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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Bach says Russian participation decision in March
2. Coral damage places Tahiti surfing venue at risk
3. Coates says Brisbane 2032 to hold to 10,500 ath quota
4. Gold Coast ends drive for Commonwealth Games 2026
5. Weightlifting deepens anti-doping requirements for 2024
BULLETIN: Olympic Summit “asks” IOC to “declare eligible for participation in the Olympic Games Paris 2024 those AINs who have qualified or will qualify on the field of play.” Russia and Belarus are in.
● International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach of Germany said last week that the final decision on Russian and Belarusian participation would come at the March Executive Board meeting. Tuesday’s Olympic Summit discussions will have an impact on the decision and criteria.
● A Saturday test of a barge to install a new judging tower in Tahiti for the Paris 2024 Olympic surfing competition damages some coral and has put the entire location into some question, according to local leaders. There may be alternatives, however.
● IOC Executive Board member John Coates of Australia said in an interview that Brisbane 2032 needs to hold to the 10,500 athlete quota, unlike Los Angeles 2028. However, he is in favor of cricket to be added, already popular in Australia.
● The possible rescue of the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Australia by 2018 host Gold Coast is over, as Mayor Tom Tate said he is giving up in view of any support from the state or national governments. So far, no one has come forward to bid for 2026, or 2030 for that matter.
● Weightlifting was nearly thrown out of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games for its past doping issues, but was readmitted … as long as it stays clean. A new set of doping requirements will come into force in January to try and ensure that.
● Panorama: France 2030 (Killy decries removal of Val d’Isere from venue list) = Russia (141 doping positives so far in 2023 vs. 135 for all of 2022 and 37 in U.S.) = Athletics (2: India interested in 2029 Worlds; Cheptegei runs 2:08:59 in marathon debut in Valencia) = Bobsled (Humphries will skip this season with maternity) = Football (EURO 2024 to offer €331 million in prize money) = Gymnastics (European Gymnastics bans Russia and Belarus, defying FIG) = Ice Hockey (neck guards to become mandatory in 2024) = Luge (2: U.S. silver winner Mazdzer to retire; West among start-time winners in World Cup kick-off) = Snowboard (U.S. 2014 Olympian Jacob sentenced to six months for plane crash) = Table Tennis (Jha ban extended for violation) ●
● Errata: Some readers of Monday’s post saw Dominican sprint star Leguelin Santos credited with a London 2012 silver at 200 m; it was at 400 m. Thanks to ATFS Treasurer Tom Casacky (USA) for the sharp eyes. ●
Bach says Russian participation decision in March
“We will take into account the recent U.N. decision in this case, which calls for an Olympic Truce and supports the IOC’s approach.
“The International Olympic Committee advocates the participation of Russian athletes who clearly did not support the military action in Ukraine, who do not serve in the army and who are willing to compete under neutral flag. Depending on what is heard at this Olympic Summit, the IOC Executive Board will make a decision in the coming months, that is, at its meeting in March.”
That’s International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach (GER), in a report of comments to reporters on Friday in Paris during the IOC Executive Board meeting there. The Olympic Summit is scheduled for Tuesday at the IOC’s headquarters in Lausanne.
As is the usual custom, Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov ridiculed the IOC’s entire process:
“We have not been waiting for anything for a long time. It is already clear that the scheme that was discussed in December exactly one year ago at the Olympic Summit is unworkable, and the IOC itself made adjustments to the March recommendations that are absolutely unacceptable. That scheme has been demolished. Everything else is ritual dancing.”
And Dmitry Svishchev, the Chair of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture and Sports, told TASS:
“The test itself is humiliating and lawless. This creates a precedent that you can be removed at any moment. The athlete has proven himself, and then anything can happen, and our athlete can be suspended on a formal basis. This should not be allowed.
“Even after 10 years, they can come up with some kind of check and deprive athletes of awards retroactively.”
As for the fiction that describing Russian or Belarusian athletes as neutrals is impactful, the Russian news agency TASS headlined a Monday story about the Tokyo Grand Slam victory by “neutral” Tamerlan Bashaev, the 2021 Worlds silver medalist at +100 kg, this way:
“Russian judoka Bashaev commented on the victory at the Grand Slam tournament in Tokyo”
Further, the story opened with:
“The winner of the Grand Slam in Tokyo, Russian judoka Tamerlan Bashaev, did not expect that South Korean Kim Min Jong would allow a counterattack in the final of the tournament. Bashaev told TASS about this over the phone.”
