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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Morocco makes history for Africa and Arabs in Qatar
2. No 2030 Winter Games award in 2023 as IOC evaluates climate impact
3. IOC slams IBA as still unfit to manage Olympic boxing
4. Paris 2024 budget now to be €4.38 billion, but revenues are also up
5. Heptathlete Taliyah Brooks files suit vs. USATF to invalidate waivers
The FIFA World Cup in Qatar had some history on the field as Morocco defeated Spain on penalty kicks (3-0) after a 0-0, making it the first Arab country to make it to the quarterfinals and only the fourth African team in history. Portugal routed Switzerland, 6-1, with Goncalo Ramos, 21, getting the first hat tricks of the tournament. At the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board meeting, it was decided that the 2030 Winter Games host would not be decided in 2023 and a completely new approach to the event – possibly including rotating host cities – will be considered for the future. The IOC also sent a letter to the International Boxing Association that its reforms are far short of what the IOC has asked for and the federation, at present, will not be involved in the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Boxing, as a sport, might be. Details of a 10% increase in the Paris 2024 budget were revealed, including the impact of inflation and more money coming in than planned in sponsorships and tickets. The 2024 Games is now expected to cost the organizing committee €4.38 billion (about $4.59 billion U.S.), which does not include construction costs being borne by the French government. U.S. heptathlete Taliyah Brooks, who did not finish at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene die to the high heat, has filed suit against USA Track & Field to invalidate its waiver of liability, in order to be able to sue the federation for damages. This is going to take a while, but has the potential to re-shape the events industry in the U.S.
Morocco makes history for Africa and Arabs in Qatar
Finally, a historic breakthrough on the field, and at the first FIFA World Cup to be held in an Arab country, an Arab team has progressed to the quarterfinals.
Despite having only 23% of possession during the game, Morocco held Spain scoreless over 120 minutes and then won the penalty shoot-out by 3-0 as the first Spanish penalty hit the post and two were saved by keeper Yassine Bounou.
Morocco is only the fourth African team to make it to the quarters, beginning with Cameroon back in 1990, then Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010. And it is the first Arab country to make it this far, a sporting legacy to go with the geopolitical ramifications of the World Cup being played in Qatar.
In the second match, Portugal’s superstar scorer Cristiano Ronaldo was benched in favor of 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos – playing in his fourth international match – who scored the first hat trick of the 2022 tournament, with electrifying goals in the 17th, 51st and 67th minutes en route to a 6-1 win over Switzerland.
Portugal is into the quarters for the first time since 2006 and the third time ever (also in 1966). Their attacking style will be a considerable contrast to Spain.
So, the quarterfinals will have five European teams – down from seven in 2018 – two from South America in Argentina and Brazil, and Morocco.
After 13 days of group-stage play and four more days of elimination matches, the World Cup finally takes a breather for two days, with the quarters coming on Friday and Saturday (records reflect penalty-kick victories as wins):
● 09 Dec.: Croatia (2-0-2 W-L-T: goals 5-2) vs. Brazil (3-1: goals 7-2)
● 09 Dec.: Netherlands (3-0-1; goals 8-2) vs. Argentina (3-1; goals 7-3)
● 10 Dec.: Morocco (3-0-1; goals 4-1) vs. Portugal (3-1; goals 12-5)
● 10 Dec.: England (3-0-1; goals 12-2) vs. France (3-1; goals 9-4)
The semifinals will be played on the 13th and 14th and the final on 18 December.
No 2030 Winter Games award in 2023
as IOC evaluates climate impact
The much-anticipated report of the Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games to the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board did not focus on the selection of a host for 2030 Games, but about climate change.
And now, everything appears to be up for grabs:
● The selection of a 2030 host will not be decided in 2023, but perhaps in 2024. For now, there is no timetable;
● Considerable concern over “climate reliability” and the availability of actual snow for biathlon, skiing and snowboard events at a narrowing number of potential hosts;
● “[A] proposal that hosts would need to show average minimum temperatures of below zero degrees [C, or 32 F] for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period”;
● “The idea of rotating the Olympic Winter Games within a pool of hosts”;
● A possible requirement that, according to IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi (SUI), that “for the future, we should aim to target a host that can display all venues to be existing, or temporary” that would apply at least to the outdoor biathlon, skiing and snowboard events.
So the Future Host Commission was asked for further study and a return report to the Executive Board.
After prior explicit declarations to the contrary, “[t]here was also a discussion about a double award for 2030 and 2034, to create stability for winter sports and the Olympic Winter Games. No conclusion was reached, since this needs more exploration.”
