TSX REPORT: Russians ask about athlete security in Paris; LA28 looking to add Paralympic sports; Brisbane’s A$2.7B Gabba project to be reviewed

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1. Russia’s Pozdnyakov asks about athlete security at Paris 2024
2. LA28 discussing adding Paralympic sports, too
3. Brisbane’s Gabba redevelopment plans to be reviewed
4. Lyles, Kipyegon puzzled by World Athletics’ awards expansion
5. USOPE honors Neuburger, Retton and Baumgartner

● The head of the Russian Olympic Committee asked about what the security arrangements would be for Russian athletes who participate in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games since neither the Russian government, Russian Olympic Committee or its national sports federations will be involved.

● Andrew Parsons, the International Paralympic Committee President, said that the LA28 organizing committee is looking to add sports to its Paralympic Games program as well.

● The new leadership of the Queensland Labor Party said that the A$2.7 billion redevelopment project for the Brisbane Cricket Ground (Gabba) will be reviewed by an independent panel, for need and cost.

● The surprise awarding of six “World Athlete of the Year” award – instead of two – by World Athletics caught the awardees off guard, and Noah Lyles and Faith Kipyegon both commented on it after Monday’s ceremony.

● The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Endowment, the investment group for the 1984 Olympic surplus, announced three award winners for 2023, including ‘84 Olympic gold medalists Mary Lou Retton and Bruce Baumgartner, and long-time executive and administrator Dale Neuburger.

World Championship: Handball (Sweden and Denmark into Women’s Worlds semis) ●

Panorama: Football (Turkish club president punches referee in the face!) ●

Russia’s Pozdnyakov asks about athlete security at Paris 2024

Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov raised the issue of safety and security of Russian “neutrals” who would compete in Paris, noting that the ROC will not be involved due to its suspension by the International Olympic Committee:

“The Foreign Ministry in its comments always says that the issue of security is critical in this situation. This was also mentioned at the board of the Ministry of Sport.

“This will be handled neither by the national federation, nor by state services, nor by the national Olympic committee, which is cut off from the process by these [IOC] recommendations.”

Pozdnyakov is quite right about this. The IOC’s rules for Russian and Belarusian athlete participation in Paris cut the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian national sports federations out completely, explaining:

“The registration (accreditation and sport entries) of Individual Neutral Athletes and their support personnel will be coordinated jointly between the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, the relevant [International Federation] and the IOC.”

The IOC also released last weekend part of the text of the Conditions of Participation agreement that all athletes will be required to sign to be entered in Paris, which now includes “the provisions of the Olympic Charter, including the peace mission of the Olympic Movement” and “My compliance with such rules supports the mission of the IOC and of the Olympic Games to promote unity and peace.”

This is not a specific rebuttal of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the participation regulations state with clarity:

“Only those Individual Neutral Athletes and support personnel who have not acted against the peace mission of the Olympic Movement by actively supporting the war in Ukraine may be invited to participate in the Olympic Games Paris 2024.”

This language will be a barrier to some Russian athletes agreeing to compete in Paris even if eligible, and at least one member of the State Duma – two-time Olympic gold medal hockey star Vyacheslav Fetisov – has said that “a general decision could be made on the issue of Russian participation in the Olympics” by the Russian government.

The Chair of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov, joined the chorus against the IOC on Wednesday:

“I am of the opinion that if you go to international competitions, you must represent your country, your club, hold your flag high. When everything else is imposed on you, this is absolutely not normal. The IOC decision does not correspond one iota with the Olympic Charter.

“When a person comes and performs with some kind of badge and it is not clear what country he represents, it’s sad and insulting for the Olympic Committee and these competitions.

“What the Americans, British and Europeans are doing in the International Olympic Committee is they are simply getting rid of it. But we have Asia, Africa, Latin America, we have the opportunity to hold our own games. If we do this energetically, I am sure that they will retreat.”

Russia will host two large, multi-sport competitions in 2024, before and after the Paris Olympic Games, the BRICS Games (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) in Kazan from 12-23 June and then the World Friendship Games in Moscow and Yekaterinburg from 15-29 September, with some event possibly also held in Minsk (BLR).

LA28 discussing adding Paralympic sports, too

The Los Angeles 2028 organizing committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games added five sports for its Olympic program – baseball and softball, cricket, flag football, lacrosse and squash – to create the largest Olympic Games in history, of 35 or 36 sports depending on how boxing ends up being treated.

Now it appears that it will also ask for added sports for the Paralympic Games, which will be staged in Los Angeles for the first time in 2028. In an interview with the FrancsJeux.com site, International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons (BRA) spoke first about the Paris 2024 Paralympics sports program (computer translation from the original French):

“It is the same as at the Tokyo Games in 2021, but while representing a certain evolution. The new sports introduced in Tokyo, badminton and taekwondo, are now more mature in the Paralympic movement. The sports program is, for me, the best we can present.

