Infantino Proposed As IOC Member

Qatar Must Host Best World Cup Ever, Infantino Warns
FIFA President Gianni Infantino gives a press conference following an executive meeting of the world football governing body at its headquarters in Zurich. MICHAEL BUHOLZER / AFP


FIFA President Gianni Infantino has been proposed as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) but World Athletics head Sebastian Coe will have to wait, IOC chief Thomas Bach announced on Thursday.

Bach said Infantino will be officially put forward as a candidate to be a member in January, when he will have to face a vote from the over 100 current members of the IOC.

Bach added Coe has not been proposed for the next session after worries over “the risk of conflict of interest”, adding the “door is still open” for the World Athletics head at the IOC session before next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Infantino’s predecessor Sepp Blatter, who departed from the organisation amid a corruption scandal that swept FIFA, was an IOC member but since succeeding him in 2015 Infantino has never been a member.

Bach also announced 30 athletes are candidates for four seats on the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission, which will be decided during the Tokyo Games.

Among the contenders are high jump world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim, Olympic gold-winning swimmer Federica Pellegrini, double Olympic triathlon gold winner Alistair Brownlee and Spanish basketball player Paul Gasol.


IOC Pledges €500,000 To Help Rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral

A firefighter uses a hose to douse flames and smoke billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP


The International Olympic Committee on Thursday pledged 500,000 euros $562,0000 to help ensure Notre Dame is restored in time for the 2024 Paris Games.

“The aim of completing the reconstruction in time for Paris 2024 will be an extra motivation for all of us,” IOC president Thomas Bach told 2024 Games chief Thomas Estanguet in a letter.

“All the Olympic movement and in particular the IOC have been extremely touched by the instantaneous connection the French have made between Notre Dame Cathedral and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” he wrote.

READ ALSO: 29 German Tourists Killed In Argentina Bus Crash

Estanguet said the Olympic family “wanted to show its solidarity with Parisians and all French people”.

The IOC’s contribution joins donations totalling 850 million euros made since the landmark was gutted by fire on Monday evening.

Notre Dame figures on the route for the 2024 Olympic marathon and on the road cycling circuit.


Former Kenyan Olympic Chief Charles Mukora Dies

File photo of Charles Mukora


Former Kenyan Olympic chief and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Charles Mukora, who was forced to resign from the IOC after the Salt Lake Winter Olympic bribery scandal has died aged 83, the Kenyan Olympic Committee (NOCK) said on Friday.

Mukora, who also served as head coach of the Kenyan team at the 1968 Olympic summer games in Mexico, was one of the six members forced to resign or expelled from the IOC in 1999 following the bribes-for-votes affair.

Salt Lake records showed that Mukora received direct payments of $34,650 but he strongly denied the accusations levelled against him.

“It is my considered opinion that I am an innocent victim of circumstances,” he said at the time.

A former athlete and footballer Mukora also worked in national politics and was elected member of parliament representing Laikipia East in 1992 in the first Kenyan multi-party elections since independence.

As the head coach in Mexico in 1968, he oversaw Kenya’s first-ever gold medals when Naftali Temu and Kipchoge Keino won the 10,000 and 1,500 metres respectively.

Kenyan sports officials paid tribute to Mukora who died after a long illness on Thursday.

“Charles Mukora was one the founding pillars of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, and his tenure saw Kenya firmly established in the global Olympic movement,” said current NOCK chairperson Paul Tergat.

Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei highlighted the many different facets of Mukora’s contribution.

“This is one individual who served Kenya in different capacities internationally and in a very diligent manner. Kenya has lost a dedicated sports leader and servant,” he said.


2032 Summer Games Bid: North, South Korea Delegates Meet IOC

File photo of North and South Korea Flag

The two Koreas on Friday agreed to hold talks with the International Olympic Committee on their joint bid for the 2032 Summer Games in February, Seoul said, as a rapid diplomatic thaw takes hold on the peninsula.

North and South Korean officials will meet with the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland on February 15 to discuss the prospects of co-hosting the 2032 Olympics, according to a joint statement following a cross-border meeting on Friday.

