TSX REPORT: Paris 2024 village construction complete; Beijing awarded 2027 track & field Worlds; starting blocks end 400 m record ratification

Layout of the Paris 2024 Olympic Village in Saint-Denis (Photo: Solideo)

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1. Paris Olympic Village completion ceremony Thursday
2. Paris City Hall says no security secrets in stolen bag
3. Beijing awarded 2027 World Athletics Championships
4. Morales Williams’ 44.49 400 m “record” won’t be ratified
5. Paris swim schedule change will help France’s Marchand

● Construction of the Paris 2024 Olympic Village is Saint-Denis was completed on time and is being turned over to the organizing committee in a ceremony on Thursday. The complex will house more than 14,000 for the Olympic Games, then be used for community housing after the Olympic and Paralympic Games are concluded.

● A stolen bag off of a train caused a short panic in Paris as a city engineer lost a laptop and flash drives on Monday evening which might have contained security deployment information … but City Hall says it didn’t.

● Beijing was awarded the 2027 World Athletics Championships by the World Athletics Council and will be the third city to host the event twice. It also continues a hefty push by China for major championship events this decade, including Worlds in gymnastics and swimming.

● The men’s 400 m “world record” run of 44.49 by Canadian Christopher Morales Williams – running for Georgia – will not be ratified as the starting blocks at the SEC Championships at Arkansas because the starting blocks did not include the required reaction-time system.

● A Paris 2024 schedule change in swimming will help France’s Leon Marchand contend for a fourth individual gold, as the 31 July men’s 200 m Butterfly and 200 m Breaststroke have been moved apart by about an hour; they were back-to-back.

Panorama: Football (Canada finishes 3-0, wins Group C at CONCACAF W Gold Cup) = Gymnastics (Russian and Belarusian officials OK’d as technical delegates) = Ice Hockey (former Canadian juniors opt for jury trial in 2018 sex assault case) = Swimming (Montreal ‘76 U.S. women’s relay to be inducted into Int’l Swimming Hall of Fame) = Table Tennis (2: China sweeps World Team Champs again; ITTF shows healthy financials for 2022) ●

Schedule: The Sports Examiner will not appear at 12:05 a.m. Pacific time on Friday, but a recap of the first day of the World Athletics Indoor Championships will be sent shortly after the session end in Glasgow. ●

Paris Olympic Village completion ceremony Thursday

In the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, the Paris 2024 organizers will receive the ceremonial keys to the Olympic Village complex in the Saint-Denis section of Paris on Thursday, marking the completion of the construction of one of the key facilities for the 2024 Olympic Games.

The location of Saint-Denis is close to the Stade de France, which will be the site of track & field during the Games and is one of the poorest areas of Paris, chosen specifically to provide an economic lift.

After the Olympic and Paralympic Games are completed, the complex will be refitted to offer apartments for an estimated 6,000 people, with office space for another 6,000 and a nursery and elementary school on-site. The overall plan calls for 2,927 housing units of various types, two park areas, two gyms, a hotel and multiple office and shop areas, situated on both sides of the Seine River.

A review by The Associated Press noted that the construction effort created 2,000 jobs, of which 1,136 went to Saint-Denis-area residents. The story noted:

“The village cost about 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion), most of it investment by property developers but also including 646 million euros ($700 million) from public funds.”

It was built by the specially-created government agency for Olympic infrastructure, Solideo (Société de Livraison des Ouvrages Olympiques). Organized into five main residential zones, the buildings have no air conditioning in order to promote sustainability, but are cooled with water circulated through wooden floors.

For the Olympic Games, the residences will accommodate 14,000 athletes and team officials, and about 9,000 for the Paralympic Games. A long list of facilities for competition, training and everyday life will be provided:

● Dining hall for 3,260, ready to serve 40,000 meals a day
● Fitness center with 350 workout machines
● Training sites for seven other sports
● Village Plaza services hub (banking, post office)

The residences will house not more than two to a room, with a maximum of eight in any one apartment, with a ratio of beds to bathrooms of 4:1. The beds, made of cardboard, were designed for Tokyo 2020 and initially laughed at, but proved satisfactory and can be recycled after the Games.

