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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Simone Biles return draws 355,000 on cable, 1.055 million on NBC!
2. England top choice, Japan second in revised Women’s World Cup odds
3. World Boxing announces first six members
4. Prize pool of $8.498 million confirmed for World Athletics Champs
5. No bidders to build Milan Cortina’s new sliding track!
● USA Gymnastics’ CoreHydration Classic, featuring the return of Simone Biles, drew a national television audience of just 355,000 live on CNBC, but a highlights show the next day on NBC did 1.055 million! Plus more TV ratings!
● Oddsmakers now have England and Japan as the top choices to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup, with Colombia having the longest odds.
● The new World Boxing federation announced its first six members, as Int’l Boxing Association president Umar Kremlev from Russia continues to insult the International Olympic Committee.
● The upcoming World Athletics Championships in Budapest will feature an $8.498 million prize pool, plus $100,000 for a world record, with medals presented outside of the stadium for the first time.
● The complications around the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo continue to expand, as no companies bid to build the new sliding track! Now what?
● World Championships: Cycling (2: Swiss repeat as Mountain Bike Mixed Relay champs; Valente wins again, takes Omnium gold) ●
● Panorama: Awards (Sullivan Award finalists named) = PanAm Sports (top 75 athletes named to celebrate 75-year anniversary) = Athletics (2: how about best performances by lane around a turn!; McLaughlin-Levrone entered in 400 m hurdles for Brussels Diamond League) = Volleyball (U.S. men and women both into FIVB U-19 Worlds semis) ●
Simone Biles return draws 355,000 on cable,
1.055 million on NBC!
If there was ever a demonstration of the difference in impact between cable and over-the-air television, this has to be it.
Nielsen television viewing data for last week was posted Wednesday and included the CoreHydration Classic gymnastics meet outside of Chicago at which the iconic Simone Biles made her return to competition:
● Live on CNBC on Sat., 5 Aug.: 318,000 viewers on average
● Taped on NBC on Sun., 6 Aug.: 1,055,000 viewers on average
The live CNBC broadcast was primetime – 8 p.m. Eastern on Saturday evening – and the Sunday afternoon highlights program was 4:30 p.m. Eastern. But there is a big difference between cable and broadcast.
A week-later showing of an NBC highlights package of the World Aquatics Championships from Fukuoka on Saturday (5th) at 1:30 p.m. Eastern did reasonably well, with 600,000 viewers on average.
The rest of the week’s Olympic-sport TV highlights concerned the FIFA Women’s World Cup:
Monday, 31 July:
● 1.350 million for U.S.-Portugal on Fox (2:40 a.m. Eastern)
● 559,000 for Canada-Australia on Fox (6:00 a.m.)
Tuesday, 1 August:
● 659,000 for China-England on Fox (6:43 a.m.)
● 299,000 for Argentina-Sweden on Fox (2:43 a.m.)
Wednesday, 2 August:
● 443,000 for Jamaica-Brazil on Fox (6:00 a.m.)
● 234,000 for Panama-France on Fox (5:43 a.m.)
Thursday, 3 August:
● 558,000 for Germany-South Korea on Fox (6:00 a.m.)
● 197,000 for Colombia-Morocco on FS1 (6:00 a.m.)
Friday, 4 August:
● 369,000 for Switzerland-Spain on FS1 (12:44 a.m.)
● 345,000 for Japan-Norway on FS1 (3:43 a.m.)
Saturday, 5 August:
● 1.307 million for Netherlands-South Africa on Fox (9:43 p.m.)
● 466,000 for Netherlands-South Africa on Telemundo (9:30 p.m.)
● 244,000 for Switzerland-Spain on Telemundo (1:30 p.m. delayed)
Sunday, 6 August:
● 2.515 million for U.S.-Sweden on Fox (4:42 a.m.)
● 439,000 for U.S. Sweden on Telemundo (11:05 a.m. replay)
● 177,000 for U.S.-Sweden on Telemundo (4:30 a.m.)
