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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. NBC nearing $1 billion in Paris 2024 ad sales
2. U.S. roars to 21 gold, 37-medal day at Pan Am Games
3. U.S. star Eaker retires from gymnastics due to abuse
4. World Boxing adds six more member federations
5. Sapporo Mayor now looking at 2038 Winter Games
● NBC’s sales chief reported that the network is way ahead on ad sales for Paris 2024 vs. Tokyo for 2020 and is close to $1 billion in gross sales already.
● The American team won an impressive 37 medals – including 21 golds – at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Shooter Vincent Hancock won his second gold of the Games and fourth career Pan Am gold in the Mixed Skeet Team event.
● American gymnastics star Kara Eaker, a two-time Worlds Team gold medalist, has quit her Utah gymnastics team and the sport in response to abuse she received while competing for the Utes. She detailed the issues in a long Instagram post.
● World Boxing announced the addition of six more national federations, including Nigeria, its first African member, bringing its membership to 22 with a month still remaining before its founding Congress.
● The mayor of Sapporo, Japan, indicated that a 2034 Olympic Winter Games bid may be difficult and that a 2038 bid should be considered. That’s continued good news for Salt Lake City, which has a ready-to-go bid waiting for approval.
● Panorama: Paris 2024 (3: French financial investigators asking about ceremonies contracts; worries on construction costs; Salnikov says Russia prospects nearing zero) = Los Angeles 2028 (Long Beach approves Belmont pool design project) = Milan Cortina 2026 (abandoned sliding track in Cortina cost €5 million for planning) = Russia (3: Russia led BRICS Games medal table; Russia ready to help India with 2036 Olympic bid = Belarus teams to be integrated into Russian leagues) = Athletics (USATF opens Athlete of the Year voting) = Gymnastics (2: Retton back home from hospital after pneumonia scare; FIG developing athlete world rankings) = Swimming (3: Countries reported to ask World Aquatics to move 2024 Worlds from Doha; McKeown and Qin lead World Cup money lists; Swimming Australia passes new rules to comply with World Aquatics) = Triathlon (Jorgensen wins third World Cup in seven weeks!) = Wrestling (2: NCAA ready to approve women’s wrestling; Albania refuses Iranians visas for World U-23 Champs) ●
NBC nearing $1 billion in Paris 2024 ad sales
Rebounding from the worst U.S. television viewership in Olympic history, Dan Lovinger, NBCUniversal’s President of Olympic and Paralympic Partnerships, told reporters last week that sales for the Paris 2024 Games was trending far ahead of that for Tokyo 2020.
“We’re probably double where we were at this point,” he explained, adding “With just about 10 months ago, we’re further ahead than we’ve ever been before, for summer or winter games,” and “darn close” to the $1 billion in sales mark, compared with a total ad take of $1.25 billion for Tokyo.
“The Olympic and Paralympic Games is the great aggregator of viewership bringing cultures and communities together to celebrate the pinnacle of athletic achievement and root for their favorite athletes and team.” He called Paris 2024, “a premium environment to reach dedicated and engaged consumers anywhere and everywhere they are and builds long-lasting impacts for brands within and beyond the Games.
“In the past when everything was linear…only a handful of advertisers could literally afford the out of pocket, and so we would do somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 different advertising deals for the Olympics. But with Peacock and digital and social, we can now extend the mid-tail and the long-tail. So 100 [advertisers] might become 200.
“We still have that big mass reach vehicle, if that’s what you’re trying to do through linear, but Peacock is likely make up 20 to 25 percent of our total consumption.”
The Paris 2024 audience size will be closely watched, as the 2018-2021-2022 Games in Asia were all difficult from a U.S. viewer perspective. NBC has seen viewership recede significantly since the last European-hosted Games in 2012:
● 2012/London: 217 million total viewers, or 69.1% of the total U.S. audience, with a primetime show average of 31.1 million.
● 2016/Rio: 198 million total viewers, or 61.3% of the total U.S. audience, with a primetime show average of 27.5 million.
