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Not just what's happening in and around the Olympic Movement and International Sports but what it all means.
Here is a multiple-choice quiz. When someone says, “No way, dude,” is he or she referring to the odds of success of:
a) That oiled-up guy from Tonga who walked in the opening ceremony at the Rio 2016 Summer Games, Pita Taufatofua, suddenly appearing in the same outfit at the top of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games halfpipe to announce, as he locks himself into snowboard boots, that he will now throw down — watch out, Shaun White — an unprecedented trick involving corks, flips and other head-spinning gyrations;
b) George McGovern running for president of the United States in 1972;
c) Any city in Europe winning a ballot referendum on the notion of staging the Summer or Winter Olympics;
d) All of the above.
Every four years, I write some variant of this column, which drives my friends (and not) who are soccer crazies absolutely berserk, in significant measure because they know deep down in their soccer-crazy hearts that I am right, that no matter how much they might wish otherwise the United States is not a soccer nation.
This time, I don’t even have to wait four years, until 2018 and World Cup time. Three years will do just fine.
In Cup qualifying, the U.S. men’s national team lost Tuesday night, 2-1, to Trinidad and Tobago at Ato Boldon Stadium (shout-out to Ato!). The U.S. guys are out of next summer’s tournament in Russia.
The International Olympic Committee is fed up to here — no, way past that, up to, like, there — with the now-arrested Carlos Nuzman, head of the Rio 2016 Games and the Brazilian Olympic Committee.
In its zeal to appear decisive in the wake of Nuzman’s Thursday arrest in Rio, the IOC on Friday announced it was suspending both Nuzman and the Brazilian Olympic Committee, which goes by the acronym COB.
Zeal is rarely constructive.
Why? When you act in haste, you generally don’t think through all the consequences of what you’re doing.
It was only a little more than a year ago, standing center stage on a wet and windy night at historic Maracanā Stadium, that Carlos Nuzman, president of the Rio organizing committee, declared at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Summer Games, “I am the happiest man alive.”
He added, “Let’s celebrate together this great victory, this triumph of sport, of youth.” Knowing what we know now: that is what is called chutzpah. Nuzman, authorities said Thursday, had 16 gold bars in a safe in Switzerland.
The real story of Rio, and perhaps the Tokyo 2020 Games as well, is now going to be written, and the International Olympic Committee — which bought itself time with the award of Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028 — is already looking out to the 2026 Winter Games, but the essential disconnect that is Nuzman and the IOC response to his arrest is at the core of why the institution is enduring such profound turbulence.
Anita DeFrantz grew up near Indianapolis. If your perception of Indiana is all “Hoosiers” basketball and corn fields swaying in the midwestern summer sun, know, too, that Indiana was once a Ku Klux Klan mainstay. And that when she was just 3 — this was in the 1950s — Anita’s parents took her and her brother out for a drive just outside Greeenwood, Indiana, where, after walking through the snow, her father read them this sign:
“Don’t be here after dark — nigger.”
This story opens “My Olympic Life,” Anita DeFrantz’s forthcoming memoir, written with Josh Young, and what she says about that experience when she was just a little girl explains almost everything.
Prediction: the Russians will be at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, and as Russians.
Assertion: the Russians should be at the PC 2018 Games, and as Russians.
Rationale: the central principle of the Olympic movement is inclusion.
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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.