The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: Salt Lake 2034 bid warmly received at IOC online presentation; polls say good U.S. viewing interest in Paris; WADA rips USADA!

Will NBC the biggest winner of all at Paris 2024?

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1. Next-to-last step: Salt Lake City-Utah bid briefs IOC members
2. U.S. TV interest up for Paris 2024 Games, but by how much?
3. IPC approves Para Climbing for LA28 Paralympic Games
4. WADA slams back at House doping hearing
5. Fifth ASOIF survey shows improving governance

● The Salt Lake City-Utah bid team made a private, half-hour online presentation to International Olympic Committee members on Wednesday, which was received warmly. The next step is a final presentation in Paris on 24 July, followed by a vote which is expected to formally name Salt Lake City as the host of the 2034 Olympic Winter Games.

● Polling by Nielsen Sports and from a Seton Hall University business school institute showed good interest in watching this summer’s Olympic Games in the U.S. and in other countries. It means NBC might be the biggest winner of all this summer.

● The International Paralympic Committee, as expected, approved the addition of Para Climbing to the 2028 Games program, making the LA28 Paralympic Games, as well as the 2028 Olympic Games, the largest in history, measured by number of sports.

● Following being savaged at Tuesday’s House Energy and Commerce sub-committee hearing, the World Anti-Doping Agency and President Witold Banka of Poland posted statements criticizing the hearing as political and about the tension between the U.S. and China. The statements quite colorfully rejected the accusations of bias and improper dealing with the January 2021 test results of 23 Chinese swimmers.

● A new survey from the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) showed that governance among its 32 member federations continues to improve and that all 32 reached what was considered a minimally-competent score for the first time.

Panorama: Paris 2024 (2: Paris police chief says security staff arranged; IOC gifts sculpture by L.A. artist Saar to Paris) = International Olympic Committee (Bach praises de Coubertin at 130th anniversary of Games revival) = U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (CEO Hirshland extended to 2029) = Athletics (2: Kendricks explains decision to go to Paris; more AIU doping sanctions) = Football (3: Elimination round set for UEFA Euro 2024; Mexico upset by Venezuela in Copa America; U.S. names women’s Olympic football squad) = Gymnastics (Keys takes first senior national title in U.S. Rhythmic Champs) = Swimming (Aussie sprint great Cate Campbell retires) ●

Next-to-last step: Salt Lake City-Utah bid briefs IOC members

Heading toward election on 24 July in Paris, the Salt Lake City-Utah bid for the 2023 Olympic Winter Games made a detailed, online technical presentation to “close to 100, if not more” members of the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday.

Said bid President Fraser Bullock, the Chief Operating Officer for the Salt Lake City organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Games:

“Today was a really key day because we presented to the IOC membership for the first time. …

“We went through a 31-minute presentation of slides and presentations by Gene Sykes, President of the USOPC, by myself, [Utah] Governor [Spencer] Cox, [Salt Lake City] Mayor [Erin] Mendenhall, our Board Chair, Cat Raney Norman, [bid technical director] Darren Hughes and we were able to communicate everything about the Games vision, and about our venues, the budget, Games governance, guarantees, accommodations, transportation.

“So while it was very technical in orientation, it was very warm in the dialogue that we had with the IOC membership.”

After that, IOC Future Host Commission head Karl Stoss (AUT) gave a 10-minute presentation on the report it compiled, which endorsed the Salt Lake City candidature. There were only a few comments and a question on the bid’s Athlete Families Initiative for 2034, giving more direct support for the families of Olympic athletes.

Next up will be a 24 July presentation to the IOC in Paris, followed by an expected vote to formally award the 2034 Games to Salt Lake City.

Asked about any celebrations being planned for the award, Bullock emphasized that their focus was on getting the presentation right and hoping for the right outcome. But, he added “Anticipating a potential favorable election, we have many celebrations planned.”

Communications chief Tom Kelly explained the a “watch party” of the IOC Session and vote is being explored, to be attached to the Pioneer Day Parade in Salt Lake City, and celebrations in other communities, with more details coming on 8 July.

