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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Paris 2024 medals to contain hexagonal Eiffel Tower fragments
2. Infantino calls again for criminal charges on racism
3. Ceferin wins opening for added UEFA term, then walks away
4. Shiffrin: “my knee cannot handle the load of racing just yet”
5. LA28 pitches Major League Baseball on Olympic participation
● The Paris 2024 medals were revealed on Thursday and sport an Art Deco design by the renowned Maison Chaumet with a fragment of old Eiffel Tower iron – from prior renovations – attached to the face of each Olympic and Paralympic medal. A total of 5,084 will be made by the French Mint.
● Addressing the UEFA Congress in Paris, FIFA President Gianni Infantino again called for match forfeits as a way to battle racism in football, and asked for criminal penalties for offenders.
● UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin saw through changes to the organization’s rules that would him to run for essentially a fourth term, in 2027. Then he announced that he will not run! Amazing, particularly in the Olympic Movement.
● American skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin provided a detailed update on her recovery from her 26 January crash, saying she is not yet ready to return to racing, but is continuing to work toward that as soon as practical. She also raised concerns on the workloads of the top skiers, which she believes is contributing to the rash of crashes this season.
● LA28 Chair Casey Wasserman made a well-received presentation to Major League Baseball owners about the possibilities for players to participate in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. But the schedule continues to be an issue.
● World Championships: Aquatics (4: China wins sixth straight men’s 10 m Synchro gold; Australia touches first in open-water 4×15; China concludes women’s Duet sweep; U.S. one of four unbeatens in women’s polo) = Biathlon (France dominates Mixed 4×6 km as IBU Worlds open) ●
● Panorama: Milan Cortina 2026 (total cost for new sliding track about $127.6 million) = Switzerland 2038 (Swiss Olympic approves advancing with IOC on bid revisions) = Aquatics (ex-FINA Bureau member Gyarfas sentenced to seven years for inciting murder) = Basketball (Lewandowski and Rizzotti named U.S. 3×3 coaches) = Football (“blue card” coming to send off whining players?) = Ice Hockey (Guerin picked as U.S. 2026 general manager) = Shooting (Italy sweeps ISSF World Cup Trap) = Sport Climbing (IFSC starts data collection effort to combat REDs) = Swimming (McIntosh hands Ledecky first 800 m Free final loss since 2010) ●
Paris 2024 medals to contain hexagonal Eiffel Tower fragments
The medals for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games were revealed on Thursday, literally integrating the city’s iconic Eiffel Tower into each one.
Designed by the French jewelry house Chaumet – a part of the LVMH giant which is a Paris 2024 first-tier sponsor – the Olympic and Paralympic medals share a common front presentation, with a hexagonal piece of Eiffel Tower iron held on with “rivet”-style clasps to the front of the medal, with Art Deco-style radiant lines moving from the center to the edge.
It’s very French, almost in a 1920s style, in keeping with many of the design elements of the Paris 2024 approach.
The Eiffel Tower metal is the real thing. During renovations of the tower in the 20th Century, metalwork that was replaced was kept by the Société d’Exploitation de la tour Eiffel for future use. And there is a tie to modern Olympic founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin, according to Societe President Jean-Francois Martins:
“With this unique metal from the Eiffel Tower, this medal has a historic character and is a nod to Pierre de Coubertin who, as a contemporary of Gustave Eiffel, was one of the last people to be able to visit the construction site of the Tower before it was opened.”
The hexagonal shape of the iron refers to France itself, with the shape of the country referred to internally as “l’Hexagone.”
The reverse of the Olympic medal – based on the 2004 Olympic design – shows Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory, emerging from the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, with the Parthenon and the Eiffel Tower at the top of the medal. The Paralympic reverse also pictures the Eiffel Tower, but from the ground, looking upward. The words “Paris” and “2024″ are inscribed in Braille. Further, engraved lines on the edge of the Paralympic medal allow the holder to feel whether they are for first, second or third place.
Both medal styles will be engraved with the specific sport and event on its edge.
A total of 5,084 medals are to be made and they’re pretty big:
● 85 mm in diameter (3.35 inches)
● 9.2 mm thick (0.36 inches)
● 529 g for gold medals (18.7 oz.)
