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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Santiago’s Pan Am Games saluted as “a tremendous success”
2. Russian appeal against IOC suspension accepted at Court of Arbitration
3. New York Marathon has 51,402 finishers; Hug finishes majors sweep!
4. African Games could be rendered irrelevant by new qualifier
5. Norway and Switzerland bid for 2028 FIS Games
● The head of Panam Sports and the Chilean Sports Minister lauded the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago during the closing ceremonies on Sunday, calling the event “a tremendous success.” A record 34 delegations won medals, the most ever in a Pan Am Games.
● The Russian Olympic Committee filed its appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the International Olympic Committee over its suspension for absorbing sports organization in occupied areas of Ukraine. Even the Russian Foreign Ministry chimed in with a new blast at the IOC.
● A historic New York City Marathon on Sunday saw not only a course record of 2:04:58 in the men’s race, but the fourth-most finishers in history at 51,402 and the first-ever sweep of all six Marathon Majors by men’s Wheelchair star Marcel Hug.
● The African Games, the continent’s multi-sport showcase since 1965 is at risk of being sidelined in favor of a new, Olympic qualifying event to be developed by the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA). Why? Because of money, of course.
● The International Ski & Snowboard Federation (FIS) announced that bids from Norway and Switzerland were received for the first-ever FIS Games in 2028, a 16-day mega-event with dozens of events across almost all of the federation’s disciplines.
● Panorama: Athletics (10 more doping suspensions announced by AIU) = Football (Brazil formally enters bid for Women’s World Cup 2027) = Tennis (Swiatek sweeps aside Pergula to win WTA Final in Cancun) = Weightlifting (no doping positives at IWF Worlds) ●
● Podcast: TSX editor-in-chief Rich Perelman explored the status of the Olympic Movement and today’s challenges on the “Sports Business Podcast with Prof. C,” produced by the Fordham Gabelli School of Business, with Professor Mark Conrad. You can hear it here; click on Episode 4! ●
Santiago’s Pan Am Games saluted as “a tremendous success”
As the curtain came down on the XIX Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, the closing ceremony included the remarks from the organizations which staged the event, and they were quite pleased.
Panam Sports President Neven Ilic, himself from Chile, shared his pride in the Games:
“Today, as we reach the conclusion, I feel a sense of sadness as a Chilean because the celebration is ending, but I also feel tremendous pride in these fantastic Pan American Games. Many times I was asked what I dreamt of for this event, and I replied that I hoped for many things, but above all, I wanted to raise Chile’s name to the highest level, and I believe we were able to create the most significant celebration in the Americas here in Chile.
“All the visitors we had left with the image of how beautiful Chile is, how beautiful the Chilean people are, and that should fill us all with pride. We greatly appreciate the organizing committee, when we started I told them that it was very easy to plan but very difficult to execute, but they did it fantastic.
“What we lived was shocking: we welcomed the greatest continental sports festival for the first time in Chile. We managed to gather almost seven thousand athletes. We were visited by over 200 thousand people, including tourists, delegations, and communication media, who basked in an atmosphere of community, respect, and joy that made the Pan American Games an unforgettable event.
“These Games are an effort of the state, of the government of Chile. Be very proud. We faced challenges, overcame a pandemic, and we can tell the world: We succeeded. The Games were a tremendous success.”
The Chilean Sports Minister, Jaime Pizarro, told the crowd at the Estadio Bicentenario de La Florida:
“Today, we feel proud to have fulfilled a historic responsibility. President Gabriel Boric tasked us with organizing games to international standards, and with satisfaction, we can say that we did it.”
Ilic scored a hit with the crowd by awarding the final gold medal of the Games to the popular mascot, Fiu, a gesture that may well be picked up by other events in the future.
The Games mostly succeeded, but had some gaffes, including an embarrassing mis-measurement of the women’s 20 km Walk, won by World Champion Kimberly Garcia of Peru, but without any times, depriving her and others of qualifying marks for other events. And there were the usual issues of last-minute construction and transportation issues early in the event.
The 2023 Pan Ams celebrated the highest number of nations winning at least one medal, with 34. That’s two up on the 32 – out of 41 competing teams – from the Rio 2007 Pan American Games and 31 at Toronto (CAN) in 2015 and Lima (PER) in 2019.
