TSX REPORT: New Paris arena opened Sunday; will the Paris swim schedule change for Marchand? Two U.S. swim golds at Doha Worlds!

American teen skating star Ilia Malinin was named “Most Valuable Skater” at the ISU Skating Awards (Graphic courtesy International Skating Union)

The Sports Examiner: Chronicling the key competitive, economic and political forces shaping elite sport and the Olympic Movement.★

To get The Sports Examiner by e-mail: sign up here!

Fabulous! Now 26 donors have covered 52.3% of our technical and support costs goal. But we need your help too. Please consider a donation to help keep TSX going. Thank you.


1. New Arena Porte de la Chapelle opens in Paris
2. Will the Paris swimming schedule be modified for Marchand?
3. U.S.’s Malinin wins ISU “Most Valuable Skater”
4. Russian wrestlers refused visas; IIHF will not re-admit for 2024-25
5. Protestors gather in rain against Milan Cortina 2026

● The Arena Porte de la Chapelle, a multi-purpose arena to be used for badminton and rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympic Games, was opened to the public on Sunday. It’s the only new sports facility built for the Games inside Paris itself and will be the home of the Paris basketball club.

● French swim sensation Leon Marchand is in position to win four individual medals at Paris 2024, but the schedule is against him on 30 and 31 July with an unusual possible double in the 200 m Butterfly and 200 m Breaststroke. But he apparently has gotten some relief in the semis, with the events moved further apart within the same session. But what about the 31st?

● American teen skating star Ilia Malinin won the “Most Valuable Skater” designation at Sunday’s ISU Skating Awards honoring the 2023 season. Eight awards were distributed in all, with former Canadian star, and now coach, Brian Orser honored with a Lifetime Achievement award.

● Russia continues to be front-and-center, with seven of 10 wrestlers denied visas for the European Championships in Romania; the International Ice Hockey Federation decided not to re-admit Russia or Belarus for 2024-25, and the sports minister saying Russia will pay its WADA dues.

● A group of protestors estimated from 100 to 1,000 gathered in a rainstorm Saturday in Milan against the “unsustainable” 2026 Milan Cortina Games, notably the decision to spend public funds on the building of a new sliding track in Cortina.

World Championships: Aquatics (2: Fink and Douglass take swimming golds; U.S. women out-last Australia to meet Spain in semis) ●

Panorama: Beijing 2022 (Canadian Olympic Committee protests Team event bronze to Russia) = Athletics (2: Jamaican star Fraser-Pryce to retire after Paris; Semenya fund-raising for further appeal) = Fencing (France’s Thibus suspended for doping) = Football (2: USSF approves pay for President; Argentina qualifies for Paris, so will Messi play?) ●

New Arena Porte de la Chapelle opens in Paris

The only new facility to be built for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games that is actually inside the city limits of Paris itself opened on Sunday, the Arena Porte de la Chapelle.

The facility seats 8,000 and will host badminton and rhythmic gymnastics during the Olympic Games and badminton and powerlifting during the Paralympic Games later this year.

The primary tenant will be the Paris Basketball Club and the venue will be known as the Adidas Arena outside of the Olympic and Paralympic period. The facility includes the main arena floor, but also two additional gymnasiums which will be available for year-round use; they will be warm-up areas for both Games.

The opening was highly political, as the arena is located in what has been a high-crime area, with significant drug activity. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told reporters on Sunday:

“People used to talk about this area as a ‘no-go zone’ … But we made a commitment to change things. Today we have the demonstration that change is possible.”

Investment in the Porte de la Chapelle area has reached €500 million (about $538.7 million U.S. today), including new landscaping on areas which had been used for drug dealing and an effort to move migrant camps away. With a university research center expected to open in 2025, the area is hoped to be transformed with the influx of 1.2 million or more visitors a year. Construction was completed in about two-and-a-half years.