Interesting how the Telemundo replay – at 11 a.m. – of the U.S. vs. Sweden game, when the results were known, did 2.2 times the live audience in the middle of the night.
England top choice, Japan second in
revised Women’s World Cup odds
The FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinals come Friday and Saturday, with the top two teams in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings – the U.S. and Germany – both out of the tournament.
The U.S. was also the betting favorite in the tournament at +220 to +250, meaning that a $100 bet that was success would return $220 (or $250 as the case might be) to the bettor. England was the second-favorite of the sharpies and is now the favorite to win the whole thing.
A look at the quarterfinals, with pre-tournament FIFA Women’s World Rankings and the current and pre-tournament betting lines on each remaining team:
● Aug. 11: Spain (6) vs. Netherlands (9) in Wellington
● Spain: +350 now ~ was +450-550 at the start
● Netherlands: +1,300 now ~ was +2,000-3,000 at the start
● Aug. 11: Japan (11) vs. Sweden (3) in Auckland
● Japan: +500 now ~ was +2,500-3,500 at the start
● Sweden: +1,100 now ~ was +1,400-2,000 at the start
● Aug. 12: Australia (10) vs. France (5) in Brisbane
● Australia: +900 now ~ was +900-1,200 at the start
● France: +550 now ~ was +1,000-1,300 at the start
● Aug. 12: England (4) vs. Colombia (25) in Sydney
● England: +275 now ~ was +350-500 at the start
● Colombia: +3,200 now ~ was +15,000-20,000 at the start
The England-Colombia game is really intriguing from the standpoint that the Colombians have given up exactly one goal in four games. England has won its games by 1-0, 1-0, then 6-1 against China and then a 0-0 tie with Nigeria (and 4-2 on penalties).
But the oddsmakers have England a strong -186 to -205 bet to win (bet $186 to 205 to win $100), while a tie is +280 and a Colombian win in +600 to +700!
Spain, Japan and France are favored to win their matches; if so, the semis would feature Spain-Japan and France-England on the 15th and 16th.
The long-simmering issues between the Nigeria women’s team, which reached the Round of 16, and the Nigerian Football Federation continue over pay. FIFPro, the international player-representation body, released a statement on Wednesday confirming the issues:
“Following the Nigeria women’s national team’s elimination from the FIFA Women’s World Cup, FIFPRO can confirm it is assisting players in a disagreement with the Nigeria Football Federation concerning bonus payments, camp allowances and expenses, some of which date back to 2021.
“During the World Cup, the players expressed the desire to remain focused on their performance without making public statements or facing other distractions.
“However, the Super Falcons believe that it is now time for the Nigeria Football Federation to honour their commitments and pay the outstanding amounts.
“The team is extremely frustrated that they have had to pursue the Nigeria Football Federation for these payments before and during the tournament and may have to continue doing so afterwards. It is regrettable that players needed to challenge their own federation at such an important time in their careers.
“FIFPRO will continue to work with the players to ensure their contractual rights are honoured and the outstanding payments are settled.”
World Boxing announces first six members
The new World Boxing federation, in line to eventually become the recognized International Federation for boxing within the Olympic Movement, announced its first six members on Wednesday:
“USA Boxing, New Zealand Boxing, Boxing Australia, GB Boxing, England Boxing and the Dutch Boxing Federation have been confirmed as the first six official members of World Boxing, the new international federation, established to keep boxing at the heart of the Olympic Movement and support the growth and development of the sport at local, regional, national and international levels. …
“All six members will attend World Boxing’s inaugural Congress in November 2023 and have the opportunity to nominate candidates for offices within the new international federation including the Presidency and Executive Committee and membership of Committees and Commissions. The five full members will have voting rights at the Congress.”
World Boxing is also reaching out this week to all national boxing federations, inviting them to become members and participate in the Congress, but with a deadline to show interest of 25 August 2023.
There are more federations coming, with Argentina and Switzerland both having left the International Boxing Association, which was de-recognized by the International Olympic Committee in June.
