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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Retton medical-support fund passes $300,000 in two days
2. Bach talks up cricket, weightlifting and the future in India
3. Sapporo out of 2030 Winter Games race; will try for later
4. UEFA reverses Russia stance; EURO 2028 and 2032 hosts confirmed
5. Indonesia to bid with Australia for FIFA World Cup ‘34?
● Online fund-raising for Los Angeles 1984 gymnastics icon Mary Lou Retton has passed the $300,000 mark – as against a $50,000 goal – to assist with her medical expenses in a fight against a pneumonia strain that has required breathing assistance.
● International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany, interviewed in India prior to the IOC Session, said that he likes cricket as an Olympic add-on sport for 2028, but says it will have to be voted on. He’s also enthusiastic about weightlifting’s return, and thinks India could be a viable candidate for the 2036 Olympic Games.
● Sapporo and the Japanese Olympic Committee said there will be no bid for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games, but a bid for 2034 or beyond is possible of the “public trust” can be rebuilt.
● UEFA decided, in a U-turn, not to admit Russian U-17 teams into its competitions, saying it was not feasible, after agreeing to do allow them in a couple of weeks ago. Great Britain and Ireland, and Italy and Turkey were announced as the co-hosts of the EURO 2028 and 2032 tournaments, respectively. A 12 October EURO qualifying match between Israel and Switzerland in Tel Aviv has been postponed to 15 November, with the venue to be determined, in view of the continuing attacks on Israel.
● Saudi Arabia looked to be a walkover winner to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup, but new discussions between Australia and Indonesia could create a formidable competitor, possibly also including Malaysia and Singapore. Expressions of interest are due by the end of the month.
● Panorama: Paris 2024 (IOC declines waiver for 44-year-old Pacquiao for boxing) = Los Angeles 2028 (World Rowing enlists Super Bowl announcer to help with Beach Sprint inclusion) = Asian Games (eight doping positives so far) = Athletics (3: U.S. distance stars meeting with USATF over Marathon Trials start times; World Athletics announces women’s athlete-of-year nominees; Birmingham indoor meet likely to go as city bankrupt) = Cycling (2: USA Cycling moves road nationals to Charleston; two Belgian riders removed from Tour of Guangxi for possibly-racist social post) = Judo (Russian federation suspends Rio Olympic champ for social-media posts) = Luge (Skechers sponsors World Cup?!) = Skating (new ISU transgender policy) ●
● Now available: our exclusive 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023, 2024, and beyond, by date and by sport: click here! ●
Retton medical-support fund passes $300,000 in two days
“My amazing mom, Mary Lou, has a very rare form of pneumonia and is fighting for her life. She is not able to breathe on her own. She’s been in the ICU for over a week now. Out of respect for her and her privacy, I will not disclose all details. However, I will disclose that she not insured.
“We ask that if you could help in any way, that 1) you PRAY! and 2) if you could help us with finances for the hospital bill.
“ANYTHING, absolutely anything, would be so helpful for my family and my mom. Thank y’all so very much!”
That post on Spotfund.com from McKenna Kelley on Tuesday (10th) asked for help for the female icon of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the then-16-year-old Mary Lou Retton – now 55 – who won the women’s All-Around gold and won four more medals, with silvers in the Team event and Vault and bronzes on the Uneven Bars and Floor. She scored 10.00 on the Vault and Floor to win the All-Around from Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo, 79.175 to 79.125. Szabo also won five medals in Los Angeles; golds in the Team event and in the Vault, Beam and Floor, magnifying Retton’s upset in the All-Around.
She later attended the University of Texas and married football player Shannon Kelley in 1990; they divorced in 2018, with four daughters: Shayla (born 1995), McKenna (1997), Skyla (2000), and Emma (2002). After retiring from gymnastics in 1986, Retton has been a spokesperson and speaker for many companies.
The outpouring of support has been intense. By the end of Wednesday, the donor count was at 5,912 and $330,181 had been raised against an initial goal of $50,000. All but two of the donations was of $2,000 or less; a $50,000 contribution was made by Linda McIngvale, wife of Houston furniture magnate Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, and an anonymous $5,000 donation was made. Retton remained in intensive care on Wednesday.