U.S. TV interest up for Paris 2024 Games, but by how much?

Two different sets of polls show that American viewers are pretty interested in the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games, or very interested, depending on which you believe.

A Nielsen Sports data presentation sent this week showed “Olympics Interest” in a number of countries, but only at the roughly 50% range (estimated off of bar graphs):

● ~53%: Mexico
●~ 47%: Italy and Spain
● ~44%: Australia and Great Britain
● ~41%: Japan
● ~40%: France (host country)
● ~38%: Canada
● ~35%: United States

But asked about intended viewership, a lot of folks are going to be watching:

● ~83%: Mexico
● ~79%: Spain
● ~75%: Italy
● ~63%: Australia and Great Britain
● ~62%: Japan
● ~60%: France (host country)
● ~58%: United States
● ~57%: Canada

In terms of favorite sports, graphics were shown for multiple areas and countries. Worldwide interest levels (swimming and gymnastics were not listed):

● ~41% for football
● ~32% for basketball
● ~26% for tennis
● ~25% for track and field
● ~22% for volleyball

In the U.S., the most-mentioned sports were:

● ~39% for basketball
● ~26% for football
● ~22% for tennis and volleyball
● ~20% for track and field

These results indicate strong viewership for NBC, but even better polling came from The Sharkey Institute at the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University. This poll of 1,611 American adults between 19-21 June (2% margin of error) says the Paris Games will be a hit:

● 63% were somewhat or very interested; 37% not interested
● 61% were interested in the NFL in a March 2024 poll
● 51% were interested in Major League Baseball in a March 2024 poll

Asked whether they will watch on TV, the numbers are way up:

● 59% plan to watch the 2024 Games; 25% not; 16% not sure
● 49% planned to watch the Tokyo 2020 Games in a May 2021 poll (38% no)
● 37% planned to watch the Beijing 2022 Winter Games in a February 2022 poll (46% no)

In terms of favorite sports at the Games:

● 46%: Gymnastics and Swimming
● 33%: Basketball
● 31%: Track and Field
● 29%: Volleyball and Diving
● 26%: Football
● 20%: Tennis and Skateboarding

Votes were also made for the marathons (15%) and the decathlon (11%), a boost for track & field, but shown separately.

NBC will surely like the polling which showed that 61% of the sample considered themselves to be avid or casual sports fans and among this group, 75% (vs. 11%) said they would be watching!

IPC approves Para Climbing for LA28 Paralympic Games

“The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board has approved a proposal from the LA28 Organising Committee to include Para climbing into the 2028 Paralympic Sport Programme.

“This means that the LA28 Paralympic Games will now feature 23 sports – the 22 sports that were initially approved by the IPC in January 2023, and Para climbing which will make its Paralympic debut in 2028.”

The International Paralympic Committee’s approval, wholly expected, completes the LA28 Paralympic program, whittling down the sport list from a record 33 which applied; the first 22 were approved in January 2023. Said IPC head Andrew Parsons (BRA):

“By 2028 Para climbing will be the fifth new sport on the Paralympic sport programme in the last 12 years, underlining the IPC’s desire to keep the Paralympic Games fresh and a showcase of the Paralympic Movement’s diversity.

“My thanks go to the LA28 for proposing Para climbing, in doing so they become the first organising committee in history to propose an additional sport to the Paralympic Sport programme.”

The 23 LA28 Paralympic sports are Blind football, Boccia, Goalball, Para archery, Para athletics, Para badminton, Para canoe, Para climbing, Para cycling, Para equestrian, Para judo, Para powerlifting, Para rowing, Para swimming, Para table tennis, Para taekwondo, Para triathlon, Shooting Para sport, Sitting volleyball, Wheelchair basketball, Wheelchair fencing, Wheelchair rugby, and Wheelchair tennis.

What is also true is that LA28 will be the largest-ever Paralympic Games – with its 23rd sport – just as it will host the largest-ever Olympic Games, with 35 or 36 sports, depending on what happens with boxing.

There were 22 sports contested at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Tokyo 2020 and for Paris 2024.

