Qatar Announces Bid To Host 2032 Olympics

Qatar is set to host the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar is set to host the 2022 World Cup.

 

Qatar will seek to host the 2032 Olympic Games, it said on Monday, joining a crowded field and raising questions about scorching summer temperatures and underwhelming attendances at past events.

India, Australia’s Queensland state, the Chinese city of Shanghai and a potential joint bid between South and North Korea are also being touted for the 2032 summer games.

Under changes put forward in 2014, interested countries submit a request to join the non-committal “continuous dialogue”, which Qatar confirmed to AFP it had done via a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne.

“Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a meaningful dialogue with the IOC’s Future Host Commission to explore our interest further and identify how the Olympic Games can support Qatar’s long-term development goals,” Qatar Olympic Committee president Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani told AFP in a statement.

Qatar unsuccessfully bid to host the 2016 and 2020 games, having proposed to host the former in October without first clearing it with the IOC.

It won a waiver to propose hosting the 2020 games, a joint bid with Baku, Azerbaijan, between September 20 and October 20, but failed to make the shortlist.

The 2020 games, postponed to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, were awarded to Japan, which also experiences searing summer temperatures, leading officials to schedule events early in the morning when conditions are coolest.

“Qatar has earned the reputation of a world-class destination for major sporting events,” added Sheikh Joaan, brother of Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

“It is this proven track-record and wealth of experience, along with our desire to use sport to promote peace and cultural exchange, that will form the basis of our discussions with the Commission.”

Summer temperatures can reach 50 degrees celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the nation which abuts the Arabian desert. Heat and humidity were major issues during the road races at last year’s World Athletics Championships held in Doha.

The event was shifted to late September and October over concerns about the gas-rich state’s climate and marathons and race walks were held at midnight.

Even so, humidity hovered around 73 percent and the temperature was 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit) for much of the women’s marathon and images of the runners collapsing and gasping for air led to questions over Qatar’s suitability to host outdoor events outside the cooler winter months.

‘Huge interest’

Perhaps the most stinging off-track criticism of the 10-day World Athletics event was sparked by the spectacle of a near-empty stadium during the opening days, raising fears for World Cup attendances in 2022 and at other sporting events.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe said he was more worried about conditions at the Tokyo Olympics, where summer temperatures have pushed organisers to schedule events for the early morning.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 16, 2020 A man wearing a mask as a precaution against COVID-19 coronavirus disease, walks along the Doha corniche in the Qatari capital. QATAR OUT / AFP.

 

Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup after a bid process that has been attacked by some European nations and media outlets as corrupt, although Doha insists it won fairly.

Discriminatory labour practices and human rights issues facing the migrant labourers building infrastructure for 2022 have been subject to intense scrutiny and criticism since Qatar won the bid in 2010.

“We in the International Olympic Committee are happy with the huge interest in the 2032 Summer Olympics, 12 years before the launch of the games. We are in a great position,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview with Qatar-based broadcaster BeIN on Friday.

“We made sure that our new approach to this kind of intentions works well. We launched a dialogue between the interested national Olympic committees and a special commission in the IOC. Naturally, we welcome Qatar to join this dialogue.”

If Qatar were successful, it would be the first time the event had been held in the Middle East.

 

 

AFP

Olympic Figure Skater Alexandrovskaya Dies Aged 20

This file photo taken on October 27, 2018 shows Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor of Australia performing their free skate during the pairs competition at the 2018 Skate Canada International ISU Grand Prix event in Laval, Quebec. - Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, who represented Australia at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, has died aged 20 after falling out of the window in Moscow, her coach said on July 18, 2020. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP)
(FILES) This file photo taken on October 27, 2018 shows Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor of Australia performing their free skate during the pairs competition at the 2018 Skate Canada International ISU Grand Prix event in Laval, Quebec. – Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, who represented Australia at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, has died aged 20 after falling out of the window in Moscow, her coach said on July 18, 2020. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP)

 

 

Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, who represented Australia at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, has died aged 20 after falling out of the window in Moscow, her coach said on Saturday.