The other major new sports facility being built for the Games is the aquatics center, under construction in the Saint-Denis area north of Paris, which will seat 5,000 and host artistic swimming, diving and preliminary water polo matches.

Will the Paris swimming schedule be modified for Marchand?

If you’re not already familiar with French swimming star Leon Marchand, please remember his name.

Because you will be hearing a lot about him as Paris 2024 grows closer and he becomes the face of the Games for France during the first week. At 21, he’s the two-time World Champion in the men’s 200 m Medley and 400 m Medley and the 2023 Worlds winner in the 200 m Butterfly. And the world-record holder in the 400 m Medley as well.

In 2023, he ranked first worldwide in the 200 m Fly and 400 m Medley, second in the 200 m Medley and third in the 200 m Breaststroke. Certainly a possibility for four individual medals, plus the 4×200 m Freestyle. Fantastique!

But for Paris this summer, he has a real problem: the schedule on 30 and 31 July:

28 July: 400 m Medley (heats and final)
30 July: 200 m Butterfly, 200 m Breaststroke (heats and semis)
31 July: 200 m Butterfly, 200 m Breaststroke (finals)
01 Aug.: 200 m Medley (heats and semis)
02 Aug.: 200 m Medley (final)

On those days, Marchand would have to swim both events in the morning and evening of the 30th, then come back and swim both finals – currently scheduled back-to-back, maybe 15 minutes apart – on the 31st.

Enter French swimming federation technical director Julien Issoulie and Marchand’s coach, famed American (and Arizona State) coach Bob Bowman, who famously guided Michael Phelps to greatness.

According to the French daily Le Monde, both are lobbying Paris 2024 to modify the schedule to allow more time between the two events:

“We asked that one of the two events are scheduled at the start of the session and the other towards the end. We all got involved, Bowman had the same discussion as us with World Aquatics.

“The international federation had never encountered this problem because until now, no very high level swimmer had done the 200 m breaststroke and the 200 m butterfly. They thought about it within the technical committee, we did everything to make them aware that it would be good to postpone the tests.”

The Le Monde story said that the two 200 m semifinals on the 30th would now be about an hour apart, but no change has been indicated in the back-to-back finals on the 31st. However, the men’s 4×200 m Free final will also be at the end of the 30 July schedule.

Issoulie said the decision on what Marchand will swim won’t be decided now:

“Indeed, it could change the situation but for the moment, we are keeping this question in suspense.

“We know very well how it happens: if we say that he is doing four [individual] races and ultimately we don’t line him up for one of them, we will hear, ‘Leon is not doing well.’ The strategy is for him to be qualified everywhere, but we leave the choice until the last moment.”

Moving events around a bit inside of a session is hardly unheard of, notably in track & field, even at the Olympic level. France will be waiting.

U.S.’s Malinin wins ISU “Most Valuable Skater”

The International Skating Union Awards for 2024 were revealed on Sunday in Zurich (SUI) during a special “Art on Ice” show, with American teen star Ilia Malinin winning the Most Valuable Skater award.

This award is not for the best performance of the year, but “Honors the Single Skater or Pair or Ice Dance Couple who promoted Figure Skating – due to a successful competition season, creating (social) media attention and engagement in 2023.”

Malinin, 19, wowed the skating world by becoming the first to complete the quadruple Axel jump in competition, in 2022. He won a bronze at the 2023 World Championships and was the 2023 ISU Grand Prix Final winner. He beat out Japan’s Shoma Uno and Kaori Sakamoto, both of whom won the 2023 World Championships golds.

The announcement noted Malinin’s “impressive Instagram following of 127,000.”

There were seven more award categories, for current skaters and those who support them:

Best Newcomer: Hana Yoshida (JPN)
Most Entertaining Program: Adam Siao Him Fa (FRA)
Best Costume: Loena Hendrickx (BEL)

Best Choreographer: Benoit Richaud (FRA)
Best Coach: Mie Hamada (JPN)
Lifetime Achievement: Brian Orser (CAN)
Special Achievement: Deanna Stellato-Dudek (CAN)

Siao Him Fa’s award for the best program and Richaud’s award for choreography are connected as they work together. Hamada coaches the newcomer award winner Yoshida, as well as women’s World Junior Champion Mao Shimada and 2024 Four Continents winner Mone Chiba.