Making a joint bid for the 2032 Games was part of a broader agreement made between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in during their third summit in Pyongyang in September.

If it materializes, it will mark the first time for the Olympics, summer or winter, to be shared by two countries.

The two sides also agreed to form unified teams at the Tokyo Summer Paralympics in 2020, in addition to their earlier deal to jointly compete at the Olympics in the same year.

They have yet to determine which Olympic sport will have North and South Koreans on the same team, but the South’s chief delegate said a decision will be reached in the next few weeks.

“We agreed to narrow down the sports to those that will see a synergy effect under cooperation between the South and North,” vice sports minister Roh Tae-kang said after the meeting, according to pool reports.

The two Koreas technically remain at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty with military clashes often erupting along the frontier.

But ties improved markedly after Pyongyang sent athletes and top delegates — including leader Kim’s younger sister — to the 2018 Winter Games held in the South in February, for which the two rivals also formed a joint women’s ice hockey team.

Kim has made a series of reconciliatory gestures since then, including a landmark summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June and three summits with Moon — a dove who advocates dialogue with the North.


North Korea ‘Likely’ To Join Winter Games, Says IOC Official

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un 

North Korea’s Olympic representative said Saturday the reclusive nation was “likely to participate” in next month’s Winter Games in South Korea, Kyodo news agency reported, in the latest sign of a thaw in tensions on the peninsula.

The comments by Chang Ung, Pyongyang’s representative to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), come a day after the North and South agreed to hold rare talks next week and follow Seoul and Washington’s announcement that they would postpone joint military exercises that rile North Korea.

The Japanese news agency said Chang made the brief comment to reporters during a stopover at Beijing’s international airport.

Kyodo said Chang was believed to be travelling to Switzerland, where the IOC is based, quoting unnamed sources as saying the trip may be aimed at meeting the committee to discuss the North’s potential participation in the Games at Pyeongchang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said in a new year speech that his country wished success for the Olympics, to be held from February 9-25, and would consider sending a delegation.

The two Koreas have been separated by the world’s most heavily militarised border since the Korean War ended in a stalemate in 1953.

Seoul and organisers are keen for the North to take part in the Games to help ease worsening tensions on the Korean peninsula stemming from Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

In recent months, North Korea has held multiple missile launches and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test — purportedly of a hydrogen bomb — in violation of UN resolutions banning such activity by the isolated nation.

The region has been further rattled by tit-for-tat threats and insults between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Winter thaw 

But the new year has witnessed a marked softening of tone.

Seoul has reacted warmly to Kim’s Olympic overture and the two Koreas this past week restored a cross-border hotline that had been shut down since 2016 and agreed to hold high-level talks next week — the first since December 2015.

Those talks are expected to focus on matters including Olympic participation.

Also in recent days, the United States and South Korea agreed to delay their joint military exercises until after the Games, apparently to help ease nerves.

The regular joint drills have been criticised by some as adding to regional tensions. Beijing and Moscow have both called for them to be suspended.

North Korea’s young leader has shrugged off multiple sets of new UN Security Council sanctions as his regime drives forward with its weapons programmes, which it says are needed to defend against US aggression.

The latest round of sanctions passed in December bans the supply of nearly 75 percent of refined oil products to North Korea, puts a cap on crude deliveries and orders all North Korean nationals working abroad to be sent back by the end of 2019.

Sales of all industrial machinery, trucks, iron, steel and other metals to North Korea have been banned, as well as a range of Northern exports.

China, North Korea’s longtime ally and most important economic lifeline, said it had begun enforcing the new restrictions on Saturday.

South Korean opposition parties have struck a cautious tone over the latest developments, warning against making concessions to the North to secure its Olympic participation.


IOC Bans 11 Russian Winter Athletes For Life

Sochi luge silver medallists Albert Demchenko and Tatyana Ivanova were among a group of 11 Russians disqualified for doping and handed lifetime bans by the International Olympic Committee on Friday.

The announcement comes following hearings by an IOC commission into allegations of state-sponsored doping by hosts Russia at the 2014 Winter Games.

