TSX REPORT: Valieva recalls Beijing 2022 meltdown; abuse concerns for Dressage, new format for Eventing in 2028, Paris 2024 posters!

The Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games poster together, by Ugo Cattoni (Photo: Paris 2024)

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1. Valieva recalls failed Beijing 2022 Olympic free skate
2. Abuse raises concerns on Olympic jeopardy for Dressage
3. FEI offers new plan for Eventing for 2028 Games
4. LA28 venue L.A. Convention Center expansion on hold
5. IFAB agrees on concussion substitutes, player discipline trials

● Japanese public broadcaster NHK posted a documentary on Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva and her experience at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games that started well, but eventually fell apart.

● FEI warned by athletes, officials and trainers groups of possible Olympic jeopardy for Dressage in view of a social-media post showing a former Colombian Olympian whipping his horses in Florida.

● At the request of the International Olympic Committee, the FEI submitted a proposal for a revised format for Eventing in 2028 to appease broadcast interest in more drama in the team event.

● A key LA28 venue, the Los Angeles Convention Center, is due to be expanded, but the L.A. City Council wants another estimate of new building and operating costs, possibly as high as $6.8 billion over 30 years.

● IFAB approves football rule changes, including concussion substitutes, with new tests of player discipline concepts coming.

Panorama: Paris 2024 (4: official posters unveiled on Monday; train bag thief found and sentenced to jail; judging stand under construction in Tahiti; Saudi rental of the Invalides opposed) = French Alps 2030 (bid submittal sent to IOC, as French sports minister says it’s a reward for Paris 2024) = Mediterranean Games 2026 (construction worries as bid requests not allowed to go out) = Russia (Games of the Future popular, but not the esports games) = Athletics (two more Kenyan doping suspensions) = Basketball (Durant wants U.S. to dominate in Paris) = Boxing (IBA removes women’s headgear requirement) = Modern Pentathlon (is a new video of a closed Philippine event a preview of a “triathle” format for 2028?) = Rowing (2: Serbia reinstated; Russia says it has been approved for Singles and Pairs) ●

Valieva recalls failed Beijing 2022 Olympic free skate

A new interview with Russian skater Kamila Valieva from Japanese national broadcaster NHK, gave further depth to her experience at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games, where she was initially on the winning squad in the Team Event, but was then the center of controversy when her doping positive was revealed.

Titled “Confession of Valieva,” the program covered the wild Olympic situation in which the then-15-year-old won the Team Event women’s Short Program on 6 February, won the Team Event women’s Free Skate on 7 February, had her doping positive from December 2021 come out right after the Team Event ended, was declared eligible to compete in the women’s Singles on 14 February by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, then won the women’s Short Program on 15 February.

But in the women’s Free Skate on 17 February, Valieva fell twice, had only the fifth-best score and ended up fourth overall. A subsequent Court of Arbitration for Sport decision in January 2024 determined that she was guilty of a doping violation from 2021 and imposed a four-year ban, annulling her results from Beijing 2022.

In the interview, Valieva told NHK (translated from the original Russian):

● “I set myself up in such a way that this is a wonderful holiday of sports, the place for which you have dreamed about it for so long has arrived. And unfortunately I received different emotions with a different attitude.”

● “The photographers weren’t in the practice room until t[the doping scandal broke]. I was surrounded by photographers and being photographed. They took pictures of me failing. Soon it was everywhere.”

Of the Free Skate performance, she explained:

● “I went out on the rink, and I knew it wasn’t going to work. Four revolutions and triple Axel? I knew I couldn’t do it. I should’ve jumped only triples, but I was afraid of what the coach would say. Why quads? I was afraid of what they’d say if I didn’t jump them. In that moment I think I gave up.”

Valieva is still looking to the future, however, as her ban will end on 25 December 2025, and she will still be just 19:

● “As an athlete, you have to be the top athlete in the competition. Strive to continue to produce results. You have to skate well, and win. Of course, at the next Olympics, I want a gold medal. As an individual, I want to express various styles on the ice. It’s like touching your heart. The comical style, the stoic style, it’s as if you’re doing a play. I want to skate.”

● “For those who say Valieva is over, let me tell you something. Some people say it’s too tough as an athlete. But if I think I can bear it inside, I have no choice but to endure and work hard.”

Asked about the doping violation, Valieva said, “For my part, I can say that I did not take doping consciously.”

Abuse raises concerns on Olympic jeopardy for Dressage

“The risk is so significant that it could jeopardise the perception of Dressage and Para dressage as an Olympic discipline and its future within the Olympic movement could be finished if we do not take care. It is one thing to be thrown out of the Olympics to make room for new sports to be included; but quite another to be thrown out for perceived cruelty and inappropriate conduct.”