Bach talks up cricket, weightlifting and the future in India
With the International Olympic Committee Executive Board meeting on Thursday and Friday and the IOC Session in Mumbai, India meeting from Sunday through next Tuesday, IOC President Thomas Bach took time-out for an interesting interview with the Times of India. And he had quite a bit to say.
As far as the LA28 organizing committee proposal to include cricket (and four more sports) on the program, Bach reiterated his enthusiasm for the T20 format, but noted that the process will start with the IOC Program Commission, then come to the Executive Committee for a review and if allowed, will be voted on by the IOC Session.
On boxing, Bach turned to one of his favorite phrases, explaining “we have no problems with the sport nor with the boxers.” But he pointed again to the IOC’s issues with financing, governance and refereeing and judging at the International Boxing Association, which was de-recognized by the IOC in June. “There will be no boxing with IBA in [the] Olympic program, now or in the future.” The IOC is running the boxing process now for Paris 2024, as it did for Tokyo 2020, and is therefore in no rush to find a new boxing federation.
Bach was highly enthusiastic on weightlifting, which has also been kept off of the 2028 Los Angeles program, saying “They have made great progress. They have outsourced the entire doing management … and ensured that there is a change in the culture.” This bodes well for the return of weightlifting for 2028.
No mention was made of modern pentathlon, also currently outside the 2028 program, but Bach outlined what the IOC is looking for going forward. This is important:
“There are two criteria which are very important to us. First of all, the young sports and secondly, urban sports. In our world today, the kids have so many distractions; not only the kids, but the potential sports fans also have so many distractions. They are not in touch with sports. This is why we have to go where the people are, in the real world with urban centers, and in the digital world. We have to promote our sports there, build small sports centers in the neighborhood.”
As for an India bid for the 2036 Olympic Games, Bach was encouraging, and said that the disastrous and corruption-plagued 2010 Commonwealth Games will not be a barrier:
“You cannot compare today’s India with India of 2010. It is a much more mature country now if we talk of hosting big sports events.”
Observed: Bach is at his best when he gives insight into what his IOC – he will serve into 2025 – is looking for. His statement on “go to where the people are” has been consistent, if not always conversant with the IOC’s actions.
There’s no clear indicator from what he said about what the IOC will do with the five sports that LA28 is proposing, or what the fate of modern pentathlon will be. You can make any case you want from his comments. But while his overall direction is clear, it may face a revision – or even a reversion – depending on who replaces him as the IOC chief in less than two years.
Sapporo out of 2030 Winter Games race; will try for later
The Japanese Olympic Committee and the mayor of Sapporo announced Wednesday that there will be no bid for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games, but that a future bid will be considered. JOC President Yasuhiro Yamashita told reporters:
“There’s a possibility that moving forward with the bid movement too hastily will leave an irrecoverable wound on the value of sports. I’m sorry for the people of Sapporo and Hokkaido.”
Pro-Olympics mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto noted the fallout from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in sponsorship selections involving bribery and bid-rigging of test events and venue-management contracts:
“It’s a very tough situation. We need to examine our future activities. We’ll gauge public sentiment at an appropriate time.
“We could not gain understanding from the citizens. There has been a widespread sense of uneasiness among the citizens about the criminal cases related to the 2020 Tokyo Games, and they are also worried about their financial burden for hosting the games.”
Sapporo hosted the Winter Games in 1972 and looked to be a front-runner for 2030, but now faces an uncertain future as Salt Lake City has a nearly-complete package in hand that could allow it to be selected by the IOC at any time. With the IOC’s encouragement, there is bid development work underway in France, Sweden and Switzerland for 2030, using regional or national approaches to avoid building new facilities.
UEFA reverses Russia stance; EURO 2028 and 2032 hosts confirmed
“No technical solution could be found to allow the Russian teams to play.”
That’s from a UEFA spokesman, as the organization’s Executive Committee backtracked from its 26 September decision to allow Russian U-17 teams to play in continental competitions without anthem, flag or national uniforms. At least 12 of the 55 UEFA national federations had said they would not allow their U-17s to play against Russia in view of the continuing invasion of Ukraine.
