuwaiti Sheikh Talal Fahad Al Ahmad Al-Sabah was selected to be OCA President is nullified and India’s Randhir Singh continues as the acting chief until constitutional reforms are put in place and a new elective Congress can be held.
The move sidelines the powerful Al-Sabah ruling family of Kuwait, which has run the OCA since its founding in 1982.
● Paralympic Games ● The Russian Paralympic Committee is discussing a move from the European confederation to Asia, based on the attitude of the European members. Said Russian Paralympic Federation chief Pavel Rozhkov:
“We continue consultations with the [International Paralympic Committee], with the European Paralympic Committees, there should be good from them. But we are still waiting for the IPC’s political decisions; they should at least express their position. Verbally they are not against it, but they took a pause to legally justify our transition to Asia. We are ready in principle.
“The Europeans are going to appeal to the IPC, to the court, to challenge the decision of the IPC General Assembly in Bahrain. Thanks to this decision, we were allowed in. There are European countries that support us, but the majority are indignant. In this situation, it is difficult to participate in competitions in Europe, we understand that.”
● Figure Skating ● A potentially important development was discussed at the ISU Council meeting this week, with the minutes noting:
“The Council confirmed that the ISU will cooperate with the company ClicknClear in relation to clearing music rights for Skaters. A first cooperation will take place for the Winter Youth Olympic Games 2024. Further information will be published shortly.”
This has been an issue for skaters in recent years, with some performers sued for use without permission of the music owners. An easy-to-implement system would be a considerable improvement.
● Football ● The next step in the formal award of the 2030 and 2034 FIFA World Cups, submission of the completed bidding agreement, has been concluded with all six proposed hosts of the 2030 event and the sole bidder for 2034, complying with the requirements.
Agreements for 2030 were received from Spain, Portugal and Morocco, with agreements for single matches in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. The bid process will continue with meetings and visits of each potential host country, with the actual award to take place in mid-2024.
A survey by the FIFPRO players association of women who participated in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup showed that 30% of the players on 26 teams received $30,000 or less annually from their club and national teams.
This does not count FIFA’s payout for the Women’s World Cup, which guaranteed not less than $30,000 to each player, and the survey included 260 players from 26 of the 32 teams. The compensation spread was wide, with 15% saying they made more than $150,000, 49% earning less than $50,000, six percent less than $10,000 and eight percent less than $5,000 U.S.
Players also asked for more rest, both before the tournament (53% had 0-13 days rest) and after the tournament, with 60% having 0-13 days; a recovery period of 3-5 weeks was suggested.
● Swimming ● Canadian star Summer McIntosh, 17, won the women’s 400 m Freestyle over Katie Ledecky at the Toyota U.S. Open in Greensboro, North Carolina, with the no. 6 performance of 2023, in 3:59.42. The 2023 Worlds bronze medalist was in charge from the start and won comfortably, with Ledecky finishing in 4:02.38, ahead of Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey (4:06.32).
U.S. stars Kate Douglass, Alex Walsh and Torri Huske were 1-2-3 in the women’s 200 m Medley, with Douglass taking over on breaststroke and touching in 2:08.46 to 2:08.96 for Walsh – repeating their 1-2 from the 2023 World Championships – and 2:09.10 for Huske. It’s the no. 15 performance of the year for Douglass, who now has four of those marks.
The versatile Douglass then came back to win the women’s 50 m Free in 24.38, just short of her lifetime best by 0.02, beating Huske and 2023 Worlds fourth-placer Abbey Weitzeil, who tied for second at 24.41, with Rio 2016 co-gold medalist Simone Manuel seventh in 24.82.
The men’s 50 m Free sprint went to Michael Andrew in 21.80, touching ahead of Josh Liendo (21.90). Comebacking sprint superstar Caeleb Dressel won the B final in 21.99 (over Matt King: 22.05), which would have tied for fourth in the A final and is his fastest in the event since April of 2022.
Chase Kalisz, the 2017 World Champion, won the men’s 200 m Medley in 1:57.43, just ahead of Hubert Kos (HUN: 1:57.88), taking the lead on the breaststroke leg. Two 2022 World Championships men’s 4×200 m relay teammates went 1-2 in the 400 m Free, with Drew Kibler beating top-seed Kieran Smith, 3:47.58 to 3:48.72.
The meet continues through Saturday.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!