● 2021/Tokyo: 150 million total viewers, or 45.3% of the total U.S. audience, with a primetime show average of 15.1 million.
NBCUniversal has the U.S. rights to the 2024-26-28-30-32 Olympic and Winter Games.
U.S. roars to 21 gold, 37-medal day at Pan Am Games
Another monster day for the United States at the XIX Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, with 37 medals, including 21 golds on Monday alone, plus seven silvers and nine bronzes. The gold winners included:
● Basketball 3×3: Men’s Team
● Basketball 3×3: Women’s Team
● Equestrian: Team Dressage
● Gymnastics: Kayla DiCello, women’s All-Around
● Rowing: Ezra Carlson & Alex Hedge, men’s Pairs
● Rowing: Isabela Darvin & Hannah Paynter, women’s Pairs
● Rowing: Women’s Quadruple Sculls
● Shooting: Rylan Kissel & Mary Tucker, Mixed Air Rifle
● Shooting: Vincent Hancock & Dania Jo Vizzi, Mixed Skeet
● Sport Climbing: Jesse Grupper, men’s Boulder & Lead
● Swimming: Adam Chaney, men’s 100 m Back
● Swimming: Jacob Foster, men’s 200 m Breast
● Swimming: Paige Madden, women’s 400 m Free
● Swimming: Josephine Fuller, women’s 100 m Back
● Swimming: Mixed 4×100 m Medley
● Taekwondo: Madelynn Gorman-Shore, women’s +67 kg
● Water Skiing: Nate Smith, men’s Slalom
● Water Skiing: Regina Jaquess, women’s Slalom
● Water Skiing: Regina Jaquess, women’s Jump
● Water Skiing: Erika Lang, women’s Tricks
● Weightlifting: Olivia Reeves, women’s 81 kg
For Hancock, it’s his fourth career Pan American Games gold in Skeet, to go along with his three Olympic golds (2008-12-20) and seven World Championships golds, including the 2023 Mixed Team, won with Austen Smith.
Even with the U.S. dominating the swimming, Canada’s Maggie MacNeil has been the individual star with three golds, including Pan Am Games records in the women’s 100 m Free (53.64) and 100 m Fly (56.94) and a 53.14 leg on the winning women’s 4×100 m Free.
With two days remaining, the American swimmers now have 32 medals across 24 events (13-11-8). Interestingly, China – which unlike the U.S. here, sent its first-line team – won 58 medals (28-21-9) in 41 events at the recent Asian Games held before a home audience in Hangzhou.
A revelation for the U.S. men has been the break-out performance of Freestyle sprinter Jonny Kulow of Arizona State. Still just 19, he blitzed the second leg of the Mixed 4×100 m Freestyle in 47.44 (!), and came back to tie for second in the men’s 100 m Free in 48.38 – a lifetime best – with fellow American Brooks Curry.
Overall, the U.S. has earned 83 medals (41-18-24) through the first three days of the Games (92 events), with Canada next at 40 (12-15-13), then Brazil (35: 7-13-15) and Mexico (32: 16-9-7). Competition continues through 5 November and can be seen in the U.S. via the Panam Sports Channel (sign-in required).
U.S. star Eaker retires from gymnastics due to abuse
Kara Eaker, a World Championships Team gold medalist for the U.S. in 2018 and 2019 and a member of the elite Utah gymnastics team that finished third at the 2022 and 2023 NCAA women’s national championships, announced her retirement on Friday, citing verbal and emotional abuse from a coach and lack of support from the administration. Her Instagram post included:
“For two years, while training with the Utah Gymnastics Team, I was a victim of verbal and emotional abuse. As a result, my physical, mental, and emotional health has rapidly declined. I had been seeing a university athletics psychologist for a year and a half and I’m now seeing a new provider twice a week because of suicidal and self-harm ideation and being unable to care for myself properly. I have recently been diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression, anxiety induced insomnia, and I suffer from panic attacks, PTSD, and night terrors.