Pan Am Sports also shared an organizing committee report that the events were attended by 1.3 million spectators, a significant increase in the 517,000 reported to have been at the 2019 Pan Ams in Lima. The 1.3 million total surpassed the organizing committee target of 1.0 million.
The event reportedly had 2,000 staff and used 13,000 volunteers.
Russian appeal against IOC suspension accepted at Court of Arbitration
The promised appeal by the Russian Olympic Committee against its suspension by the International Olympic Committee was registered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday:
“In the Challenged Decision, the IOC [Executive Board] suspended the ROC with immediate effect until further notice following the ROC decision to unilaterally include as its members some regional sports organisations which are under the authority of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Ukraine (namely Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia).
“The IOC EB found that such action constituted a breach of the Olympic Charter because it violated the territorial integrity of the NOC of Ukraine, as recognised by the IOC in accordance with the Olympic Charter.”
The Russian Olympic Committee is asking for the IOC’s decision to be annulled. A panel of arbitrators will be appointed and that panel will determine the procedure for the exchange of written arguments, a hearing and a decision. No timetable was provided.
The Russian Foreign Ministry previewed its appeal with a statement that included:
“[The sanctions] are an example of double standards and destroy the legal non-discrimination regime for the admission of athletes to international competitions. The Committee’s approach cannot be regarded as anything other than segregation based on nationality, and therefore must be reviewed in accordance with the norms of international legal documents in the sports field and the spirit of the international Olympic movement.
“Once again we are forced to remind you that the term ‘Olympic Truce’ is not mentioned in the Olympic Charter. This category is used exclusively in resolutions of the UN General Assembly, is addressed to subjects of international law, UN member states, and cannot be used as a pretext for discrimination against athletes from a particular country by international sports organizations.”
New York Marathon has 51,402 finishers;
Hug finishes majors sweep!
Sunday’s New York City Marathon was historic for multiple reasons, starting with the men’s race record of 2:04:58 by Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola. But there were lots of other special moments to celebrate:
● Switzerland’s Marcel Hug won the men’s Wheelchair division for the third time in a row in 1:25:29, just three seconds off of his own course record. Even more amazing, the four-time Tokyo Paralympic gold medalist, won all six World Marathon Majors races in 2023: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York! He’s the only one to ever do that, and said afterwards:
“It’s really an incredible year with these six wins in the Majors Series. Honestly, I tried not having this in my mind that it could be the sixth win here.
“Now slowly I am realizing what happened and I’m so, so happy for this season and for this race today. In the end, it hurts a little bit to be only 3 seconds from the course record, but I tried everything, so I’m happy.”
● The race was the largest marathon in the world for 2023, with 51,933 starters and 51,402 finishers (98.98%), from 148 countries.
That’s a lot of runners and a lot of finishers, and ranks fourth all-time among NYC finishers. Only 2019 (53,639), 2018 (52,813) and 2016 (51,394) had more.
● Tola, the 2022 World Champion in the marathon, smashed the race record at 2:04:58, and won the $100,000 first prize, plus a bonus of $50,000 for his record performance. He said:
“I am happy to win New York City Marathon for the first time. It’s the third time for me to participate, two times no. four. The course is very difficult. Everything is nice for my training, my body, everything is okay. So I win.”
● Kenya’s Hellen Obiri won the women’s race in 2:27:23, becoming the first women to win both the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon since 1989, and won the $100,000 first prize. She won New York in her second try after finishing sixth in 2022 and has won two of her three career marathons. She said afterwards:
“My first debut here was terrible for me, and I say like I don’t want to come back here next year. … Sometimes you learn from your mistakes, so I did a lot of mistakes last year, so I said I want to try to do my best. I was ready.”
Behind her were other remarkable performances. Seventh in 2:29:40 was the two-time World Champion Edna Kiplagat, now 43, who won in New York in 2010, finishing her sixth career New York City Marathon,
In eighth and ninth were Americans Kellyn Taylor (2:29:48) and Molly Huddle (2:32:02), both returning from maternity. Taylor, 37, raced in her first marathon just 10 months after delivering her second child last December (she and her husband have adopted two others as well). Huddle, 39, returned to the marathon after delivering a daughter in April of 2022.
African Games could be rendered irrelevant by new qualifier
In what International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (GER) has called our “aggressively divisive” times, a fight over who owns what could end up creating a new event in Africa, focused on Olympic qualifying.