That’s from a publicly-posted letter from the International Dressage Riders Club, the International Dressage Trainers Club and the International Dressage Officials Club on 14 February, warning of the impact of videos posted in early February showing 2004 Colombian Dressage Olympian Cesar Parra – now an American citizen – whipping multiple horses at his training center in Jupiter Farms, Florida on 1 February.

Parra was suspended by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) on 2 February and an investigation was started:

“The FEI confirms that Dressage Athlete Cesar Parra (USA) (FEI ID 10000031) has been immediately provisionally suspended while the FEI investigates the disturbing and abhorrent images and videos in relation to his training techniques that have recently emerged.”

The Chronicle of the Horse noted, “This isn’t the first time Parra, Frenchtown, New Jersey, and Jupiter, Florida, has been in the spotlight for alleged horse welfare violations, but he was eventually cleared of those accusations.”

The IDRC-IRTC-IROC letter was addressed to President Ingmar de Vos (BEL) and Secretary General Sabrina Ibanez (SUI), and signed by the heads of all three organizations, notably by the highly-respected IRDC President Isabell Werth (GER), the 12-time Olympic and 12-time World Championships medal winner. It included:

“Sadly, the whole world has now witnessed issues of welfare and terrible cruelty within our wonderful sport. We all find this heartbreaking, but it is a ‘wake up call’ for the vulnerability we now face from our respective stakeholder positions and, of course, for the sport as a whole.”

● “The perception of the sport has been damaged and we need to make a joined-up concerted effort to remedy it.”

● “The practicalities of appropriate jurisdiction of authority outside the competition environment needs to be overcome so that the influence of the FEI, as world governing body, has teeth and that it bites. There are enough lawyers with good experience and talent to find a way.”

Underlining what is at stake, the letter also noted, “The sport, and all of us, will be judged by the perception of the outside world of what our governing body does – inside the arena, outside the arena and in day-to-day training.”

Observed: This incident, which took place far away from any competitive event, now places equestrian in possible jeopardy just as was modern pentathlon, which removed riding from its program in the aftermath of the Tokyo Olympic incident in which the horse Saint Boy was hit by German trainer Kim Raisner when the horse would not jump for German pentathlon star Annika Schleu, the 2018 Worlds runner-up.

The riding component, part of the modern pentathlon as designed by modern Olympic founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin (FRA) for the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm (SWE), was removed in favor of obstacle-course racing, beginning at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Equestrian, up to this point, has not been in any danger of expulsion, and has been praised by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (GER). But concrete evidence of animal abuse is undoubtedly a danger to equestrian’s Olympic status.

FEI offers new plan for Eventing for 2028 Games

In order to reduce the “cost and complexity” – one of the IOC’s favorite phrases in the Thomas Bach Era – of the Eventing program in Olympic equestrian, the IOC asked the FEI to come up with a new format by 1 March. That report has been delivered, according to Horse & Hound:

“The proposed format involves the team competition run as a short format (dressage, showjumping, then cross-country), with the medals awarded after cross-country on day three. The individual competition remains in the long format, as at previous Olympics, which would mean the extra showjumping round to decide individual medals would take place the day after cross-country (day four).”

The cross-country element has been an issue for horse safety and welfare and has been held at a separate, cooler venue than the other elements. For example, at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, the Dressage and Jumping competitions were held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, northeast of downtown Los Angeles. But fearing hot temperatures for the cross-country phase of the Three-Day Event (as Eventing was then known), it was held 115 miles south at Fairbanks Ranch, near San Diego and close to the Pacific Ocean, at considerable added expense.

For 2028, the IOC – and its subsidiary, Olympic Broadcasting Services – wants a single venue for equestrian, requiring a new approach for the cross-country segment. The “short format” requires only a single course of about 10 minutes with varying obstacles, while the “long format” includes four phases, with the cross-country segment last.

The FEI proposal would allow the Team Event medals to be awarded following the cross-country competition, reportedly the most popular among television viewers, with the individual Eventing competition to be decided on a fourth day in a second jumping round, in reverse order of standings.

The FEI Board apparently approved the submittal last Tuesday (27th), and an FEI comment added:

The details pertaining to the technical aspects of the proposed format will be discussed in detail next year in the framework of the revision of the FEI regulations for equestrian events at the Olympic Games, once the IOC has provided its feedback.”

The IOC has said that the specifications of the specific events for Los Angeles 2028 will be defined after the Paris 2024 Games have concluded. The LA28 plan, as originally submitted, had equestrian events in a temporary facility – along with canoe slalom and shooting – in the Sepulveda Basin area.