Construction took less than three years, with no fatalities at the site, but with 21 serious injuries during the course of construction. But the project is now ready for the Olympic organizers and delivered as promised.

Paris City Hall says no security secrets in stolen bag

Sacre bleu! A major security scare in Paris, as a personal bag belonging to a Paris city engineer was stolen off a train at the Gare du Nord station just after 6:30 p.m. on Monday evening.

French channel BMFTV reported that while the bag was stashed in a compartment above his seat, it was gone when he got up to change trains. According to the Time Magazine report:

“The bag contained the engineer’s professional computer and two USB sticks that contain ‘sensitive’ data, according to BFMTV, namely Paris City Hall’s security plans for the Olympics, which includes the deployment of some 2,000 municipal police officers.”

Well, not quite. A Wednesday statement from the Paris city government explained (computer translation from the original French):

“Monday evening, February 26, an agent of the City of Paris filed a complaint in a 10th precinct borough as a result of the theft of its computer equipment. A judicial investigation is underway.

“The City of Paris works in close collaboration with the Prefecture of Police. The first checks made it possible to establish that the officer was not in possession of any information relating to the organization and deployment of law enforcement agencies during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“This computer equipment contained notes for internal use, relating to its work in the IT mission of the highways and travel directorate.

“All the necessary resets have been carried out in order to cut off all access to the city computer system.

“In the face of proven breaches of internal security procedures, at the request of the Mayor of Paris, the general inspectorate of the City of Paris has launched an investigation. Depending on the conclusions of this report, sanctions will be taken.”

Security footage from the train is being reviewed to try and identify the thief. The Paris 2024 security plan is expected to involve some 45,000 people, including private security staff as well as Paris police and the French military.

Beijing awarded 2027 World Athletics Championships

The 2027 World Athletics Championships was awarded to Beijing, China at Wednesday’s World Athletics Council meeting, making it only the third site to be awarded two track & field Worlds, following Helsinki (1983-2005) and Tokyo (1991-2025).

The choice became obvious when Rome, host of the 1987 Worlds, pulled out. The Italian news agency ANSA reported that the bid from Rome – which will host the 2024 European Athletics Championships in June – vaporized when the Italian government would not guarantee an €85 million (about $92.12 million U.S.) share of the projected €130 million (~$140.88 million U.S.) cost of hosting the meet.

The 2027 China Worlds will be boosted by another important decision made Wednesday:

“The World Athletics Council has approved a proposal to restructure the summer track and field season from 2025 onwards. … Each season from 2025 onwards will end with the World Athletics Championships, meaning there is a clear season climax during a defined window in mid-September.”

It was not disclosed how this much-suggested schedule change will impact the Diamond League schedule, which has its own final meet that decides its seasonal champions.

There has been considerable talk about a World Athletics Championships to be held in Africa, especially in Nairobi (KEN), but in the discussions for the 2025 Worlds – awarded to Tokyo – World Athletics was clear that a better stadium situation was needed. That is apparently still the case.

For China, the award of the 2027 Worlds continues its new round of bids and awards for major events:

2025: Nanjing for the World Athletics Indoor Championships (re-scheduled from 2020 and 2023).

2025: Chengdu for the World University Games.

2027: Chengdu for the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

2029: Beijing for the World Aquatics Championships, announced on 11 February 2024.

Beijing also hosted the 2022 Olympic Winter Games as well as the 2008 Olympic Games. This will be the second consecutive World Athletics Champs in Asia, following Tokyo next year.

A codification of a continuing practice was also finalized:

“The World Athletics Council has also approved the systematic use of all nine lanes (when available) for semifinals and finals in the laned events (sprints and all races up to and including 800m) at the World Athletics Championships. This will be built into the race progression conditions from 2025. This new policy will see the first three from each semifinal advance to the final, where nine athletes/teams would compete.”

It is important to note the words “when available,” as this change should not be read as requiring nine lanes to be installed in an existing facility. But it signals a preference for nine lanes in any new construction.

