TSX REPORT: Queensland considered returning 2032 Games; IOC creates approval committee for Paris ‘24 “neutrals”; boxing not assured for LA28

The International Olympic Committee's flag for "neutrals" at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games (Photo: IOC)

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1. Queensland government considered abandoning 2032 Olympics
2. IOC: three-member team to approve Russia-Belarus 2024 entries
3. IOC rips Russian “Friendship Games” as politicization of sport
4. IOC’s McConnell says boxing may not be in LA28 Games
5. Bach’s re-run decision asked to be disclosed post-Paris

● A report from 9News Queensland said that the Queensland government considered abandoning the 2032 Olympic Games in view of controversies over costs and venues, but decided to continue moving forward. But the politicians are now aflame.

● The International Olympic Committee appointed three of its members – including former basketball star Pau Gasol – as a review committee to approve and invite individual Russian and Belarusian athletes to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Projections forecast 36 Russians and 22 Belarusians in Paris; no of these “neutrals” will be in the parade of nations in the Paris opening.

● The IOC released a stern condemnation of Russia’s “World Friendship Games,” slated for September, calling it a blatant “politicization” of the sport and noting that governments – not sports authorities – were being pressured to send athletes to the event.

● Kit McConnell, the IOC Sports Director said that if national boxing federations do not come together in a new international federation, probably by 2026, the sport will not be included on the LA28 sports program. The International Boxing Association will not be involved as it has been de-recognized; the new World Boxing group has 27 members at present.

● The IOC Ethics Commission asked President Thomas Bach not to reveal his decision on whether to accept calls for a third term – which would require a change to the Olympic Charter – until the close of the Paris 2024 Games, in order to keep the focus away from the issue.

Panorama: Paris 2024 (2: IOC readmits Guatemala; FIBA draw for basketball announced) = Los Angeles 2028 (new mixed-team in golf appears likely) = U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (House and Senate hearings on Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics coming Wednesday and Thursday) = Swimming (2: IOC’s Coates says World Aquatics free to look into medal revisions regarding GDR doping; what in the gift box for swimmers at this week’s women’s NCAAs?) = Water Polo (Neushul headlines Hall of Fame Class of ‘24) ●

Queensland government considered abandoning 2032 Olympics

A stunning report by 9News Queensland political editor Tim Arvier on Tuesday that the Queensland government looked into renouncing the 2032 Olympic Games in view of rising costs:

“Tonight I can reveal the Queensland government sought advice and considered canceling the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games.

“Amid controversy and public backlash over stadium plans, including the knock-down and rebuild of the Gabba, the government asked for advice about the potential cost and legal fall-out involved in abandoning the Games.”

Arvier said he was told that the reply was that getting out of hosting the 2032 Games would cost at least A$500 million in compensation. Moreover, promises attached to the Games of A$3 billion in funding from the Australian federal government would have been canceled. (A$1 = $0.65 U.S.)

Against this, the Queensland government decided to go ahead with the 2032 Games, not only because of the “better value for taxpayers” but also for the state’s reputation.

The disclosure of the cancellation inquiry came only nine months after the Australian state of Victoria pulled out of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games over projections of high costs and had to pay A$380 million to the Commonwealth Games Federation as compensation.

The Host City Contract for 2032 does not include any provision for Queensland to back out of its hosting responsibilities, or any specification of damages to be paid in such a case; it would have to be negotiated as was the case with Victoria and the Commonwealth Games and would have been far higher than the quoted A$500 million figure.

Loud discussions erupted in the Queensland legislature on Tuesday as the governing Labor Party and its opponents sparred over the recommendations of the independent Sport Venue Review released Monday and the government’s response, which scrapped both the A$2.7 billion demolition and re-building of the Gabba and the building of a new stadium in Victoria Park (at A$3.4 billion). Instead, the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre will be renovated to host track & field and Suncorp Stadium – known as Lang Park for events which do not allow sponsor names, like the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Olympic Games – will be upgraded for ceremonies and other events.

Observed: A renunciation of the 2032 Games by Queensland would have deeply injured Australia’s reputation as a mega-event host after the Commonwealth Games pull-out in 2023. The injured innocent bystander in all of this is the Brisbane 2032 organizing committee, which is ready to use whatever venues are made available to it.

The current, Labor-controlled Queensland government continues to work with the national government on a spending plan agreed ahead of the award of the Brisbane Games in 2021. Australian media are already asking questions of Liberal National Party state leader David Crisafulli – the leader of the opposition – about what will happen if the LNP takes power in the October elections.

