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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Brisbane 2032 legacy vision underlines Games limitations
2. U.S. swimmers finish in top-10 in 33 of 34 events in 2023
3. Compromise: U.S. marathon trials to start at 10 a.m.
4. Russia hits back at Bach’s slap at Friendship Games
5. Saudi funding to re-arrange pro cycling?
● Queensland released a 68-page Legacy Strategy plan for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, looking ahead to how the event could impact the area not only for the 10-year lead-up, but for the 10 years after, to 2042. A lot of the goals are in areas that should be attended to whether the Games are there or not, but an in-depth analysis shows there might be a legacy breakthrough opportunity in an undiscovered area that could be significant.
● A breakdown of the top performers in swimming in 2023 showed that U.S. athletes had at least one place in the top 10 in 33 of 34 individual events! Australia was next with 26 and while there were 85 American performers on the top-10 lists, no other nation had more than 44. Wow.
● A compromise start time of 10 a.m. was announced for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando, Florida on 3 February 2024, two hours earlier than the first-announced noon start. The weather will be cooler, but could still be in the 70s!
● Russian politicians – not sports officials – hit back hard at International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach and his Monday caution to the International Federations against participation in the Russia-hosted BRICS Games next June or its World Friendship Games in September.
● Reports in British media revealed that the Saudi Public Investment Fund is working on a plan to support and re-arrange the men’s professional cycling tour, adding to their investments in auto racing, football, golf and others. Whether the sport’s biggest players will agree is unknown.
● World Championships: Football (U.S. among the undefeateds so far at FIFA men’s U-17 World Cup) ●
● Panorama: Deaflympics (2: Canada withdraws over Middle East conflict; ICSD signs agreement with United World Wrestling) = Aquatics (Qatar offering travel packages for 2024 Worlds) = Cycling (riders who made racist video in China disciplined by UCI) = Football (UEFA and adidas announce “connected ball” for EURO 2024) ●
Brisbane 2032 legacy vision underlines Games limitations
“This is a vision of what is possible and it is the first step on our legacy journey. As we move collectively towards the Games, we will also need the energy, participation and commitment of our diverse communities and vibrant businesses to bring Elevate 2042 to life. This way we can ensure we make the most of the very special opportunity to shape our future the Games provides to all of us.”
A 68-page research and strategy document produced by the Queensland government titled “Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games Legacy Strategy” was released on 10 November and outlined a shared vision of what Brisbane and Queensland could be in 2042, 10 years after the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It’s ambitious and forthright, reflecting a disciplined process of input from the public, divided into four sectors of effort and a total of 15 themes. This is a potentially important roadmap, which is aspirational, but also at odds with what the current view of the Olympic Games should be. The sectors and themes:
● Sport, health and inclusion
1. An active and healthy lifestyle
2. A high performance sports system
3. Equity in sports participation
● Connecting people and places
4. A more connected and accessible South East Queensland
5. Creating more great places and precincts
6. Celebrating First Nations cultures, languages and stories
● A better future for our environment
7. Caring for country together
8. Maximizing sustainability benefits
9. Protecting and regenerating habitat and biodiversity
10. Accelerating the transition to renewable energy
● Economy of the future
11. Advancing our global image and identity
12. Made in Queensland, growing local and small business
13. Advancing equitable economic participation
14. Encouraging innovation, future jobs and sectors
15. Fostering arts, culture and creativity
Surrounding these concepts are two mandates, “Respecting, advancing and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples” and “Advancing accessibility and empowering people with disability.”
The overarching vision is expressed as “By 2042, we will live in an inclusive, sustainable and connected society, with more opportunities in life for everyone.” But the report says – on page four – that there are limits:
“The delivery of two significant global events acknowledged for their athletes-first focus and exceptional spectator and fan experiences, is at the heart of our endeavour. More than this, we have committed to deliver a positive meaningful legacy before, during and after the Games – one that advances the sustainable development of our region and deepens the relationships between our communities.
