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.
In blue shading to purple, the big sign to the left of the cauldron read, “The Games are Back.” To the right, purple back to blue, “LA 2028.”
With International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, LA mayor Eric Garcetti and LA 2028 chairman Casey Wasserman looking on, Rafer Johnson — the Rome 1960 decathlon champion who so memorably lit the cauldron at the 1984 Games — lit the cauldron again.
The Games are back.
Paris will stage the 2024 Games and Los Angeles 2028. Last Wednesday, at an assembly in Lima, Peru, the IOC ratified this historic double allocation.
In keeping with the approach that brought the Summer Games back to the United States for the first time in a generation, since Atlanta in 1996, Sunday’s moments at the Coliseum were — yet again — low-key and marked not by any of the excess, entitlement or pompsity too often associated with the Olympic scene but by a genuine display of what the Olympics is supposed to be about:
Friendship, excellence and respect.
Plus, most of all, and this cannot be stressed enough, especially from and for Americans, and from and for Americans especially now: humility.
Maybe you have a Jewish mother. Maybe not. I do. I’m the oldest son, of four boys. Let’s be honest. Being a sportswriter? Is this a doctor, or a practicing lawyer, or something else brag-worthy? OK. Does my mother truly, honestly care about sports? Do you have to ask?
Like me, my mother went to Northwestern. Could she tell you who the Wildcats are playing this weekend? Not if her life depended on it.
So you might understand further how little sports intrudes into my mother’s life, especially these past few days: last week, my mother, her husband of nearly 20 years (my dad passed away many years ago) and the fugly dog had to be evacuated from their home in south Florida because of Hurricane Irma. (Update: some minor damage to the patio outside, more or less everything OK.)
Hurricane be damned, a matter of import apparently had been weighing on my mother’s mind. “I want to tell you something,” she said in that tone that when your mother uses you go, uh-oh. Obliging son that I am, I replied, “Yes?”
It has been a long time since, you know, I lived under my mother’s roof. Even so, she likes to keep up, at least in a general sense, with my whereabouts. She knew I was bound for Peru, and the International Olympic Committee session at which Paris would be awarded 2024 and LA 2028.
“These Olympic people,” my mother said, “have a big problem on their hands.”
LIMA, Peru — The teams from Paris and Los Angeles had not yet even taken to the floor to make their formal presentations Wednesday to the members of the International Olympic Committee when, with president Thomas Bach outlining the run of show, he explained how Paris would be getting the 33rd Summer Games in 2024 and Los Angeles the 34th in 2028.
Not yet, Bach said. Not yet.
Even so, ladies and gentlemen, that is pretty much how the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded.
The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Peru at what should be a moment of triumph, the awarding of the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympic Games to Paris and Los Angeles.
Instead, the news cycle is dominated by headlines trumpeting seemingly more of the same: corruption in the Olympic scene.
Is it really so difficult to understand why taxpayers are so fed up?
If you saw “Icarus” and you are tempted to tsk, tsk about the Russians and re-fight the Cold War via proxy through the Olympics and international sport, remember, please, that karma has its own zen: the American way can gin up the most vivid details to rival any hole in anybody’s wall.
Kayle LeoGrande, the self-described “tattooed guy” who sparked the investigation that ultimately would bring down Lance Armstrong — the investigation that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency would call “a massive team doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history” — that guy — just got tagged with his second doping strike — by USADA — with no less than seven — say that again, seven — not-allowed substances in him.
At one time!
It’s late August. NFL pre-season is underway. Major League Baseball is in full swing. Yet the No. 1 topic across American sports talk radio, just as it has been seemingly all summer, is the NBA, now whether the Lakers and Magic Johnson have nefariously been up to no-good in flirting with Paul George.
The NBA — and by extension, basketball, which is huge internationally — is doing a lot of things right. It has stars. It has personalities. A game is an experience. You go expecting buzz. There's music, lights, cheerleaders (Lawrence Tanter, Showtime, “Laker Girls …”), a kiss-cam and, if a team gets it right like the Chicago Bulls did, a super-cool mascot.
This brings us to track and field, the just-concluded IAAF world championships in London and Hero the Hedgehog.
In life, you have to capitalize on momentum and opportunity. Think of it like running a relay in track and field. It’s a lot easier to succeed when you have a running start.
Track and field is at such a moment, coming out of the 2017 IAAF world championships in London, which featured sell-out crowds at Olympic Stadium, breakthrough performances by the British relay teams and, as well, a U.S. team that won a record 30 medals, including a historic 1-2 finish in the women’s steeplechase that went viral on social media.
With that as backdrop, British Athletics and USA Track & Field on Wednesday announced a one-night, your team against my team throw-down next summer, back at Olympic Stadium.
Organizers are calling it “The Meet.”
LONDON — If you don’t know the rules of steeplechase, here’s a quick crash course, and crash is the word because spills are not uncommon. The runners run 3000 meters. That’s 1.8 miles. There are 28 barriers — that’s the precise word — and seven water jumps.
If you know who Horace Ashenfelter is, call the producers at Jeopardy. You can win a lot of money.
If you don’t, which means you’re not one of Mr. Ashenfelter’s relatives or, otherwise, an all-consumed track and field geek, this: in the biggest surprise of the 2017 IAAF track and field world championships, which wound to a close Sunday, bigger than Justin Gatlin winning, bigger than Usain Bolt and Mo Farah losing, an American, Emma Coburn, won the women’s steeplechase, immediately followed across the line by another American, Courtney Frerichs.
LONDON — Usain Bolt lost. Mo Farah lost. So what?
A mesmerizing show like Saturday’s is all that is great about track and field. Stars. Action galore. A roaring and appreciative crowd in a landmark venue.
Awesome. Truly awesome.
The sun comes up Sunday on a new day, and with it the close of these 2017 IAAF world championships. Bask if you want in the glow if you are given to sentimentality. The realist knows that when the party is over, it is over, and on the track the Bolt and Farah show is over.