So much for “neutral” athletes being identified that way in their home countries.
Coral damage places Tahiti surfing venue at risk
A Saturday test of a construction barge which would be used to construct the new judging tower at Teahupo’o in Tahiti went awry with damage to coral in the area, and new doubts about the ability to hold the Paris 2024 Olympic competitions there.
French Polynesia President Moetai Brotherson told local station TNTV on Saturday:
“What was planned as a test went badly, I regret it like everyone else. We have two possible attitudes, either we give up, or we no longer do the Games. That’s not my mentality, I don’t think that’s what the people of Teahupo’o and the Tahitians want.
“Today, we broke coral, tomorrow, if we use these old devices [the existing wooden tower], these are lives that we are potentially putting in danger, I will not take this responsibility.
“If in the end there is no solution, since we will no longer be able to reuse the old foundations and the old tower, we will have to ask ourselves the question of the sustainability of the surfing events at Teahupo’o.”
The Paris 2024 coordinator, Barbara Martins-Nio (FRA), told Agence France Presse:
“The associations are right, accessibility to the site is complex, we would like to reach out to them by suggesting close technical collaboration in order to find peace of mind.
“I am confident that a technical solution exists, the challenge today is to find a communication channel that suits everyone and that takes into account the basic postulate, namely that a new tower and new foundations are the only solution. If we do not succeed, then we will have to collectively ask ourselves the question of what happens next.”
In response to complaints about the size and complexity of the originally proposed tower, a scaled-down version was accepted that would essentially replace the wooden stand, which stands about 800 m off the shore and is considered to be unsafe. Now, the question is whether surfing can be held in Tahiti at all.
It is worth noting that the 2017 World Surfing Games – the sport’s world championships – were held in Biarritz in southwestern France, a site originally thought to be the favorite for the Paris 2024 competition venue. The World Surfing League held a competition in southwestern France (Capbreton and Seignosse) in October 2019 as well.
Coates says Brisbane 2032 to hold to 10,500 ath quota
“We’ve now got a situation that we’re going from 10,500 athletes in Paris (in 2024) to 11,242 in Los Angeles.
“That’s the problem for the future of the Olympic Games because we have to continue to look at cost minimisation and efficiencies in running the games.
“But it’s pretty clear to me with Brisbane, it’s clear to our organising committee and certainly me, that we need to reduce the numbers and get back to a manageable number of 10,500.”
That was International Olympic Committee Executive Board member John Coates (AUS) in an interview last week with The Australian, commenting on the expansion of the 2028 Los Angeles Games to 35 or 36 sports and at least 11,242 athletes and perhaps more. Coates is a member of the IOC’s Games Optimisation Group, dedicated to lowering the costs of the Games.
LA28 agreed with the IOC on 28 sports in its initial sports program, with weightlifting and modern pentathlon added back this year and boxing probably to be returned for 2028. That’s 31, and the IOC Session in India approved the LA28 request for five more sports: baseball-softball, cricket, flag football, lacrosse and squash. That’s 36 in all, the most ever in an Olympic Games.
Coates was, however, highly enthusiastic about continuing to have cricket on the program for 2032, noting, “To get cricket on means another 1 billion people watching on top of the 4.5 billion that we attract already.”
Cricket is popular in Australia and would enhance its tourism lift from the Games from the Indian subcontinent.
Gold Coast ends drive for Commonwealth Games 2026
“We did our best and that’s all people can expect. But it seems our vision for the Games does not align with that of the state or federal government.
“We also received fantastic support from great Australians like Gina Rinehart, Gerry Harvey and Katie Page, yet we couldn’t generate support from the state or federal governments.
“Our dual proposal with Perth would have saved Australia’s tarnished reputation, delivered billions into the national economy and given athletes, and para-athletes, a clear pathway towards other international competitions including the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics and Paralympics and then on to the 2032 Games in Queensland.”
That’s from Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate on Sunday, in a statement, ending his quest to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games after the state of Victoria stunningly withdrew as the 2026 host in July. Tate added:
“Sadly, at the same time, our country’s reputation as a place that reneges on a global sports contract remains in tatters.”
Gold Coast successfully hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games and pitched a “streamlined” event that he claimed would cost about A$700 million (A$1 = $0.66 U.S.). But the Queensland government is focused on the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games, which is generating considerable controversy on its own, including a split between municipal and state officials over a billion-dollar redevelopment project of the Gabba stadium in Brisbane.