For its part, the IBA issued a statement that any federation that joins World Boxing cannot also be an IBA member:
“As a fundamental principle of our organization, National Federations cannot be affiliated with another international boxing organization simultaneously, according to Article 5.5 of the IBA Constitution and Article 5.2 of the IBA Membership Policy.”
IBA President Umar Kremlev (RUS) continued trashing the IOC during his Monday visit to Nicaragua, according to the Spanish-language site NotiFight, whose reporter, Paul Fletes, spoke to Kremlev through an interpreter (and now computer-translated into English):
“I am convinced that we are going to get recognition from the IOC again. I’m sure we’re going to get it. They have to understand that, for us, the Olympic Games are also important. We have no problem, no conflict with the Olympic Movement. We have problems with some IOC officials, who are President Thomas Bach and his team. Because they are like prostitutes in sports, who get involved in politics and do not defend the interests of the athletes. …
“And we know that, during the presidency of Thomas Bach, corruption entered the IOC. I’m not afraid to say it, they are afraid of what I say. Because we have a reputation and they are afraid that the truth will come out. They are even afraid to meet me. I have requested several times personal meetings with the IOC leaders, to have answers to many questions, and in response he tells me that the IBA has financial problems, and I say where are those problems if we help the national federations and the athletes.”
This is Kremlev’s standard speech now, well positioned as an extension of the Russian government’s foreign policy. Kremlev came to the IBA as the Secretary General of the Russian Boxing Federation and bailed out the federation from its debts by securing essentially a $50 million gift from the state-owned Russian energy giant Gazprom.
Prize pool of $8.498 million confirmed for World Athletics Champs
The forthcoming World Athletics Championships in Budapest (HUN) will offer a total prize pool of $8.498 million to the top eight finishers in each event as follows:
● Individual events: $70,000-35,000-22,000-16,000-11,000-7,000-6,000-5,000.
● Relays (per team): $80,000-40,000-20,000-16,000-12,000-8,000-6,000-4,000.
In addition, TDK is sponsoring a $100,000 bonus for world records (not for ties) for men’s events, and the World Athletics “Inside Track” platform will sponsor the women’s record bonus. The two will split the bonus – if necessary – for the Mixed 4×400 m relay.
The prizes for individual events had been $60,000-30,000-20,000-15,000-10,000-6,000-5,000-4,000 in 2019, but have been bumped up for 2021-22-23 by the addition of the fines and expenses paid by Russia for its long-running doping inquiry.
The Budapest 2023 medals are oval in shape and depict symbols related to the Budapest Worlds, with the front featuring a stylized view of the 14 m high (46 feet) Liberty Statue atop Gellert Hill, erected in 1947 to honor those who sacrificed for a free and independent Hungary from Nazi Germany, and later modified to honor the end of its domination by the USSR.
The back pictures the new National Athletics Centre, with the cross-hatched roof over the laned track below.
In an important new concept that could rapidly turn into a tradition, the head of the organizing committee, Balazs Nemeth, explained, “It was imperative that our medals connect sports, heroism and national identity. Moreover, all three coaches of the podium finishers will also receive medals.”
No prize money for coaches has been announced – this is done in judo – and no details on which coaches – national team or personal – will receive medals. The medals themselves have a brass alloy core and are coated in gold, silver or bronze.
The medal ceremonies will also be a first, taking a page from the Olympic Winter Games, to be staged away from the stadium for the first time:
“Adding to the allure of the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 is the innovative Medal Plaza, where the medal ceremonies will take place before the sessions each day. …
“The Medal Plaza also serves as a vibrant hub of entertainment. With daily live music, captivating performances and a range of engaging activities, it stands as a dynamic showcase of the World Championships’ festive spirit.”
It will be interesting to see whether these new concepts – medals for coaches and the medal plaza – is continued in Tokyo in 2025.
No bidders to build Milan Cortina’s new sliding track!
“The notice tender for the construction of the Sliding Center (the bobsled, luge and skeleton track) of Cortina d’Ampezzo has gone empty. In other words, no company has come forward to build an indispensable facility for the Olympics.”