“Whilst the legacy from the Games can do many things, it cannot do everything. Creating a clear and compelling view of future success specific to our context and community will be the starting point for legacy planning, setting out what we want to achieve and where to focus our endeavours to provide the greatest opportunities for transforming lives.”
For the most part, the sectors and themes are macro-economic and cultural targets that are desirable regardless of whether the Olympic Games will come to Brisbane or not. The projected Brisbane 2032 organizing committee’s budget is A$5 billion, or about $3.25 billion U.S. across the ten years from 2023-32, against a Queensland gross domestic product of A$447.49 billion for 2022 alone (~ $291.32 billion U.S.).
It’s a high-profile drop in the bucket.
But there will be economic impact created by the 2032 Games. Those targets are already established, as the report notes (A$1 = $0.65 U.S.):
“Research forecast the Games will deliver circa $8.1 billion AUD in direct social and economic benefits to the Queensland economy ($17.6 billion AUD nationally) including increased trade and tourism of $4.6 billion AUD to Queensland ($8.5 billion AUD nationally).”
And there is no doubt that the Games, as one of the most recognizable events in the world, will attract a lot of attention, locally, nationally and internationally. The Legacy Strategy study notes that these need to be taken advantage of in the right way.
Observed: The hoped-for outcomes in the study are good goals for any society, but will not be driven by the Olympic and Paralympic Games, especially now.
The desire to host an Olympic Games in the past was often related to construction and rebuilding. Japan wanted the 1964 Games to show it had emerged from the nationalist disaster of World War II. Munich won the right to stage the Games of the XX Olympiad in 1966, just more than 20 years after the end of the war, with the idea to rebuild an area which had been a collector site for rubble from Allied bombing. London ran after the 2012 Games in order to rejuvenate its East End, which needed redevelopment.
That’s over. The International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Agenda 2020 and Olympic Agenda 2020+5 now urge host cities to build nothing, use existing or temporary sites and be as economical with energy, infrastructure and waste as technically possible.
And all the chatter in Queensland these days is over the cost of the government’s plans to refurbish the famed Brisbane Cricket Ground (The Gabba) and build a new arena nearby for A$2.7 billion (~$1.76 billion U.S.).
It will be fascinating to see how the Brisbane 2032 organizers try to take on some of these themes, from the government’s legacy strategy. Certainly themes 6 (celebrating First Nations), 10 (renewable energy) and the economic areas (11-15) can be demonstrated. If the organizers get excited, they could serve as a generator for best-practice templates that can be rolled out to the public and private sectors after the Games … if they are successful.
If any of this really works, perhaps the real legacy from Brisbane will be how governments at all levels and the private sector can actually work together. That would be an almost unimaginable breakthrough to be emulated in cities, states and nations around the world for the next century.
U.S. swimmers finish in top-10 in 33 of 34 events in 2023
There’s depth and then there’s placing one or more swimmers in the top-10 in the world in 33 of 34 individual events in 2023. That’s what USA Swimming has done in The Sports Examiner’s review of 2023. Impressive to say the least!
In the men’s individual events – 14 Olympic events and three 50 m events added for the World Championships – the U.S. had at least one top-10 performer this year in 13 of 14 and 16 of 17 events. And the American men had by far the most top-10 swimmers among all countries (counting all 17 events):
● 1. United States, 33 top-10 performers
● 2. Australia and China, 14
● 4. Russia, 12
● 5. France and Germany, 11
● 7. Japan, 10
● 8. Great Britain, 9
● 9. Hungary and Italy, 8
The only event in which the U.S. did not have a performer was in the 400 m Freestyle, where David Johnston ranked 14th at 3:45.75.
Among the women, Australia is a stronger competitor to the U.S., but the American women also scored a top-10 performer in all 17 events and averaged more than three top-10 performers in each event! The numbers:
● 1. United States, 52 top-10 performers
● 2. Australia, 30
● 3. China, 18
● 4. Canada, 14
● 5. Italy and Japan, 6
● 7. Netherlands, 5
● 8. Great Britain, Russia, South Africa and Sweden, 4
The U.S. depth was so strong, there were two events – the 200 m Backstroke and 100 m Butterfly – where Americans held five of the top-10 rankings!