There was no immediate comment from Russian law enforcement agencies but Alexandrovskaya’s coach Andrei Khekalo told AFP the young woman had fallen from a sixth-floor window in central Moscow.

Russian media said she had left a note reading “Lyublyu (I love)”, suggesting it could have been a suicide.

Khekalo said Alexandrovskaya missed a training session in January and was afterward diagnosed with epilepsy and quit the sport.

Even before she was diagnosed with epilepsy she suffered from depression, he added.

“I tried to get her to stay in sport at my own peril,” Khekalo said.

He said she was particularly good at pairs skating. “She was fearless. She was like a fish in the water,” he added.

Overlooked by the Russian system, Alexandrovskaya switched countries and partnered up with Harley Windsor, who eventually became Australia’s first Aboriginal athlete to take part in the Winter Olympics.

The pair were crowned world junior champions in 2017, claiming Australia’s first global figure skating title and getting the nod for the Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Windsor said he was “devastated and sick to my core about the sad and sudden passing of Katia”.

“The amount we had achieved during our partnership is something I can never forget and will always hold close to my heart,” he said in a statement on Instagram.

Peter Lynch, president at Ice Skating Australia, called Alexandrovskaya “a brilliant athlete with incredible drive and determination”.

She and Windsor “did what many thought impossible”, he said in a statement.

“Together they created greatness that will rest in the Australian record books for many years.”

 

 

-AFP

2021 Olympics Will Be Cancelled If Pandemic Not Over – Games Chief

The Olympic Rings are pictured in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on March 21, 2020, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the summer Games amid the spread of the COVID-19. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

 

The postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics will have to be cancelled if the coronavirus pandemic isn’t brought under control by next year, the organising committee’s president said in comments published Tuesday.

The pandemic has already forced a year-long delay of the Games — which are now scheduled to open on July 23, 2021 — but Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said no further postponement was possible.

In an interview with Japan’s Nikkan Sports daily, Mori was categorical when asked if the Olympics could be delayed until 2022 if the pandemic remains a threat next year, replying: “No.”

“In that case, it’s cancelled,” Mori said.

Mori noted the Games had been cancelled previously only during wartime, and compared the battle against coronavirus to “fighting an invisible enemy”.

If the virus is successfully contained, “we’ll hold the Olympics in peace next summer”, he added. “Mankind is betting on it.”

Masa Takaya, a Tokyo 2020 spokesman, declined to comment on a possible cancellation of the Games, telling reporters that Mori’s remarks were based on “the chairman’s own thoughts”.

Japanese organisers and the International Olympic Committee, under heavy pressure from athletes and international sports federations, agreed in March to a year-long postponement of the Games.

READ MORE: UN Tells Firms To Make Worker Returns Safe As COVID-19 Lockdowns Ease

Organisers and Japanese officials have said the delayed Olympics will be a chance to showcase the world’s triumph over the coronavirus, but questions have arisen about whether even a year’s postponement is sufficient.

On Tuesday, the head of Japan Medical Association warned it would be “exceedingly difficult” to hold the Games next year if a vaccine has not been found.

“I would not say that they should not be held, but it would be exceedingly difficult,” Yoshitake Yokokura told reporters at a briefing.

And last week a Japanese medical expert who has criticised the country’s response to the coronavirus warned that he was “very pessimistic” that the postponed Olympics can be held in 2021.

“To be honest with you I don’t think the Olympics is likely to be held next year,” said Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University, at a briefing.

But Tokyo 2020 spokesman Takaya countered that even medical experts said it was too early to make a judgement on such a possibility.

In the interview, Mori also said organisers were considering holding joint opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics and the Paralympics in an effort to cut costs.

Under the plan, the Paralympics would join the Olympic opening ceremony on July 23, and the Olympic closing ceremony would be integrated into the Paralympics closing event in September.

But Mori admitted that Tokyo organisers had not yet obtained the consent of the IOC and their Paralympic counterparts on that plan.

“It’s going to a considerable cut in costs and a big message of victory against the global crisis, but it’s not easy,” Mori said.

