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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Athletics Worlds: 1,972 athletes, 192 nations, Russians “excluded”
2. Postponed World Games 2022 open in Birmingham
3. Vancouver 2030 Winter Games cost could be $3 billion U.S.
4. Sykes elected USOPC chair for 2023-26 term
5. World Baseball Classic returns for 2023 in Asia and U.S.
After all the build-up, the World Athletics Championships in Eugene start on Friday, but without any Russian athletes, as World Athletics confirmed that they are being excluded due to the war in Ukraine. The World Games, first held in Santa Clara, California in 1981, returned to the U.S. after 41 years, with the opening in Birmingham, Alabama last Friday; competitions continue through the 17th. A feasibility report projects the cost of a 2030 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver at about $3 billion U.S., more expensive than other contenders Salt Lake City and Sapporo. The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee Board elected Goldman Sachs executive Gene Sykes as its new chair, beginning in 2023; Sykes served as the chief executive of the successful Los Angeles bid for the 2028 Games. The always-exciting – but underrated – World Baseball Classic will return for its fifth edition in March 2023, with 20 teams in four pools in Japan, Taiwan, Phoenix and Miami and the semis and finals in Miami. And plenty of results from a busy weekend of sports worldwide.
Athletics Worlds: 1,972 athletes, 192 nations,
The actual entry lists for the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene were posted on Friday, with the event set to welcome athletes from 192 nations … but not Russia.
Also posted Friday was a list of 18 Russian athletes who have been approved by the federation’s Doping Review Board to compete as neutrals – the Russian federation continues on suspension – bringing the total to 73 for the year. But:
“In approving these 18 applications, the Doping Review Board noted that, according to World Athletics’ decision of 1 March 2022, all athletes, support personnel and officials from Russia were excluded from all World Athletics Series events for the foreseeable future as a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
So, no Russian athletes are on the entry lists for Eugene, eliminating – among others – the six medal winners from the Doha 2019 Worlds, including gold medalists Mariya Lasitskene (women’s high jump), Anzhelika Sidorova (women’s vault), men’s 100 m hurdler Sergey Shubenkov (silver), men’s high jumpers Mikhail Akimenko (silver) and Ilya Ivanyuk (bronze) and 20 km walk silver medalist Vasiliy Mizinov. Out; there are no Belarusian entries either.
Of the folks who are entered:
● There are 1,972 athletes from 192 countries in all
● Men: 1,000 from 164 countries
● Women: 887 from 116 countries
● Mixed: 85 from 16 countries for the Mixed 4×400 m
The most “popular” event in the men’s program is the 100 m, with 76 entries; the smallest event is the decathlon (23) followed by the 10,000 m (27). Same for the women, with 54 in the 100 m, 19 in the heptathlon and 25 in the 10,000 m.
The U.S. team expects to win a lot of medals and there’s a good reason why; look at the largest teams:
● 87: United States
● 41: Germany and Japan
● 36: Great Britain
● 33: Australia, Brazil and Spain
● 86: United States
● 42: Germany and Great Britain
● 34: Canada
● 32: Australia and Jamaica
There are 84 countries with one men’s entrant and 49 single-entry countries in the women’s competition. Sometimes, one is enough. The lone Philippine entrant is men’s vaulter Ernest John Obiena – entered after months of infighting between he, his federation and the Philippine Olympic Committee – who stands fourth on the 2022 world outdoor list at 5.92 m (19-5) and is a definite medal contender.
World Athletics reported that 37 of the 43 individual-event gold medalists from the 2019 Doha Worlds will return, as well as 42 of the 43 individual-event winners from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Russian high jumper Lasitskene is the only one missing). Also:
● “Allyson Felix, the most decorated athlete in World Championships history, will have the opportunity of increasing her record tally. The US sprinter has 18 World Championships medals (13 gold, three silver and two bronze) and has been named as part of USA’s mixed 4x400m squad.
● “The Australian team features the oldest and youngest athletes of the entire championships. 49-year-old Kelly Ruddick is entered for the 35km race walk, while 17-year-old Claudia Hollingsworth will contest the 800m. Ruddick will become the oldest ever athlete to compete in a women’s discipline at the World Championships.”
The meet begins Friday and will be televised in the U.S. by NBCUniversal, mostly on USA Network, but also on NBC (seven of the 10 days), CNBC and on the Peacock streaming service.