Morales Williams’ 44.49 400 m “record” won’t be ratified

The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association posted Tuesday:

“The 44.49 that Christopher Morales Williams of @UGATrack ran this past weekend in the 400 meters at the @SEC Indoor Championships will remain an all-time world best since it can’t be ratified due to an issue with the starting blocks. CMW was drug tested after the competition, so that wasn’t an issue.”

Morales Williams, a Georgia sophomore from Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, won the SEC Indoor Championships at Fayetteville, Arkansas, will not get credit for a world indoor record due to a lack of a reaction-time system linked to the starting blocks.

World Athletics rule 31.14.5 specifies:

“For performances up to and including 400m (including 4 × 200m and 4 × 400m) under Rules 32 and 34 of the Competition Rules, starting blocks linked to a World Athletics certified Start Information System under Rule 15.2 of the Technical Rules must have been used and have functioned correctly so that reaction times were obtained and are shown on the results of the event.”

No connected blocks, no records.

This means that the ratified world record will revert back to the 2005 mark by American Kerron Clement of 44.57m also set in Fayetteville! It also means that the two best performances in history – Morales Williams’ 44.49 and the 44.52 by Michael Norman (USA) in 2018 at the NCAA Indoor meet – are both unratified.

The next question is whether the 2024 NCAA meet at the nearly-new Track at New Balance facility in Boston will have the proper system, in case Morales Williams gets loose again. One would think so.

Morales Williams was about as surprised as anyone with the record, since he didn’t feel well prior to the race. He told the CBC:

“I went to go eat lunch. I had barely any of it, and then I just started to throw up, when I was about to leave for the bus.

“Immediately after that, everything started to go downhill. I felt so tired even though I had just taken a three-hour nap. I felt really weak. The whole warm-up, I couldn’t even stand for pretty much most of it because I was out of breath. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run that day. But I think that helped me because I wasn’t really nervous so much about the race anymore.

“I really wanted to run because I worked so hard to get here.

“When I got to about 120 meters to go, I felt amazing, I just didn’t feel that tired at all, so I just kept running, and then I realized, I really want to win this race.”

Paris swim schedule change will help France’s Marchand

French swimming star Leon Marchand – who also swims collegiately at Arizona State – won the 2023 World Championship golds in the 200 m Butterfly, 200 m Medley and 400 m Medley. On the 2023 world lists, he ranked first in the 200 m Fly and 400 m Medley, second in the 200 m Medley and third in the 200 m Breaststroke.

And now it appears he will be able to compete in all four of these events.

USA Swimming posted a notice of a change to its schedule for the forthcoming U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis for 19 and 20 June, “[m]atching the announced change to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games event order.”

The change that involved Marchand:

“On June 19, the women’s 200m butterfly semifinal and men’s 200m breaststroke final will swap places, making the butterfly event the third race of the evening while the breaststroke event will be the seventh.”

This means that Marchand, who faced possible back-to-back finals in the men’s 200 m Fly and 200 m Breast, now will have four events between them, including the women’s 1,500 m final. That’s going to give him an hour’s rest and make it possible to compete in both finals.

Marchand’s coaches, including legendary ASU mentor Bob Bowman, have not said what Marchand’s program in Paris will be, but this opens the door to four individual events as well as possibly the men’s 4×200 m Free relay:

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)

The 4×200 m Free relay will still be a challenge, as the final is on 30 July, right after the 200 m Breast semifinals. But Marchand now has a path to swim four individual events, all of which he will be either the favorite to win, or for a medal.

Look for him to be the local star of the first week of the Games for the hosts. Magnifique!


● Football ● Group-stage play concluded at the first CONCACAF W Gold Cup in Houston, with Canada winning Group C with a 3-0 shutout of Costa Rica. Striker Jordyn Huitema scored on a header in the 11th minute and defender Shelina Zadowsky scored on headers in the 27th and 57th minutes. The Canadians had 12 shots to one for Costa Rica.