AFP

IOC Admits Postponing Olympics An Option, But Cancellation ‘Not On Agenda’

The Olympic Rings are pictured in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on March 21, 2020, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the summer Games amid the spread of the COVID-19. The global sporting calendar has been swept away by the coronavirus pandemic but the International Olympic Committee has insisted the Tokyo Games will go ahead in four months despite growing calls for a postponement.
Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

 

The International Olympic Committee said Sunday that postponing the 2020 Olympics is one of its options as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, but that cancellation of the Tokyo showpiece was “not on the agenda”.

The IOC has faced strong pressure to push back the Games, scheduled from July 24 to August 9, from sporting federations and athletes worried about the health risk as the COVID-19 global death tally went past 13,000 on Sunday.

IOC president Thomas Bach said a decision on when the Games take place would be made “within the next four weeks”.

“Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games,” Bach wrote in an open letter to athletes.

“We have, as indicated before, been thinking in different scenarios and are adapting them almost day by day.”

But, he added that “there are significant improvements in Japan” and he still had hopes the Games could be held on schedule, even if that would present logistical difficulties.

“A final decision about the date of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 now would still be premature,” he said.

READ ALSO: China Embarks On Clinical Trial For Coronavirus Vaccine

Bach explained that the IOC was discussing its options with health authorities and stakeholders.

“We are confident that we will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks.”

He made clear that there would a Games in Tokyo at some point.

“Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody,” Bach said. “Therefore it is not on our agenda.”

– Thumbs down-

The idea of holding the Games on schedule has drawn a swelling chorus of objections.

On Sunday, nine-time Olympic track and field champion Carl Lewis, as well as the head of French athletics added their voices to the US and French swimming federations, the US and Spanish athletics federations, the Norwegian Olympic Committee and past and current athletes.

Sprinter and long jumper Lewis, who won gold at four different Olympics, told Houston television station KRIV, that he backed calls for postponement.

“I just think it’s really difficult for an athlete to prepare, to train, to keep their motivation if there’s complete uncertainty. That’s the hardest thing,” he said.

“I think a more comfortable situation would be two years and put it in the Olympic year with the Winter Olympics (Beijing 2022) and then make it kind of a celebratory Olympic year.”

World Athletics, the governing body of track and field, said they were “ready to work with the IOC and all sport on an alternative date”.

“World Athletics welcomes discussions with the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games and wrote to the IOC earlier today to relay this feedback from its Area Presidents, Council and athletes,” it said in a statement.

On Saturday, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe told AFP that the sporting world was in “uncharted territory”.

“I don’t think we should have the Olympic Games at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety,” said Coe.

US media reported on Sunday that American athletes had voted during a virtual town hall with US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) officials and given Tokyo the thumbs down.

Almost three-quarters of the 300 athletes who met online with USOPC supported delaying the Games, USA Today reported.

In all, 70 percent of the athletes supported a postponement with another 23 percent saying it would depend on the consequences, according to details supplied by a member of the USOPC Athletes Advisory Council.

– ‘Really selfish’ –

Almost a quarter wanted a decision no later than April 15, while 18 percent wanted an immediate decision.

“I feel the IOC is being really, really selfish in trying to push it,” US hammer thrower Gwen Berry said. “And there’s no need to push it.”

US swim and athletics trials to determine the nation’s two largest Olympic delegations are set for June.

“The right and responsible thing to do is to prioritise everyone’s health and safety and appropriately recognise the toll this difficult situation has, and continues to take, on our athletes and their Olympic Games preparations,” said USA Track and Field chief Max Siegel.

“For those reasons, USATF is respectfully requesting that the USOPC advocate to the IOC for the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games.”

The head of the French athletics federation said postponement was inevitable.

“Everyone agrees that the Games cannot be held on the dates planned,” Andre Giraud said.

“If the crisis is contained by the end of May, we can envisage a postponement of the Games to the autumn. But Plan C would be a six-month or one-year postponement,” he said.