Sweden, which hosts the UEFA women’s U-17 championship in 2024, said it would not admit the Russian team.
The Ukrainian Football Association commented on X (ex-Twitter):
“Thus, the position of our country, with which the Ukrainian Association of Football appealed to UEFA and all national member associations, was heard. russian football remains in isolation, that is, where it belongs.”
Russian Football Union national team coach Valery Karpin told the Russian news agency TASS:
“I didn’t expect that they would allow it, I didn’t expect that it would be cancelled. First they admitted it, then they canceled it, and this became an even bigger surprise.”
Former FIFA Vice-President and Honorary President of the Russian Football Union Vyacheslav Koloskov told TASS:
“Even when the decision on admission was made, I said that it was not clear how to implement it technically.
“At some point this issue had to come up. This is the first time I have seen such a thing for the UEFA executive committee to make a decision, and then canceled it. They should have explained that the decision had to be firmly implemented, create a mechanism for its implementation. I think, indeed, that UEFA did not invent a reason. But why then make a decision without fully thinking it through? The Executive Committee simply showed its incompetence.”
Left hanging is FIFA, which supported the UEFA position to allow Russian U-17 teams to play, without national symbols.
UEFA formally confirmed the EURO 2028 and 2032 hosts, with Great Britain (four federations) and Ireland staging the 2028 events and Italy and Turkey delivering the 2032 tournament.
Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be first-time hosts; nine venues are projected for games, with two in London, as well as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle in England, plus Glasgow in Scotland, Cardiff in Wales, Dublin in Ireland and Belfast in Northern Ireland.
Turkey will also host a EURO for the first time. Ten stadiums were proposed in both Italy and Turkey, with five to be chosen in each country by October 2026.
In view of the continuing Hamas attacks on Israel, UEFA also moved the Israel-Switzerland match, scheduled to be played in Tel Aviv on 12 October, to 15 November, with the venue to be determined.
The match is important, as the Swiss are atop Group I at 4-0-2 (W-L-T: 14 points), with Romania second (3-0-3: 12) and Israel third (3-1-2: 11) with the top two to qualify. Israel has an 18 November match against Romania in Jerusalem before finishing at Andorra on 21 November. Israel is assured of at least a playoff spot to get into the EURO 2024 tournament.
Indonesia to bid with Australia for FIFA World Cup ‘34?
Given FIFA’s directive that only bids from the Asian Football Confederation or Oceania Football Confederation would be received for the FIFA World Cup in 2034, Saudi Arabia immediately entered the race and appeared to be unchallenged, according to a statement by AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa (BRN) last week:
“I am delighted to note that the [Saudi Arabian Football Federation] have presented their intention to bid for the FIFA World Cup in 2034.
“The entire Asian football family will stand united in support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s momentous initiative, and we are committed to working closely with the global football family to ensure its success.”
But now, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Indonesian Football Federation head Erick Thohir has had discussions with Australia – also Asian Football Confederation members – about creating a 2034 bid, perhaps also including Malaysia and Singapore.
Australia’s credentials are unmatched as it just completed a well-managed staging, with New Zealand, of the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer. Indonesia, on the other hand, has human-rights issues to deal with as its exclusion policy on Israel forced the cancellation of the ANOC World Beach Games in August and FIFA removed its men’s U-20 World Cup in March to Argentina over the issue. FIFA apparently wasn’t that upset, as it handed this year’s men’s U-17 World Cup to Indonesia in June; it will kick off on 10 November.
The question is time. FIFA has set a deadline of 31 October for expressions of interest in hosting the 2034 tournament, with completed bidding agreements due by 30 November. Bid submissions will be due in July of 2024 and the decision expected by the end of 2024.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, now 44, will not be allowed to compete in Paris in view of existing rules that have an age limit of 40. The Russian news agency TASS reported a comment from the IOC which included:
“The eligibility requirements include an age limit of 40, which the then AIBA set back in 2013 as a rule for boxing tournaments. When the IOC suspended AIBA [now IBA] in 2019, it ensured that boxing could remain on the program of the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo and Paris in 2024 to protect the interests of athletes. And that is why the IOC approved the IBA technical rules for the Olympic tournament in Tokyo, which have not been challenged. The same technical rules will be applied to the tournament in Paris.”