The Kenyan newspaper, The Nation, reported Sunday on discussions by the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) to create an African Olympic qualifier, separate and apart from the African Games:
“The move could see ANOCA parting ways with the African Games that are owned from the [African Union], thus reducing the continental games to a mere festival.
“But as ANOCA told of its challenges, delegates attending the 40th ANOCA Secretaries General Seminar at Sarova Whitesands [in Mombasa, Kenya], took issue with the organisers of the African Games scheduled from March 8 to 23 in Accra, Ghana, for lack of organisation and communication.”
The use of the African Games as an Olympic qualifier was done in 2019 after an 11-year hiatus, but the African Union, African Sports Confederation and ANOCA continue to squabble over television sales, sponsorships and other rights.
ANOCA Secretary Ahmed Hashim (SUD) told the delegates, “Africa must have its own fully fledged Olympic qualifying games that we shall make it marketable to get prime interest from companies and the media. We must know to bring the best of Africa athletes to compete on African soil rather than seek the most difficult qualifying path to the Olympics elsewhere.”
Norway and Switzerland bid for 2028 FIS Games
The International Ski & Snowboard Federation (FIS) announced that two bids have been confirmed for the first FIS Games, to be held in 2028:
“St. Moritz/Engadine (SUI) and Lillehammer/Hafjell (NOR) are the two confirmed candidates. …
“The FIS Games will see multiple FIS disciplines being staged during a 16-day period in the same region as a highlight event during the non-Olympic and non-World Championship season. The aim of the FIS Games is to feature the six FIS Olympic disciplines with the additional opportunity to highlight select non-Olympic disciplines such as Telemark, Speed Skiing and Freeride in addition to showcasing Para SnowSports competitions.”
Both regions are legendary winter-sport destinations, with Lillehammer hosting the brilliant Olympic Winter Games in 1994 and the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in addition to multiple World Cup events in various disciplines.
St. Moritz hosted the World Alpine Championships as recently as 2017 and will hold the Freestyle and Snowboard Worlds in 2025, along with multiple World Cups.
An evaluation group will review the initial plans, with a final program due by the end of March in 2024. A recommendation will be made to the FIS Council, which will finalize the selection, to be announced on 4 June 2024.
This is a major new undertaking by FIS, creating a mega-event at the mid-point between Olympic Winter Games, trying to create a major new athletic, fan and broadcast marker that is hoped to be more than the sum of its parts.
A third bid from Slovenia, featuring the facilities at Planica and Kranjska Gora, had been reported, but was not announced by FIS on Monday.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Athletics ● The Athletics Integrity Unit announced nine more provisional suspensions for doping, including four more Kenyans, from as far back as July, explaining that “Public disclosure of the back-dated suspensions was delayed due to prolonged investigations in those cases.”
Russian Yelena Korobkina, the 2015 European Indoor 3,000 m champ, was found to be doping on the basis of the Moscow Laboratory (“LIMS”) database and information from the McLaren investigations into the Russian state-sponsored doping program from 2011-15. She was banned for four years from 27 September 2023 and her results from 2 July 2013 through 24 July 2016 – including her European Indoor win – are disqualified.
● Football ● Brazil submitted its letter of intent to FIFA for the hosting of the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Saturday, including the necessary government guarantees.
The tournament has never been hosted in South America this far, and is one of four bids for the event. A combined bid by Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, a combined bid by Mexico and the U.S., and by South Africa are also live.
The decision is expected in May of 2024.
● Tennis ● Poland’s Iga Swiatek, ranked no. 2 worldwide, cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over no. 5-ranked American Jessica Pergula at the weather-delayed WTA Finals in Cancun (MEX). With the victory, Swiatek will regain the world no. 1 ranking through the end of the year with an 11-match winning streak and six wins on tour this season, and has a 6-3 lifetime record against Pergula.
In the Doubles final, German Laura Siegemund and Russian Vera Zvonareva swept aside Nicole Melichar-Martini (USA) and Ellen Perez (AUS), 6-4, 6-4.
● Weightlifting ● Good news for the sport as all of the doping tests for the recent IWF Worlds in Saudi Arabia came back negative. In a sport which has been plagued by doping for decades, 213 athletes from 61 countries were tested, with no positives.
A total of 692 athletes attended the event, with both urine and some blood samples collected. The International Olympic Committee agreed last month to reinstate weightlifting on the program of the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!