AFP

Defiant Olympic Chiefs Face Increased Pressure To Postpone Tokyo 2020

The Olympic Rings are pictured in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on March 21, 2020. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Pressure mounted on Olympic organisers to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games on Saturday after the powerful US track and field federation urged this summer’s event be pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The IOC had refusal to cancel the Olympics, saying that the Games were further away than other shelved events.

USA Track and Field became the latest influential sports body to ask for the Games to be called off after its head Max Siegel “respectfully requested” in a letter that the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) “advocate … for the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo”.

USOPC had said it was too soon to axe the July 24-August 9 Games, much like International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Thomas Bach, who said that it would be “premature” to make such a big decision.

“The right and responsible thing to do is to prioritise everyone’s health and safety and appropriately recognise the toll this difficult situation has and continues to take on our athletes and their Olympic Games preparations,” wrote Siegel.

USATF joined a growing chorus of calls from sports organisations to push back the Olympics, a day after the country’s swimming federation asked USOPC to back a postponement until 2021.

“We urge the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic Movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes,” USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey said in a letter.

That request for a delay was echoed on Saturday by France’s swimming federation which said that the Games could not be organised properly in the “current context”.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe told AFP on Saturday that the sporting world was in “uncharted territory”.

“We have another meeting early next week to discuss the work, given the number of athletes who are struggling to train in various countries due to measures put in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus,” said Coe.

“I don’t think we should have the Olympic Games at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety and a decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly in the coming days and weeks.

“The issue of competition fairness is paramount. We are all managing the situation day by day and increasingly hour by hour.”

The Norwegian Olympic Committee (NOC) quickly followed, saying that it had sent a letter to the IOC on Friday, motivated in part by a Norwegian government ban on organised sports activities which had created “a very challenging time for the sports movement in Norway”.

“Our clear recommendation is that the Olympic Games in Tokyo shall not take place before the COVID-19 situation is under firm control on a global scale,” the NOC said in the letter.

IOC ‘putting us in danger’

The new chairman of the United Kingdom’s athletics governing body also questioned the need to hold the Olympics this summer given the uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19, which has now killed over 12,000 people worldwide according to an AFP tally.

“To leave it where it is creating so much pressure in the system. It now has to be addressed,” head of UK Athletics Nic Coward told the BBC.

On Friday, Bach defended the IOC’s refusal to cancel the Olympics by saying that the Games were further away than other shelved events, such as football’s European Championship which was due to start in mid-June and has been moved to 2021.

“We are four-and-a-half months away from the Games,” Bach told the New York Times.

“For us, (postponement) would not be responsible now.”

Athletes lashed out at IOC advice to continue training “as best they can”, with Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi accusing the body of “putting us in danger”.

“The IOC wants us to keep risking our health, our family’s health and public health to train every day?” asked Stefanidi.

World champion fencer Race Imboden of the United States said on Twitter that he was “worried” about the prospect of the Olympics going ahead.

“We keep being told the Olympic Games are happening. Starting to realise it’s more important to have the games go on than the athletes be prepared or mentally healthy.”

But USOPC chairwoman Susanne Lyons insisted on Friday that organisers had time on their side.

“We don’t have to make a decision. Our games are not next week, or two weeks from now. They’re four months from now,” Lyons said.

AFP

Tokyo Olympics May Be Postponed Due To Covid-19 – Athletics Chief

An athlete holds the Olympic torch during the olympic flame handover ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, on March 19, 2020 in Athens. ARIS MESSINIS / AFP / POOL
An athlete holds the Olympic torch during the olympic flame handover ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, on March 19, 2020 in Athens. ARIS MESSINIS / AFP / POOL

 

World athletics chief Sebastian Coe admitted on Thursday that the Tokyo Olympics could be moved to later in the year by the coronavirus outbreak, but said it was too early to make a definitive decision.

Olympic bosses acknowledged on Wednesday there was no “ideal” solution as a growing number of athletes expressed concern.

The COVID-19 pandemic is playing havoc with the global sporting calendar, forcing the postponement of Euro 2020 and a suspension of the tennis season.