● Olympic Games 2028: Los Angeles ● World Rowing is all-in on trying to get its Beach Sprint events into the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games to replace the Lightweight Double Sculls events which will be dropped after Paris.
The latest: hiring well-known public address announcer Alan Roach, who has been on the microphone for multiple Olympic Games, but especially for 14 NFL Super Bowls. The announcement was suitably understated:
“World Rowing is now laser-focused on cultivating and nurturing the discipline to make it a permanent feature of the Olympic Games.”
● Asian Games ● Qatari cyclist Alsaadi Bilal Haitham was caught for doping (erythropoietin a.k.a. ”EPO”) on 2 October, bringing the Asian Games doping positive total to eight so far. This was the third positive in cycling; two were in track & field and no other sport had more than one. Saudi Arabia had two positives and no other country had more than one.
● Athletics ● An athlete group concerned about the start time of the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando, Florida is to meet with USA Track & Field chief executive Max Siegel by videoconference on Thursday.
A letter from Rio 2016 Olympic marathoner Jared Ward and Emma Grace Hurley, the men’s and women’s Athletes’ Advisory Council representatives, and signed on by 86 others posted by Citius Magazine, and included:
“We understand the current start time is being dictated by the television broadcast, and while we recognize the importance of our sport reaching the widest possible television audience, the safety and integrity of our sport must come first. …
“Based on the [Orlando] weather conditions last February, extreme heat stress is not just possible, it is almost assured. Even the most optimistically projected scenario will still be hotter than the 2016 Olympic Trials in Los Angeles, where only 64% of the men’s field and 75% of the women’s field made it to the finish line. …
“We are requesting a start time of preferably 6:00 AM, but no later than 7:00 AM, not a contingency plan based on the hottest allowable weather, to allow for a safe race and the a better chance for our men to qualify for Paris 2024. Note that we aren’t seeking a tolerable threshold, but the best possible conditions- which in Orlando will still likely be challenging.”
The letter suggests interested viewers will watch the race no matter what time it is held and the broadcast can be replayed for the interest of casual viewers later.
World Athletics announced 11 candidates for its Women’s World Athlete of the Year, including American Sha’Carri Richardson:
● Tigist Assefa (ETH) ~ Marathon world-record setter (2:11:53)
● Femke Bol (NED) ~ Worlds 400 m hurdles gold medalist
● Shericka Jackson (JAM) ~ Worlds 200 m gold, 100 m silver
● Faith Kipyegon (KEN) ~ Worlds 1,500-5,000 m winner, three world records
● Haruka Kitaguchi (JPN) ~ Worlds javelin gold medalist
● Yaroslava Mahuchikh (UKR) ~ Worlds high jump gold medalist
● Maria Perez (ESP) ~ Worlds 20 km and 35 km walks gold medalist
● Sha’Carri Richardson (USA) ~ Worlds 100 m gold, 200 m silver
● Yulimar Rojas (VEN) ~ Worlds triple jump gold medalist
● Gudaf Tsegay (ETH) ~ Worlds 10,000 m champion
● Winfred Yavi (BRN) ~ Worlds Steeple champion
Per the announcement:
“The World Athletics Council and the World Athletics Family will cast their votes by email, while fans can vote online via the World Athletics social media platforms”; voting continues through 28 October. Winners will be announced on 11 December.
The Times (London) reported that the 24 February World Indoor Tour Gold meet in Birmingham (GBR) is likely to be canceled as the city is facing a £760 million penalty (~$935.77 million U.S.) on equal-pay claims that essentially bankrupts the municipal government.
The meet has just been removed from the World Athletics and U.K. Athletics Web sites.
● Cycling ● USA Cycling announced that after seven years of holding its Pro Road Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee, it has signed a five-year commitment to hold an expanded version of the event in Charleston, West Virginia.