Orser has starred as a two-time Olympic silver winner for Canada in 1984 and 1988, the 1987 World Champion and as a coach from 2005, with stars including Olympic gold medalists Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) and Yuna Kim (KOR), two-time World Champion Javier Fernandez (ESP) and many others.

Stellato-Dudek was honored for coming back to skating after a 2000 World Junior Championships women’s silver for the U.S., then retiring until 2016 and returning as a Pairs skater. She transferred to skate for Canada with Maxime Deschamps in 2021 and they won the 2024 Four Continents gold at age 40!

Russian wrestlers refused visas; IIHF will not re-admit Russia for 2024-25

Pushback against Russian participation continues, as the European Wrestling Championships began Monday in Bucharest (ROU), but seven of the 10 wrestlers on the Russian team – expected to compete as “neutrals” – have not received visas. Among those not receiving visas are men’s Freestyle Olympic champions from Tokyo at 57 kg (Zaur Uguev) and 97 kg (Abdulrashid Sadulaev). Per coach Khadzhimurat Gatsalov:

“Of the announced [team] composition, only three currently have visas, the rest still do not have them, our team is due to fly on February 14. If we do not receive visas, we will replace them with those who have them. At this stage there are no visas including the Olympic champions Sadulayev and Uguev. The leadership of the federation is doing everything to rectify the situation; they are contacting the embassy and the consulate.”

Uguev won a quota place for Russia (as a “neutral”) with his fifth-place finish at the 2023 World Championships; Russia does not yet have a quota spot at 97 kg. The European Championships is not an Olympic qualifying event; the final European qualifier will come in April in Baku (AZE).

The International Ice Hockey Federation announced Monday that it will not readmit Russian or Belarus for its 2024-25 season tournaments:

“Based on a thorough analysis, the IIHF Council concluded that it is not yet safe to reincorporate the Russian and Belarusian Teams back into IIHF Competitions. Therefore, Russia and Belarus will not participate in the 2024/2025 IIHF championship season. This decision will also apply to the Belarusian team regarding the Final Olympic Qualification Round that will be played in August 2024.

“As it has been done over the past years, the IIHF Council will continue to monitor the situation, with the latest date to determine if it is safe to reincorporate Russia and Belarus for the 2025/2026 Championship season in May 2025 at the IIHF Council meeting ahead of the IIHF Annual Congress.”

The IIHF suspended Russia and Belarus in February 2022 as a reaction to the invasion of Ukraine and has maintained the ban since.

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said Monday that Russia will pay its still-outstanding dues for the World Anti-Doping Agency for 2023:

“I will not announce the numbers, but we will pay the amount agreed with WADA. Now we are waiting for confirmation for next year, we agreed that they will establish a contribution formula, because we cannot rely on the Council of Europe, of which Russia is no longer a member. For this year, the amount will be paid in the amount that we agreed upon.”

WADA has expected Russia to pay $1.267 million U.S. for 2023 and while there is a dues amount already set for 2024 of $1.335 million, this is under review by WADA in view of Russia no longer being a member of the Council of Europe.

Russia continues to be held in non-compliance by WADA and the outstanding dues is one of the issues.

Protestors gather in rain against Milan Cortina 2026

There was a protest against the Milan Cortina 2026 Olympic Winter Games on Saturday, with widely varying estimates of the number who showed up in the rain.

The Associated Press reported that “Around 150 people gathered in the pouring rain on Saturday outside the construction site for the Olympic Village in Milan.”

The Reuters story opened with, “Around 300 people marched in Milan on Saturday to protest over the environmental impact of the Winter Olympics that will be held in northern Italy in 2026.”