Demchenko and Ivanova were punished along with two speed skaters, three cross country skiers, two bobsledders and two ice hockey players.

These latest IOC sanctions brings to 43 the number of Russians caught out by the Oswald Commission into doping at Sochi with three cases pending.

“As some investigations are still ongoing (notably the forensic analysis of the bottles), it cannot be excluded that there might be new elements that would justify opening further new cases and holding more hearings,” the IOC said in a statement.

The raft of punishments have seen Russia lose top spot in the Sochi medals table having been stripped of 13 of their original 33 medals for cheating, slipping down to fourth overall behind Norway, Canada and the United States.

Russia has been banned from taking part at next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea due to this widespread doping.

However, athletes who prove themselves to be clean have been told by the IOC they can compete under strict conditions, and under a neutral flag.

The Russian doping fiasco came to light after the damning World Anti-Doping Agency-sponsored McLaren report deemed the country to have set up an elaborate doping programme involving the manipulation of drug test samples.

Mounting evidence has indicated that the scheme involved senior government officials, including from the Russian sports ministry, with help from secret state agents.


Russia Making Progress Over Doping – IAAF Chief

(File Photo)

IAAF chief Lord Sebastian Coe believes Russia is showing a significant change in its attitude to tackling the doping scandal that saw the nation exiled from world athletics.

Russia has been banned from international athletics competition since November 2015 after doping issues.

The country’s anti-doping agency, RUSADA, is also yet to be declared fully compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Russian athletes have also effectively been banned from next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, unless they can satisfy stringent drug-testing regulations in order to compete as neutrals.

Coe indicated there are reasons for hope that Russia is finally dealing with the problem, but he said the IAAF would still resist setting any time-scale for the nation’s reintegration into athletics.

“We made a decision that in a way was quite different to the one the IOC was confronted with,” Coe told BBC Radio Five Live on Sunday.

“I’ve had 149 or 150 positive tests in the sport, from Russia within a three or four year period.

“It was very clear as far I was concerned and the Council of the IAAF was concerned that nobody else was going to come to our rescue here. We had to take the appropriate action.

“We set up the task force which created the five-step criteria by which they would be judged – and actually they’re moving in the right direction and we’ve got some significant change.

“The task force reports back to the Council once or twice a year and each time they come back and say there’s still more to do.

“But some of the challenges that we were being appraised of just a few months earlier have actually moved.

“I am faithful to the independent work of the task force and the task force will recommend to the council when that moment of reintegration is.”


‘No Concerns’ Over Tokyo Olympic Preparations – IOC

Tokyo organisers have shown they will complete all their 2020 Olympic venues on schedule, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Wednesday at the conclusion of a three-day visit.

Coordination commission chairman John Coates insisted he had “no concerns” over Tokyo’s preparations after local organisers recently unveiled their first new permanent venue.

“We received reports on the progress of venue construction and it’s just not an area that we have any concerns — I have any concerns — about,” he told reporters.

“You’re meeting all your deadlines of construction and I see no reason why, in a country so sophisticated, that this won’t continue to be the case.”

After bungling the rollout of the showpiece Olympic stadium two years ago, Japanese organisers have faced criticism but the successful opening last month of the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, set to host badminton and modern pentathlon fencing, brought a welcome public relations score.

The original plans for the new national stadium were ripped up by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe two years ago because of public anger over its eye-watering $2 billion price tag.

IOC officials have since called on Tokyo to make efforts to further reduce the current $12 billion Games budget.

“We will continue to explore cost reduction opportunities,” promised Coates.

“The next version of the budget is being completed by the end of this year and we’ll see that when we get to Pyeongchang (for the Winter Olympics) in February.”

But Coates also added: “We are confident significant savings can be achieved. But we have to be aware that history shows us sometimes things can get out of hand, so we’ve got to be very careful.”

Meanwhile, the Australian denied any impropriety in his vice chair, Alex Gilady, travelling to Tokyo following recent allegations of sexual assault and harassment dating back to the 1990s during his time as a television executive in Israel.