LA28 venue L.A. Convention Center expansion on hold

The Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee has multiple options for venues for most of the sports on the program, with more possibilities coming online in the vast greater Los Angeles area all the time.

The new, 18,000-seat Intuit Dome, which will be home to the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, will open later this year. Another new possibility is an expansion of the already-existing Los Angeles Convention Center, which already includes two massive halls that have been planned to host preliminary basketball matches, boxing, fencing, table tennis and taekwondo.

But the Convention Center’s lack of contiguous exhibit spaces – separated by Pico Boulevard – is keeping major conventions away and a plan to expand it has been in development since 2013 and has been in negotiations since 2018.

But it is stalled and last week, the Los Angeles City Council ordered City staff to evaluate the cost and schedule of the planned expansion and report back by mid-April. The plan that has been under consideration would include:

● Construction of a new, 190,000 sq. ft. exhibit hall that would connect the old West Hall – site of the Main Press Center for the 1984 Olympic Games – and the later South Hall, with a new facility that would span Pico Boulevard.

● Another 55,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and another 95,000 sq. ft. of multi-purpose space.

● Development of a new, 850-room hotel tower adjacent to the Convention Center.

A City News Service report from the 28 February City Council meeting quoted Council member Curren Price, whose district includes the Convention Center:

“We’ve been unable to close the deal on that project and now time is running out to do a major overhaul. We want to make sure that it’s in time for the 2028 Olympics.

“Quite frankly, at this point, I don’t care if it’s a (public-private partnership) or the traditional way of doing it. We just want to get this project done.”

Council member Traci Park, head of the Trade, Travel and Tourism Committee, added:

“We are the nation’s second largest city and yet we have a second-tier facility with antiquated amenities, putting us at a competitive disadvantage.

“Put simply, it is in our city’s best interest to expand, but we are also facing a nearly half-billion dollar deficit and other financial uncertainties that require us to take a hard look at priorities, so that we can make a decision that is in the best interest of our city and its residents.”

The staff report on the project cited cost estimates of $4.8 to $6.5 billion over 30 years, and noted that as regards the 2028 Olympic Games:

“An upgrade to the LACC was not expected as part of the City’s bid to host the 2028 Games. … There is significant uncertainty that the Expansion Project can be delivered in advance of the 2028 Games under either delivery model. …

“Considering the schedule risks and potential impact on facilities dedicated for use during the 2028 Games, Council may wish to schedule development of an Expansion Project with an aim toward starting construction immediately following the conclusion of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Observed: The important note is that an expansion of the Convention Center is not needed, or part of, any plan for the 2028 Games. It’s fine as it is. But if the City decides to go ahead, would the construction of the expansion get in the way of the Convention Center’s usage in 2028?

That could be a problem.

IFAB agrees on concussion substitutes, player discipline trials

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) which sets the worldwide rules for football, agreed on Saturday to allow “additional permanent concussion substitutes” to be a competition option, as of 1 July 2024.

Meeting in Loch Lomond, Scotland, there were also changes to try and improve “participant behavior” to be tried and evaluated at lower-tier leagues, including:

● Only a team’s captain being able to approach the referee in certain situations.

“● The introduction of cooling-off periods to allow the referee to require teams to go to their own penalty area.

“● Increasing the time limit for the goalkeepers holding the ball to eight seconds, otherwise possession will revert to the opposing team.”

Whispers over the introduction of “temporary dismissals” of players, as is done for youth competitions where a yellow card is imposed and the player is sent off of the field for 10 minutes (of a 90-minute match), was not agreed to. The IFAB report that the existing guidelines “were improved. Any potential wider application will only be considered once the impact of these changes have been reviewed.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (SUI) said prior to the meeting that he was against the concept of a new “blue card” that would send a player off the field for a specified penalty time:

“This is a topic that is non-existent for us. FIFA is completely opposed to blue cards. I was not aware of this topic – the president of FIFA – and I think FIFA has a say in IFAB. No way. We have to be serious.

“We are always open to looking at ideas and proposals and everything has to be treated with respect of course. But once you look at it you also have to protect the essence and tradition of the game. There is no blue card.”

However, the NFL-style announcements by referees of video-review decisions is to be accepted more broadly:

“The IFAB decided to extend FIFA’s trial where the referee publicly announces the final decisions and the reasoning after a video assistant referee (VAR) review or lengthy VAR check to other competitions.”


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● The official posters of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games were introduced on Monday at the Musee d’Orsay, both picturing Paris, its iconic architecture and the many Olympic events as the center of action in an Art Deco-style treatment.

