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Not just what's happening in and around the Olympic Movement and International Sports but what it all means.
LAUSANNE, Switzerland — As expected, the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday gave approval to four sports to join the Paris 2024 program: surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and, quelle horreur for traditionalists, breakdancing, or in IOC jargon, breaking.
“More youth, more urban, more women,” Paris 2024 president Tony Estanguet said of the organizing committee’s goals for its program — the four sports a one-time add not guaranteed to be listed as part of the so-called “core” Olympic program.
Surf, skate and climbing will feature at Tokyo 2020, along with karate and baseball/softball. Breakdance made a breakthrough at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.
LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The International Olympic Committee turned 125 on Sunday. It celebrated by opening a new, $145-million headquarters on the shores of Lake Geneva.
In a news release commemorating the occasion, the current IOC president, Thomas Bach, said he saw “direct parallels’ between the IOC then and now.
“When Pierre de Coubertin founded the IOC, his vision and values at the time went against nationalism, against aggressivity among nations. It was about friendship and understanding. It was about bringing people together. It was about making the world less fragile.
“This is somehow a position we are in this moment with regard to the Games. We see this zeitgeist of rising nationalism. We see this zeitgeist of aggression. It is a great opportunity because we can demonstrate how relevant, how important our values are. We have to fight even more for understanding, for dialogue, for respect.”
On Monday, the IOC confronted its most consequential bid-city election in years, choosing the site of the 2026 Winter Games: Stockholm-Åre in Sweden or Milano-Cortina in Italy. A swirl of complicated dynamics framed the vote, including rising nationalism and aggressive anti-immigrant politics in Italy and, within the IOC itself, purported reforms designed not just to bring the organization into the 21st century but to underscore the import of its values.
In a verdict seemingly at odds with all that lofty rhetoric, one that worldwide could well send taxpayer perceptions of the IOC’s self-proclaimed reforms — dubbed Agenda 2020 and the New Norm — all the way back to the last century, the members picked Milano-Cortina. The vote was not even remotely close: 47-34.
Is Agenda 2020 for real? Or is it really just so much noise?
The 2026 election for the Winter Games, coming right up in just days between Stockholm-Åre and Milano-Cortina, might as well be subtitled: change or be changed meets put up or shut up.
Thomas Bach was elected International Olympic Committee president in September 2013. The next year, in December 2014, the IOC enacted his 40-point reform plan, Agenda 2020, and it has since become – purportedly – the basis of IOC strategic thinking. Layered on top of that came the New Norm in February 2018, 118 more points purportedly designed to effect further change.
Now comes the 2026 election, the first to test the Agenda 2020 blueprint.
The IOC’s difficulty in attracting candidate cities is well known – referendums, anyone? It is enough to note that the IOC almost surely considers it a huge win that for 2026 it has two western European candidates in for a vote.
That, though, is not enough.
To be honest, this space is having a very hard time understanding why Beckie Scott complained about being “bullied” and Edwin Moses said he was told to “shut up,” allegations found to be without merit in a lengthy report made public Wednesday about backstage World Anti-Doping Agency politics.
Politics involves some measure of rough and tumble. Sports politics is for sure politics.
As a graduate of the Northwestern journalism school whose first jobs in the business were in Chicago, where politics are not for the meek, this whole thing has seemed like one big episode from the theater of the absurd.
This episode at WADA has drawn worldwide headlines for months.
It simply does not reflect well on what in a related context in the report, issued Wednesday by the Covington and Burling law firm, is called the “North American” perspective on the long-playing Russian doping saga.
YOKOHAMA, Japan — Along with death and taxes, we experience other certainties.
LIfe also brings us American DQs — and other gruesome weirdnesses — in high-profile relays.
Why this is so remains an enduring mystery. Well, not really. It’s institutional and cultural. But as Sunday night’s close to the fourth edition of the IAAF World Relays proved yet again, it is very much so — so much that after two more DQs and a loss in the men’s 4x1 the happiest person in the U.S. track and field scene, as the jest in the press room went, in a nod to the politics that chronically beset American relays, was assuredly Carl Lewis.
It’s May. The world championships aren’t until the fall, in Doha, Qatar, and all of 2019 is but a prelude pointing toward the big show, Tokyo and 2020. t’s eminently possible this can — could, should — get sorted out by this fall and, presumably, by next summer. Ronnie Baker isn’t here. Christian Coleman isn’t here.
When it comes to the United States in the relays, as literally episode upon episode has made plain, Groundhog Day can happen anytime.
For decades, Iran’s athletes have refused to compete against Israelis. No matter the sport, no matter the situation.
In a historic breakthrough, on Saturday the International Judo Federation announced that for Iran’s judo athletes the boycotts would be no more.
Iran’s Olympic committee and its national judo federation, in a letter dated Thursday and made public Saturday, agreed to “fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle.”
In a statement posted on its website, the IJF said the letter came after talks that followed the “disturbing phenomenon” involving the “sudden ‘injury’ or failure of weigh-in of Iranian athletes,” a “phenomenon which is linked by many observers to the possible obligation of the given athletes to compete against certain countries.”
The IJF, it said, “decided to step up in order to protect the right of athletes to fair competition.”
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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.