“I’m aware of the allegations,” said Coates.

“I’m also aware that he strongly disputes those allegations and that his lawyers are disputing those allegations in the Israeli press.

“The IOC has been kept fully informed of all of the legalities that he’s pursuing at the moment. He’s entitled to due process … There’s no basis for him not to be here, that’s our position.”

Local organising president Yoshiro Mori stressed the importance of close cooperation between Tokyo and outlying municipalities, particularly areas devastated by the 2011 tsunami in north-eastern Japan and resulting nuclear crisis.

The 80-year-old former prime minister waxed lyrical about fine cheeses produced in the disaster-hit regions that he and the IOC members had sampled with Japanese rice wine the previous evening, before catching himself.

“Olympic preparations are moving along very smoothly,” he concluded. “Further cost reduction remains a priority but from next year the focus will be firmly on Tokyo so we have to solve any pending issues in the timeline agreed.”


IOC Bans Six Russian Female Ice Hockey Players For Life

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned six Russian female ice hockey players from the Olympics for life over doping allegations linked to the 2014 Sochi Games, the ruling body said on Tuesday.

The decision came a week after the IOC banned Russia from next year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics for what it called “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system.

The IOC, however, left the door open for Russian athletes with a clean history of non-doping to be invited to compete in Pyeongchang as neutrals.

The banned ice hockey players are Inna Dyubanok, Ekaterina Lebedeva, Ekaterina Pashkevich, Anna Shibanova, Ekaterina Smolentseva and Galina Skiba.

“The Russian Team is disqualified from the Women’s Ice Hockey Event and the International Ice Hockey Federation is requested to modify the results of the event accordingly,” the IOC said in a statement on its website.

The Russian women’s hockey team finished sixth at the 2014 Sochi Games.

The IOC decision increased the number of Russian athletes banned for life from the Olympics over alleged doping violations at the Sochi Games to more than 30.

The IOC did not disclose the nature of the hockey players’ alleged doping violations. It also said it had closed a case against a seventh unnamed athlete without sanction.

Russia’s Olympic Committee agreed earlier on Tuesday to support the athletes who choose to compete in next year’s Winter Games in South Korea as neutrals.


Russia Awaits Decision On Winter Olympics Ban For Doping

(File Photo)

Doping-tainted Russia’s 2018 Winter Olympics participation will be decided when the International Olympic Committee meets from Tuesday, in one of the weightiest decisions ever faced by the Olympic movement.

The build-up to the high-stakes summit in Lausanne just 66 days before the start of the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, has been dominated by an almost daily drip of negative news — mostly related to doping — for the winter sports heavyweights.

On November 26, athletics’ ruling body the International Association of Athletics Federations maintained its two-year-long suspension of Russia imposed over claims of state-sponsored doping.

That ban prevented its athletes from competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the World Championships in London earlier this year.

The IAAF felt they were left with little choice after the World Anti-Doping Agency had announced on November 16 that Russia was still not compliant with international rules on drug testing.

WADA’s refusal to lift the suspension of Moscow’s national anti-doping body raised the stakes in Russia’s possible exclusion from Pyeongchang.

Russia’s chances of going to Pyeongchang have been further damaged by a raft of bans handed out to its medallists at the Sochi 2014 Games in the past week.

In total Russia was stripped of 11 of its 33 medals for cheating, meaning it has lost its position at the top of the Sochi medals table to Norway, slipping to fourth place.

The explosive, WADA-commissioned 2016 McLaren report alleged state-sponsored doping in Russia and led to the country being shut out of the agency.

The investigation said the cheating peaked at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where Russian secret agents are said to have engineered an elaborate system of state-backed doping.

– ‘Axis of evil’ –

Among those named and shamed for drug-taking last month was Russia’s flag carrier at the Games, Alexander Zubkov, who was stripped of his four and two-man bobsleigh titles.

The prospect of exclusion from Pyeongchang is causing consternation in Moscow.

Ahead of last week’s draw for the 2018 football World Cup that will be hosted by Russia, Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said the doping allegations were an attempt “to create an image of an axis of evil” against his country.