Postponed World Games 2022 open in Birmingham
Delayed a year by the pandemic, the 11th World Games opened in front of an enthusiastic crowd of about 27,000 at Birmingham, Alabama’s Protective Stadium, with Mayor Randall Woodfin telling the crowd:
“We’re ready to put the world on notice: Birmingham is here, and we’re ready once again to change the globe. Over the past few years, our world has seen so much division. From global pandemics to political strife, and to social unrest. But as I look out into this crowd, what I see is a world united, right here in Birmingham.”
The event, which was first held in 1981, is a showcase for sports which are not on the Olympic program, but want to be – Flying Disc for example, which was invented in Southern California and wants to be an added for LA28 – and for Olympic federations to demonstrate events they would like to add to the Olympic program.
The Opening Ceremony included a warm welcome for the large Ukrainian delegation and a heavy musical presence that included a 75-piece orchestra, a 120-member youth choir, a 120-member gospel choir, the Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners tuba section and singing stars Nelly, Sara Evans, Shariff Simmons, Sheila E., Tony! Toni! Toné! and Yolanda Adams.
International World Games Association President Jose Perurena (ESP) told the athletes and the audience, “The global pandemic has affected us all, and continues to affect us. We have had to delay the Games by a year and put in place many additional measures. The Organizing Committee, the public authorities, the medical staff and the people of Birmingham have risen to the challenge, enabling us all to be here today. …
“The World Games must serve as bridge-builders. The only walls you will see here in Birmingham are those used by our wall-climbing athletes.”
The competition began on Saturday, with 3,600 athletes from 104 countries competing in 34 sports and 223 events. The first medals were handed out early, with the finals of the outdoor Speed Skating women’s 200 m time trial, won by Colombia’s Geiny Pajaro Guzman in 18.894 at 9:40 a.m. She was followed by men’s winner Duccio Marsili of Italy (17.835).
With the Games in Alabama, American Football has to be on the program, right? And it is, with the NFL partnering with the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) to debut five-a-side Flag Football in 2022. Eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams are playing from 10-14 July in 40-minute games, with Mexico and Austria in the first men’s match and the U.S. women defeating Panama, 31-25 (five passing touchdowns for the U.S.’s Vanita Crouch!), in the inaugural games.
The World Games continues through the 17th; nightly highlights programs are shown on the CBS Sports Network.
Vancouver 2030 Winter Games cost could be $3 billion U.S.
A Friday report by the British Columbia 2030 Feasibility Team showed that a Vancouver 2030 Winter Games could cost C$3.5 to 4.0 billion or U.S. $2.7 to $3.1 billion:
● Organizing Committee: C$2.5 to $2.8 billion (U.S. $1.9 to $2.2 billion)
● Public (Governments): C$1.0 to $1.2 billion (U.S. $774 to $929 million)
The organizing committee funds are assumed to come from the IOC’s contribution, domestic sponsorships, ticket sales, merchandising and other revenue.
The government funding is for “renewing venues for another 20 years”; for building new housing in the area to be initially used as the Olympic Villages and C$560 million or more (U.S. $433 million) for security.
This is in contrast to the 2010 Vancouver Games cost of C$3.6 billion (in 2022 dollars, about U.S. $2.8 billion), thanks to having to build multiple venues. The governmental costs for 2030 are essentially to use the Games as a reason to refresh the competition sites, which are already busy with domestic and World Cup competitions, and to build more local housing, plus the inevitable security costs.
And the Vancouver projected total is higher than the 2030 budgets proposed by Salt Lake City of $2.2 billion (not including security) and $2.4-$2.6 billion for Sapporo (JPN). The next step is approval within the Vancouver bid groups this summer and then regional and national governmental reviews in the fourth quarter.
Sykes elected USOPC chair for 2023-26 term
The former chief executive of the Los Angeles 2028 bid, Gene Sykes, was elected as the new Chair of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, effective 1 January 2023.
Sykes, 64, was selected in a vote last Friday by the USOPC Board over former, two-term Federation Internationale de Ski Council member Dexter Paine, also a member of the USOPC Board as a representative of the National Governing Bodies Council since January 2021.
Both men are in finance, Sykes as co-chairman of Global Mergers and Acquisitions and co-chairman of the Global Technology, Media and Telecom Group at Goldman Sachs & Co., working out of Los Angeles, and Paine as the founder and chair of Paine Schwartz Partners, a leading global private equity firm.
Observed: Their expertise in finance and especially in investments says a lot about why they were the final candidates, replacing Susanne Lyons, a former marketing executive at Visa, who has served as Chair since January 2019.