The Olympic poster has the Eiffel Tower jutting out of the middle of the Stade de France, which will host track & field, but also boats on the Seine for the opening of the Games, the arrival of the Olympic Flame by ship to Marseille, and lots of Games venues.

The Paralympic poster is also venue focused, impressively incorporates the Arc de Triomphe and refers to Stoke Mandeville, England, where the Paralympic concept originated and showcases the Games venues as well.

The two can be seen as separate works of a “fantasy city” during the time of each Games, or seamlessly combined into a double-wide whole. Both were drawn by French artist Ugo Gattoni, who told The Associated Press:

“It’s the Art Deco style. I wanted something very flamboyant, very rich, very colorful. It’s typical of Paris, when you look at various restaurant styles, you can see the Art Deco style. When you look at the entrance on the subways, you can see the Art Nouveau style.”

The posters are being printed in three sizes and as many as 30,000 will be available beginning on Tuesday.

The man who stole the bag of a City of Paris engineer from a train was identified, apprehended and has been jailed for seven months, per Agence France Presse.

There were concerns that the engineer’s computer and flash drives contained sensitive security deployment information for the 2024 Games, but this was denied by the Paris police. The thief, who was not publicly identified, was a known offender for train thefts since the beginning of the year.

Construction of the new judging tower for the Olympic surfing competitions at the Teahupo’o beach in Tahiti has commenced without incident.

Paris 2024 site chief Barbara Martins Nio told Agence France Presse: “Supervision of the construction site by the teams who have used the tower for 20 years, the opening of the information kiosk, and local consultation on ‘environmental and heritage’ issues have favored a return to calm.”

The foundations have been laid and the installation of the structure, being fabricated on land, will begin on 11 March. It is scheduled for completion in time for a World Surf League event on 13 May.

The newest dust-up in Paris over the Games came last week concerning the possible rental of space for a “national pavilion” for Saudi Arabia at the famed Hotel National de Invalides, the Parisian landmark from the 1670s, originally a hospital and military retirement center and also the tomb of Napoleon.

The French defense ministry, which operates the site, confirmed “There are discussions underway at the request of the Saudis. There are strict conditions that the Saudis have not yet accepted.”

French Member of Parliament Nathalie Serre told AFP, “Saudi Arabia poses a specific problem because of its human rights record, but even if it was a Danish or Canadian village it would be the same issue. There are some things that are not for sale or for money-making, and the Invalides in my opinion is one of them.”

The Olympic and Paralympic archery competitions are scheduled to be held at the Invalides.

● Olympic Winter Games 2030: French Alps ● Although not as dramatically staged as the Salt Lake City bid upload for the 2034 Winter Games, the bid committee for the 2030 French Alps effort also submitted their documentation to the IOC last week.

FrancsJeux.com explained that the 55-page primary file was accompanied 32 pages of annexes from the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF). Further, the popular cry against the deletion of the famed skiing areas at Val d’Isere and Isola 2000 was heard, with the bid showing Val d’Isere as a possible addition to the Merbel-Courchevel cluster in case it cannot handle all of the alpine events. As for snowboarding, the bid asks the International Ski & Snowboard to determine the best combination of venues, which could include Isola 2000.

The questions can be further discussed during a forthcoming technical inspection by the IOC’s Future Host Commission.

French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera told Ski Chrono that the relationship between the 2030 bid now almost assured of being selected, and Paris 2024 is close:

In the success of the 2030 candidacy, there is the reward for the efforts made for 2024. The more the territories are behind the success of 2024, the more they will make the French want 2030. The State is to firstly to the active support of this candidacy with, from the start, a strong personal involvement of the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron.

“I was present during the hearing before the IOC preceding the designation of France as the sole candidate in the targeted dialogue. The State will be an essential partner in the delivery of the 2030 Games by being attentive to the legacy to collectively think about the future of the mountains in terms of sustainability. …

“We have made the decision to create a ‘climate and sustainable games’ committee. in which experts will support us on this transition aspect. Environmental requirements must be at the heart of 2030 … following on from Paris 2024 where we have halved the carbon footprint of these Games compared to previous editions. We must invent a new model of responsible and sustainable events to think about the future of winter sports.”

● Mediterranean Games 2026: Taranto ● Although hardly as high-profile as the Milan Cortina 2026 Olympic Winter Games, the 20th Mediterranean Games in Italy are now less than 2 1/2 years away and the promised construction efforts have not started.