Agence France Presse’s report stated, “Around 1,000 people marched on a soaking wet day in the northern Italian city to decry the building of infrastructure for the Milan-Cortina Games.”

In any case, Saturday’s event, and other efforts like it was organized by the Comitato Insostenibili Olimpiadi – “Unsustainable Olympics Committee” – described by AFP as “a network of hiking groups, environmental activists, heritage associations and left-wing political movements.”

Their ire was directed at public spending for the controversial new sliding track in Cortina to replace the demolished Eugenio Monti track from the 1956 Winter Games and being built for more than €81.6 million (~$87.9 million U.S.) on an extremely accelerated timeframe, against the wishes of the International Olympic Committee.

Signs included protests of “concreting,” “gentrification,” “greenwashing,” “privatization” and “eviction.” One protester decried “spending more than 100 million euros of public money on a sport that is practiced by only 20 people in the whole of Italy.”


● Aquatics ● Swimming is now fully underway at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha (QAT), with the U.S. taking its first two wins in the pool.

Although many of the U.S. stars passed on Doha to concentrate their efforts on training for the U.S. Olympic Trials coming in June, some veterans sought out the Worlds and Nic Fink and Kate Douglass came up golden.

Men/100 m Breast: Legendary world-record holder and two-time Olympic champ Adam Peaty (GBR) was back after a sabbatical following an injury-filled 2022 and is rounding into shape. But Fink, after a bronze in this event at the 2022 Worlds and silver in 2023, led at the turn and held on to win his second individual Worlds gold in a world-leading 58.57. Italy’s Niccolo Martinenghi charged up from fifth at the half to pass Peaty on the way home and got second in 58.84 with Peaty third in 59.10.

Women/200 m Medley: Douglass came in as the defending champion and left no doubt with a lifetime best 2:07.05 victory by more than a second-and-a-half over Sydney Pickrem (CAN: 2:08.56) and China’s Yiting Yu (2:09.01), who won the Worlds bronze for the second year in a row. At age 22, Douglass already owns 10 Worlds medals (3-3-4), and she remains sixth on the all-time list (with the no. 11 performance).

Men/50 m Free: Portugal’s Diogo Ribiero won a silver in this event at the 2023 Worlds in Japan and moved up to the top of the podium at 22.97, beating Michael Andrew of the U.S. by 0.10 (23.07) and Australian freestyle star Cameron McEvoy (23.08). It’s Andrew’s fourth Worlds medal in an individual event (0-2-2), and moved him up from his 2022 bronze in the 50 Fly.

Women/100 m Fly: German Angelina Kohler led the race from the start and won cleanly in 56.28, ahead of American Claire Curzan (56.61) and Swede Louse Hansson (56.94). Curzan won her second career individual Worlds medal after a 2022 bronze in the 100 m Back.

The men’s 200 m Free and 100 m Back and the women’s 1,500 m Free, 100 m Back and 100 m Breaststroke finals are on tap for Tuesday.

In the women’s water polo quarterfinals, the U.S. struggled past Australia by 10-9, taking an 8-3 lead into the final quarter, but then getting outscored by 6-2! Maddie Musselman led the U.S. attack with three goals.

Meanwhile, Spain edged Canada, 12-9; Spain and the U.S. will meet in one semifinal on Wednesday. Hungary won a shoot-out to get past the Netherlands, 13-12 (5-4) and Greece defeated Italy, 14-12.


● Olympic Winter Games 2022: Beijing ● The Canadian Olympic Committee joined in with disbelief in the International Skating Union’s award of the 2022 Olympic figure skating Team Event bronze medal to Russia and posted a brief statement on Friday:

“We don’t believe the ISU statement provides further clarity or justification and continue to believe the Canadian team should be awarded the bronze medal following the CAS decision. We are working closely with Skate Canada to explore our options for appeal.”

