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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Now 38 years since the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles
2. Commonwealth Games start strong in Birmingham
3. Doping control: 56% of Beijing 2022 athletes tested
4. Catalonia ready for 2030 Winter Olympics bid without Aragon
5. The first FIFA World Cup was in South America; and 100 years later?
The 38th anniversary of the opening of the revolutionary 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles was barely noticed last Thursday, but absolutely worth remembering. The XXII Commonwealth Games is underway in Birmingham, England, with more than 1.3 million tickets sold and a world record in the pool already. At the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, 3,100 doping control tests were made, with four positives; some 56% of all athletes were tested at least once. In Spain, the Catalonia region wants to make it own bid for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games, but is running out of time. And will the centennial FIFA World Cup return to South America, where it began? Plus world-championship results in BMX cycling (with a U.S. gold medalist!), canoe-slalom and modern pentathlon!
Now 38 years since the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles
Munich is staging a comprehensive 50th-year retrospective of its 1972 Olympic Games, with the European Championships in track & field returning to the Olympiastadion on 11 August. The 10-year memory of the London 2012 Games was quietly noted in Britain.
No such program was planned for the 38th anniversary of the Games that changed everything: Los Angeles 1984.
A modest celebration at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was planned for last Thursday (28th), but had to be canceled due to illness of some of the presenters. So the anniversary of the Opening Ceremony – the Rocketman, the 84 grand pianos, the startling national flag card stunt – passed without notice.
The Los Angeles Games were the third in a row to be boycotted by a group of nations, after Montreal in 1976 and Moscow in 1980. But it also created and extended iconic Olympic figures like Carl Lewis, Joan Benoit Samuelson in the first-ever Olympic women’s marathon, Edwin Moses, Mary Lou Retton, Rowdy Gaines, the U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams, and many more.
Los Angeles got its second Games – following the success of the 1932 Games, held during the Great Depression – because no other country submitted a bid. Further, the organization of the Games was controversially handed to a private committee after the City of Los Angeles refused to take financial responsibility for the Games following the C$1 billion deficit in Montreal.
So, in 1979, the wholly-private Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee hired Peter Ueberroth, a 42-year-old travel industry entrepreneur who had built the second-largest agency in the country, to put the project together. Five years later:
● The Los Angeles Games changed the way television rights are sold, signing a then-staggering $225 million cash rights deal (plus $100 million in host broadcast services) with ABC in late 1979, and sports marketing with a program of exclusive categories and limited availability (35 Official Sponsors, 64 Official Suppliers).
● The original budget projections were for $368 million in revenues, $347 million in expenses and a $21 million surplus. But revenues skyrocketed to more than $769 million (209%) and a surplus of $232.5 million was realized, with 60% going to the U.S. Olympic Committee and the National Governing Bodies and 40% to what is now the LA84 Foundation.
● Of the 27 competition venues, only three were built: the McDonald’s Olympic Swim Stadium at the University of Southern California; the 7-11 Eleven Velodrome at Cal State Dominguez Hills and the Olympic Shooting Range in Chino. Everything else was existing or temporary; the USC swimming facility and Chino shooting range are still in operation; the velodrome was removed to create the Dignity Health Sports Park, which includes a new, indoor velodrome.
● Games staffing was founded on the use of volunteers, a concept already part of the Los Angeles culture, but completely new elsewhere. The 1984 Games were staged with a workforce of more than 81,000, with 45,450 from the LAOOC, of which ~33,500 were volunteers. Another 36,000 contract workers were also used, primarily from suppliers and vendors.
● New concepts were introduced in multiple sectors: a 10-week Olympic Arts Festival instead of a Games-period-only program; a four-year youth sports program replaced the Games-period Youth Camp; a national torch relay that raised funds for youth; today’s accreditation system that separates who-you-are from where-you-can-go … all of these were created by the LAOOC. New technologies such as electronic mail and accessed-from-anywhere voice mail were introduced at LA84.
The result was a record-breaking Games on many levels, not least of which was 140 nations in attendance, shattering the Munich mark of 122. And it proved that the Games need not be a financial loser if existing venues are emphasized, a concept at the center of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Agenda 2020, adopted 30 years after the Los Angeles Games, in 2014.
All of which makes the 1984 Games worth remembering, 38 years later.