WADA slams back at House doping hearing

The World Anti-Doping Agency was harshly criticized at Tuesday’s hearing before the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Oversight & Investigations subcommittee, but did not wait long to reply.

On Tuesday night, a lengthy statement noted:

“[A]s an independent international organization governing the anti-doping system that encompasses almost 200 countries, WADA considers it inappropriate to be pulled into a political debate before a U.S. congressional committee regarding a case from a different country, especially while an independent review into WADA’s handling of the case is ongoing.”

And then came the reply, from WADA President Witold Banka (POL), who was invited, but did not attend the hearing:

“As WADA expected, today’s congressional hearing focused on pushing out more misinformation regarding the contamination case from 2021 involving 23 swimmers from China, and causing further damage to WADA’s reputation and that of the global anti-doping system.

“Unfortunately, there persists a narrative from some in the U.S. suggesting that WADA somehow acted inappropriately or showed bias towards China, despite there being no evidence to support that theory. It is clear from this narrative and from the intervention of a committee within the U.S. federal government, on the eve of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, that these cases of contamination from 2021 are a hot political issue. WADA understands the tense relationship that exists between the governments of China and U.S. and has no mandate to be part of that.”

Further, in reply for the demand for public release of the case files, WADA Director General Olivier Niggli (SUI) replied:

“Some voices in the U.S. are calling for the full files of these 23 cases to be released and to be sent directly to the U.S. Government. There are many reasons why WADA should not – and will not – do this.

“Case files are confidential and there is no provision in the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) to release personal and other potentially sensitive data to third parties or the general public. WADA – and World Aquatics, which has the same access and powers in this matter – is bound by the Code to keep such documents confidential. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. What would our partners in the U.S. say if the Chinese Government demanded to see confidential case files of American citizens? Would they be comfortable with that? The truth is that publishing this information would set a dangerous precedent and would constitute a serious breach of the Code.”

Banka released a further statement on Wednesday which volleyed back at the hearing testimony:

“The hearing sought to further politicize a relatively straightforward case of mass contamination that has been turned into a scandal by a small number of individuals, mainly in the United States. It was another example of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) being dragged into a much broader struggle between two superpowers. As an independent and largely technical organization, WADA has no mandate to be part of those political debates.”

“[T]he hearing in Washington D.C. was filled with the sort of emotional and political rhetoric that makes headlines but in fact does nothing constructive to strengthen the global anti-doping system. The talk, led by Travis Tygart of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), was all about how other countries and WADA were not playing by the rules. Given what we know about the anti-doping system within the U.S., one can’t help but think about the words of the American politician, Adlai E. Stevenson: ‘A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation.’”

“[T]o distract from its own failings, USADA tries to undermine U.S. athletes’ confidence in the integrity of their rivals overseas. One wonders how USADA uses its annual budget of more than USD 31 million, apart from hiring lobbyists and spending its valuable time attacking WADA and weakening the global anti-doping system.”

And Banka’s statement blasted Tygart’s suggestion that the U.S. withhold its WADA dues, adding:

“In any event, it would be a shame if the U.S. chose not to honor its commitments to the Americas region and pay its agreed share of the annual contribution to WADA’s budget. … In the face of all the aggression and the hypocrisy, WADA will carry on regardless.”

Fifth ASOIF survey shows improving governance

For the first time, all of the summer-sport International Federations achieved at least the targeted score in the governance grading survey published by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). The groups by grade:

Group A1 (7 IFs: highest scores of 210-219): Badminton (BWF), cycling (UCI), Equestrian (FEI), Football (FIFA), Tennis (ITF), World Athletics, World Rugby.

Group A2 (13 IFs; middle scores of 186-205): Baseball-Softball (WBSC), Basketball (FIBA), Gymnastics (FIG), Hockey (FIH), Sport Climbing (IFSC), Table Tennis (ITTF), Volleyball (FIVB), Wrestling (UWW), World Aquatics, World Rowing, World Sailing, World Taekwondo, World Triathlon.

Group B (12 IFs; lowest scores of 153-183): Canoe-Kayak (ICF), Dance Sport (WDSF), Fencing (FIE), Golf (UGF), Handball (IHF), Judo (IJF), Modern Pentathlon (UIPM), Shooting (ISSF), Surfing (ISA), Weightlifting (IWF), World Archery, World Skate.