That’s from a summary of a report by the independent Italian national news agency ANSA last week, further noting that the governmental construction authority SIMIC – Societa Infrastrutture Milano Cortina 2026 – will now try to negotiate directly with potential contractors who could do the work. Per the story:
“The costs have already exploded, being currently equal to 264% than those expected in January 2019 (124 million euros instead of 47), but could increase further.”
That’s a rise from about $51.6 million U.S. to $136.1 million. The International Olympic Committee raised concerns about the renovation or rebuilding of the now-demolished Eugenio Monti track from the 1956 Winter Games in Cortina during the bid phase, suggesting it could be held at existing ISBF and FIL World Cup tracks in Innsbruck (AUT) or St. Moritz (SUI).
The Italian authorities, however, see the new sliding track as part of a larger entertainment complex in the area and are plowing ahead. But they are also now running out of time, as test events would preferably be held in early 2025, a year ahead of the Winter Games, only 2 1/2 years away.
Milan Cortina 2026 has been plagued by money problems almost from the start, although this issue is about the local governmental plans for the Cortina area and not the organizing committee. But it’s a problem that has to be solved.
By the way, Innsbruck is just 2 1/2 hours from Cortina by car (163.3 km/101 miles) and St. Moritz is five hours away (342.8 km/213 miles).
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Cycling ● At the World Cycling Championships in Glasgow (GBR), defending champion Switzerland came from behind to win the Mountain Bike Mixed Team Relay.
This race included a men’s and women’s U-23 rider, junior and senior rider – six legs in all, each covering 3.5 km – with Britain and France leading after the first exchange and Austria in charge after three legs. But the Swiss – fourth at the half by 1:42 – got powerful performances from Ronja Blochlinger (U-23) and Anina Hutter (Junior) to give superstar Nino Schurter a seven-second lead at the final exchange. He didn’t lose any ground and won by nine seconds in 1:05:42 to 1:05:51 for France, with Jordan Sarrou – a four-time winner in this event – posting the equal-fastest last lap in the field of 9:46.
Denmark was third and the U.S. finished eighth in 1:08:21. The amazing Schurter, now 37, won his 17th Worlds gold, beginning in 2006. He now has 24 total Worlds medals, with a lot more riding to come in Glasgow.
The final day of the Track Cycling events at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow saw American star Jennifer Valente grab her second individual gold with her second straight win in the Omnium.
Valente is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the event, and was second in the Scratch Race, won the Tempo Race, was second in the Elimination Race and fifth in the Points Race to finish with 145, just ahead of Amalie Dideriksen (DEN: 136) and Belgian star Lotte Kopecky (133).
It’s Valente seventh career Worlds gold and her 17th career Worlds medal.
British home favorite Emma Finucane, 20, won the women’s Sprint by defeating Germany’s European Champion, Lea Friedrich, 2-0, by 0.018 and 0.031 seconds! It’s the third straight Worlds silver for Friedrich in the event, but the first individual medal ever for Finucane.
Coloimbia’s Kevin Quintero moved up from third in 2022 to gold in 2023 in the men’s Keirin final over Matthew Richardson (AUS), who won his second individual Worlds medal (he won silver in the Sprint in 2022). It was close, with Quintero winning by 0.214, and Japan’s Shinji Nakano third (+0.252), ahead of Sprint king (and defending champ) Harrie Lavreysen (NED: +0.329).
New Zealand’s Aaron Gate won the Points Race with 80 from lap finishes and 43 from sprints for total of 123, followed by Albert Torres (ESP: 107) and Belgian Fabio van den Bossche (95). Colby Lange of the U.S. was 16th (0).
Overall, the host British thrilled their home crowd with nine medals (5-3-1), just ahead of new Zealand (8: 2-1-5) and Australia (7:0-6-1). The U.S. won four medals: three golds from Valente (2) and Chloe Dygert (1) and a bronze, tied for sixth overall.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Awards ● The Amateur Athletic Union’s Sullivan Award, emblematic of the nation’s best collegiate or Olympic athlete, will be presented on 23 September in New York and the finalists have been determined:
● Jordan Chiles (UCLA: gymnastics): NCAA champion in Floor Exercise and Uneven Bars.