Commonwealth Games start strong in Birmingham
The 22nd Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (ENG) began with a bang on Thursday with a big crowd of 30,000 at the renovated Alexander Stadium, as the event was opened by Prince Charles and featured musical entertainment from local legends Duran Duran and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi. The ceremony notably included a historical review which included a 33-foot tall “Raging Bull” that referenced Birmingham’s Bullring Market that opened in the 1100s and became one of the epicenters of the Industrial Revolution; a sculpture of a large bull sits in the market center today.
The response to the Commonwealth Games has been quite good, as the organizers announced that more than 1.3 million tickets have been sold to the events, the most ever among the seven Commonwealth Games to take place in Britain (1934: London; 1958: Cardiff; 1970: Edinburgh; 1986: Edinburgh; 2002: Manchester; 2014: Glasgow).
The first gold medal of the Games came in Triathlon Sprint, where Tokyo silver medalist Alex Yee (ENG) claimed a dramatic win over Hayden Wilde (NZL), 50:34 to 50:37. In the afternoon, Olympic champ Flora Duffy (BER) repeated her Tokyo win over Georgia Taylor-Brown (ENG), 55:25 to 56:06.
The swimming events feature multiple match-ups of interest, especially between Australia’s two-time Olympic gold medalist Ariarne Titmus and 15-year-old Canadian phenom Summer McIntosh. Both have been busy already, with Titmus winning the women’s 200 m Free in a fast 1:53.89 and McIntosh winning the 400 m Medley in a world-leading 4:29.01, a World Junior Record. They are slated to meet in the 400 m Free, won by Titmus in Tokyo.
Titmus anchored a world-record effort in the women’s 4×200 m Freestyle, with Madison Wilson (1:56.27), Kiah Melverton (1:55.40) and Mollie O’Callaghan (1:54.80), in 7:39.29. Titmus swam the fastest split in history at 1:52.82.
Four-time Olympic gold medalist Emma McKeon (AUS) won the 50 m Free in 23.99, no. 2 in the world for 2022, but was beaten by Canada’s Maggie MacNeil in the 100 m Fly, 56.36-56.38. Tokyo winners Kaylee McKeown (AUS) and Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA) won the 100 m Back and 200 m Breast events, respectively.
Olympic silver winner Duncan Scott (SCO) defeated Tokyo champ Tom Dean (ENG) in the men’s 200 m Free; Australia’s Tokyo gold medalist Zac Stubblety-Cook won the 200 m Breast, and Lewis Clareburt (NZL) won both the 200 m Fly and the 400 m Medley. English superstar Adam Peaty, the two-time Olympic champ in the 100 m Breast, returned from a broken foot, but could only manage fourth as teammate James Wilby won in 59.25; it was Peaty’s first loss in a final in this event since 2014!
The Games continue through the 8th.
Doping control: 56% of Beijing 2022 athletes tested
The International Testing Agency announced its testing statistics from February’s Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN), with 3,100 specimens – blood and urine – collected from 1,600 athletes from all 91 delegations.
That means that 56% of the 2,871 participating athletes were tested at least once, with extra testing done on the largest delegations (Russia, Canada and the U.S.) and on those with high performance in winter sports (Italy, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia). The most-tested sports were cross-country-skiing, ice hockey, biathlon, speed skating and alpine skiing.
There were four doping violations: one from Iran (alpine skiing), one from Spain (figure skating) and two from Ukraine (bobsled and cross-country).
All of this was done in coordination with the strict anti-Covid protocols of the host Chinese authorities. The doping test team included 17 supervisors from the ITA, 150 doping-control officers and 300 doping-control chaperones.
Observed: Although this may have been too difficult in the anti-Covid situation in Beijing, why isn’t every athlete tested? Especially with the advances in dried-blood-spot technologies, there is no reason why every athlete at an Olympic Games cannot be tested in this way, with samples stored for 10 years.
Catalonia ready for 2030 Winter Olympics bid without Aragon
The Spanish region of Catalonia, which includes Barcelona and a portion of the Spanish Pyrenees, has announced it is ready to proceed with a bid for the 2030 or 2034 Olympic Winter Games on its own. The Spanish Olympic Committee had been proposing a joint bid for the regions of Aragon and Catalonia, but this concept imploded as the two governments could not agree on the distribution of site.
The new Catalonia bid would have everything except ski jumping, which would be held in Sarajevo (BIH), site of the 1984 Winter Games. One new facility would be built, for curling.