Does this mean new bidders could come in now? Yes.
Observed: That the 2030 host will not be selected in 2023 could create chaos in the bidding process. Perhaps Spain will come back in. Will Vancouver get a new look from the Province of British Columbia?
Will the expanding bribery and rigged-bid scandal at the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee impact public support for Sapporo’s bid? Will its budget continue to increase?
For Salt Lake City, the situation is more subtle. It already has all existing venues, so that won’t change. A selection in 2024 would cut one year of staff and office costs from its ledger, which will help. It will give the LA28 folks another year of a clear field for its marketing efforts, but also gives a potential Salt Lake City 2030 Games less time to find domestic sponsorship opportunities.
One advantage that Salt Lake City can press is its continuing parade of national and international winter-sport events and athlete training programs being held at the Utah Olympic Park, the Olympic Oval and elsewhere. That’s the kind of expertise which cannot be duplicated and with a shorter run-up to a 2030 Games, could be the decisive card in a “safe hands” play to ensure the Winter Games is well cared for into the next decade.
As with Brisbane for the 2032 Olympic Games, stability is looking better and better as an attraction for the IOC, and could place Salt Lake City in a permanent rotation!
IOC slams IBA as still unfit to manage Olympic boxing
One day after a demonstration was mounted in front of Olympic House in Lausanne by former pro boxing champ Roy Jones, Jr. and about 100 friends to lobby for boxing to be reinstated for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the International Boxing Association as the worldwide governing body, the IOC Executive Board said they aren’t interested.
The Executive Board sent a letter to the IBA, all National Olympic Committees and all national boxing federations that included:
“The IOC has been monitoring the activities of the International Boxing Association (IBA) for several years now and is periodically considering whether the suspension of its recognition by the IOC could be lifted. The issue is not about the sport of boxing or boxers, but IBA and its practices and activities. While some indications concerning the reorganisation of the administration of boxing were received, there are multiple signals that the drastic change of culture requested by the IOC in order to lift the suspension of IBA’s recognition has not been implemented. As a result, the IOC is not in a position today to reverse its stance with regard to the suspension of IBA’s recognition.”
And specifically about 2028, the letter stated:
“If a decision had to be taken today regarding the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028, the IOC EB would not be able to recommend the IOC Session to include boxing in the sports programme under the authority of the IBA as IBA has not demonstrated that it has successfully addressed the ongoing concerns around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes.”
It’s important to note the two references to the IOC’s issues with the IBA and not boxing or boxers. The IOC successfully managed the boxing qualifications and Olympic tournament in Tokyo, and is ready to do so again for Paris in 2024. But with the IBA? No.
As further proof, the Executive Board also approved the qualification process for Paris 2024, relying on the continental multi-sport games in 2023 – Asian Games, European Games, Pan-American Games, Pacific Games and a tournament to be determined in Africa – and two world qualification tournaments in 2024. The idea is to give boxers potentially three chances to qualify.
The IBA, for its part, is holding a Global Boxing Forum this weekend in Abi Dhabi (UAE), to decide its next steps.
Paris 2024 budget now to be €4.38 billion,
but revenues are also up
The FrancsJeux.com site outlined the specifics of the revision of the Paris 2024 budget to be confirmed by its Board next Monday (12th). The current edition shows €3.9 billion (~$4.08 billion U.S. today), rising to €4.38 billion (~$4.59 billion U.S.) thanks to inflation, supply-chain issues and revisions to the Games plan.
The specific inflation impact is forecast at €196 million, but the other €242 million added on are simply added costs.
However, revenues are also, happily, rising. Domestic sponsorships, long targeted at €1.1 billion, are projected to include €127 million more (so €1.227 billion in total), with about 10 more partners to be signed.
The ticketing and hospitality forecast of €1.165 billion is also being increased by €143 million (to €1.308 billion) by increasing prices on some of the high-demand sessions and making more tickets available by reducing seats reserved for officials and press.
Public funding from state and local sources is also being increased by €111 million, mostly for support of the Paralympic Games (from €100 to €171 million), plus €12 million for sports equipment that will also be used after the Games, €8 million for the anti-doping lab and €5 million for transportation support.
A major savings was made by eliminating free public transport for ticket holders, which has been widely available in the past. But it saves €45 million! And old traditions like opening the Olympic Village two weeks prior to the Games are being shelved, now to open on 18 July, with the Opening Ceremony on 26 July. Training sites will open just seven days ahead of the start of each sport. And so on.