“During my recruiting process, I was promised a ‘family’ within this program and a ‘sisterhood’ with my teammates, who would accept me, care for me, and support me. But instead, after I entered as a freshman, I was heartbroken to find the opposite in that I was training in an unhealthy, unsafe, and toxic environment.
“I have now reached a turning point and I’m speaking out for all of the women who can’t because they are mentally debilitated and paralyzed by fear. I, too, find myself frozen in moments when fear takes over. But I can no longer stand by while perpetrators are still allowed in sports and are causing young girls and women to suffer.
“I’ve learned that verbal and emotional abuse is difficult to identify, especially when they are covert and passive-aggressive. The abuse often happened in individual coach-athlete meetings. I would be isolated in an office with an overpowering coach, door closed, sitting quietly, hardly able to speak because of condescending, sarcastic and manipulative tactics.
“The cruelty was compounded because I thought I’d be safe, both mentally and physically, at the University of Utah, but instead I was personally attacked, humiliated, degraded and yelled at to the point of tears in front of the whole team.”
The post continues on and includes this passage:
“[I]n sports, it is still accepted for a coach to manipulate, bully, and berate an athlete for being late to practice, taking extra steps on drills or dismounts, or being the cause of losing a meet. Where is the autonomy to discuss issues respectfully?”
Eaker, 20, competed for two seasons for Utah and competed in four U.S. national championships, with a best of third in the All-Around in 2017. She won three medals on Beam in 2017 (gold), 2018 (silver) and 2019 (silver).
World Boxing adds six more member federations
With its founding Congress coming on 24-25 November 2023, World Boxing announced the addition of six member federations:
“The National Federations for boxing in Finland, Iceland, Jamaica, Nigeria, Norway and the Czech Republic have become the latest six organisations to have their membership applications approved by World Boxing …
“Nigeria is the first National Federation from Africa to join World Boxing and means the new international federation now has 22 members covering all five continents that compete in Olympic-style boxing.”
This is the fourth group of federations to join World Boxing, formed in April 2023 as a new organization focused on maintaining boxing in the Olympic Games. In the aftermath of the de-recognition of the International Boxing Association by the International Olympic Committee in June, the sport has no International Federation representing it at the Olympic level.
The Paris 2024 boxing tournament is being organized directly by the IOC, and boxing has not been confirmed on the program for Los Angeles 2028 due to the lack of a governing body acceptable to the IOC.
There was some confusion about Nigeria’s membership in World Boxing, as Vice President Azania Omo-Agege said the federation had not left the IBA. But Nigeria Boxing President Kenneth Minimah confirmed:
“The NBF, under my leadership, applied and joined World Boxing on October 20, 2023. The decision to join World Boxing was also validated during an executive council meeting.”
Sapporo Mayor now looking at 2038 Winter Games
Having decided to abandon a bid for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games after consultations with the Japanese Olympic Committee, and with a strong bid from Salt Lake City now ready to go for 2034, Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto is now thinking about 2038.
He told the City Assembly last week:
“If our bid for the 2034 Games falls through, I would like to reconvene with the concerned parties for further discussions. The significance of bidding for the Olympics will remain unchanged.”
Sapporo’s bid for 2030, in which it appeared to be the front-runner, was damaged by increases in the projected costs for the Games, the cost expansion of the Tokyo 2020 Games and the continuing scandals in sponsorship sales and bid rigging within the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee. Akimoto added:
“We need to examine what was lacking in our bidding activities. From now on, we will engage in dialogue, not just considering things based on the schedule.”
