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Not just what's happening in and around the Olympic Movement and International Sports but what it all means.
BUDAPEST — Nine years ago in Vancouver, Yuna Kim performed the most ethereal, languid, beautiful free skate imaginable. To George Gershwin’s Concerto in F, she seemed to float above the ice, languid, beautiful, an artist expressing herself physically the way the greatest of the great painters, sculptors, architects and others have revealed their genius in art that moves the soul.
Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you breakdancing, or in Olympic jargon, breaking, the Summer Games heir to the very thing Yuna Kim did so elegantly at the Winter Games, on full display here Friday and Saturday at these inaugural World Urban Games, bound for the global spotlight at the Paris 2024 Olympics, and yo, feel the jam, people.
Yuna Kim danced. It was just on ice.
What do you think this is?
Get over yourself if you don’t think otherwise.
BUDAPEST — Journalists are incessant what-ifers and how-abouters. And here was Balázs Fürjes, who oversaw the Budapest bid for the 2024 Summer Games and is an increasingly influential and important personality in the Olympic movement, briefing a bunch of journalists on a spectacularly sunny Friday as the first events of the World Urban Games got underway.
The topic: Budapest as — like Fürjes — increasingly influential and important player in the Olympic scene.
Consider: 2017 FINA swim championships, widely acknowledged as best-ever. Coming up for sure: 2023 IAAF track and field championships. 2027 FINA champs, again. Keen interest in: 2025 FIG gymnastics championships. Along with so much more, including this inaugural edition of WUG, with roughly 300 athletes from 48 nations across five continents.
BUDAPEST — As ever, the International Olympic Committee speaks in code, and though this very first edition of the World Urban Games is not — repeat, not — an IOC event, you’d have to maybe be one of those people who doesn’t understand why breakdancing is the next big Olympic thing to see that the IOC believes WUG is an idea whose time is, like, now.
Also, that Budapest is a very cool city and, beyond that, that they have proven here to be super-responsible and trustworthy and get stuff done, even — especially — on short notice, which tells you they’re people you want to work with, and, you know, hmm.
It boggles the mind, truly, that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency proved so inept, or something, that it moved Monday to announce it had “withdrawn” action against the world’s No. 1 sprinter, Christian Coleman.
Was its official conduct negligent or more —was it reckless? Why the aggressive advocacy bordering — in recent months increasingly typical of the agency — on religious-style zealotry? Why the arrogance?
How — seriously, how — could USADA not understand the rules?
USADA’s basic mission, fundamentally before all else, is to understand the very rules that it says, time and again, over and over, that athletes must internalize, or else.
And yet — because of USADA’s inability to understand the “whereabouts rules,” it very publicly brought a case against Coleman and, on Monday, embarrassingly — let’s be clear, embarrassingly, shamefully — dropped it.
Someone owes someone something, and before the very serious topic of money damages gets addressed, and that is a legitimate topic for discussion, because these past few weeks have been the height of the European professional track circuit, what there should be first is a very public apology, because — this was wrong.
Very, very wrong.
I was born and grew up in Dayton, Ohio, where nine people were killed and more than two dozen hurt when a gunman with a military-style weapon opened fire over the weekend at a bar.
That attack came just hours after a gunman with an assault weapon killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
That’s 31 people killed in a space of 13 hours — 31 innocent lives, their hopes and dreams gone forever — because of gun violence.
This has to stop.
Shooting needs to be off the Olympic program. The guns need to go.
GWANGJU, South Korea — If ever there was an event that suffered from an Olympic hangover, these 18th FINA world aquatics championships would be right up there on the list of leading candidates. Indeed, a longtime FINA official said, these were the championsihps from the twilight zone.
Some 18 months after the hugely successful — and bitterly cold — PyeongChang Olympics over in South Korea’s northeastern mountains, the action shifted to this nation’s southwest, and Gwangju, into the heat and humidity and, as it turned out, virtually non-stop rain. Strike that. These championships went down to the percussive beat of seemingly endless thunderstorms. There was lightning, too, as immediately before the women’s water polo final, won by the United States over Spain.
They tried to sell this event as a peacemaker: “Dive into Peace,” read the white-on-turquoise slogans plastered all over the venues and, indeed, around town, a nod not just to events on the peninsula but, as virtually everyone in South Korea knows, the events of May 1980, when a democracy uprising climaxed in a bloody battle between the military and locals, the victims now honored in an expansive national cemetery near town.
Instead of peace, however, a balcony in a packed nightclub near the athletes village collapsed early on the morning of July 27, killing two Koreans and injuring at least nine athletes, including four American water polo players.
Meanwhile, inside the venues, athletes from Australia and Britain staged medals-stand protests, purportedly over doping matters tied to the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang. Attendance proved spotty at best; it would be charitable to say there were even hundreds of people on some days at the diving events that opened the meet’s 17-day run. Even the internet — and South Korea is known for its robust internet — didn’t work, and why?
It was thus left to Katie Ledecky, on the meet’s next-to-last night, to provide the emotional rescue — the stuff, the inspiration — that, truly, makes Olympic sport different from everything else.
Essentially, Ledecky all but saved these championships.
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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.