First undertaken in 2017, the original questionnaire has 50 indicators to report, but for the 2023-24 study, 10 new questions were added for a total of 60. The maximum score was therefore changed from 200 points to 240, with the ASOIF looking for minimum IF scores of 150 for the new study, vs. 130 out of 200 for the prior studies.

The questionnaires included sections on Transparency, Integrity, Democracy, Development and Sustainability and Control Mechanisms.

This was the first time that all 32 federations achieved the minimum targeted score (150), and the report – while still not reporting the actual scores for each federation – noted improvements:

“While nine of the 32 IFs had a score change of no more than four, 12 IFs saw an increase of between five and 10 points. The score of nine IFs rose between 11 and 20 points, representing a boost of two-to-four points in each section. Two IFs increased their score by more than 20, one of which [World Dance Sport Federation] saw a very large increase of 36.”

And, as could be expected, the size of a federation made a difference, although not in all cases:

“Findings from 2023-24 showed that there were 12 IFs that had fewer than 20 staff and, at the other end of the scale, four had 120 or more. In terms of revenue, seven IFs earned less than 4m CHF average annual income from 2021-24. Meanwhile, five IFs generated an average of more than 50m CHF per year.”

● “Among the 12 IFs with annual revenue above 20m CHF in the 2021-24 Olympic cycle, the average score was around 206, not far off the threshold of 210 for the A1 group. By contrast, the average score for the 20 IFs with annual revenue below 20m CHF was about 179 and for those with annual revenue below 4m CHF it was 166.

“IFs with more than 120 staff reached an average score of 212 while those with fewer than 20 staff achieved an average of 174.”

There was some concern about the advancements in gender equality on IF executive boards, although the laggards were making progress:

● Four IFs had 40% or more women on their boards.
● 15 had between 25-40%
● 11 had between 15-25%
● 2 had less than 15% (down from 5 in 2022)

The bottom line from the report was optimistic:

“Results in 2023-24 suggest that a large majority of IFs have now put in place important governance basics, ranging from publishing financial accounts to outsourcing anti-doping programmes to reduce the risk of conflicts of interest, and introducing term limit rules that ensure a degree of renewal of elected officials.”


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● The Paris prefect of Police, Laurent Nunez, said in a France Inter radio interview that the required number of private security personnel for the Games is set:

“All the agents have been recruited. … “Everything is ready, we are very calm and we can’t wait for it to begin. Territorial reinforcements of police and gendarmes are starting to arrive.”

Nunez also noted that “measures have already been taken to ensure security at the sites and during the ceremony, measures to combat crime and to protect tourist sites.” He voiced concerns over “the persistence of the risk of Islamist attack. The Olympic Games have appeared in a certain amount of propaganda aimed at inciting terrorist actions on national territory and we are very attentive to this threat.”

A new artwork commissioned by the International Olympic Committee by Los Angeles-based sculptor Alison Saar was unveiled as a gift to the City of Paris on Sunday (23rd). Titled “Salon,” it “refers to the comfort of a private living room and to American poet Gertrude Stein‘s salons in Paris, where artist, writers, intellectuals and musicians were invited to come and share their ideas and work.”

The work itself is described as:

“The bronze work consists of a larger-than-life figure of a woman seated on volcanic rock, holding olive boughs in one hand and a polished gold flame in the other. The flame represents inspiration, illumination and the use of the flame in the Olympics, and the olive branches refer to ancient traditions symbolising peace and victory.

“The figure is seated in a circle of six chairs, each representing a different region in the world, and points to variety of industries, occupations and interests.”

The sculptures were produced in France, and “Salon” is now permanently installed in the public garden of the Champs-Elysees.

● International Olympic Committee ● Also on Olympic Day – 23 June – a ceremony was held at the Sorbonne in Paris to mark the 130th anniversary of Pierre de Coubertin’s speech that revived the Olympic Games from antiquity.

IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) gave an address praising de Coubertin, and refuting modern criticism, noting that “every human being has the right to be judged only in the context of his or her time.” He added:

“I’d like our visionary founder to be judged more often in the same way. Coubertin was what we would call today a peace activist. …

“Not only did he revive the Games, he also conceptualised the idea of international sport, accessible to all, with universal rules. This system, still in force today, bears witness to the durability of his vision,”

● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● The USOPC announced that chief executive Sarah Hirshland will have her contract extended through 2029 with a five-year extension.

USOPC President Gene Sykes wrote in a statement that Hirshland’s effort in “accountability, transparency, and inclusivity has transformed our organization.” She came to the USOPC in August 2018 from a role as Chief Commercial Officer of the U.S. Golf Association.

Hirshland was hired when the USOPC was in the midst of a devastating loss of confidence amid the Larry Nassar gymnastics abuse scandal and helped to create an agreement with the survivors on compensation that was approved in December 2021. She has re-shaped the committee’s staff and mounted multiple outreach campaigns and strategic initiatives, including ties to the collegiate sports community as the future of NCAA member sponsorship of Olympic sports has come under threat.

● Athletics ● Two-time World Champion and Rio bronze medalist in the men’s vault, Sam Kendricks, caused a sensation last Friday when he told reporters that he might not accept a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team, still bitter about his treatment in Tokyo in 2021 when he contracted Covid and was removed from the competition just days before his event started.

But Kendricks won the vault on Sunday at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, and said afterwards that he would go to Paris:

“I said I may not accept my spot on the Olympic team. I will. I’m going to go to the Olympics.

“My one condition for this is that I needed one of my buddies from the last Olympic team to make it, either KC [Lightfoot, who did not qualify] or Chris [Nilsen, second]. They’ve been my brothers for a long time now and I’ve been in this sport longer than anybody else at the highest levels , and the road is lonely, and you want to have your friends by your side.

“And when you’re forced – you’re forced – for your friends to abandon you and they’re conflicted between giving up their dreams to support you or going forward without you, that is a tear that 2021 provided me.

“And I don’t think anyone would fault me for that. We’re trying to re-build this year. We’re going to re-consolidate, we’re going to re-insert a positive view for Team USA. I’m going to be the captain of my pole vault squad. I’m going to be a positive force for Team USA.

“I’m going to hold everyone accountable to their position and their job, bringing us back home better than we leave the States. Because that’s their job, not winning medals, like everybody thinks it is.

“Our job is to come back home, represent well and make sure we put the flag in our shoulders the right way.”

Kendricks said his father caused the change of heart: “He said Sam, “take it on your terms.’ I’m taking it on my terms.”

The Athletics Integrity keeps suspending doping violators. It announced new sanctions on Kenyan Jackline Jeptanui, a 2:38:44 marathoner from 2022 for use of Triamcinolone acetonide for two years, and Beatrice Toroitich, 42, for life for use of norandrosterone, noretiocholanolone, Clomifene and Canrenone, with results annulled from 20 November 2022. She had a marathon best of 2:27:41 from 2012.

● Football ● The crazy, four-way tie in Group E at the UEFA Euro 2024 barely got untangled on Wednesday, but it did get settled.

All four teams – Belgium, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine – were 1-1 coming in and both matches ended in ties: Romania and Slovakia at 1-1 in Frankfurt and Belgium and Ukraine in a scoreless draw in Stuttgart. So, all four teams were 1-1-1, with Romania and Belgium advancing with +1 goal differentials vs. even for Slovakia and -2 for Ukraine. A very tough way to be eliminated.

In Group F, Georgia stunned 2-0 Portugal with a 2-0 win that included a goal in the second minute from forward Khvicha Kvaratskelia and a penalty shot in the 57th. Turkey got a goal at 90+4 to finally defeat the Czech Republic, which played with 10 players since a red card in the 20th minute. So, Portugal won the group at 2-1, ahead of Turkey (2-1), but Georgia (1-1-1) advanced as a third-place team.