The IOC approved a potential double allocation for 2030 and 2034 at its recent Session, at the discretion of the Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games to make such a recommendation. A vote for an actual award of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games is expected to come in Paris in 2024.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● According to FrancsJeux.com, the visit by the Parquet national financier (PNF), the French federal financial prosecutions office visited not only the Paris 2024 organizing committee offices last week (18th), but also the event production companies Double 2, Ubi Bene, Obo and Paname 24:
“This time, the suspicions concern the contracts awarded by the OCOG for the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, on the Seine, and then the Paralympic Games, on Place de la Concorde. They concern Double 2, Ubi Bene and Obo, associated within the Paname 24 consortium for the production of the Games ceremonies. Several other contracts, including those for the Olympic Torch Relay, are also under investigation.”
These searches were related to new inquiries which were opened after the prior search of the organizing committee headquarters in June. This second search is also looking at specific contracts for favoritism and conflicts of interest. Thus far, no arrests have been made.
French Senator Eric Jeansannetas voiced some concerns about the cost of constructions for the Paris Games, noting that facilities projected to be delivered in 2023 will now be turned over in 2024.
After a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee that examined a report from the government’s Olympic construction arm, Solideo, he noted:
“As overseer, I am simply pointing out that when there are delays, there can be budgetary slippages. But I’m not expressing any concerns, I’m simply saying that there is a risk that the budget will slip.”
Solideo officials said they are on schedule and that there is a delay between the end of construction and the turnover to the organizing committee, which accounts for some of the “delays.”
Vladimir Salnikov, the head of the Russian Swimming Federation and a four-time Olympic gold medalist at Moscow 1980 and Seoul 1988, told Russia’s Sport-Express the outlook for Paris is grim:
“I think this is a humiliation, but the International Olympic Committee continues to insist that there is no discrimination; this is puzzling. I am even more surprised by something else, but if you invite someone to visit for pies, you also want to enjoy the meeting, and if you don’t want to communicate, then you start coming up with reasons so that guests don’t come to you. This is what they are doing now: they come up with reasons; it’s pointless to climb through a closed door, they don’t want to see us.
“As [rhythmic gymnastics federation head] Irina Viner said, they need us to surrender with a white flag, this is unacceptable for me and I think that for most athletes who have felt all this discrimination, too. But I cannot and will not decide for others, I will only say that for me state attributes are important values, without which I cannot imagine performing at competitions.
“Now the parameters that we consider unacceptable have been determined, perhaps something will change tomorrow. Then we will get together with you and the athletes and discuss where we end up. I’m not saying that the Olympic Games are completely closed for us, but based on what is happening now, including the invasion of bedbugs in Paris, the chances are approaching zero. Nevertheless, I don’t want to rule out that someone may be at the Olympics at their own risk.”
● Olympic Games 2028: Los Angeles ● Although not directly related to the 2028 Olympic Games, the Long Beach City Council unanimously approved (9-0) a $6.0 million expansion of the contract to design a new Belmont Beach and Aquatics Center on the site of the now-demolished Belmont Plaza Pool.
The new funding will allow architectural firm Harley Ellis Devereaux to complete the drawings set and ready the project for bidding. A 50 m pool with a side instructional and recreational pool is now planned at an estimated cost of $74.4 million, with $7.7 million still not accounted for. Construction could commence in late 2024, with a completion date in 2027 if all goes as planned. If completed, it could be a training site for the 2028 Games.
● Olympic Winter Games 2026: Milan Cortina ● The Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano – The Daily Fact – explained on Friday that the now-abandoned new sliding track for the 2026 Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo has cost about €5 million (€1 = $1.07 U.S.) so far.
Most of this – about 90% – has gone for architectural and engineering studies, plus additional amounts for environmental monitoring, scale models of the project, a promotional video and so on, for the governmental building arm, Simico.
The story asks about another €2.5 million, which was set aside for a museum of the 1956 “Eugenio Monti” track used for the 1956 Winter Games. Prediction: “Probably nothing will happen again.”
● Russia ● What was apparently the fourth BRICS Games – standing for Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa – took place from 18-21 October in Durban (RSA), with Russian entries leading the medal table with 59 total medals (35-12-12), followed by China (55) and South Africa (51).