“In Los Angeles 2028, it will be a different matter, because we want to add sports. In the agreement that we concluded with the IOC until 2032, it is specified that an organizing committee can add additional sports of its choice, without exceeding the maximum of 23 sports and 4,350 athletes. Paris 2024 did not wish to do so. For Los Angeles 2028, the question is debated. The Americans are discussing the possible addition of surfing and rock climbing. They must make us a formal proposal.

“After Brisbane 2032, we could have more sports and athletes, depending on the agreement we have renegotiated with the IOC.”

The Tokyo Paralympic Games had 22 sports and 539 events; the Paris plan is also for 22 sports, but with 549 events. If LA28 adds sports, it will be hosting the largest-ever Paralympics in terms of the number of sports contested.

The largest athlete total at a Paralympics was 4,520 at Tokyo in 2021; some 4,440 are expected for Paris.

Parsons was also enthusiastic about the way Paris is promoting ticket sales:

“I really like the Paris 2024 ticketing strategy, with affordable places and a day pass system. Now the job must be to ensure that Parisians, the French, but also the rest of the world, buy tickets for the Paralympic Games.

“From the start of next year, we will need to boost promotion. It should not be done through the prism of the Olympic Games. People should not come to the Paralympic Games because they could not go see the Olympic events. The Paralympic Games must benefit from specific promotion.”

Brisbane’s Gabba redevelopment plans to be reviewed

The most controversial element of the 2032 Olympic Games building plan by the Queensland government is the redevelopment of the Brisbane Cricket Ground, known locally as the Gabba.

The project budget has ballooned to A$2.7 billion (about $1.77 billion U.S.) and was championed by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who will step down on Friday. On Wednesday, Premier-to-be Steven Miles said that the project will now be reviewed by an independent, to-be-formed committee:

“Every other time I’ve asked those questions the advice back has been the Gabba redevelopment is absolutely necessary to host Brisbane 2032.

“But I think it’s reasonable for us to be absolutely assured of that before we finalize those tenders.”

The plan has been to demolish the Gabba and construct a new facility and surrounding area by 2030, with the Australian Football League’s Brisbane Lions and Queensland Cricket to be relocated … somewhere.

But the cost of the new plan and the disruption (and cost) to the two existing teams has drawn heavy local criticism. In its review of Brisbane’s bid for 2032, the International Olympic Committee also objected, noting that the existing Carrara Stadium in Gold Coast was very successfully used for track & field at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick told reporters on Wednesday that a 60-day review would be completed before moving forward:

“We’ll be conducting a review of investment into Olympics infrastructure. … I think we need to pause. We’re going to pause on the projects.

“We’re just going to have a review. We’re going to take our time to consider that and we’re going to set up an independent authority.”

Lyles, Kipyegon puzzled by World Athletics’ awards expansion

When World Athletics announced its 2023 award winners on Monday (11th), it departed from its usual presentation of a single World Athlete of the Year for men and women. Instead, there were six winners, one each for track, field and out-of-stadium for both men and women.

It was explained in the announcement thus:

“The adaptation of the World Athlete of the Year honours awarded this year follows feedback received during the voting process. Many sensational performances – including an extraordinary 23 world records – were achieved in 2023. When it came to compiling the votes, athletes, fans and World Athletics Family members commented that it was incredibly hard to limit the vote to just one athlete, because of the various disciplines and the vast differences in skill sets required. As a result, for 2023 the World Athlete of the Year awards have been divided into three event categories: track, field and out of stadia.”

Not everyone was happy about this, especially since even the nominees were told of the change.

American Noah Lyles, the winner for men’s track, was asked after the ceremony, “What does it feel like, ‘Athlete of the Year: Track’” and made his feelings known:

“Not what I expected it to be like. Let’s put it like that. Not what I expected. I’ll just leave it there.

“It’s definitely that word ‘track’ that threw me and I’m pretty sure a lot of other people off. Nobody being prepared for what really happened tonight. I think everybody was caught off-guard especially when we heard all of our names being called, one after the other. It was a little confusing in the moment what was actually happening. Yeah.

“I don’t think I’ve digested what really happened. I’ll put it like that.

“Give me a few weeks and then I’ll be able to actually break down what I think of what happened today. Because on one hand, I agree with the idea. I just wish we knew that this was what was going to happen instead of having it happen after the five finalists were already chosen, that groups were going to be made.

“Then I’m confused why we had the 10 athletes in the beginning, we’re all in different categories, and we were all led to believe we were fighting for the same trophy. So again, very shocking. Very big plot twist, big plot twist for sure.”

Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, widely expected to be the women’s (single) athlete of the year, won for track also and told the Kenyan newspaper, The Nation:

“I was surprised as well but it’s all what it is, it’s still an award and looking forward to next year. I am grateful for the fans who voted for me.”

Lyles said he would have more comments in an upcoming podcast with fellow U.S. 200 m star Kenny Bednarek.