Commonwealth Games Australia chief Craig Phillips told the Australian Associated Press:
“The people we spoke to in the Commonwealth Games family, I believe that the sentiment is very much still that the first priority is there is a solution here in Australia.
“But if that doesn’t materialise, then other options are certainly very much on the table.
“We have made it clear to the CGF that we feel an obligation to host, we would like to host. But if they come up with a better solution for themselves then ultimately so be it.”
That means going elsewhere, possibly in 2027 if a 2026 option is not found; the Commonwealth Games Federation currently has no site for the Games for 2026, 2030 or beyond, leading to questions about its possible demise.
Weightlifting deepens anti-doping requirements for 2024
The International Weightlifting Federation had to sweat out whether it would be included in the program for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, in view of its rampant doping problems in the past and finance and governance issues over the past 10 years.
Now included, the federation is adopting procedures to try and break away from the culture of doping which dominated the sport for decades. A new anti-doping requirements program now specifies testing and education requirements for national federations, based on their “doping risk to the sport.”
Three levels of federations have been identified: “A” for the 29 federations for which the highest requirements are set, including Colombia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Thailand and Venezuela. The “B” has 31 listed federations, including China, Palestine, Russia and South Africa.
The largest group – “C” has 132 federations, including Canada and the U.S., which are considered to be at the lowest risk.
In order to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games, the 2024 IWF World Juniors or IWF World Championships:
● “A”: All entrants must be tested out-of-competition at least twice in the six months prior to the event, and complete a mandatory education program.
● “B”: Entrants must be test out-of-competition at least once, and are “strongly encouraged” to complete the education courses.
● “C”: No testing requirement, but also “strongly encouraged” to complete the education component.
The regulations are applicable as of 1 January 2024; the IWF’s anti-doping program has been contracted out to the International Testing Agency to ensure no manipulation of the process from within the IWF can once again occur. The IOC noted in its return of the sport for the LA28 Games that any slippage back into widespread doping could imperil its status.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Winter Games 2030: France ● The selection of the French Alps bid to as the target for the 2030 Winter Games is already causing internal controversy. Following the instructions of the IOC to reduce the cost and complexity of the project, the skiing sites were narrowed, with the famed Val d’Isere alpine site eliminated to make the event more compact.
FrancsJeux.com reported on a letter from French skiing legend Jean-Claude Killy, the co-head of the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympic organizing committee, railing against the Val d’Isere removal, including:
“I am saddened and scandalized by the peremptory decision to remove Val d’Isère from the 2030 Olympic Games. We have thus thrown away without analysis, without consultation and without rational basis an entire section of the history of ski racing. …
“Val d’Isère meets all these criteria. I think it is important to reconsider this decision.”
● Russia ● The Russian Anti-Doping Agency reported 14 suspected violations of anti-doping rules in November, bringing the 2023 total to 141. This is ahead of the 2022 total of 135.
This compares to 37 sanctions (and three public warnings) handed out by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency so far in 2023.
● Athletics ● The Athletics Federation of India is preparing to bid for the 2029 World Athletics Championships, based on discussions at its annual meeting last weekend. The 2025 Worlds has been awarded to Tokyo (JPN), with no decision on 2027 as yet.
India is also promoting a bid for the 2030 Youth Olympic Games and the 2036 Olympic Games.
There was great interest in the marathon debut of Ugandan star Joshua Cheptegei, the world-record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 m, at Sunday’s Valencia Marathon. He was with the leaders through the halfway mark, but faded in the second half and finished 37th in 2:08:59.
● Bobsled ● Canadian and American Olympic gold medalist Kaillie Humphries announced on X (ex-Twitter) that she is pregnant and will miss the 2023-24 IBSF season.
Humphries, now 38, and husband Travis Armbruster, are expecting their first child in June.
However, Humphries also expects to compete again, targeting the 2026 Winter Games in Milan Cortina (ITA). She was the two-woman gold medalist for Canada in 2010 and 2014, and won bronze in 2018. She won the Olympic gold for the U.S. in the Monobob in Beijing in 2022.
● Football ● UEFA declared its prize money formula for the 2024 men’s European Championship, to be held in Germany, with a total of €331 million available (€1 = $1.08 U.S. today):
● “Participating fee: €9.25m
● “Match bonus: €1.0m for a win and €500,000 for a draw
● “Qualification to the round of 16: €1.5m
● “Qualification to the quarter-finals: €2.5m
● “Qualification to the semi-finals: €4m
● “The runners-up will receive an additional payment of €5m
● “The 2024 European champions will receive an extra payment of €8m”
This is the same amount as for EURO 2020; the maximum payout for an undefeated champion is €28.25 million.