There were six sports on the program and 450 total athletes. Kazan (RUS) will host in 2024 from 12-23 June, just prior to the start of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Continuing its use of sports as opportunities in foreign policy, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said attendees at a Russian sports conference last week that his ministry to ready to help India with its 2036 Olympic ambitions:
“If our colleagues from India contact us, we are ready to share our experience, as part of interaction with the Indian Ministry of Sports and other organizations.”
Matytsin also said that Belarusian teams could soon be incorporated into Russian sports leagues:
“It is proposed to include Belarusian teams in [Russian] professional leagues in almost all team sports.
“Some experience has been accumulated; we will resolve regulatory issues. The most important thing is to determine which teams in Belarus are showing interest.”
● Athletics ● USA Track & Field has opened voting for its Jesse Owens and Jackie Joyner-Kersee athlete of the year awards, through 6 November. The nominees:
● Rai Benjamin (400 m hurdles) ~ Worlds silver, Diamond League champ
● Ryan Crouser (shot put) ~ World Champion, world record
● JuVaughn Harrison (high jump) ~ Worlds silver medalist
● Grant Holloway (110 m hurdles) ~ World Champion
● Noah Lyles (sprints) ~ World 100/200/4×100 m Champion
● Yared Nuguse (1,500 m) ~ American mile record of 3:43.97
● Chase Ealey (shot put) ~ World Champion
● Anna Hall (heptathlon) ~ Worlds silver medalist
● Alicia Monson (distances) ~ American records at 5,000-10,000 m
● Katie Moon (vault) ~ World Co-Champion
● Sha’Carri Richardson (sprints) ~ Worlds 100/4×100 m gold, 200 m bronze
● Lagi Tausaga-Collins (discus) ~ World Champion
Voting is also open for the top U.S. performer at the 2023 U.S. Nationals (one award) and at the 2023 World Championships (track and field awards).
● Gymnastics ● Good news for Olympic gymnastics star Mary Lou Retton, now at home amid her recovery from a rare form of pneumonia. Her daughter McKenna Kelley wrote on Instagram:
“Mom is HOME and in recovery mode. We still have a long road of recovery ahead of us, but baby steps.
“We are overwhelmed with the love and support from everyone. Grateful doesn’t scrape the surface of the posture of our hearts. Thank you Jesus, thank you doctors and nurses, thank you to this loving community of support.”
Retton, now 55, was hospitalized early this month; a crowdfunding site was set up with a goal to raise $50,000 in medical support funds, but has reached past $459,000 so far, from 8,319 donors.
Look for a world ranking system to come to artistic gymnastics in the near future. The FIG’s Competition Innovation Commission said as much after its mid-October meeting and last week’s announcement:
“Building on the work of the previous meetings and after receiving feedback from different stakeholders, the Commission has continued with the development of a proposal that considers the main FIG events in a global ranking and classification system.
“The Commission seeks, together with the Marketing Commission, to offer a product that will enhance the media exposure of gymnastics and simplify the information available to the general public.”
Gymnastics as a sport is one of the top three in Olympic interest, but has largely failed to generate any continuing interest between Games except for its annual World Championships.
● Swimming ● The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last week that World Aquatics has been approached about moving the February 2024 World Aquatics Championships from Doha in view of Qatar’s multi-year support for Hamas in the wake of its attacks on Israel:
“Officials from Luxembourg, Czechia, Slovakia, Azerbaijan, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries are among those urging the World Aquatic Federation to relocate the tournament.”
Slovakian officials said its federation supports World Aquatics and its decision on the 2024 Worlds, already controversially placed in an Olympic year.
SwimSwam.com calculated the payouts for the now-completed, three-stage World Aquatics World Cup, with Backstroke world-record setter Kaylee McKeown (AUS) taking away $186,000:
● $100,000 as the top-ranked women’s swimmer
● $50,000 for world-record bonuses
● $36,000 for meet prize earnings
She was trailed in the women’s list by Freestyle star Siobhan Haughey (HKG) with $116,000, then Yufei Zhang (CHN) at $72,000. Katie Grimes was the top American at $10,800, in 12th position.