● Caitlin Clark (Iowa: basketball): Consensus “Player of the Year” in women’s college basketball, setting a record for the most points in the NCAA Tournament with 191, leading Iowa to the national championship game.
● Jordan Crooks (Tennessee: swimming): NCAA champion in the 50-yard Freestyle and, swimming for the Cayman Islands, a finalist in the 50 m Free (sixth) and 100 m Free (seventh) at the World Aquatics Championships.
● Dylan Crews (LSU: baseball): All-American outfielder for the national champion LSU Tigers, and the Golden Spikes Award winner as the best amateur baseball player in the U.S.
● Kate Douglass (Virginia: swimming): Won seven NCAA titles for Virginia, including individual wins in the 100-yard Butterfly, 200-yard Breaststroke and 200-yard Medley. Won six medals (2-3-1) at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, with golds in the 200 m Medley and 4×100 m Medley Relay.
● Zach Edey (Purdue: basketball): Canadian center for Purdue; at 7-4, led the Boilermakers to the Big Ten championship and won the Naismith and Wooden Awards as the player of the year.
Fan voting is part of the selection process for the winner and can be accessed here.
● PanAm Sports ● A really fun feature on PanAmSports.org, listing 75 top athletes from the Americas to mark the 75-year history of the Pan American Sports Organization and counting down to the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago (CHI).
The first 10 were posted on Wednesday, representing the years 1948 to 1957 and starting with Argentina’s Delfo Cabrera, the 1948 Olympic marathon winner, who repeated his triumph at the first Pan American Games in Buenos Aires in 1951.
Americans in the first 10 include four-time Olympic diving gold medalist Pat McCormick (USA: 1951), the 1948-52 Olympic 800 m winner Mal Whitfield (1951) and two-time Olympic gold medalist in weightlifting Tommy Kono (1957).
● Athletics ● Now this is wild. Long-time statistical whiz Jed Brickner, long known for his compilation of “world records” for days of the week, now has shared a new set of records – posted at trackandfieldnews.com, of the best performances in laned races!
That’s the men’s and women’s 200 m, 400 m, 400 m hurdles and the 4×100 m relay.
So, we can see that Norway’s Karsten Warholm owns the 400 m hurdles bests for lanes 6-7-8, with Edwin Moses still the best from lanes two and nine and Rai Benjamin the best from three and five.
East Germany’s Marita Koch, still the world-record holder in the women’s 400 m, has two lane records each in the 200 m and 400 m, and the U.S. and Jamaica holds the bests in eight of the nine lanes in the women’s 4×100 m. Great stuff!
Women’s 400 m hurdles world-record setter Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has not run the event since August of 2022, but has been announced as entered in the Van Damme Memorial Diamond League meet in Brussels for 8 September.
If so, she will face Dutch star Femke Bol, who moved to no. 2 all-time in the event in July at 51.45.
McLaughlin-Levone will be looking for points to allow her to qualify for the Diamond League final in Eugene later in September.
● Volleyball ● The U.S. is into the semifinals of both the FIVB men’s World U-19 Championships in Argentina and women’s World U-19 Championships in Croatia and Hungary.
The men, playing in San Juan, won Group A with a 3-1 record and advanced to the round-of-16, sweeping Puerto Rico, 3-0, and then 2021 runner-ups Bulgaria (3-0) to reach the semifinals against 6-0 France on Thursday.
The American women, the 2019 champions and 2021 bronze medalists, won Pool D in Osijek (CRO) at 5-0, then swamped the Dominican Republic in the round-of-16 (3-0) and got past Brazil in the quarterfinals by 3-2 to reach the semis on Thursday against Italy in Osijek. The final will be on Friday.
For our updated, 787-event International Sports Calendar (no. 3) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!