Added together, the U.S., Australia and China are the world’s strongest swimming nations by depth of performers (34 events total):
● 1. United States, 85 top-10 performers (in 33 events!)
● 2. Australia, 44 (in 26)
● 3. China, 32 (in 25)
● 4. Canada, 17 (in 14)
● 5. Russia, 16 (in 14)
● 6. Japan, 16 (in 12)
● 7. Italy and Germany 14 (both in 9)
● 9. France, 13 (in 12)
● 10. Great Britain, 13 (in 9)
These power rankings correspond well – but not exactly – with the medal count at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships for swimming, where the U.S. led with 38 medals (7-20-11), followed by Australia (25: 13-7-5), then China with 16 (5-3-8). Great Britain (8), France (6), Canada (6) and Italy (6) came next. Russia was not allowed to compete and Japan (two medals) and Germany (one) did not perform as well at the Worlds as their seasonal results showed.
Compromise: U.S. marathon trials to start at 10 a.m.
After a furious back-and-forth between athletes, USA Track & Field and the Orlando organizers and race directors, a compromise was announced on the start time of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on 3 February 2024:
“In collaboration and consultation with feedback from the athletes regarding concerns around weather conditions, it has been agreed that the start time for the event will be moved to 10:00 a.m. ET.
“The decision to bring forward the start time to 10:00 a.m. ET was made following extensive meetings to address the concerns of athletes. The USOPC, USATF and GO Sports worked closely together to consult all stakeholders to ensure the best solution for all involved. After extensive scenario planning and multiple conversations with partners, a collective decision to bring the start time forward was made. The earlier start time will help provide an improved experience for athletes, spectators, and event staff, ensuring the comfort and safety of all involved. Additionally, robust contingency plans will be in place for further adjustments should projected weather conditions make it necessary.”
The original announced start time of 12 p.m. Eastern time was supposedly to support a live national telecast on NBC, but it was later apparent that the interest in this time was elsewhere, either with the Greater Orlando Sports Commission or USA Track & Field. The race directors, Track Shack, said in a reply to an athlete letter that the federation wanted the noon start and suggested an 8 a.m. start.
But all sides are now agreed on the 10 a.m. timing, with the 10-year temperatures averaging 3.5 degrees less than with a noon start (Orlando International Airport readings):
● 2014: 75 F at 10 a.m. ~ 82 F at noon
● 2015: 54 F at 10 a.m. ~ 62 F at noon
● 2016: 76 F at 10 a.m. ~ 81 F at noon
● 2017: 71 F at 10 a.m. ~ 77 F at noon
● 2018: 64 F at 10 a.m. ~ 69 F at noon
● 2019: 64 F at 10 a.m. ~ 67 F at noon
● 2020: 64 F at 10 a.m. ~ 69 F at noon
● 2021: 45 F at 10 a.m. ~ 51 F at noon
● 2022: 74 F at 10 a.m. ~ 81 F at noon
● 2023: 74 F at 10 a.m. ~ 73 F at noon
Nevertheless, a 10 a.m. start would have had temperatures from 71-74 degrees in five of the last 10 years. There is agreement for now, but the debate will continue.
Russia hits back at Bach’s slap at Friendship Games
“In the abbreviation of the IOC, the letter ‘M’ does not mean a monopoly on the sports world.
“The sports world is much more multifaceted, covering a huge number of countries. The formats of competitions can be different, different countries can initiate them, all this can happen outside the context of the IOC. Everyone must understand this.”
That’s Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov, complaining to reporters about the criticism from International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (GER) on Monday at the SportAccord International Federation Forum in Lausanne; Peskov added:
“We strongly disagree with the line that the IOC has taken towards our athletes in the context of their Olympic prospects.”
Bach pointed to the interference of governments in sports during his remarks, including:
“Some want to decide which athletes can compete in which competitions. Others want to decide where your competitions can take place. Still others want to organise their own political sports events. Especially the latter would mean a government takeover of international sport. If they succeed with this, your role and the role of the Olympic Movement would become obsolete. …
“For all these reasons, I call on all of you to stand against such politicised sport. None of us should participate in any way in such politically motivated sports events.”