Aragon has its own concept for a standalone bid for 2034. The next step, if any, is up to the Spanish Olympic Committee. The details for a Catalonia bid would have to come fast, as the International Olympic Committee’s Future Hosts Commission is looking to decide on its preference for 2030 by the end of the year. Sapporo (JPN), Salt Lake City and a still-developing bid from Vancouver are the existing candidates.
The first FIFA World Cup was in South America;
and 100 years later?
Uruguay was the host for the first-ever FIFA World Cup, back in 1930. Now, a group of four South American nations – Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay – have announced their intention to bid for the centennial World Cup in 2030. The 1930 World Cup had 13 teams; now there will be 48.
FIFA had expected to choose a host for 2030 in 2024, but could move early. Spain and Portugal have been busy with their own bid for the Iberian Peninsula, even identifying the stadiums to be used. And, the World Cup has not been held in the same area for consecutive editions – if you consider the Americas a single area – since Switzerland and Sweden in 1954 and 1958.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
Lots of results, including three world championships over the weekend:
● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● This is only for those interested in press operations, public relations and/or devotees of the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020. The Main Press Center for the Paris Games has been moved and shrunk by a third or more.
The Paris 2024 bid placed the Main Press Center and the International Broadcast Center together at the massive Parc des Expositions du Bourget in the Seine-Saint-Denis area, with 80,000 sq. m of exhibit space (about 861,000 sq. ft.) and an expansion underway. The IOC’s evaluation of the facility noted that “A 24,000 sq. m temporary hall would be added for the Games” at a cost of $48 million.
Now, the IBC is staying put, but the Main Press Center is being moved about 10 miles southwest to the new Palais des Congres building at Porte Maillot, with 18,000 sq. m of exhibition space (~194,000 sq. ft.), chopped up among seven different halls. Why: “This change came out of the Organising Committee’s wish to reduce the cost and time required to build and assemble temporary facilities by using instead an existing infrastructure and venue.”
This is the Paris 2024 budget crunch in action. It’s also a sea change for future organizers as the IOC’s “minimum requirement” for the Main Press Center was 30,000 sq. m, which the Palais de Congres meets only if you include the four theaters on the site and its 104 conference and meeting rooms. That requirement no longer applies, and more creative spaces can be used. That’s good.
A negative of the change is that those who will stay at the under-construction media village in Seine-Saint-Denis are now further from their first-stop work space, creating new issues in media transportation … but expected to cost less. The IOC must still give its approval, but given this demonstration of Agenda 2020 in action, can there be any doubt?
● Olympic Winter Games 2026: Milan Cortina ● The 2026 Winter Games organizing committee announced its first major sponsor, the Italian retailer Esselunga. Critics have decried the slow pace of the domestic sponsorship program, which is to provide more than a third of its budget: €550 million out of €1.58 billion (35%). But here is the first.
● Athletics ● Sensational running at the American Track League’s Ed Murphey Classic in Memphis, Tennessee on Saturday, including a World Junior Record.
TeeTee Terry, the anchor on the U.S.’s surprise Worlds 4×100 m victory, ran a lifetime best of 10.82 (wind: +0.6 m/s) to win the women’s 100 m final, just ahead of 19-year-old Tamari Davis, who set her second World U-20 Record of the day in second (10.83), and Shania Collins (10.92).
Davis had broken the ancient U-20 mark of 10.88 by Marlies Gohr of East Germany from 1977 in the prelims, running 10.87, then improving in the final (Sha’Carri Richardson’s 10.75 from 2019 has still not been ratified). Terry moved to equal-6th on the 2022 World List with her win in the final, with Davis at equal-8th.
The next shocker came in the women’s 100 m hurdles, where Alaysha Johnson, who didn’t finish in her heat at the Worlds, stormed to a win in 12.43 (+2.0), ahead of Tia Jones (12.52). Johnson’s time would have made the Worlds final and placed her sixth, a fine return to form after her disappointment in Eugene.
Joe Kovacs won the men’s shot at 21.88 m (71-9 1/2). The next Diamond League meet is on 6 August in Chorzow (POL).
What about the impact of the Oregon22 World Championships on the local community?
Depends who you ask. The Eugene Weekly’s 21 July story – more than halfway through the meet – was headlined, “Oregon22’s Restaurant Flop” and started:
“The starting gun has fired, but Oregon22’s track and field-loving visitors from around the globe are nowhere to be found in Eugene restaurants.