The USOPC needs more money to do the things (1) athletes, officials and National Governing Bodies want funding for and (2) the USOPC hopes to do. The recently-released USOPC financial statements for 2021 showed the organization was nearing $1 billion in assets – $898.6 million – and had reserves of $568.1 million. But it’s not enough.
For 2021, the USOPC had revenue of $492.7 million, which includes its share of revenue from the International Olympic Committee’s Tokyo 2020 television rights and sponsorship sales (and its own domestic sponsorships) of $396.5 million (80.5%). There was also $39.8 million in donations (8.1%) and $50.9 million in investment income (10.3%).
But that’s more than twice as much as in 2020 ($208.2 million) or in 2019 ($205.2 million). More athlete funding? More NGB funding for coaching education, sport safety and events? That means more money, something Sykes knows a lot about.
Could a private equity partnership to create more nationally-relevant events be on offer?
World Baseball Classic returns for 2023 in Asia and U.S.
The World Baseball Classic is back! The springtime, national team tournament – featuring major-league players – was last held in 2017, with the planned 2021 edition postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic to 2023.
After Japan won the first two editions in 2006 and 2009 and the Dominican Republic won in 2013, the U.S. finally won in 2017 at Dodger Stadium. The 2023 schedule is once again compact, with the tournament taking place from 8-21 March 2023, in Chinese Taipei, Japan and the U.S. The first-round sites, scheduled for 8-15 March:
Pool A: Taichung (TPE)
● Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Italy, Netherlands + a qualifier
Pool B: Tokyo (JPN)
● Australia, China, Japan, Korea + a qualifier
Pool C: Phoenix (USA)
● Canada, Colombia, Mexico, United States + a qualifier
Pool D: Miami (USA)
● Dominican Republic, Israel, Puerto Rico, Venezuela + a qualifier
The top two teams in each pool will move on to the quarterfinals in Tokyo and Miami, with the semis and final (21 March) in Miami. While it takes place during spring training for the Major Leagues, the intensity of national team play makes the WBC a compelling event which continues to have unrealized potential.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
Lots of results after a busy weekend of events around the world:
● World University Games ● The North Carolina bid for the 2027 World University Games got a boost from the North Carolina State Legislature, which approved a grant of $25 million toward the organization of the WUG if North Carolina should be selected as host over Korea’s Chungcheong Megacity bid.
The bid committee estimates the total cost of the event at about $100 million, with the remainder to come from sponsorships, media rights, ticket sales, donations and merchandise. Depending on how the funding is delivered, the state funds could help solve one of the challenging aspects of a winning bid: having the money to start up the organizing committee and gather staff to begin the planning process.
● Athletics ● Sometimes, your timing is off. Tara Davis, the NCAA indoor and outdoor women’s long jump champion in 2021 and the Olympic sixth-placer in Tokyo, suffered three fouls at the USATF Nationals this year and didn’t make the World Championships team for Eugene.
But at 23, she’s not going anywhere, and won impressively in a high-performance meet at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center on Saturday at 7.24 mw (23-9w) with a wind-aid of 2.8 m/s. Only one other woman had jumped 7 m this season, but Davis got three in a row! She began with a foul, then got out to 7.01 mw (23-0w), got a wind-legal jump of 7.03 m (23-0 3/4) – now the no. 3 mark in the world for 2022 – before her winning jump of 7.24mw. She passed her last two rounds; she’s already thinking about Budapest in 2023 and Paris in 2024.
Behind her was Australia’s Brooke Buschkuehl at 7.13 m (23-4 3/4), a national record and – with legal wind – and now the new world leader for 2022, replacing her 2016 best of 7.05 m (23-1 3/4). She’s headed to Eugene.
● Cycling ● If two-time defending Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar (SLO) doesn’t win a stage, he isn’t far back. He concluded the first full week of the most famous race in cycling with a 39-second lead after finishing 7-1-1-3-5 in the last five stages.
In the first climbing stage of 2022 – Stage 7 on Friday – Pogacar showed brilliant form as he won a final sprint over 2021 runner-up Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) on the uphill finish to La Super Planche des Belles Filles in 3:58:40; with a second stage win in a row, he increased his overall lead to 35 seconds over Vingegaard. Saturday’s stage was a hilly, 186.3 km route to Lausanne with Belgian Wout van Aert winning his second stage in 2022 in 4:13:06, out-sprinting Michael Matthews (AUS) and Pogacar, whose lead increased to 39 seconds.