The 2024 edition will be held from 15-19 May, and will expand the men’s and women’s Road, Time Trial and Criterium races with the addition of U-23 and Junior (ages 17-18) classes as well. For the Time Trials, the winner of the men’s and women’s races will qualify for the Paris 2024 races.
Madis Mihkels (EST: 20) and Gerben Thijssen (BEL: 25), riders for the Belgium-based Intermarche-Circus-Wanty team on the UCI World Tour have been removed from the GREE – Tour of Guangxi in China for a post on Thijssen’s Instagram account showing Mihkels making gestures which have been interpreted as racist.
The team posted an apology on X (ex-Twitter) that included:
“We sincerely regret the behaviour of our rider Madis Mihkels and the images shown on the social media. We would like to apologise to the Chinese people and fans, to the government of Guangxi, to the Chinese Cycling Association, and all parties involved in the organisation of Tour of Guangxi for the image given of our sport.”
A Union Cycliste Internationale statement included:
“The UCI commends the swift reaction of the two riders’ team, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty (BEL), which decided to withdraw them from the Gree – Tour of Guangxi (China) and assess the disciplinary actions it may take following the incident. The event organiser also acted quickly by organising a meeting with those concerned and the local authorities, during which the riders expressed their apologies.
“The UCI has decided to refer the matter to the UCI Disciplinary Commission for a possible breach of article 12.4.004 of the UCI Regulations, which states that any person who, by word or deed, bemeans, discriminates against or denigrates a person or a group of persons in a manner that violates human dignity, on grounds such as race or ethnic origin, shall receive a disciplinary action.”
The Tour of Guangxi is the final event this season on the UCI World Tour, and started on Thursday and will finish on the 17th.
● Judo ● The Russian Judo Federation has suspended Rio 2016 Olympic 81 kg gold medalist Khasan Khalmurzaev; the International Judo Federation statement posted Wednesday included:
“In response to recent social media posts from Olympic champion Khasan Khalmurzaev, the Russian Judo Federation sent a letter to the International Judo Federation to provide the following information:
“● The athlete has been found in breach of the federation’s internal rules and regulations which does not allow the public posting of any religious or political personal views.
“● The Russian Judo Federation immediately suspended the athlete temporarily, until a further decision is taken.”
No other information was provided; Russian judoka are allowed to compete in IJF competitions on a neutral basis vis-a-vis the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He appears to be semi-retired; he has appeared only once in competition since December 2021 and did not place at a June IJF Grand Slam event in Kazakhstan.
● Luge ● A noteworthy announcement from the Federation Internationale de Luge:
“SKECHERS will be the main sponsor of the EBERSPACHER Luge World Cup and the 52nd FIL Luge World Championships in Altenberg, Germany, in the 2023/24 season. The sponsorship agreement between the world’s leading athletic footwear brand and the International Luge Federation (FIL) is initially for one season.
“The deal, signed by Infront, means that SKECHERS branding will be present at all nine World Cup events as well as the World Championships in Altenberg, Germany. This is the first time the company has sponsored a luge event.”
Southern California-based Skechers has been highly active in sports, but not as a high-profile sponsor of Olympic Winter-sport events.
● Skating ● The International Skating Union has issued a new transgender policy, limiting male-to-female transgender athletes to those with serum testosterone of 2.5 nmol/L or less.
The ISU’s Communication 2595 specifies:
● “The Skater has signed and submitted to the ISU a written declaration stating that her gender identity is female. Once submitted to the ISU, the declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.”
● “In addition, the Skater must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 2.5 nmol/L.
● “a) If the Skater transitions before the age of 12 or Tanner stage 2, then the serum testosterone must be below 2.5 nmol/L continuously for at least 12 months prior to competing in her first ISU Event in the female category.
● “b) If the Skater transitions after puberty, then the serum testosterone level must be below 2.5 nmol/L continuously for 24 months prior to competing in her first ISU Event in the female category, (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether or not 24 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any competitive advantage in Women’s competition).”
The regulations also require monthly reporting of testosterone levels during the transition period and quarterly thereafter, with unannounced testing also to be done.
Female-to-male transgenders are “without restriction,” but require a signed declaration.
The new regulations apply to all ISU disciplines, including figure skating, short track and speed skating.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!