Russian officials took this as a direct attack on its planned hosting of a BRICS Games (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) in June 2024 in Kazan – just prior to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games – and a World Friendship Games from 15-29 September in Russia and possibly also in Belarus.
The World Friendship Games organizing committee issued a statement saying it has no ill intentions:
“We are surprised by the tough position the IOC and some of its senior executives have taken with regard to the World Friendship Games being held in Russia. Our goal was never confrontation with the IOC or holding competitions that went against the Olympic Movement.”
“For Russian athletes who have been excluded from major international competitions, the World Friendship Games are intended to become the most important sporting event in recent years and provide an opportunity to compete in a representative international sports forum with the strongest foreign athletes, as well as provide motivation and support to continue an active professional career. In turn, a significant prize fund and comfortable conditions for participation make the Friendship Games commercially attractive for athletes from all continents, for whom we guarantee to perform with the flag and anthem of their country without any restrictions or conditions.”
State Duma Committee on Physical Culture and Sports head Dmitry Svishchev told the Russian news agency TASS:
“The IOC was afraid of competition and the number of countries that have already expressed a desire to participate in the World Friendship Games. I believe that the organization, which talks about the politicization of sports, has long been mired in this. And now it is trying to give recommendations to the national Olympic committees of countries, individual athletes who have already expressed their interest.”
State Duma member – and 2006 Olympic gold medalist in speed skating – Svetlana Zhurova also criticized the IOC:
“They accuse us of being politicized, but we have been barred from international competitions and we now come up with our own formats [Games] and it is absolutely normal. …
“The IOC certainly does not want the see the organization of BRICS Games, the World Friendship Games, because one way or the other most of the major tournaments are held under the patronage of the IOC while there is no coordination with the global organization in this case.
“They realize that we will have a large representation of international athletes, who will not be coordinating anything with the IOC, while our competitions will be of a great success. We offer excellent conditions, good prize-money rewards and I’m sure that our tournaments will be interesting for all athletes around the globe.”
The IOC Executive Board approved a 25 February 2022 statement on sanctions against Russia and Belarus which included a recommendation not to holds events there:
“The IOC EB today urges all International Sports Federations to relocate or cancel their sports events currently planned in Russia or Belarus. They should take the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarussian governments into account and give the safety and security of the athletes absolute priority. The IOC itself has no events planned in Russia or Belarus.”
Saudi funding to re-arrange pro cycling?
Ready for a Saudi Arabian takeover of cycling? It might be coming, as detailed in a story from the British site Cyclist.
The concept would be, with funding from the Saudi Public Investment Fund – the folks who helped create LIV Golf and have invested in the English Premier League, Formula 1 and elsewhere – to create a new version of the UCI World Tour.
In 2023, the Tour had 35 races, featuring the famed Grand Tours – Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana – along with 12 other multi-stage races and 20 one-day races, often conflicting with each other. For example, the popular Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico multi-stage events were held on the same dates in March.
The Tuesday story by reporter Flo Clifford attributed the potential new league to One Cycling, promoted by the Dutch Jumbo-Visma team and the Belgian Soudal-QuickStep team. Several other World Tour teams are also interested.
News of the idea broke in an October report by RadioCycling:
“It revealed the PIF’s involvement and a competitive, week-in-week-out ‘Champions League’ format, which could be in place as early as 2026, complete with a points rankings system to determine an overall champion at the end of the year.”
But there are many questions, including the so-far-unstated view of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), which governs the World Tour, and the race promoter, notably the Amaury Sports Organisation, which owns and operates the Tour de France among many other races.
The teams are interested because, under the current system, the races are owned by promoters, who can sell the television rights and sponsorships, with nothing going directly to the teams, who have to raise their own sponsorships.