● Gymnastics ● The 30th Congress of European Gymnastics, meeting in Sofia (BUL) surprised with a vote in conflict with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG):
“Athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus are not allowed to return to European Gymnastics competitions. European Gymnastics does not follow the FIG decision published on 19 July 2023.”
FIG decided to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as individual, “neutral” athletes if they meet the federation’s rules for neutrality concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is the IOC’s position, which has slowly been accepted by most – but not all – of the International Federations.
● Ice Hockey ● “The IIHF Council, on recommendation from its Medical Committee, has decided to mandate the use of a neck laceration protector, specifically designed for this purpose, at all levels of IIHF competitions. The neck laceration protectors are now mandatory for the senior categories in addition to the U20 and U18 categories, for which neck laceration protectors had already been enforced as per IIHF Official Rule Book.”
Monday’s statement from the International Ice Hockey Federation comes in the aftermath of the death of American player Adam Johnson, who died on 29 October after his neck was cut in an accident in a 28 October game while he was playing for the Nottingham Panthers at the Sheffield Steelers.
The implementation date for the neck protector “will go into effect for the senior categories will be determined by the supply situation.”
● Luge ● Chris Mazdzer, who won a sensational 2018 Olympic silver in the men’s Singles event, announced his retirement to follow this weekend’s FIL World Cup races in Lake Placid, New York.
A four-time Olympian, Mazdzer, 35, also won a World Championships bronze in the Mixed Team event in 2020 and collected 24 World Cup medals across 22 years in international competition. He was a seven-time USA Luge national champion. He said in a statement:
“Reflecting on my career, I hope I achieved my two goals: leaving the sport better than I found it and increasing awareness of luge in the United States. While I can’t objectively answer those questions, I feel a sense of accomplishment in these endeavors.
“Looking ahead, I am genuinely excited for the future of USA Luge. There are phenomenal athletes on the horizon, and I can’t wait to watch them this season and in the seasons to come. The momentum behind the scenes is exciting, and while it’s going to be challenging not to be directly involved, I am eager to witness the continued success and growth of the sport.”
The FIL World Cup “Kick-Off Start Competition” was held in Lake Placid, New York, ahead of the first races coming this weekend, with three-time U.S. Olympian Tucker West taking the men’s Singles title.
The event had two rounds, with a traditional luge start and a relay start, with West winning in a combined time of 7.42, ahead of Gints Berzins (LAT: 7.49). Latvian Sigita Berzina won the women’s Singles in 8.01, beating teammate Elina Ieva Vitola (8.04) and defending World Cup champ Julia Taubitz (GER: 8.05).
Triple Olympic men’s Doubles champs Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt (GER) won in 7.64, just 0.03 clear of Emanuel Rieder and Simon Kainzwaldner (ITA: 7.67) and 0.05 up on Martins Bots and Roberts Plume (LAT: 7.69). The women’s Doubles title went to World Champions Jessica Dengenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal (GER: 8.22), comfortably ahead of American pairs Chevonne Forgan and Sophie Kirkby (8.31) and Maya Chan and Reannyn Weiler (8.36).
● Snowboard ● Sochi 2014 U.S. Olympian Trevor Jacob was sentenced to six months in prison for a 2021 stunt in which he purposely crashed an airplane.
In late 2021, he arranged to jump from a single-engine airplane which had multiple cameras installed and which crashed in the giant Los Padres National Forest in southern California. After hiding the wreckage and telling the National Transportation Safety Board he didn’t know where it was, produced a video titled “I Crashed My Airplane” on YouTube as part of a sponsorship arrangement with Ridge Wallet.
Jacob pled guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, and was sentenced in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. He finished ninth at the 2014 Winter Games in the men’s Snowboard Cross event.
● Table Tennis ● Tokyo Olympian Kanak Jha, 23, the four-time U.S. champion, was banned for a year due to a violation of his suspension for “whereabouts” failures. According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency:
“On December 1, 2022, USADA provisionally suspended Jha, 22, for committing an anti-doping rule violation by accruing three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period. Despite being provisionally suspended, Jha participated in an activity organized by a member organization of USA Table Tennis on December 14, 2022, which is against the rules for athletes who are provisionally suspended.”
Jha appealed the USADA finding of a violation of his provisional suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but was turned down, meaning his one-year suspension began on 23 March 2023.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!