● 525 g for silver medals (18.5 oz.)
● 455 g for bronze medals (16.1 oz.)
As usual, the gold medals are gilded with 6 g of gold, not solid gold. Manufactured at the Hotel de la Monnaie (the French Mint) in Paris, the silver is .925 fine and all of the silver and bronze medal stock is recycled.
Antoine Arnault of LVMH Image & Environment explained his company’s unique role:
“It’s the first time in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games that a jeweller has designed the medals. The Maison Chaumet creative team has conceived each medal as a jewel, taking inspiration from the Parisian craftsmanship of its legendary Place Vendôme workshops and illustrating the vocation shared by all the Houses in our group: the ability to make people dream.”
These medals will be dreamed about, that’s for sure.
Infantino calls again for criminal charges on racism
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (SUI) once again called for match forfeits and criminal charges for racist behavior during his address at the UEFA Congress in Paris on Thursday:
“I want to mention just one topic, and that one topic is racism. We live, (as) we all know, in a divided world. We say that football unites the world, but our world is divided, our world is aggressive, and in the last few weeks and months, we have witnessed, unfortunately, a lot of racist incidents.
“This is not acceptable anymore.
“We have to stop this and we have to do whatever we can to stop this.
“Racism is a crime. Racism is something terrible. And I can be standing here and saying this to you all and you can be sitting there and nodding at me and saying: ‘Yes, that’s right.’ And we will continue, and still racism goes on.
“We have to eradicate that, and we have some tools in place. The problem is that we have different competition organisers, different competitions, different rules, and what we all do is, obviously, obviously, not enough. So, we have to take responsibility for this.
“The tools that we have are, of course, the three-step process of the referee, who can stop the game, interrupt the game and, ultimately, even abandon the game. The disciplinary consequences will have to be a forfeit against the team who has been responsible for the abandonment of the game if a game has been abandoned.
“We have to start criminal charges against those people who have acted in a racist way. We have to ban them from stadiums worldwide. We have to invest in education because, obviously, racism is also a problem of society. But that’s not enough, that’s not the answer.
“So, what I suggest to you, in addition to all this, is that we work all together in the next three months before the FIFA Congress in May in Bangkok. And at the Congress in May in Bangkok, we come all together with a strong resolution, united, all together, all 211 countries of FIFA, for the fight against racism.
“Let’s stop racism. Let’s stop it now. Let’s do it all together in a united way. And I thank you for your attention and I wish you a great Congress. Thank you very much. All the best.”
Infantino brought up the match-forfeit idea after AC Milan keeper Mike Maignan (FRA) – who is Black – walked off the field, followed by his teammates after insulting “monkey noises” from the crowd during the first half of an Italian Serie A match at Udinese on 20 January.
Udinese was sanctioned with its following home match to be held without spectators, but an appeal reduced the punishment to two matches with one end of the stadium empty.
Five fans were identified from stadium security video and were banned from all Italian sporting events for five years, the maximum penalty under Italian law.
Ceferin wins opening for added UEFA term, then walks away
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin (SLO), now serving out a third term as the head of the organization, saw the UEFA Congress pass a revision to its statutes that would have allowed him to run again.
And then he walked away.
The UEFA Congress in Paris passed – with one dissenting vote – a series of revisions to the UEFA Statutes, including a more precise definition of the organization’s term limits. Now, a UEFA President or member of the Executive Committee may serve not more than three full terms, not counting any partial term.
In Ceferin’s case, he became the head of UEFA in 2016 and served out the partial term of elected President Michel Platini (FRA), who resigned over scandals related to FIFA. Ceferin, now 56, was then elected in 2019 and 2023.
So, with the ability to run in 2027, he said he will not, telling reporters afterwards there were two reasons to amend the rules:
“The legal one is that it had to be changed because the text from the 2017 Congress was unclear and later clarified by the administration without the approval of Congress and that is illegal.
“The statutes had to be changed or term limits wouldn’t exist at all and many articles were published about it before anyone asking me any questions.
“The factual one, that’s my decision if I want to run after 2027, honestly speaking, I’m tired of COVID, I’m tired of two wars, nonsense projects of so-called super leagues. I’m also tired of self-proclaimed moral authorities who are moral just until it comes to their personal interests.