On Sunday, Luxembourg veteran Bob Jungels won his first stage ever at the Tour, riding away in the final 60 km of the 192.9 km, triple climb route for 22-second victory over Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) and 26 seconds over fellow Spaniard Carlos Verona. Pogacar was fifth (+0:49), with Vingegaard right alongside. Third overall is Britain’s Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour winner, now 1:17 back. Le Tour continues through the 24th.
At the 33rd Giro Donne in Italy, Dutch star Annemiek van Vleuten rode away from the field on the challenging, double-climb eighth stage on Friday and claimed a 59-second win that answered the question of whether she could be a three-time winner of the biggest race in women’s cycling. The victory increased her lead to 2:13 over Italian Marta Cavalli. Van Vleuten was fourth in Saturday’s difficult, triple-climb ninth stage, won by American Kristin Faulkner by 59 seconds over Cavalli, in 3:36:36 over 112.8 km.
On Sunday, she finished a casual 64th in the flat, 90.5 km final stage, with the final sprint won by Italy’s Chiara Consonni (2:12:04). Van Vleuten (27:07:26) won the overall title by 1:52 over Cavalli and 5:56 over Spain’s Mavi Garcia; Faulkner was 11th (+18:31). With wins also in 2018 and 2019, Van Vleuten joins four others who have won the Giro Donne three or more times.
The third of three stages of the UCI Track Cycling Nations Cup concluded in Cali (COL), with American Jennifer Valente the star. The gold medalist in Tokyo in the women’s Omnium, Valente won the Elimination Race, then the Omnium and finally the Madison, teaming up with Colleen Gulick! The other multi-event winners were Nicholas Paul (TTO), who took the men’s Sprint and Keirin; Italy’s Jonathan Milan, in the men’s Pursuit and the Team Pursuit, and Martha Bayona Pineda (COL), winner of the women’s 500 m Time Trial and Keirin.
● Football ● It’s a story which grabbed the world’s attention in May 2015, when seven arrests were made before a FIFA meeting in late May in Zurich on corruption charges. Over the next seven years, many more arrests and convictions were made, but two of the highest-profile executives won their day in court last week.
Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter (SUI) and former French star and later UEFA President Michel Platini (FRA) were both acquitted of fraud in a Swiss court in Bellinzona. The case revolved around a 2011 payment by FIFA to Platini of CHF 2 million ($2.64 million at the time) for advisory services from 1998-2002, which the court found to be legitimate.
The Swiss prosecution had called for Blatter, 86, and Platini, 67, to receive suspended jail sentences for “criminal mismanagement” and “misappropriation,” but could not prove their case.
● Judo ● The Budapest Grand Slam was seen as a major tournament, and the results showed it, with Japan winning eight of 14 divisions (!) and France’s 10-time World Champion Teddy Riner serving notice that he is planning for a fifth Olympic Games and a fourth Olympic gold in 2024.
Japanese judoka won three men’s classes, with Olympic champ Hifumi Abe taking the 66 kg, Sanshiro Murao winning at 90 kg and Kentaro Iida collecting the 100 kg gold. Japan won five of the seven women’s divisions: Funa Tonaki (48 kg), Haruka Funakubo (57 kg), Megumi Horikawa (63 kg), Saki Niizoe (70 kg) and Wakaba Tomita (+78 kg).
Riner, who won the +100 kg Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016 and was third in Tokyo, won the men’s title in his first post-Olympic appearance. None of his four bouts took longer than 2:49 and he won by ippon in the final against Jelle Snippe (NED) in 40 seconds.
In the 81 kg division, former Iranian World Champion Saeid Mollei, who left under threat from the regime if he didn’t throw his matches at the 2019 Worlds to avoid facing eventual winner Sagi Muki of Israel, finished second to Brazil’s Guilherme Schmidt. Now 30 and fighting for Azerbaijan, Mollaei faced Muki in the third round and won a tense battle with an ippon 47 seconds into overtime. A battle between friends, who are both winners.
● Sport Climbing ● Indonesia speed-climbing ace Kiromal Katibin stunned the crowd at the IFSC World Cup at Chamonix (FRA) with another world record in the Speed qualifying, flying up the 15 m (49 feet) course in 5.00 seconds!
It’s his fifth world mark since May 2021, posting new records of 5.25, 5.17, 5.10, 5.09 and 5.04, the last two a week ago in Villars (SUI). But it didn’t help in the final, as Jinbo Long of China won the event at 5.11. Katibin was eliminated in the round of 16 and finished ninth in 5.89.
For our updated, 620-event International Sports Calendar for 2022 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!