Heptathlete Taliyah Brooks files suit vs. USATF to invalidate waivers
A complaint filed on 29 November in the Marion County Superior Court in Indianapolis is challenging the validity of waivers used to shield sports event operators – and many others – from liability, and if successful, could pose a serious legal liability challenge to events across the United States. Filed by Indianapolis-based Kroger, Gardis & Regas, it begins:
“Plaintiff, Taliyah Brooks, by counsel, brings this Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief against Defendant USA Track & Field, Inc. (“USA Track & Field,” “USATF” or “Defendant”), seeking (1) a declaratory judgment that a purported waiver, release, assumption of risk and indemnity agreement (the “Alleged Indemnity Agreement” or “AIA”) which, if enforceable, would prevent her from suing for damages suffered at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Time Trials in Eugene, Oregon in June, 2021 (the “U.S. Olympic Trials” or the “Olympic Trials”), is unenforceable as a matter of law and equity and (2) an injunction preventing USATF from enforcing the AIA against Taliyah Brooks.”
Brooks, now 27, won the 2021 Texas Relays heptathlon in March with a lifetime best of 6,252 points and stood third on the U.S. performer list going into the U.S. Olympic Trials in June. In Eugene, temperatures soared, but Brooks was in fourth place after the long jump at 4,908, just 11 back of Erica Bougard in third – and a potential Olympic berth – with the javelin and 800 m left.
The complaint states that temperatures in Eugene on the first day of the heptathlon reached 103 degrees (F) and were forecast to reach 108 F on the second day, and although there were requests for a change in schedule due to the heat, none were made to the heptathlon (although some other events were re-scheduled).
Brooks took one practice throw in the javelin and collapsed, but got up. Then, according to the complaint:
“Next, Taliyah attempted to walk towards the stands. As she crossed the track, Brooks collapsed a second time, falling to the track, where she remained, unconscious, motionless and unattended, her fall unbroken.
“Eventually, Taliyah was reached by a credentialed individual who is not believed to be a physician and accompanied by a few other individuals who stood by with no medical equipment, no ice or cooling devices, no stretcher or wheelchair, and nothing to insulate Taliyah from the extreme heat of the track surface. Taliyah lay unconscious on the hot track while a worker radioed for assistance.”
She was eventually placed in a wheelchair and escorted off the track, unconscious; “After Taliyah was taken off the track it is believed that she was eventually immersed in water to reduce her core temperature and she regained consciousness.”
The essence of the complaint is that “at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials USATF failed and breached its duty in relation to virtually every single health and safety related duty listed above that it owed and had assumed towards Taliyah Brooks and her fellow competitors in the two-day women’s heptathlon event.”
However, USATF’s insurer has pointed to a mandatory waiver of rights, a legal tool which has been widely used for decades to shield event producers from liability. There is apparently no evidence that Brooks actually signed the waiver, but the complaint is asking to have the waiver itself declared illegal for a variety of reasons and:
“Taliyah Brooks is entitled to a declaratory judgment that the AIA and any and all exculpatory provisions sought to be enforced against her through any documents or alleged agreements tendered by USATF are unenforceable and Taliyah Brooks is entitled to an injunction enjoining the enforcement of any and all such exculpatory provisions.”
The request is directly to the Court to invalidate the waiver (permanently) so that Brooks can sue USATF (and perhaps others) for damages. If she is successful – and this may take years – it will change the way events of all kinds are staged in the U.S. and could keep some programs for even taking place. For that reason, it’s an important case to follow.
Brooks competed in only one heptathlon in 2022, the USATF Nationals in Fayetteville, Arkansas on 6-7 May and finished ninth at 4,291.
≡ FIFA WORLD CUP ≡
● Morocco 0, Spain 0 (Morocco wins on penalty kicks, 3-0) ● Spain’s possession strategy failed on Tuesday, as it held the ball for 77% of the game – including extra time – against Morocco, but was sent home after having all three of its penalty kicks hit the post or saved.
The victory for Morocco sends it to the quarterfinals for the first time ever and is the first African quarterfinalist since Ghana in 2010 (and the fourth ever). It is the first Arab country to reach the World Cup quarters and was wildly cheered on by a huge majority of fans in the Education City Stadium.
The game was Spain in possession and Morocco looking for counterattacks, which were few and far between. Both sides managed just one shot on goal in the first half (Spain had a 7-4 edge on total shots) and after 120 minutes, Spain had 13 total shots to six.