And there was no shortage of glee from Daniel Mookhey (Labor), the Treasurer of New South Wales, where the 2000 Olympic Games was staged in Sydney: “We’ve set a very high standard for Queensland to reach, and if they can’t do it, they should give me a call.”

IOC: three-member committee will approve Russia-Belarus 2024 entries

The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board met online on Tuesday and issued multiple directives aimed at Russian sport, at Russian and Belarusian participation at Paris 2024 and more.

Of immediate impact was the naming of a high-profile, three-member commission of IOC members that will determine which Russian and Belarusian athletes will be able to participate as “neutrals” at Paris 2024:

● Nicole Hoevertsz (ARU), IOC Vice President (chair)
● Pau Gasol (ESP), IOC Ethics Commission
● Seung-min Ryu (KOR), IOC Athletes Commission

This is yet another high-profile position for Hoevertsz, 59, an Aruban lawyer who was a synchronized swimmer at the 1984 Los Angeles Games and chairs the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. She has been whispered as a possible future IOC President and this will give her significant additional exposure.

Gasol, 43, is the well-known basketball superstar who won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, the 2006 FIBA World Cup with Spain and Olympic medals with Spain in 2008-12 (silvers) and 2016 (bronze). Ryu, 41, was the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in men’s table tennis and won two more team medals in 2008 (bronze) and 2012 (silver).

This “Individual Neutral Athlete Eligibility Review Panel” (AINERP) will actually review and then decide which Russian and Belarusian “neutrals” will be allowed to compete in Paris. They will be assisted by IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Paquerette Girard Zappelli (FRA); the appointments are effective immediately and the group will meet as often as needed – daily at some point – for their reviews.

The AINERP will invite approved Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris, but also continue to review their conduct and could revoke the invitation to compete. The IOC’s standards for ineligibility continue to be:

● “Athletes who actively support the war will not be eligible to be entered or to compete. Support personnel who actively support the war will not be entered.”

● “Athletes who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies will not be eligible to be entered or to compete. Support personnel who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies will not be entered.”

The IOC’s Director of National Olympic Committee relations, James Macleod (GBR) told reporters on Tuesday that Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be required to sign a separate document condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but will have to sign the same “Conditions of Participation” as all other athletes competing in Paris.

The IOC’s current count and projections on Russian and Belarusian qualifiers:

● 12 Russian and 7 Belarusians qualified for Paris so far
● 36 Russian and 22 Belarusians likely to quality
● 54 Russian and 28 Belarusians could possibly qualify

It was noted that “qualification” is not the same as “invited,” as the IOC’s review panel will make those decisions.

The Executive Board also agreed on a flag for the “AIN” athletes and a dignified but energetic “anthem” that will be played at any victory ceremony in which a “neutral” wins a gold medal (and was written for and is owned by the IOC).

Further, AIN athletes will not be allowed to participate in the parade of nations in the Paris 2024 opening, but will be allowed to “experience” the ceremony (meaning they will be there), but no decision on the closing has been made as yet.

IOC rips Russian “Friendship Games” as politicization of sport

News releases or statements from the International Olympic Committee are usually calm, polite and precise. Which is why the loud and condemnatory style of Tuesday’s statement on Russia’s “World Friendship Games” in September was dramatic:

“The IOC notes that, contrary to the Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter and the resolutions by the UN General Assembly, the Russian government intends to organise purely politically motivated sports events in Russia. The Russian government created and funded the ‘International Friendship Association’ (IFA), in order to host the summer and winter ‘Friendship Games.’

“Apparently, the first edition of the ‘Summer Friendship Games’ is planned to be held in Moscow and Ekaterinburg, Russia, in September 2024, and the ‘Winter Friendship Games’ in Sochi, Russia, in 2026.

“For this purpose, the Russian government has launched a very intensive diplomatic offensive by having government delegations and ambassadors, as well as ministerial and other governmental authorities, approaching governments around the world. To make their purely political motivation even more obvious, they are deliberately circumventing the sports organisations in their target countries. This is a blatant violation of the Olympic Charter and an infringement of the various UN resolutions at the same time.

“It is a cynical attempt by the Russian Federation to politicise sport. The IOC Athletes’ Commission, representing all the Olympic athletes of the world, clearly opposes using athletes for political propaganda. The Commission even sees the risk of athletes being forced by their governments into participating in such a fully politicised sports event, thereby being exploited as part of a political propaganda campaign.

“The Russian government also shows total disrespect for the global anti-doping standards and the integrity of competitions. This is the very same government which was implicated in the systemic doping programme at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 and, later, the manipulation of anti-doping data.”