The Rome daily Il Fatto Quotidiano reported that a national government plan to take over the €275 million (about $298.34 million U.S.) building program for the main stadium renovation and a new aquatics center was unconstitutional and that the matter is within “regional competence.” As no agreement with the Puglia Region was made, the requests for proposals for construction cannot be issued, and Games chief executive Massimo Ferrarese believes the work may not be completed on time.

In other words, the difficulties which have harangued the Milan Cortina organizers over the bob, luge and skeleton track in Cortina are being paralleled in Taranto.

● Russia ● The “Games of the Future,” focused on electronic games, concluded in Kazan on Sunday, with about 2,000 participants from 107 countries competing in 21 competitions. Interestingly, project manager Igor Stolyarov told TASS:

“MLBB [Mobile Legends: Bang Bang], we thought it would be like Dota 2. But MLBB broke all records for online views. In terms of attracting online viewers, because you can’t fit everyone in the hall, but in terms of online views – Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Thailand, a little China, etc. Dota 2 is China, Indians, UAE, Europe, CIS, there are also a lot of views. These two disciplines are the locomotives of our interest in terms of viewing interest. …

“Sports programming [didn’t arouse much interest], but we didn’t expect it. In the drone race, the battle of robots, we exceeded expectations. No matter how we tried to promote sports programming, it’s not very watchable, we tried to take out everything we could.”

That’s worth noting as the IOC continues toward an Olympic Esports event, possibly in 2026.

● Athletics ● More doping positives from Kenya, as the Athletics Integrity Unit provisionally suspended marathoner Nobert Kigen (2:05:13 in 2017) for testosterone use, and half-marathoner Agnes Mueni Mutua (1:15:53 in 2023) for testosterone and trimetazidine (the same medication as used by Russian figure skater Valieva).

● Basketball ● NBA star Kevin Durant not only wants to win a fourth Olympic gold with the U.S. men’s team this summer, he wants to leave no doubt. In a Boardroom Cover Story interview, Durant was clear:

● “I want to really make a statement on how dominant our players are. Like 40, 50-point wins. I want to do that.”

● “I’m trying to play real minutes. I’m trying to be responsible and have a real role and I know that’s going to come from the work I put in practice and all of that stuff, but I’m ready for that and I’m excited about being around that bond and USA brotherhood again. It’s unmatched.”

● “When you got All-Stars in the NBA playing on one team for not just a weekend, but for a whole summer, the most fun part of the year is the summertime and you’re traveling around the world basically on tour with some of the best athletes ever.”

Durant carried the U.S. to the Tokyo 2020 gold medal, especially after a group-stage opening loss to France and then an 87-82 rematch win in the gold-medal final.

● Boxing ● The International Boxing Association Board of Directors, meeting in Sochi (RUS), provisionally admitted another new federation – the Brazil Boxing Confederation – to replace a national federation which moved to World Boxing.

It also eliminated headguards for women, effective in June of this year

● Modern Pentathlon ● A fascinating video has appeared online, showing what it says is an invitational, eight-athlete event held on 28 February in Pasig (PHI) which combined the Laser Run – running and shooting with a laser pistol – and a four-step obstacle course as a triathlon.

The eight athletes were split between the Philippine modern pentathlon and obstacle course federations, and the video asks if this “triathle” is going to be the proposed replacement for the modern pentathlon for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games, eliminating fencing and swimming.

The modern pentathlon that was introduced in 1912 included fencing, swimming, shooting, riding and running, but the equestrian element was removed at the urging of the IOC after the Tokyo 2020 horse-hitting incident, and replaced by obstacle, with the UIPM absorbing the international obstacle federation (FISO).

● Rowing ● World Rowing has reinstated the Serbian federation, with the payment of monies owed, which allows entry into Olympic, Paralympic and World Rowing events.

World Rowing is also allowing Russian athletes to compete for Olympic qualifying spots, according to Russia Rowing Federation President Alexey Svirin. He told the Russian news agency TASS:

“A week ago, after several months of silence, we received an answer from the International Federation. We last communicated with World Rowing in December, and then we were told that 2023 is ending and there may be other conditions for the admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Olympic season.

“A week ago, we received information from the International Federation that men’s and women’s singles and doubles without a coxswain can compete in the European qualifying regatta. As I understand it, the system of admission will remain the same as it was last year.

“Athletes will have to undergo anti-doping and background checks, they must not have participated in the special military operation, and so on. We do not yet understand how much these tests will cost. It is also not clear yet whether applicants for neutral status will need to sign any declarations. World Rowing has not yet answered these questions.”

The European qualifying regatta will be in Szeged (HUN) in April and the final world qualifier will be in May in Lucerne (SUI).

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