Forward Walid Cheddira had a chance close to the Spanish goal in the 86th, but Spanish keeper Unai Simon was able to corral the shot. Morocco keeper Yassine Bounou saved a possible goal off a free kick by Spanish defender Rodri at 90+4 and Simon saved a point-blank challenge from Cheddira in the 104th.
But it went to penalty kicks and after Pablo Sarabia’s first shot hit the post, Bounou saved the next two from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets. Meanwhile, Morocco converted its first two, Simon saved the third and Achraf Hakimi scored with a shot to the center of the goal to give Morocco the win and some history in Qatar.
The Spanish have now lost Round-of-16 games in back-to-back World Cups and have not won one since 2010, when they won the tournament.
● Portugal 6, Switzerland 1 ● The first surprise came when Portugal announced that superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo would not start, with 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos in his place, for just his fourth appearance with the national team.
No problem, as Ramos turned on forward Joao Felix’s pass into the left side of the box and sent a sudden, left-footed rocket into the Swiss goal, just inside the left post, in the 17th for a 1-0 lead.
Portugal continued to threaten and then the 39-year-old defender Pepe headed an in-swinging corner from Bruno Fernandes into the goal, flying it past Swiss keeper Yann Sommer in the 33rd.
The Swiss almost scored in the 38th, after Portugal keeper Diogo Costa made a save, but the ball fell to Swiss midfielder Remo Freuler for a header – with Costa out of position – that was cleared by defender Diogo Dalot. Five minutes later, Ramos was on a breakaway for Portugal, but Sommer was able to save his shot across the goal with his left hand. Portugal had 53% of possession in the half and a 6-4 edge on shots.
More Portuguese pressure in the second half to a third goal in the 51st, thanks to a perfect cross from the right side from Dalot right to the near post to a running Ramos, who tapped it past Sommer for his second score and a 3-0 lead that broke the back of the Swiss.
Now the rout was on, as defender Rafael Guerreiro took a Ramos lead pass, dribbled down the left-hand side and scored on a rifle shot into the far right corner in the 55th, now 4-0. The Swiss got one back in the 58th, off a corner that bounced off of Ramos’ head, then fell to the far post and defender Manuel Akanji left-footed it into the goal for 4-1.
Ramos came back with another goal – the hat trick – in the 67th, taking a pass from Felix from the top of the box that put him one-on-one on goal and he chipped it in for 5-1. At 90+3, substitute striker Rafael Leao scored his second of the tournament from the left side of the box on a right-footed rainbow into the right side of the goal for the 6-1 final.
Portugal had only 52% of the possession and a 14-10 edge on shots, but 9-3 on goal. Wow.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● International Olympic Committee ● The 11th “Olympic Summit” is being held on Sunday (11th), bringing together – in-person and online – some of the leaders of the Olympic Movement, including National Olympic Committees, International Federations, associations and more.
On the list for 2022 is Russia’s National Olympic Committee President, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, a controversial selection given the continuing war in Ukraine, but in line with the IOC policy that the only people to be punished should be government officials.
He will attend, along with Chinese NOC chief Zhidan Gao and U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee outgoing Board Chair Susanne Lyons and incoming Chair Gene Sykes.
● National Olympic Committees ● The IOC Executive Board continued the suspension of the Guatemalan NOC in view of government interference issues that have not been resolved.
The North Korean NOC has been on suspension since 2021 because it did not send a team to the Tokyo 2020 Games. That will be lifted as of the end of this year.
For Afghanistan, the situation is critical, and the Executive Board “expressed its serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practising sport in the country.
“Despite the repeated commitments from the Afghan NOC and sports authorities to ensure full compliance with the Olympic Charter and the Fundamental Principle of non-discrimination, and to send mixed teams to international sports competitions, in particular the Olympic Games Paris 2024, the latest developments prompted the IOC EB to urge the relevant authorities in Afghanistan, including the Afghan NOC and the Afghan Directorate of Physical Education & Sports, to take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls in the country.”
If the situation does not improve, the Executive Board agreed to consider banning the country from future Games, but will continue to support individual Afghan athletes through the Olympic Solidarity program.
On Monday, the Human Rights Watch organization urged the IOC to suspend the Afghanistan NOC “until women and girls can once again play sport in the country.”
● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● The U.S. Olympic Endowment, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s investment arm formed from the surplus from the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, announced its 2022 award winners on Monday, to be presented on 16 December in New York:
● Six-time Olympic fencer and 1984 Sabre bronze medalist Peter Westbrook, 70, to receive the George M. Steinbrenner III Sport Leadership Award, as a contributor who has displayed qualities of leadership, ethical conduct, and dedicated responsibility during a longstanding commitment to sport.
● U.S. Junior Pairs champion Paul George, the head of the U.S. Figure Skating Foundation and contributor to many others, for the William E. Simon Award, “given to an individual or group who has made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”
● Three-time Team Handball Olympian Cindy Stinger, a longtime USOPC executive and current manager of the U.S. Olympians & Paralympians Alumni Association, will be the honoree of the General Douglas MacArthur Award, given “to an individual who has exhibited exemplary service to the USOPC and to athletes.”
● Cycling ● The 2022 UCI Track Champions League concluded in London (GBR) on Sunday, with Sprint and Endurance winners decided, including Jennifer Valente of the U.S.
The men’s Sprint title went to Australian Matthew Richardson, the 2022 World Sprint silver medalist, scoring 183 points (in Sprint and Keirin races) across five stops to edge Olympic champ Harrie Lavreysen (NED: 181) and Stefan Botticher (GER: 136).
The men’s Endurance program had Scratch and Elimination races across five rounds, with Claudio Imhof (SUI) and Sebastian Mora Vedri (ESP) both scoring 125 points, but Imhof winning on a better finish in the final (Elimination) race.
France’s 2022 World Sprint gold medalist Mathilde Gros won the women’s Sprint (& Keirin) class, piling up 140 points vs. 127 for Canada’s Tokyo Olympic Sprint champ Kelsey Mitchell and 122 for Olympic Keirin winner Shanne Braspennincx (NED: 122).
Valente, the Tokyo Olympic Omnium gold medalist, edged Britain’s two-time Omnium World champion Katie Archibald, 161-158 in the Endurance division, with fellow American Lily Williams fifth (95).
● Rowing ● The World Rowing Awards were announced on Sunday, with France’s Double Sculls World Champions Matthieu Androdias and Hugo Boucheron taking the Men’s Crew of the Year, and the unbeatable – Olympic and World Champions – Romanian Double Sculls team of Simona Radis and Ancuta Bodnar named the Women’s Crew of the Year.
The Thomas Keller Medal, named for the famed longtime head of World Rowing, was given to New Zealand icon Mahe Drysdale, the Olympic gold medalist in the men’s Single Sculls in 2008 and 2012 and bronze medalist in 2016.
● Shooting ● While much recent attention was given to the closely-contested election for the ISSF Presidency, the ISSF President’s Cup competition was taking place in Cairo (EGY) and concluded on 4 December.
Serbia’s Tokyo Olympic runner-up Damir Mikec defeated German star Christian Reitz in the men’s 10 m Air Pistol, 17-9, and Olympic champ Jean Quiquampoix (FRA) won the 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol over Rio 2016 champ Reitz, 35-34. India’s Rudrankksh Patil won the 10 m Air Rifle title over Danilo Sollazzo (ITA), 16-8, with the 50 m Rifle/3 Positions win going to Petr Nymbursky (CZE).
France’s Camille Jedrzejewski defeated 2010 World Champion Zorana Arunovic (SRB) in the women’s 10 m Air Pistol final, 16-12, and Germany’s 2022 European Champion Doreen Vennekamp out-scored Jedrzejewski, 31-27, in the 25 m Pistol final. French star Oceane Muller won the 10 m Air Rifle final over Lucie Brazdova (CZE), 16-10, and Germany’s Anna Jansen won the 50 m Rifle/3 Positions in a tight match with Anjum Moudgil (IND), 16-14.
The Shotgun titles went to Tokyo Olympic runner-up Jesper Hansen (DEN) in men’s Skeet, Croatia’s Rio 2016 gold medalist Josip Glasnovic in Trap (over the U.S.’s 2022 World Champion Derrick Mein, 6-4), 2018World Champion Caitlin Connor of the U.S. in women’s Skeet and Italian Jessica Rossi, the 2012 Olympic champ, in women’s Trap.
● Weightlifting ● The 2022 IWF World Championships are underway in Bogota (COL), with Thai star Thanyathon Sukcharoen winning her second straight title in the women’s 45 kg division, listing a combined total of 182 kg. Teammate Chayuttra Pramongkhol won silver (180 kg) and Colombia’s Manuela Berrio took the bronze (170 kg). The championships continue through the 16th.
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