The concerns of the World Anti-Doping Agency over the World Friendship Games was also stated, as the Russian Anti-Doping Agency remains non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.

The IOC statement interestingly did not call out the BRICS Games to be held in Kazan (RUS) from 12-23 June (BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), but focused on the World Friendship Games from 15-29 September. The Russian news agency TASS reported in 2023 that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the event, with prize money of RUB 4.6 billion (about $49.772 million U.S.), and top prizes of $40,000, $25,000 and $17,000.

Asked directly whether the IOC sees the World Friendship Games as a threat, NOC Relations director Macleod said no, but that the event was politicizing sport and was therefore dangerous. The IOC’s bottom line:

“The IOC strongly urges all stakeholders of the Olympic Movement and all governments to reject any participation in, and support of, any initiative that intends to fully politicise international sport.”

IOC’s McConnell says boxing may not be in LA28 Games

Boxing’s place at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles is not assured, and requires the formation of a new International Federation which can govern the sport going forward.

IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell (NZL) told reporters on Tuesday that with the withdrawal of recognition from the International Boxing Association, the future of the sport for 2028 is uncertain:

“The IOC E.B. made it clear, once again, that this must be the last time that such a process can be undertaken by the IOC. Following the decision by the IOC Session last year, the inclusion of boxing in the LA28 Olympic programme is on hold and not confirmed.

“If there is no boxing body supported and driven by the National Federations, we will not be in a position to include boxing in the Olympic programme.

“So it’s now up to the National Federations to drive this change and to work to create a body that we can work in partnership with, because we cannot move forward with this current situation.

“The IOC Session in Mumbai in 2023 also made it clear that the IBA will not be involved in the organisation of the boxing tournament at LA28, should boxing be included in the sports programme.”

The long tug-of-war between the IOC and the IBA ended last June with the removal of that federation as the IOC-approved governing body for boxing, and it has sailed off on its own program of mostly professional-style championships while still arranging for regional and world championships of its own.

World Boxing, which was formally launched in 2023, was created by breakaway national federations looking for a worldwide governing body devoted to Olympic-style boxing and the development of tournaments focused on that format.

It reported 27 member federations at its November 2023 founding Congress and expects to have 50 by the end of 2024, but that it far short of being a worldwide governing body on the Olympic level.

Asked what the deadline for a new worldwide federation for boxing would be to keep the sport on the LA28 program, McConnell said that 2027 would be too late; implying that 2026 might be the cut-off point for inclusion or exclusion in 2028. Thus, McConnell’s call for national federations to quickly figure out their Olympic future, which – he underlined – will not be with the IBA.

Bach’s re-run decision asked to be disclosed post-Paris

At the IOC’s October 2023 Session in Mumbai (IND), Algerian member Mustapha Berraf caused a sensation, asking on behalf of the 16 African members that President Thomas Bach (GER) stay on in view of the multiple crises surrounding the Olympic Movement:

“President Thomas Bach should be allowed to carry out an additional term of office, which would allow the IOC to go through this period of torment with a President who has proved his mettle, and which will allow the IOC to prepare a transition in a very much more serene manner.”

Berraf’s suggestion was endorsed by three other members, but it was noted that to allow a third term – Bach was elected to an eight-year first term in 2013 and for a four-year second term in 2021 – the Olympic Charter would need to be amended.

On Tuesday, the IOC Ethics Commission sent a message to the Executive Board concerning the “directives” for the next IOC election for president, read by IOC spokesman Mark Adams (GBR) at the post-meeting news conference:

“The directives are currently being reviewed, as mentioned during the IOC Session in Mumbai. The principles which apply during the two previously election processes will remain in place.

“Considering the new media, social media and digital landscape, the text will be updated accordingly. The 2024 version will be finalized by the IOC Ethics Commission during its next institutional meeting before the Olympic summer.

“The view of these directives is important, since there will be an election – as we all know – in 2025, and these rules will have to apply during all future election processes.

“In relation to the IOC President’s decision regarding the election, it is clear that the timing of such a decision, may create a high risk of overshadowing the course of the Olympic Games, as well as the election campaign itself.

“Therefore, in order to protect this election process, it is recommended to the IOC President to postpone any such a decision until the end of the Olympic Games.

“In the event that the Olympic Charter may need to be amended, this can be organized at any time by a postal vote by the IOC members.”

Bach has not said publicly whether he would agree to run for an additional term, and said he would discuss it privately with those who are supporting the idea. It’s an especially difficult question for Bach, since he helped to form the current guidelines in the re-write of the election regulations in the revision of the Charter in 1999.