International Olympic Committee chairman Thomas Bach said earlier this week that starting on schedule on July 24 remained the organisation’s goal.

But Coe, who is a member of the Tokyo Olympics Games Coordination Commission, conceded in an interview with the BBC that a delay was possible.

“That is possible, anything is possible at the moment,” said Coe when asked whether the Games could be postponed to September or October.

“But I think the position that sport has certainly taken, and it was certainly the temperature of the room in the conversation I had the other day with the IOC and our other federations, is that nobody is saying we will be going to the Games come what may.

“But it isn’t a decision that has to be made at this moment.”

Coe, who played a pivotal role in securing the Olympics for London in 2012, said postponing the Games until 2021 could present problems.

“That seems on the surface of it an easy proposition, but member federations actually avoid Olympic years often to have their world championships,” he said.

Britain’s retired four-time rowing Olympic gold medallist Matthew Pinsent called for decisive action.

“On a global front we have other priorities and I think the Olympics should at the very least be saying we should postpone or indeed just cancel at this stage and we’ll talk about postponement later on,” he told the BBC.

“I just don’t think there’s much of a choice at this stage.”

AFP

Tokyo 2020: Organisers Hold Rehearsal Amid COVID-19 Fears

Japanese actress Satomi Ishihara waves while holding an Olympic torch during a rehearsal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch relay in Tokyo on February 15, 2020. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
Japanese actress Satomi Ishihara waves while holding an Olympic torch during a rehearsal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch relay in Tokyo on February 15, 2020.
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Tokyo Olympic organisers held a dummy run for the torch relay Saturday as fears over the coronavirus epidemic continue to cast a dark shadow over preparations for this summer’s Games.

A quartet of runners carried unlit torches for some 200 metres each as organisers meticulously went over the fine details before the Olympic flame arrives in Japan to wind its way around the country from March 26 to July 24, when the Games begin.

Watched by security and police, the torch-bearers, sporting the official white Olympic uniform with diagonal red stripe, passed a fake flame to one another followed by onlookers, local residents and city officials as traffic was diverted for the event.

“It’s thrilling to think this will take place across Japan over 121 days,” said actress Satomi Ishihara, who ran the third leg of the relay rehearsal.

“I’m sure it will leave behind a lot of good memories.”

However, concerns over the fast-spreading coronavirus — which has killed more than 1,500 people and infected over 66,000 in China — have triggered calls for Tokyo organisers to reveal whether they have contingency plans, despite their assertions the Olympics will go ahead as planned.

Japan, which registered its first fatality from the disease on Thursday, is one of the worst-hit countries outside of mainland China with at least 30 cases in the country and more than 200 positive tests aboard a quarantined on a cruise ship floating off Yokohama since last week.

 

AFP

Russia Banned From Olympics, World Cup Over Doping

Russia Flag

 

The World Anti-Doping Agency on Monday banned Russia for four years from major global sporting events including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, over manipulated doping data.

WADA’s executive committee, meeting in Lausanne, handed Russia the four-year suspension after accusing Moscow of falsifying laboratory doping data handed over to investigators earlier this year.

Not only will Russia be ruled out of the next Olympic cycle, but Russian government officials will be barred from attending any major events, while the country will lose the right to host, or even bid, for tournaments.

“WADA’s executive committee approved unanimously to assert a non-compliance on the Russian anti-doping agency for a period of four years,” WADA spokesman James Fitzgerald said.

Under the sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women will still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics but only if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.

It will be up to FIFA to stipulate how a team of Russian players can take part in the qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup.

Euro 2020, in which the Russian city of Saint Petersburg will host four matches, is not affected by the ban because it is not defined as a “major event” for anti-doping purposes.

“They are going to have prove they had nothing to do with the non-compliance, (that) they were not involved in the doping schemes as described by the McLaren report, or they did not have their samples affected by the manipulation,” Fitzgerald said.

The independent report by sports lawyer Richard McLaren, released in 2016, revealed the significant extent of state-sponsored doping in Russia, notably between 2011 and 2015.

It led to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) being suspended for nearly three years previously over revelations of a vast state-supported doping programme.