“I have decided, let’s say around six months ago, that I am not planning to run in 2027 anymore.
“The reason is that after some time every organization needs fresh blood, but mainly because I was away from my family for seven years now and I will be away from them for another three years to 2027.”
He noted that he did not say ahead of time what he would do:
“I intentionally didn’t want to disclose my thoughts for two reasons, first I wanted to see the real face of some people and I saw it, I saw good and bad.
“And of course, I didn’t want to influence the Congress, I wanted them to decide not knowing what I am telling you today, because that’s an honest decision.”
In the world of sports management, and especially in the Olympic Movement, such actions are unusual to say the least. Shocking would be more like it.
Shiffrin: “ my knee cannot handle the load of racing just yet”
American skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin posted a lengthy update on her recovery from 26 January crash in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy on her Instagram page:
“Quick update from my end now that I’ve had a good little rehab block since my crash. First of all, thank you all SO much for your support of both @akilde and me…I want you to know how much it means to us. You have all been so wonderful.
“Second of all, I just want to address the number of injuries there have been lately, and send my best to all of those who are currently sidelined (including @iamsofiagoggia, most recently). Yes, this is ski racing, and yes – we choose to take the risk every time we push from the start gate. That said, the amount of injuries (especially among the top athletes) this year has been staggering.
“A lot has been said about it, and I absolutely agree with those who have asked that we take a better look at the demands on top athletes…both from a race calendar perspective as well the schedule with evening programs. It’s pretty hard to put into words what the actual demands are like for athletes who are in the top 15 in multiple disciplines and consistently on the podium. As Aleks recently mentioned, on top of the race calendar in itself, with post-race media and awards going well into the afternoon, then having full evening program (during the only 60-90 minutes of the weekend where we might otherwise be able to eat or get any recovery time) on multiple nights is a lot. It’s really too much. I absolutely believe that fatigue at this point in the season plays a role in the injuries we have seen lately, including my own.
“Lastly, although I’m feeling better each day and progressing well, I will not be skiing in Andorra this weekend. That stings as I have so many special memories in @soldeueltarterworldcup, but my knee cannot handle the load of racing just yet. I just need a bit more time to heal and re-condition.
“As I’ve mentioned, there was no major ligament damage and the structure within the joint of my knee looks good. Basically what we’re managing is an MCL sprain, a sprain of the tibial-fibular ligaments, as well as the bone bruise that I already had from earlier this season in Levi.
“I took a ton of stress to my whole leg when I crashed and stretched a bunch of things that are continuing to cause pain, although that is improving every day! The fact that everything is structurally intact is super positive, but I still need to be patient. There’s a lot at stake this season, but that is also the case with any season – I am in this for the long haul and want to ensure my knee is strong and I am fully capable of powerful skiing when I return to the start gate. Every day, pain gets better, motion gets more solid, smooth, and consistent…we’re managing it well and always moving a little bit forward with each session.”
LA28 pitches Major League Baseball on Olympic participation
Major League Baseball owners received a detailed presentation this week on the 2028 Olympic Games from LA28 Chair Casey Wasserman, looking to include the world’s best players in the Olympic tournament in Los Angeles.
Following the owner’s meetings in Florida, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said that Wasserman made a “thoughtful and polished presentation” on the 2028 Games, but noted in a news conference afterwards the challenges:
“I think the pros are just the potential for association between two great brands … the opportunity to make a splash and attract the kind of attention that would be associated with a team – it would eventually be multiple teams, I suspect – of the best players in Major League Baseball in a short tournament like that.
“You’ve heard me before: Love that combination of nationalism and sport. I’m good on that.
“The cons, it’s the logistics. Everyday games are tough. They’re tough. And if you look at the calendar, I think it’s complicated by the proximity [of the Olympic Games] to what would ordinarily be the All-Star Game.”
Baseball was a demonstration sport at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and filled Dodger Stadium and drew an average of 48,195 for each of the eight days of the tournament. That enthusiasm led directly to the sport’s inclusion in 1992; it was included in 1996-2000-04-08, then removed and included again for the Tokyo 2020 Games at the request of the organizing committee.