The men’s winner was China’s Haiyang Qin, who dominated the Breaststroke events, and won $166,000, including $100,000 for his top ranking, $30,000 for sweeping his events and $36,000 in meet prize money.
Next best was Italy’s versatile Thomas Ceccon ($116,000), then Matt Sates (RSA: $75,500) and American Michael Andrew ($43,000).
The total payment was listed as $1.416 million.
World Aquatics announced that McKeown and Qin were named as the federation’s Swimming Athletes of the Year.
Swimming Australia approved by 8-1 a new constitution on Friday that formally included an athlete commission and modified voting requirements and other governance issues mandated by World Aquatics:
“Importantly the new constitution brings Swimming Australia into line with [World Aquatics]’s constitutional requirements and the [Australia Sports Commission]’s good governance requirements and guidelines, while also creating an Athletes’ Commission which will, in an ongoing capacity, nominate candidates to be appointed to the Swimming Australia Board as the Athlete Director.”
Swimming Australia has been in turmoil, with four Presidents in the last three years and looking for a fourth chief executive since 2017. Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart was reported to have stopped her support for the federation in view of late payments to athletes and is now funding as many as 92 athletes directly.
● Triathlon ● The comeback saga of Rio 2016 Olympic champ Gwen Jorgensen to make the U.S. mixed-relay team for Paris received another boost with her win at the World Triathlon Cup Sprint race in Tongyeong (KOR).
Jorgensen, now 37, was 25 seconds behind out of the water, but with the leaders at the end of the bike phase. On the run, however, she stormed to the lead in the 5 km run and finished in 58:16 with the fastest run-time in the field by 17 seconds (16:30 to 16:47). She crossed four seconds up on Japan’s Yuko Takahashi (58:20).
This was Jorgensen’s 14th race of 2023 (!), with more coming, and her third World Cup win in the last two months. From nowhere, she is now ranked 45th in the World Triathlon standings, 53rd in its Olympic rankings and seventh among American women.
● Wrestling ● With 51 NCAA schools now sponsoring women’s wrestling teams and 45 more intending to create them, the sport is close to being approved as an NCAA championship sport:
“Women’s wrestling is on track to become the NCAA’s 91st NCAA championship, based on the latest sports sponsorship data released this month. …
“Women’s wrestling highlighted the six sports in the Emerging Sports for Women program, meeting the requirements to be considered for an NCAA championship. Specifically, more than 40 schools sponsored women’s wrestling at the varsity level and met the sport’s minimum competition and participant requirements in the 2022-23 academic year. The sport’s growth puts it on track to become the sixth sport to earn NCAA championship status through the Emerging Sports for Women program, joining rowing (1996), ice hockey (2000), water polo (2000), bowling (2003) and beach volleyball (2015).”
Adding wrestling has been a long-term project for USA Wrestling, already fielding the no. 2 women’s program in the world, behind only Japan, and allied organizations, with the initial efforts in 2017. Said Ragean Hill, Committee on Women’s Athletics Chair and Executive Associate Athletics Director at Charlotte:
“What women’s wrestling has accomplished in a short period of time is exceptional. They are a model practice on how to move the needle forward.”
United World Wrestling announced that the government of Albania refused to grant entry visas to the Iranian team for the UWW U-23 World Championships which started Monday:
“United World Wrestling expresses its deep disappointment to announce that Team Iran after sudden diplomatic crisis has been denied visas by Albania for the U23 World Championships in Tirana, scheduled to take place from October 23 to 29.
“Both the Albanian Wrestling Federation and UWW worked tirelessly to facilitate the necessary visa issuance for all participating teams, including the Iranian wrestlers. Despite the efforts, the authorities denied Team Iran its right to participate in the tournament.”
Albania, a Muslim-majority country, has had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1949, but severed its relations with Iran in September 2022. The Worlds U-23 tournament is going on as scheduled.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!