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Not just what's happening in and around the Olympic Movement and International Sports but what it all means.
We all know what awaits us at the end. What we don’t know, can never know, is when the end comes for each and every one of us. This is why, despite the considerable rancor and conflict in our world, the better path forward is to listen a little bit more, to be just a little more gentle in your words and your manner, a little more kind, to always work toward solution.
This was Patrick Baumann’s way.
It is why his sudden passing at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires has not just stunned but shaken the Olympic landscape. Baumann died from a heart attack, according to FIBA, the international basketball federation. He was just 51.
Baumann served as FIBA’s top administrator for 15 years. He was the key figure behind, among other things, the introduction of its so-called urban discipline, 3x3 ball, into the Summer Games. It will debut in Tokyo in 2020.
And so much more.
The International Olympic Committee, in moving three — not four — candidates along Thursday to the final stage of its 2026 Winter Games process, also signaled unequivocally where it wants those Games to go: Stockholm.
Will Stockholm actually stage the 2026 Winter Olympics? Is there government will in Sweden for this thing? Magic 8-Ball says — what?
This is why Milan and Calgary were also moved along.
Erzurum, Turkey, the fourth entry nominally still in the hunt before Thursday’s policy-making executive board meeting, was always going to get cut. For 2026, it had zero chance. Not fake news.
Also not fake: none of these three may yet make it to the finish line. In which case, what then, Magic 8-Ball?
Is it, “Cannot predict now”? Or, “Outlook not so good”?
As ever, meanwhile, the IOC like Magic 8-Ball speaks in code, and in decoding the announcement that Stockholm, Milan and Calgary were your finalists, it’s 100 percent obvious that the IOC wants to go back to Scandinavia, which after all is the the heart and soul of the Winter Games experience and, indeed, sought to use Thursday’s announcement as a means to deliver this shout-out to the political and governmental authorities in Sweden:
Hey, play ball with us. Because if you do, you’re gonna win.
BAKU, Azerbaijan — These 2018 world championships underscored why judo already is one of the best sports in the Olympic landscape: easy-to-understand action, gender equity, universality, an honor code that promotes if not demands respect for each other as well as the rules and the sport. Further, when it comes to putting on the show itself, and this was richly evident here at what colloquially is called MGA Arena: the shine of world-class production values.
For those who don’t already understand the secret that Olympic insiders do:
Judo is already rising fast. These championships, which wrapped up Thursday, were not just a showcase but a springboard. This whole thing is gonna take off over the next six years, and those years are likely just the start of something really big.
For all the noise in some quarters of the press and from some athletes’ groups, the World Anti-Doping Agency on Thursday did the right thing and reinstated Russia.
Yes, the right thing.
This drama has been going on long enough. At some point there needs to be closure. That time is now.
Of course, the Olympics are rooted in a set of ideals. But the Olympic movement operates in the real world. The real world is about more than just morality. It’s also about all the things that make our world go around, especially where sport and and government intersect, a myriad of interests that include politics, diplomacy, business and hard cash, and to pretend otherwise is silly.
In the 1965 World Series, Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers famously decided not to pitch against the Minnesota Twins on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
Over the past 50-plus years, the Sandy Koufax Yom Kippur story has been told and re-told. It gets told at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, at Friday night dinner tables, at weddings, at Passover and, this is also key, at the 4th of July, over turkey at Thanksgiving and with, say, friends by their Christmas tree. The reason for all this telling is simple. Sandy Koufax proved at the 1965 World Series that American Jews could be both American and Jewish. You didn’t have to choose. You could be both without sacrificing either.
Now comes Dan Kremer, who is Israeli and Jewish, and the World Equestrian Games, which are ongoing now in a little town in the western North Carolina mountains called Tryon — assuming Hurricane Florence doesn’t get there — and, as it turns out, Israel for the first time on the international stage has put together a show jumping team with an eye toward someday making the Olympics, the WEG jumping competition is scheduled for Yom Kippur, September 19, and Dan Kremer made it plain that, just like Sandy Koufax, he could not and would not take part on Yom Kippur.
All of which raises a fascinating series of questions.
It’s not surprising that Larry Probst has announced his intent to step down as chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The only twist is the timing.
Many close observers believed Probst, 68, who has been in the post since 2008, might see through his third four-year term — that is, through the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Instead, the USOC announced Monday that Probst will step down at the end of the year. Susanne Lyons, who served as acting chief executive from the end of February through mid-August, will succeed him. Her first four-year term starts Jan. 1. Sarah Hirshland has taken over as CEO.
To be honest, if I were Larry Probst, I would leave now, too. Any reasonable person would.
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About Alan Abrahamson
Alan Abrahamson is an award-winning sportswriter, best-selling author and in-demand television analyst. In 2010, he launched his own website, 3 Wire Sports, described in James Patterson and Mark Sullivan's 2012 best-selling novel Private Games as "the world's best source of information about the [Olympic] Games and the culture that surrounds them." Read full bio.