LA28 obtained approval to add baseball, softball, cricket, flag football, lacrosse and squash for the 2028 Games last October at the IOC Session in India. A small tournament with six teams has been proposed to allow a short but dramatic tournament.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Aquatics ● At the World Aquatics Championships in Doha (QAT), China won its sixth Olympic-program event without a loss by taking the men’s 10 m Synchro gold by more than 48 points.
Junjie Lian and Hao Yang won their third straight World 10 m Synchro title together, scoring 470.76 points, ahead of British stars Tom Daley and Noah Williams (422.57) and Ukraine’s Kirill Boliukh and Oleksiy Sereda (406.47). Yang also won in 2017, with Aisen Chen, and has four career Worlds golds in the event. China won the event for the sixth time in a row at the Worlds and nine of the last 10.
Daley, who won the Tokyo Olympic gold with Matty Lee in this event, has now won eight career Worlds medals (4-2-2). He was a member of the British Team gold squad earlier in the week. Joshua Hedberg and Carson Tyler of the U.S. finished 14th (324.51).
Australia won the open-water Mixed 4×1,500 m relay, barely out-touching Italy by 1:03:28.0 to 1:03:28.2, as Kyle Lee got his hand past Domenico Acerenza with a final push to the finish. Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky anchored his team into third place for the bronze in 1:04:06.8.
The U.S. squad of Mariah Denigan, Katie Grimes, Charlie Clark and Michael Brinegar finished fifth in 1:04:16.1.
In Artistic Swimming, China’s Liuyi Wang and Qianyi Wang completed a sweep in the women’s Duets, taking the Free Routine gold with 250.7729 points in a tight final with Dutch pair Bregje de Brouwer and Noortje de Brouwer (250.4979). Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe (GBR) won the bronze at 247.2626.
In the women’s water polo tournament, the U.S. won all three of its group matches and has moved on to the quarterfinals on the 12th, to play the winner of Australia vs. Great Britain.
The American women, one of the favorites for Paris, defeated the Netherlands, 10-8, then sailed past Brazil (21-5) and Kazakhstan (32-3). Spain, Hungary and Italy all won their groups at 3-0 as well.
● Biathlon ● At the IBU World Championships in Nove Mesto (CZE), France won a decisive opening victory in the Mixed 4×6 km relay, winning by 45 seconds over perennial power Norway.
Eric Perrot, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Justine Braisaz-Bouchet and Julia Simon timed 1:09:24.4 with nine penalties to win, with the Norwegians at 1:10:09.6 (8) and Sweden third at 1:10:26.1 (10). The U.S. finished 11th with Vincent Bonacci, Sean Doherty, Deedra Irwin and Chloe Levins in 1:13:36.3 (6).
The Worlds resume on Friday and continue through the 18th.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Winter Games 2026: Milan Cortina ● During an Italian Senate hearing on Thursday, Italian Finance Minister Giancarlo Georgetti was asked what the total cost of the now-approved sliding track in Cortina will be.
Georgetti explained that the total cost is expected to be €118.4 million, with €81.6 million for construction and €2.6 million already spent for the demolition of the old track. The original target cost was €47.7 million to renovate the Eugenio Monti track used for the 1956 Winter Games. (€1 = $1.08)
● Olympic Winter Games 2038 ● Switzerland is all in for 2038 and ready to work with the International Olympic Committee to revamp their proposal as required. According to its announcement:
“At the meeting on February 7, 2024, the Executive Board of Swiss Olympic commissioned the Switzerland 203X association to prepare the entry into the privileged dialogue in consultation with the IOC and to specify the proposal that was submitted to the sports parliament in November 2023. The revised proposal will be presented to the Sports Parliament at an extraordinary meeting on May 23, 2024 so that Swiss Olympic members can confirm the process and decide on the presented budget for privileged dialogue.”
The IOC liked the Swiss concept – proposed as a national project – but said it’s too spread out and needs more focus. The IOC wants to clean up the issues by 2027 and then formally award the 2038 Winter Games to the Swiss.
Switzerland’s appetite is not limited to the Winter Games, either, with Swiss Olympic approving a feasibility study to consider hosting the 2030 or 2034 multi-sport European Championships. The study is to be completed by the fall of this year.
● Aquatics ● Hungarian media entrepreneur Tamas Gyarfas, 74, was sentenced to seven years in prison for “incitement to premeditated murder” in a Budapest court on Wednesday.