USOPE honors Neuburger, Retton and Baumgartner

/Updated/Mary Lou Retton, the iconic gymnastics star of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, faced a serious medical challenge in October, uninsured and hospitalized with a rare form of pneumonia, with her family raising $459,264 from 8,317 donors to cover her medical expenses.

Now, she was honored by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Endowment in New York on Wednesday with the William E. Simon Award, which recognizes “an individual or group who has made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”  Retton did not attend as she is still recovering.

The USOPE is the organization which received the then-U.S. Olympic Committee’s $93 million share of the surplus from the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and has invested the funds for the benefit of U.S. athletes and programs. Grants since 1986 to the USOPC and affiliated organizations have totaled $374 million over the past 37 years and the USOPE’s net assets now stand at approximately $235 million.

Wrestling star Bruce Baumgartner, the Freestyle gold medalist at 130 kg in Los Angeles and in Barcelona (1992), silver medalist in Seoul (1988) and bronze medal winner in Atlanta (1996) received the General Douglas MacArthur Exemplary Service Award for exemplary service to the USOPC and athletes. Baumgartner was wrestling coach and athletic director at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, is the current President of USA Wrestling and played an important role in helping return wrestling to the Olympic sports program after it was voted off in 2013.

The World Aquatics Treasurer, Dale Neuburger, who has served Olympic sport over his entire career, received the George M. Steinbrenner III Sport Leadership Award. Neuburger was a staff member of USA Track & Field, but became a key member of the swimming community in the United States, as President of USA Swimming, President of the United States Aquatic Sports umbrella group, as a member of the FINA Bureau and now two-term Treasurer of World Aquatics, and as Chair of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He served as a director of the then-U.S. Olympic Committee for eight years.

The awards were presented at the New York Athletic Club.


● Handball ● Sweden and Denmark joined the semifinals for the 26th IHF Women’s World Championship, being held in Denmark, Norway and Sweden on Wednesday, meaning all three hosts, the defending champion and the 2021 silver-medal winners are still in the tournament.

Playing in Herning (DEN), Sweden won its quarterfinal vs. Germany by 27-20, taking a 16-6 halftime lead. Olivia Mellegard, Linn Blohm, Jamina Roberts and Nathalie Hagman all scored five goals for the winners, while Amelie Berger, Alina Grijseels and Viola Stockschlaeder all scored four for the Germans.

The Danes thrilled the home crowd of 11,031 – biggest of the tournament – in Herning with a tight, 26-24 win over Montenegro. Emma Friis and Anne Hansen scored five goals each and Denmark had a 13-10 halftime lead and held on, as Dijana Mugosa scored six for Montenegro.

Thus, Friday’s semifinals in Herning will feature:

● Denmark (5-1) vs. Norway (5-1)
● Sweden (6-0) vs. France (6-0)

The Danes won the bronze medal in 2013 and 2021 and will face the defending champions in Norway, which also won in 2011 and 2015 and was runner-up in 2017. The Swedes made the semis for the first time since 2017 (fourth), but have never won a Women’s Worlds medal. Undefeated France won the 2003 and 2017 titles and was second in 2009, 2011 and 2021.

The finals will also be played in Herning, on Sunday (17th).


● Football ● A terrible incident in Ankara (TUR) in a Turkish league match on Monday (11th), where Caykur Rizespor scored for a 1-1 tie at 90+7 with home team MKE Ankaragucu, and Ankaragucu club president Faruk Koca ran onto the field and punched referee Halil Umut Meler in the face, requiring hospitalization.

Meler was also kicked by “fans” and removed for treatment; the Turkish Football Federation shut the league down, with games to resume on 19 December. Meler was released from the hospital with minor injuries on Wednesday.

TFF Chair Mehmet Buyukeksi told reporters after the game, “The matches in all leagues have been postponed indefinitely. This attack is a night of shame for Turkish football.

“Football matches are not a war, there is no death at the end. Not all teams can become champions at the same time. We all need to understand this. We invite everyone to take responsibility.”

Koca was due to be arrested for the incident, as were two others for kicking Meler; three others were released, but must keep police informed of their whereabouts. Koca, a former member of the Turkish parliament – also resigned as Ankaragucu president.

Pierluigi Collina, the legendary Italian referee who is now the Chair of the FIFA Referees Committee said in part, in a statement:

“[V]iolence, verbal and physical abuse against referees is a ‘cancer’ that may cost football its life.

“A referee cannot be beaten because of a decision they took, even if it’s wrong. His or her car cannot be bombed or set on fire because of a penalty kick.

“Unfortunately this is not an exaggeration, as car bombs and cars being set on fire is something that has happened in some countries, and not so rarely. …

“The image of Halil Umut lying on the ground, with his hands protecting his head while he was kicked by his assaulters, as well the image of the bruise under his eye, are horrific. But even more horrific is to know that there are thousands of referees around the world who are verbally and physically abused at lower levels of the game across the world, without being reported by media.”

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