● Athletics ● Jamaican sprint icon Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, now 37, told Essence magazine that she will retire after the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, but that she is certainly not burnt out:

“There’s not a day I’m getting up to go practice and I’m like, ‘I’m over this.’

“My son needs me. My husband and I have been together since before I won in 2008. He has sacrificed for me. We’re a partnership, a team. And it’s because of that support that I’m able to do the things that I have been doing for all these years. And I think I now owe it to them to do something else.”

Fraser-Pryce owns five World Championship golds in the women’s 100 m, one in the 200 m and four on relays and was the Olympic women’s 100 m gold medalist in 2008 and 2012, then third in Rio and second in Tokyo.

Her goals for Paris: “showing people that you stop when you decide. I want to finish on my own terms.”

Two-time Olympic women’s 800 m gold medalist Caster Semenya (RSA) told reporters in Johannesburg on Friday that she is asking for help in funding her continuing effort to overturn the World Athletics regulations which prevent her from competing with her naturally-high testosterone levels:

“We lack funds. We have a lot of experts that come in that we need to pay. Anything that you may contribute, it makes a huge difference.”

Her appeal to the European Court of Human Rights resulted in a directive to the Swiss Federal Tribunal to undertake a more thorough review of her case, which could result in making the Swiss court an option to review all Court of Arbitration for Sport decisions. The Swiss have asked for a review of the ECHR decision by a larger Grand Chamber panel, which will commence on 15 May in Strasbourg (FRA).

● Fencing ● The International Testing Agency announced that French star Ysaora Thibus, 32, the 2022 women’s World Foil Champion and a Tokyo Olympic Team silver medalist, has tested positive for Ostarine, a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) used to improve muscle mass and strength.

The positive came from an in-competition sample from the FIE Foil World Cup in Paris on 14 January 2024. Thibus, no. 8 in the FIE World Rankings is provisionally suspended and can ask to have her B-sample tested for confirmation.

● Football ● At the U.S. Soccer Federation Annual General Meeting in Dallas, Texas, the federation pushed ahead with its stated priorities, listed as

“World Cup 2026 legacy, the Safe Soccer clearance program, growing the number of referees, democratizing soccer knowledge, a unified sporting strategy, ecosystem partnerships and the development of the National Training Center.”

A special emphasis was confirmed on “working more closely with membership,” which has been singled out as a current weakness, especially at the community and youth levels.

The USSF National Council also passed a motion – with 80.88% in favor – to provide a salary for the USSF President, up to now a volunteer position:

“The Council approved a stipend for the U.S. Soccer president of $150,000 with a reduction to $75,000 if selected to another position within soccer as a direct consequence of their role as President.”

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle reported:

“The thinking is that having the office of president be a volunteer position restricted the pool of available candidates to those who were wealthy enough to meet the time commitment needed to do the job.”

The two-stage pay levels reflect compensation available elsewhere; Carlisle was told that current USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone receives $125,000 per year as a member of the CONCACAF Council.

Most U.S. National Governing Body Presidents are volunteers. USSF can certainly afford it, with $171.67 million in assets as of the end of 2022. It’s by far the richest of the American NGBs.

In the South American Olympic (U-23) qualifiers, Argentina defeated Brazil, 1-0, on Sunday in Caracas (VEN) and qualified second in the tournament to advance to Paris this summer.

Paraguay (2-0-1) advanced as the tournament winner and drew (3-3) with Argentina and defeated Brazil, 1-0. The Brazilians, who won the Olympic golds in Rio and Tokyo, lost two of three matches and will not play at the Olympic Games for the first time since 2004.

With Argentina in and three over-23 players allowed for the Olympic tournament, the call has already gone out for superstar Lionel Messi – who will be 37 in June – to join the squad if he wishes. He already owns an Olympic gold from the 2008 Beijing Games.

You can receive our exclusive TSX Report by e-mail by clicking here. You can also refer a friend by clicking here, and can donate here to keep this site going.

For our new, 920-event International Sports Calendar for 2024 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!