In February 1998, rival media star Janos Fenyo was murdered by hired Slovakian Jozef Rohac, using a silenced sub-machine gun on Fenyo’s car in the middle of a Budapest intersection. Gyarfas was convicted of working with a known criminal, Tomas Portik, to arrange the slaying; Portik was also sentenced to a life term over orchestrating the murder.
Gyarfas was deeply involved in aquatic sports for years, serving as the president of the Hungarian Swimming Federation and a longtime member of the FINA Bureau, the governing council of the international sports federation now known as World Aquatics. He was a FINA Vice President from 2013-17.
Rohac was sentenced to life in prison in 2012; Gyarfas was charged in 2018 after the case was re-opened with new evidence in 2017. Gyarfas has maintained his innocence throughout and said he had nothing to do with the killing. In 2019, he wrote to The Sports Examiner and declared, “You have to be sure that I didn’t commit any crime.”
The Budapest court did not agree.
● Basketball ● USA Basketball announced its coaches for the men’s and women’s 3×3 teams for Paris, with Joe Lewandowski to oversee the men and Jennifer Rizzotti to work with the women.
Lewandowski is widely experienced, and was the coach of the 2023 Pan American Games 3×3 gold medalists and the 2023 FIBA World Cup runners-up. Rizzotti coached the women’s gold medalists for the Pan Am Games, the FIBA World Cup and the FIBA AmeriCup.
Rizzotti, the President of the WNBA Connecticut Sun, is also the head of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Committee, which will select the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team.
● Football ● The newest wrinkle in football officiating could be blue.
Discussions are underway about the introduction of a “blue card” which would sideline a player who complains excessively with referees or for some technical violations for 10 minutes. A second infraction would result in disqualification. The British newspaper The Telegraph reported an imminent announcement of testing of the new sanction, in youth and lower-level league events for men and women, but FIFA said the matter will be discussed further in March.
● Ice Hockey ● USA Hockey appointed Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin as the general manager for the American team at the 2026 Olympic Winter Games, and the “4 Nations Face-Off” in 2025.
Guerin was a member of the first three NHL-involved Olympic teams in 1998-2002-2006, winning an Olympic team in 2002.
● Shooting ● At the ISSF World Cup in Rabat (MAR), Italy’s Mauro de Filippis, the 2019 Worlds runner-up in Trap, won over 48-year-old Beijing 2008 Olympic champ David Kostelecky (CZE), 46-45, in the Trap final. The women’s title went to Italy’s 2012 Olympic winner Jessica Rossi, 42-39 over Alessandra Perilli of San Marino, the Tokyo Olympic bronze winner.
American Ryann Phillips, 20, the 2023 World Junior Champion, got third at 39. The Skeet events will be held over the weekend.
● Sport Climbing ● “The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) has become the first International Federation to introduce comprehensive regulations related to Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (REDs), with the implementation of a new event policy for athletes ahead of the 2024 season.”
REDs has been identified as an issue in the sport, which the IFSC describes as “a syndrome that affects health and performance and is caused by a mismatch between the calories eaten and burned during exercise.” A push for climbers to eat too little in order to maintain a lower weight for competition has become a worrying issue.
The condition has been identified only by body mass index in the past, but this has proved to be too crude a measurement, so deeper data such as blood pressure and heart rate will be considered now, with testing to take place during the IFSC World Cup season in 2024.
● Swimming ● Canadian teen Summer McIntosh, 17, already a four-time World Champion, won a stunning upset over American star Katie Ledecky in the women’s 800 m Free in the Southern Zone South Section meet in Orlando, Florida.
Ledecky, the three-time Olympic champion in the event and favorite for Paris, was out-dueled, 8:11.39 to 8:17.12. McIntosh shattered her prior personal best of 8:20.19 and is the first one to beat Ledecky in an 800 m Free final since 2010!
McIntosh is now no. 2 all-time at the distance, although Ledecky still owns the top 16 performances all-time. The time further clouds McIntosh’s potential schedule for Paris; the 800 m Free final is in the same session as the 200 m Medley and McIntosh was the 2023 world leader at 2:06.89.
For our new, 920-event International Sports Calendar for 2024 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!