Full disclosure of data from the Moscow laboratory was a key condition of Russia’s controversial reinstatement by WADA in September 2018.

 ‘A tragedy’ 

RUSADA chief Yury Ganus told AFP Monday that his country had “no chance” of winning an appeal against the ban, dubbing it tragic for clean athletes.

“There is no chance of winning this case in court,” Ganus said, with RUSADA’s supervisory board set to meet on December 19 to take a decision on whether to appeal the ban.

“This is a tragedy,” he added. “Clean athletes are seeing their rights limited.”

The WADA decision was widely predicted, with the body’s president, Craig Reedie, having made a presentation Saturday to the Olympic Summit, participants of which “strongly condemned those responsible for the manipulation of the data from the Moscow laboratory”.

“It was agreed that this was an attack on sport and that these actions should lead to the toughest sanctions against those responsible,” the IOC said, asking that the Russian authorities deliver the “fully authenticated raw data”.

Positive doping tests contained in data leaked by a whistleblower in 2017 were missing from the laboratory data supplied in January 2019, which prompted a new inquiry.

Former WADA president Dick Pound, who chaired the commission that in 2015 made damning accusations of mass doping in Russian athletics, said Moscow had this time gone “too far”.

“The IOC is a little bit tired about what Russia has been doing and so I see the IOC probably focusing more on athletes who are newer,” Pound told AFP.

Pound acknowledged the influential role of Russia — which in recent years hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics as well as the football World Cup in 2018 — “on many levels” in the sporting world.

“On the field of play, it is a big, important country. With China and the United States, it’s among the sporting giants, so that’s influential,” he said.

“It’s (also) influential because Russia hosts and is willing to host many competitions for international federations, especially those who don’t have much money of their own, so they have a considerable influence among the international federations.

“And they’ve been quite strategic about making sure that they get Russians into positions on international federations. So they have an impact from inside as well as from outside.”

1948 Olympics Cycling Champion Jacques Dupont Dies Aged 91

File Photo: AFP

 

French cyclist Jacques Dupont, who won a gold medal at the 1948 Olympic Games in London, has died at the age of 91, his family announced on Monday.

Dupont, who was born and died in the village of Lezat sur Leze in the south-west of France, achieved his gold medal at the Herne Hill Velodrome on August 11, 1948.

The aged 20, Dupont eclipsed the field in the 1000 metre time trial, beating Belgian Pierre Nihant by one second. The Briton Tommy Godwin took the bronze.

Two days later Dupont was back in the saddle for the road race which doubled as an individual and team event.

Dupont could only manage 17th in the individual but helped the French take bronze in the team event alongside Jose Beyaert and Alain Moineau.

The Belgians took gold without realising it and only received their medals in 2010 — 62 years later.

Dupont turned professional, winning the French championship in 1954 and the prestigious Paris-Tours in 1951 and 1955.

China Chooses Panda As Winter Olympics Mascot

Children wearing panda costumes dance during the official reveal of the mascots for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games at Shougang Ice Hockey Arena, Shougang Park, Shijingshan District, Beijing in September 17, 2019. NOEL CELIS / AFP

 

China has chosen its most iconic animal — the panda — to be the official mascot of the Beijing Olympics in 2022, the Winter Games organising committee announced on Tuesday.

The mascot, named “Bing Dwen Dwen,” is a chubby giant panda wearing a suit of ice.

The black and white bear has a “heart of gold and a love of all things winter sports,” tweeted the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

For the Paralympic Winter Games, the mascot is a blushing red lantern named “Shuey Rhon Rhon.”

Beijing will be the first city to host both summer and winter Games, after winning the bid in 2015, beating out underdog Almaty.

The Chinese capital held the summer Olympics in 2008 in what was then seen as China sealing its place on the world stage as an emerging superpower.

Beijing will have to rely on widespread use of artificial snow for the Winter Games, and has said it will budget $1.5 billion for investment in Olympic villages, sports venues, and other infrastructure.