On to the playoffs, which start on Saturday:

Upper bracket:
● Spain (B1) vs. Georgia (F3)
● Germany (A1) vs. Denmark (C2)
● Portugal (F1) vs. Slovenia (C3)
● France (D2) vs. Belgium (E2)

Lower bracket:
● Romania (E1) vs. Netherlands (D3)
● Austria (D1) vs. Turkey (F2)
● England (C1) vs. Slovakia (E3)
● Switzerland (A2) vs. Italy (B2)

The quarters will be on 5-6 July, the semis on 9-10 July and the championship match on 14 July in Berlin.

Pool play continues at the 48th Copa America, played in the U.S. this year, on Wednesday in Group B, with Ecuador (1-1) sailing past Jamaica (0-2) by 3-1 in Las Vegas with a Jamaican own goal by midfielder Kasey Palmer in the 13th minute and a penalty conversion by midfielder Kendry Paez in stoppage time at 45+4.

At SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, Venezuela (2-0) upset Mexico (1-1), 1-0, with a penalty from striker Salomon Rondon in the 57th minute, and Rafael Romo’s heroics in goal, as Mexico had 61% possession and an 18-10 edge on shots. Mexico now has to beat Ecuador on the 30th to advance.

Thursday’s matches are in Group C, with Panama playing the U.S. in Atlanta and Uruguay facing Bolivia in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

U.S. Soccer revealed its 2024 Paris Olympic women’s roster, with an emphasis on youth in the 18-member squad. There are eight members of the Tokyo Olympic team, including defenders Tierna Davidson, Emily Sonnett and Casey Krueger, midfielders Rose Lavelle and Catarina Macario, plus Rio and Tokyo Olympians – now to be three-timers – Alyssa Naeher, Crystal Dunn and Lindsey Horan. Striker Mallory Swanson was on the 2016 Rio team as a teenager.

The forward line includes Dunn, Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith, Swanson and teen Jaedyn Shaw.

Not part of the team is three-time Olympian striker Alex Morgan, 34. New coach Emma Hayes (GBR) said, “[I]t was a tough decision, of course, especially considering Alex’s history and record with this team. But I felt that I wanted to go in another direction.” The 2024 roster averages 26.8 years of age, compared to 30.8 for Tokyo 2020.

The U.S. women will play two friendlies prior to the Games, on 13 July and 16 July vs. Mexico and Costa Rica, respectively, in Harrison, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

● Gymnastics ● At the U.S. National Championships in Rhythmic and Trampoline in Minneapolis, Tokyo Olympian Lili Mizuno, the 2023 national All-Around champ, won two Rhythmic individual events and almost a third.

She started with a silver in Hoop, finishing behind Rin Keys, 34.300 to 33.850, with Jaelyn Chin in third (33.400). But Mizuno triumphed on Clubs, winning at 32.700, followed by Megan Chu (32.100) and Keys (31.950).

And Mizuno won on Ribbon by almost a point, scoring 33.050 to best Keys (32.150) and Sarah Mariotti (31.850).

Chu and Chin went 1-2 on Ball, scoring 33.000 and 32.850, with Mizuno seventh (31.100).

In Wednesday’s All-Around, Keys was sensational, posting a 132.350 total, winning on Hoop (34.200), Ball (33.650) and Clubs (34.900) before a seventh on Ribbon (29.600). Chu was second (127.550), and was second on Hoop, third on Ball and Clubs, before winning on Ribbon (31.600). Mizuno was third overall at 126.200, with thirds on Hoop and Ribbon and second on Clubs.

● Swimming ● One of the sport’s great sprinters, Australia’s Cate Campbell, retired from competitive swimming on Wednesday, after missing a spot on a fifth Olympic team at the recent Australian Olympic Trials:

“I have had some time over the past week to reflect on my career, and while there are many conflicting emotions, especially because it did not end exactly how I had hoped, I am still able to look back without regret.”

Now 32, she finishes with eight Olympic medals from 2008-12-16-20, including gold medals in four relays and individual bronzes in 2008 (50 m Free) and 2020 (100 m Free). She won 12 World Championships medals, including the 2013 100 m Free gold and three relays. Campbell set the women’s 100 m Free world record at 52.06 in 2016, since surpassed.

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