“But this is all because we are such a great sport superpower,” added Mutko, who was barred from attending the 2016 Rio Olympics over the drug-cheating scandal.

In an appeal to the IOC he added: “We are relying on common sense, on the IOC Charter, on the assumption that no one abolished the presumption of innocence.”

In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States of putting indirect pressure on the IOC to block Russia from the Games in South Korea.

He warned if the IOC left Russia out in the cold, it would cause “serious harm to the Olympic movement”.

“There are two options,” Putin said. “Either forcing Russia to compete under a neutral flag or not letting it go to the Olympics at all.”

“Either one is humiliation for the country,” he insisted.

A ban on Russia would have a major impact on competition in Pyeongchang, notably in disciplines like figure skating, cross-country skiing, speed skating and bobsleigh.

Russia’s ice hockey team has won gold eight times if you include the titles as the Soviet Union and as a united post-Soviet team.

While its situation appears bleak, Russia can take heart from recent history, as WADA’s refusal to re-admit Russia may not be fatal to the country’s chances of competing in Pyeongchang.

In 2016, the IOC ignored the doping agency’s calls to ban Russia from Rio, instead leaving the decision to individual sports bodies.

And historically the IOC has proven reluctant to issue a blanket ban on a single country, one notable exception being South Africa, which under apartheid was barred from the Games between 1964 and 1988.

Read Also: Olympic Medallist Chicherova Doping Appeal Rejected


Kuwait Passes New Sport Law Aimed At Ending FIFA, IOC Bans

Kuwait’s parliament on Sunday endorsed a new law on sport which it hopes will end bans from international competitions over alleged government interference.

World sports bodies led by FIFA and the International Olympic Committee suspended Kuwait in October 2015 for the second time since 2010 over alleged government meddling in sports.

In 2016, the authorities dissolved Kuwait’s sports bodies including its Olympic committee and football federation.

It later set up temporary committees in their place, but FIFA and the IOC have refused to recognise those bodies.

The official KUNA news agency said parliament voted for the new law “in a step affirming the independence of sports”.

The agency also quoted acting minister of state for youth affairs, Khaled al-Roudhan, as saying the law will lead to an end to the ban.

“Now we have a law that fulfills international conditions and criteria,” he said.

Roudhan added that he would soon write to FIFA asking it to lift the ban, KUNA added.

Analysts say Kuwait’s sports crisis, which has blocked the country from taking part in international competitions, is the result of a power struggle within the ruling elite.

Kuwait has been barred from taking part in qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, the 2019 Asian Cup, and before that the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The world bodies have set out three conditions for accepting Kuwait back: it must issue a new sports law in line with international treaties, drop lawsuits it brought against the world governing bodies and reinstate its original sports committees.


Three More Russian Bobsleighers Banned – IOC

(File Photo)

Three more Russian bobsleighers were named and shamed for doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday.

Alexander Kasy’anov, fourth in the two-man bobsleigh, Aleksei Pushkarev and Ilvir Khuzin, both fourth in the four-man bobsleigh, had their results annulled and were given lifetime Olympic bans.

The trio were punished following ongoing hearings by an IOC commission into allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia at the 2014 Games, hosted by Russia.

In the past week, Alexander Zubkov, Aleksei Negodailo and Dmitrii Trunenkov have all been stripped of their four-man bobsleigh gold medal with Russia losing the team title.

Zubkov also had his two-man title scrubbed from the record books.

Wednesday’s latest sanctions brings to 19 the number of Russian Olympians punished on the recommendation of the commission headed by Swiss sports official Denis Oswald.

In a statement from its Lausanne headquarters the IOC announced that “more hearings concerning other athletes will be held over the next few weeks”.

It added: “The Oswald Commission has announced that all hearings for active athletes who could qualify for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will be completed shortly.

The IOC meets next week (December 5-7) to decide whether Russia can compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The statement confirmed: “The decision with regard to the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will be taken by the IOC Executive Board in December based on the findings of the IOC Disciplinary Commission chaired by Samuel Schmid, a former President of Switzerland.”