The country is also building a high-speed train link from Beijing to Zhangjiakou, a city northwest of the capital where many mountain events will be held.

Some of Beijing’s 2008 venues, however, including its iconic Bird’s Nest national stadium, will be reused for the 2022 Games.

AFP

Team Nigeria depart for Special Olympics World Summer Games

 

Nigeria’s contingent to the Special Olympics World Summer Games has departed Lagos for the multi-sport event which is scheduled to start on March 14 in Abu Dhabi and end on March 21.

The team which is made up of 60 athletes and 18 coaches will compete in 8 Olympic-type sports; Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Football, Table-tennis, Volleyball, Swimming and Cycling. They will also be accompanied by caregivers and medical personnel.

Abu Dhabi 2019 will be Nigeria’s 5th appearance at the world summer games after featuring at the Ireland, China, Greece and USA events.

More than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries will compete in 24 summer sports, along with 2,500 coaches and 20,000 volunteers.

This will be the first Special Olympics World Games to be hosted the Middle East/North Africa region.

The 2019 World Games will kick off with a star-studded Opening Ceremony in the iconic Zayed Sports City Stadium in the heart of Abu Dhabi which the largest sports venue in the Persian Gulf.

In addition to sports, the 2019 World Games will also feature non-sports activities and programs, including Unified Sports experiences, free Healthy Athletes screenings, Global Youth Leadership Summit, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Semenya Takes Gender Rule Challenge To Sports Court

Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya of South Africa went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday to challenge proposed rules that could force her to lower her testosterone levels.

 

Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya of South Africa went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday to challenge proposed rules that could force her to lower her testosterone levels.

Semenya made no comment as she arrived at the court in Lausanne for the start of a week-long hearing that could define the rest of the 28-year-old’s career.

The South African government has said the rules set out by track and field’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), specifically target Semenya and has called them a “gross violation” of her human rights.

The controversial measures would force so-called “hyperandrogenic” athletes or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) to take drugs to lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount if they wish to continue competing.

The rules were to have been introduced last November but have been put on hold pending this week’s hearings. A judgement is expected at the end of March.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe, arriving at the court, said: “Today is a very, very important day.

“The regulations that we are introducing are there to protect the sanctity of fair and open competition.”

The chief advocate for Athletics South Africa, Norman Arendse, said Semenya would give evidence.

“The whole week is going to be important. Obviously the evidence will be evaluated and assessed at the end of the process this week. so today this is the start,” he told reporters.

The issue is highly emotive.

When British newspaper The Times reported last week that the IAAF would argue that Semenya should be classified as a biological male — a claim later denied by the IAAF — she hit back, saying she was “unquestionably a woman”.

In response to the report, the IAAF — stressing it was referring in general terms, not to Semenya in particular — denied it intended to classify any DSD athlete as male.

But in a statement, it added: “If a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in haemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women.

“Therefore, to preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international level.”

Navratilova support

Semenya is not the only athlete potentially affected — the silver and bronze medallists in the Rio Olympics 800m, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, have also faced questions about their testosterone levels.

But it is Semenya, who also won Olympic gold in 2012 and has three world titles to her name, who has led opposition to the proposed rules.

Matthieu Reeb, CAS Secretary General, said the case was highly unusual.

“It is unusual and unprecedented because we never had such a case at CAS,” he said. “What is going to happen I am not able to say, but it is going to be important for sure.”

South Africa’s Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa argues that the rules are “discriminatory”.

“What’s at stake here is far more than the right to participate in a sport. Women’s bodies, their wellbeing, their ability to earn a livelihood, their very identity, their privacy and sense of safety and belonging in the world, are being questioned,” Xasa said on Friday.

On Sunday, tennis great Martina Navratilova threw her weight behind Semenya.

The 18-time Grand Slam singles winner said it was significant that the rules would only apply to female athletes competing in distances from 400m to a mile.

“Leaving out sprints and longer distances seems to me to be a clear case of discrimination by targeting Semenya,” Navratilova wrote in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.

“And can it be right to order athletes to take medication? What if the long-term effects proved harmful?… I hope she wins.”