“In preparation for the track and field competition that has drawn athletes, media and spectators from around the world, local restaurants stocked up on food and scheduled workers for shifts during the 10-day event. But so far turnout at restaurants has been nonexistent, some restaurant owners say, especially with locals staying at home out of fear of crowded establishments.”
Explained Andy Vobora, Vice President of Stakeholder Relations for Travel Lane County. “We saw kind of mixed results throughout the community. With some restaurants doing extremely well and setting records. While others not seeing as many people as they anticipated.”
Essentially, the further away a spot was from Hayward Field, the less business it saw, a lesson rarely learned by communities which host such events and which are bombarded by pre-event promotional campaigns by organizers. Accommodations tax data comes in September and is expected to see a surge in housing revenue from the event.
● Canoe-Kayak ● The ICF World Slalom Championships took place in Augsburg (GER), with home favorite Ricarda Funk picking up from her Tokyo performance.
Funk, the Tokyo Olympic gold medalist in the women’s K-1, won her second consecutive world title, finishing in 105.50 seconds, with no penalties. Spain’s Maialen Chourraut, the Rio 2016 winner, finished second (106.63; 0), just ahead of Australia star Jessica Fox (106.73, with four penalties), who won her fifth career Worlds medal in the event. Funk then won a second gold in the K-1 Team event for Germany.
Czech star Vit Prindis won his first men’s K-1 individual title and second Worlds medal in the K-1 in 94.78, edging Giovanni De Gennaro (ITA: 95.49). Germany won the team title.
Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist Andrea Herzog moved up to gold in the women’s C-1 final on Sunday, finishing in 111.72 to edge Tokyo winner Fox (112.64) and Tokyo runner-up Mallory Franklin (GBR: 117.05). Fox did win the Extreme Slalom, ahead of Kimberley Woods (GBR) and Monica Doria Vilarrubla (ESP).
Two-time Olympic medalist Sideris Tasiadis (GER) won the men’s C-1 (101.05) over Slovakian star Alexander Slafkovsky (102.23), who won his fourth Worlds silver and second in a row. German Franz Anton (102.66) was third. Britain’s Joseph Clarke won the Extreme Slalom with France’s Anatole Delassus second.
● Cycling ● The revived Tour de France Femmes concluded on Sunday, with favorite Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) taking charge in the difficult seventh stage.
Fellow Dutch star Marianne Vos had been the race leader from Stage 2, maintaining the lead when Lorena Wiebes (NED) won her second stage last Thursday, but then struck for her own stage win on Friday in the Vosges Mountains with a final sprint in Rosheim. But on the triple-climb, 127.1 km seventh stage, van Vleuten struck.
She destroyed the field with a brilliant, 62 km solo attack and finished a startling 3:26 ahead of Demi Vollering (NED) and 5:16 up on Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (DEN). She entered Sunday’s 123.3 km double-climb to La Super Planche des Belles Filles with a 3:14 lead on Vollering, with Vos dropping 20 places and now 23:29 out of the lead.
Just to put an exclamation point on her victory, van Vleuten won Sunday’s final stage, attacking with 5 km remaining and winning in 3:37:23, 30 seconds up on Vollering and 1:43 ahead of Silvia Persico (ITA). Van Vleuten’s final winning margin was 3:48 over Vollering and 6:35 over Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma.
The UCI BMX Racing World Championships were on in Nantes (FRA), and after three top-10 finishes in the last five editions, American Felicia Stancil rose to the top of the podium.
Fourth at the Tokyo Games last year, Stancil rode to victory in 33.144 seconds, ahead of Zoe Claessens (SUI: 33.154) and 2018 silver medalist Merel Smulders (NED: 33.260) with fellow American – and two-time winner – Alise Willoughby fourth (33.523). Between Post and Stancil, American women have won three of the last five world titles!
Swiss Simon Marquardt, only 19th in Tokyo, was a first-time Worlds medalist with his victory in the men’s division. He crossed the finish in 29.525 seconds, just ahead of Britain’s Tokyo silver medalist Kye Whyte (29.657) and France’s 2018 runner-up Joris Daudet (30.110).
It was the first-ever Worlds win for Switzerland, men or women!
● Gymnastics ● U.S. Olympic alternate and 2021 Worlds All-Around silver medalist Leanne Wong triumphed in the All-Around at the U.S. Classic in West Valley City, Utah.