However, a better-organized circuit, with a less burdensome calendar, would end up killing some races. Moreover, the chatter has so far not included any mention of the UCI Women’s World Tour, which the UCI is trying to upgrade with more races (27 events in 2023) and more money.
And what of the reception of the riders, teams and promoters to support from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which has been such a controversy in golf?
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Football ● Two-thirds of the group-stage matches have been concluded at the FIFA men’s U-17 World Cup in Indonesia, with six teams out of 24 having won their first two matches and assured of moving on to the elimination round:
● Group B: Spain (2-0)
● Group C: England (2-0)
● Group D: Senegal (2-0)
● Group E: France and the U.S. (2-0)
● Group F: Germany (2-0)
The American men defeated South Korea, 3-1, and Burkina Faso by 2-1 and will face France for the group title on 18th.
Ecuador is the leader in Group A to 1-0-1 (W-L-T), ahead of Morocco (1-1-0).
The only crazy scores have come from Group C, where England crushed New Caledonia, 10-0, and Brazil beat New Caledonia, 9-0.
The elimination rounds begin on 22 November, with the championship match on 2 December.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Deaflympics ● Another casualty of the Hamas attack on Israel and Israel’s response has come from the Canadian Deaf Sports Association, which announced Wednesday:
“The CDSA has decided to withdraw its ice-hockey and curling teams from the Games despite their extensive planning and diligent training and the sacrifices they have made in preparing for the competition. The current geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East has left us with limited choices.”
The 2024 Winter Deaflympics is scheduled for 18-28 February 2024 in Ankara.
Good news for deaf wrestlers, as the International Committee for Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) signed a four-year memorandum of understanding with United World Wrestling:
“The MoU will enable both organizations to work together to help and assist deaf wrestlers around the world to take up, participate, and develop in wrestling.
“Both UWW and ICSD will also work to develop wrestling for deaf women, search for common strategies, and establish actions to preserve wrestling against the dangers of doping and violence. UWW has also agreed to collaborate for the training of officials.”
● Aquatics ● If you’re thinking about going to the World Aquatics Championships next February, the destination management agency of Qatar Airways wants to talk:
“In partnership with Discover Qatar, Doha 2024 is thrilled to offer a variety of exceptional ticket options for those planning to travel and witness their favourite aquatic athletes in action in 2024.”
The World Aquatics Championships will be held between 2 and 18 February, followed by the World Aquatics Masters Championships from 23 February to 3 March in Doha.
Tourism is a significant part of the reason why Qatar – and other Gulf states, now including Saudi Arabia – are so keen on hosting major international sporting events, which most recently included the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Web presentation of the packages include a selection of hotels and other options, but without any package pricing being posted. Tickets are being sold separately.
● Cycling ● The Union Cycliste Internationale announced the conclusion of disciplinary actions against two riders, who were withdrawn from the Gree – Tour of Guangxi in China in October:
“The incident involved the publication of a video on [Belgian] Gerben Thijssen’s Instagram account with an image of Madis Mihkels [EST] making a racist and discriminatory gesture. Both riders acknowledged the violation of article 12. 4.004 of the UCI Regulations and accepted the sanctions proposed by the UCI. Besides the immediate withdrawal from the Gree – Tour of Guangxi, in China, by their team – Intermarche-Circus-Wanty (BEL) –, they shall each pay a fine and physically attend an educational course on the fight against discrimination.
“Upon ratification of the proposed sanctions by the UCI Disciplinary Commission, the proceedings were settled by means of an Acceptance of Consequences pursuant to article 12.6.019 of the UCI Regulations.”
● Football ● UEFA and adidas announced the Official Match Ball of EURO 2024, the men’s continental championship, called FUSSBALLLIEBE – “love of football” in German – with some special features:
“FUSSBALLLIEBE features adidas Connected Ball Technology for the first time at a UEFA EURO – providing unprecedented insight into every element of the movement of the ball and contributing to UEFA’s video assistant refereeing decision-making process.”
In other words, the ball will have more to say about goals and offsides calls than before.
The design is also unique, with illustrations of each EURO 2024 stadium on the ball, with the name of the host city.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!