The Executive Board adopted the recommendation, so expect to hear nothing one way or the other from Bach until August. But the chatter will continue unabated.


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● More from the IOC Executive Board, which provisionally lifted its suspension of the National Olympic Committee of Guatemala, and which is trying to arrange a gender-balanced team from Afghanistan for Paris, despite Taliban restrictions on women in sports.

FIBA held the draw for the Paris 2024 Olympic tournament on Tuesday, with the U.S. men and women both drawn into Group C. The groups, with current FIBA World Rankings; four men’s slots will be filled by the winners of the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments to be held in Spain, Latvia, Greece and Puerto Rico from 2-7 July.

A: Australia (5), Canada (7), OQT Greece, OQT Spain
B: France (9), Germany (3), Japan (26), OQT Latvia
C: Serbia (4), South Sudan (33), United States (1), OQT Puerto Rico

A: Serbia (10), Spain (4), China (2), Puerto Rico (11)
B: Canada (5), Nigeria (12), Australia (3), France (7)
C: Germany (19), United States (1), Japan (9), Belgium (6)

The U.S. are going for their fifth Olympic gold in a row, and the women for their eighth straight in Paris and have won 55 Olympic matches in a row.

● Olympic Games 2028: Los Angeles ● The Associated Press reported that in addition to men’s and women’s tournaments in golf, a two-day, mixed-team event could be added after the Grant Thornton Invitational mixed-team event that debuted in 2023 was well received by players.

Discussions are apparently advanced and the event could be announced as early as next month. The 2028 venue for golf is the famed Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles.

● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● Two Congressional hearings are scheduled this week as follow-ups to the report of the Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics, primarily focused on continuing questions of athlete abuse.

On Wednesday (20 March), a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security, will have a 2:30 p.m. (Eastern time) hearing titled “Promoting a Safe Environment in U.S. Athletics.”

On Thursday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will have a hearing on “Timeout: Evaluating Safety Measures Implemented to Protect Athletes” at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.

The Associated Press reported on draft legislation which would follow up on the Commission report recommendations for federal funding for SafeSport, a new federal agency to govern youth sports, and create a fully independent Athletes Advisory Commission. The name of the “Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act” would also be changed.

● Swimming ● Longtime British swimming writer Craig Lord, writing on his StateofSwimming.com site, headlined a Monday story, “Olympic VP Coates Gives World Aquatics Green Light To Trigger Action On GDR Doping Era.”

He referred to IOC Vice President John Coates (AUS), explaining:

“Coates confirmed that the IOC has held talks with World Aquatics and while emphasising that there are currently no plans to retrospectively present Olympic medals to any athletes who missed out, he confirmed that the IOC would not block any decisions made by international federations such as World Aquatics and World Athletics, both of which have made a commitment to reconciliation and recognition for the victims of the victims of GDR doping.

“‘We wouldn’t stop them,’ Coates said. ‘It’s their responsibility. But the IOC, and I think there’s been discussions (although) I wasn’t involved in them, have just pointed out the risk that you run in exposing yourself.’”

Coates refers to potential legal issues and possible blowback from those individuals whose medals would be revoked, but Lord notes that it’s a different tone from a senior IOC officials compared to prior statement that the issue is dead and buried over too much time.

SwimSwam.com pointed out a Florida International University Instagram post, of a video showing the gift box given to NCAA Championships participants for this year’s meet at the University of Georgia:

“The gift box includes a Yeti with the meet shown on it, an NCAA patch, a qualifier medallion, Ray Ban sunglasses, a towel, and a Powerade water bottle.”

● Water Polo ● USA Water Polo announced its 40th Hall of Fame class, headlined in three-time World Champion and Olympic gold medalist Kiley Neushul.

Neushul was a member of the 2016 Olympic winners in Rio and the World Championships gold-medal teams in 2015-17-19. She will be joined by one of her Olympic coaches, Chris Oeding, who was a two-time water polo Olympian for the U.S. in 1996 and 2000, and has been a U.S. assistant coach beginning in 2013 and on his way to Paris for 2024.

Also in this year’s class are coaches Doug Peabody and Ken Smith. Peabody has been one of the finest age-group and high school in America, working in the San Diego area and also coaching U.S. Cadet and Junior national teams. Smith was a two-time UCLA All-American under coach Bob Horn in the 1960s and went on to coach dozens of championship teams at legendary Punahou School in Hawaii.

The induction ceremonies will take place on 7 June in Claremont, California.

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