Canada won the group at 3-0 (nine points) and advances to the quarterfinals, which begin on Saturday at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles. The upper bracket has Canada vs. Costa Rica on Saturday and the U.S. vs. Colombia on Sunday. The lower bracket matches are Brazil vs. Argentina (!) on Saturday and Mexico vs. Paraguay on Sunday. The semifinals are on 6 March in San Diego. 

● Gymnastics ● The Executive Committee of the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique agreed to allow Russian and Belarusian officials to act as technical delegates outside of Europe:

“The EC agreed to the proposal to allow RUS and BLR Technical Committee Members to act as Technical Delegates (TD) at the Continental Championships (except Europe to avoid any conflict of interest), when a TD is requested by the Continental Union. This decision enters into force with immediate effect and is applicable to all Disciplines.”

● Ice Hockey ● The five Canadian players accused of sexual assault as members of a national junior team in 2018 have been granted a jury trial, with the next hearing in the case scheduled for 30 April.

Former NHL player Alex Formenton and current NHL players Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames and Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils have been charged. The NHL said that it will wait for the criminal case to conclude; all four NHL players are currently on leave and all will be free agents at the end of the season.

● Swimming ● The International Swimming Hall of Fame named its Class of 2024, including 10 athletes, with induction ceremonies on 5 October in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The swimming honorees include 2000 Olympic 100 m Fly gold medalist (and nine-time Worlds gold winner) Lars Frolander (SWE), breaststroke star Daniel Gyurta (HUN), who won Olympic silver in 2004 and gold in 2012 in the men’s 200 m Breast; American Dana Vollmer, the London 2012 women’s 100 m Fly winner and on four gold-medal-winning relays in 2004-12-16, and the fabled Montreal 1976 American Olympic women’s 4×100 m Free relay champions: Shirley Babashoff, Wendy Boglioli, Kim Peyton and Jill Sterkel.

Diver Alexander Despatie (CAN) is the only man to win all three World titles – 1 m, 3 m and 10 m – in his career, as well as two Olympic silvers, and Yuliya Pakhalima (RUS) won three Worlds golds and captured – with Vera Ilyina – the first women’s 3 m Synchro Olympic gold in 2000.

Virginie Dedieu (FRA), who won three straight Worlds gold in the women’s Solo in Artistic Swimming and water polo stars “Lilli” Allucci (ITA) – a 2004 Olympic gold medalist – and Moscow 1980 Olympic champ Vladimir Akimov (USSR) were honored in their disciplines.

American coach Dennis Pursley – the first U.S. National Team Director – will be inducted as will FINA Treasurer and long-time U.S. and international administrator Dale Neuburger. It’s the second recent major honor for Neuburger, who received the George M. Steinbrenner III Sport Leadership Award from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee in December.

● Table Tennis ● The ITTF World Team Championships finished in Busan (KOR) on the weekend, with China triumphing twice again, this time with a 3-0 shutout of France in the men’s final and 3-2 over Japan in the women’s final.

The men’s title was the 11th in a row for China – since Sweden won in 2000 – and sixth in a row for the women (Singapore won in 2010). Meng Chen was on the winning Chinese women’s team for the fifth consecutive time; Japan was the women’s runner-up for the fifth straight championship, and Mima Ito has been on four of those in a row.

Chinese star Long Ma, 35, said this would be his last championship, after winning five Olympic golds from 2012-20, and he won his ninth (!) Worlds Team gold in succession: 2006-08-10-12-14-16-18-22-24.

The ITTF Annual General Meeting was also held in Busan, with the 2022 financial statements available, showing the federation in reasonably good condition.

Unlike many others, the ITTF has a solid commercial base of events and sponsorships, and is not totally dependent on Olympic television money. It is in the third tier of federations for IOC TV shares, receiving $17.31 million for both Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

At the end of 2022, the ITTF showed $36.76 million in total assets and reserves of $14.22 million. It had $36.81 million in 2022 revenues, of which only $4.47 million was Olympic television cash, which the federation spreads out over a four-year period.

However, expenses were $39.76 million for a loss of $2.95 million for the year. Sponsorships and television rights for its own properties was $26.42 million for 2022 and event income was $3.16 million, both healthy figures.

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