Wong scored 54.400 to best Shilese Jones (54.050), a member of the 2018 Pan Am Games Team gold medalists. Wong and Jones tied for the best mark on Vault (14.400); Wong won on Beam (13.550) and was third on Floor (13.600). Jones won in Uneven Bars (14.500) and Katelyn Rosen was tops on Floor (13.700).
● Modern Pentathlon ● The 2022 UIPM World Championships concluded in Alexandria (EGY) with Britain’s Joseph Choong confirming his Olympic triumph in Tokyo with his first world title.
He won the fencing section, was third in swimming and won riding, and started the Laser Run with a 20-second lead. Egypt’s Mohamed Elgendy started 24 seconds back, but made up ground on Choong with every lap, coming as close as four seconds behind. But Choong had plenty of reserve and finished with the win, scoring 1,514 to 1,512 for Elgendy. The Egyptian’s older brother, Ahmed, won the Tokyo silver behind Choong and finished fifth in Alexandria. Hungary’s Balazs Szep came from 36 seconds behind to win the bronze, with 1,507 points.
In the women’s division, Italy’s 2019 Worlds silver medalist Elena Micheli was second in fencing, won the swimming and finished 10th in riding and entered the Laser Run with an 18-second lead on France’s Rio 2016 silver medalist Elodie Clouvel. The 2021 Worlds bronze winner, Hungary’s Michelle Gulyas, shot brilliantly and was moving up to challenge Micheli, who had enough in reserve to cross the line first, scoring 1,416 points to 1,412, for her first Worlds Championships gold. Turkey’s Ilke Ozyuksel had the fastest time in the Laser Run to pass Clouvel for the bronze, 1,405-1,397.
Korea’s Woongtae Jun and Sunwoo Kim won the Mixed Relay, winning the fencing, placing fourth in swimming and second in riding and finished with 1,393 points to 1,380 for Choong and Jessica Varley of Great Britain.
● Swimming ● The USA Swimming National Championships concluded in Irvine with Shaine Casas delivering two brilliant, national-title swims that mark him as a star-in-the-making.
The World Championships bronze medalist in the 200 m Back in 2022, Casas dominated the men’s 100 m Butterfly on Thursday, crushing the field in 50.40, moving him to equal-third all-time U.S.. His time would have won the Worlds bronze this year.
Then on Saturday, Casas won the 200 m Medley in 1:55.25, making him no. 2 for 2022 in a time that would have won the Worlds silver medal! He’s now no. 7 all-time and no. 3 among Americans; only two guys named Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps have gone faster!
Olympic 800 and 1,500 m gold medalist Bobby Finke was ill prior to the meet, but still managed to put on his patented late charge to win the men’s 800 m Free in 7:51.21. World 50 m Back champion Justin Ress took the men’s 100 m Back event in 53.55. Matt King, who tied for the 100 m Free win, got a solo gold in the 50 m Free in 21.83, with Ress second (22.01) and Michael Andrew fourth in 22.20.
Jake Magahey won the men’s 400 m Free in 3:46.36; Josh Matheny won the 100 m Breast in 59.44 and Kevin Vargas won the 400 m Medley in 4:11.45.
Katie Ledecky had to come from behind to win the women’s 400 m medley in 4:36.77, no. 9 on the world list for 2022 and just ahead of Leah Smith (4:36.66). It was a lifetime best for Ledecky, who says she has no plans to compete in this event internationally (even though her mark would have won a Worlds bronze in Budapest this year!). Smith won the 200 m Medley in 2:11.67, equaling her lifetime best from 2021.
There were numerous guest entries from foreign counties and Poland’s Kasia Wasick – the Worlds silver medalist – won the women’s 50 m Free in 24.17, ahead of Gretchen Walsh of the U.S., whose 24.47 time moved her to no. 7 on the world list. Australia’s Maddy Gough won the 1,500 m Free in 16:07.34, moving to no. 8 on the year. Walsh came back later to win the 100 m Butterfly in 57.44, now no. 9 for 2022.
Erin Gemmell, 17, won the women’s 400 m Free impressively in 4:06.17; Tokyo fourth-placer Rhyan White won the 100 m Back over Dutch star Kira Toussaint, 58.91-59.24, and Kaitlyn Dobler won the 100 m Breast final in 1:06.88.
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