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Coe sees track and field healthy ahead of Olympic program

Coe sees track and field healthy ahead of Olympic program

Sebastian Coe believes his sport is in good shape heading into the track and field program at the Tokyo Olympics despite no more Usain Bolt in any events and without any fans allowed in the stadiumBy GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports WriterJuly 27, 2021, 4:17 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — With no Usain Bolt on the track and no fans in the stadium, Sebastian Coe still believes his sport is in good shape heading into the track and field program at the Tokyo Olympics.A potential superstar in the pole vault along with world record threats in both 400-meter hurdles races were cited Tuesday as likely highlights by the upbeat president of World Athletics.“What does the sport look like post-Usain Bolt? Well, it looks healthy,” Coe said three days before track events start at the National Stadium.For that, Coe offered “a heartfelt thank you” to the athletes after a 2020 season almost entirely lost because of the coronavirus pandemic.“They have shown buckets of resilience and fortitude. They have battled through with humor and honor,” the two-time Olympic 1,500-meter champion said. “Under very straitened circumstances — which is what these Games are — we will have, I think, an outstanding track and field championships.”Five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Bolt said farewell to the Olympics with a third straight sweep of the 100, 200 and 4×100-meter relay titles for Jamaica.“Nobody is going to immediately step into Usain Bolt’s shoes,” Coe said, adding “Mondo Duplantis has real rock star quality.”Coe was among the few people in the stadium in Rome last September to see Duplantis clear 6.15 meters in the pole vault, the highest ever outdoors. The 21-year-old Swede, who is based in the United States, also set the world record of 6.18 meters last year during the indoor season.Similarly, Coe watched Karsten Warholm edge closer to the 400 hurdles record in deserted arenas last year. Warholm finally broke the record by clocking 46.70 seconds this month in front of a noisy home crowd in Oslo.The challenge in Tokyo, Coe said, is “to dig deep again and remember what it was that allowed them to perform as well as they did without the stimuli of fans in the stadium.”Coe pointed to “sumptuous” rivalries — such as Warholm with Rai Benjamin, or Sydney McLaughlin with Dalilah Muhammad in the women’s race. At the U.S. Olympic trials last month, McLaughlin set a record of 51.90 to beat the mark set by Muhammad at the 2019 world championships.Also competing in Tokyo will be a limited team of 10 athletes representing “ROC”, the Russian Olympic Committee.“They are not Russian athletes, they are neutral athletes,” Coe insisted.Missing from the Tokyo lineup are 2019 world champions Christian Coleman of the United States in the men’s 100 and Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain in the women’s 400. They have been banned for missed tests or failure to update their anti-doping details.Coe defended the whereabouts rules as “really a big plank of giving confidence to clean athletes. There’s no complexity in this.”And although the National Stadium in Tokyo will be empty for nine days at the Tokyo Olympics, maybe its 68,000 seats will be filled at a future world championships.In a message to Japan, Coe said: “We want you to stage our events.”———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

IOC to adapt refugee athletes program to counter criticism

IOC to adapt refugee athletes program to counter criticism

The IOC says it is working to help give refugee athletes more chances to compete and earn money in international sportsBy GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports WriterJuly 27, 2021, 9:38 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Refugee athletes need to be given more chances to compete and earn money in international sports, the IOC said Tuesday following criticism from runners who left the Olympic program.Several potential members of the Refugee Olympic Team forfeited their chance of competing at the Tokyo Games by leaving in recent years to stay in Europe and avoid returning to a training camp for runners in Kenya.Claims by runners originally from South Sudan about a controlling management style and being denied chances to earn money from races and sponsors were detailed this month by Time magazine.Asked Tuesday about those claims, an International Olympic Committee official overseeing the refugee team said “we are learning through this process.”“We are responding to that as much as we can,” said James Macleod, the IOC’s director of team relations. “We understand that now that the athletes go into this elite athlete pathway coming to compete at the Olympic Games their expectations obviously are heightened.”Macleod noted the IOC created the team program with the United Nations’ refugee agency in Geneva only months before 10 athletes were sent to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.“Life has evolved, the athletes have evolved, their needs have evolved,” said Macleod, adding the IOC has made more money available to support athletes worldwide, including the refugees. “The other thing that we’re trying to do is increase opportunities for them to be able to access sport.”The IOC-supported 29-member refugee team in Tokyo, competing in 12 different sports, includes four middle-distance runners based in Kenya.On selection day last month, IOC President Thomas Bach said the team taking part in Tokyo would “send a powerful message of solidarity, resilience and hope to the world.”Six of the 29 are holdovers from the Rio team. One new member, Kimia Alizadeh, narrowly missed out on winning another bronze medal in taekwondo on Sunday. Alizadeh had taken bronze for Iran in 2016 and then defected citing institutional sexism. She now lives in Germany.A refugee team will be supported and sent to the 2024 Paris Games, the IOC said Tuesday.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Sebastian Coe backs reviewing marijuana rules in doping

Sebastian Coe backs reviewing marijuana rules in doping

Sebastian Coe wants to ensure what happened this month to American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson won’t knock another athlete out of the Olympics in the futureBy GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports WriterJuly 27, 2021, 7:41 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Sebastian Coe wants to ensure what happened this month to American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson won’t knock another athlete out of the Olympics in the future.Richardson, who won the 100 meters at the U.S. trials last month, didn’t travel to Japan for the Tokyo Games after being caught smoking marijuana.Coe, the president of international track body World Athletics, said Tuesday the absence of the 21-year-old Richardson is “a loss to the competition” and added he supports a review of marijuana’s status as a doping substance in light of her case.“It should be. It’s sensible,” Coe said when asked if a rethink was needed about marijuana being on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list.“Nothing is set in tablets of stone,” said Coe, who has asked track’s independent Athletics Integrity Unit to work with WADA. “You adapt and occasionally reassess.”Coe was at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, when Richardson won the 100 in 10.86 seconds. Her flamboyant performance set up a likely duel with two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica in one of track’s most anticipated events.Within days, Richardson’s positive test for a chemical found in marijuana was revealed in a sample taken at the trials, nullifying her result and keeping from earning her qualifying spot in the Olympic race.Richardson said she had smoked marijuana to help cope with her mother’s recent death and accepted a 30-day ban. That ban expired on Tuesday, so she could have competed in the 4×100 relay but she wasn’t selected by the U.S. team.“I am sorry for her that we have lost an outstanding talent,” Coe said three days before the start of the track and field program at the Tokyo Games.Coe, a two-time Olympic champion in the 1,500, acknowledged that current anti-doping rules were applied correctly in her case.“I don’t want to sound like Joe Biden,” Coe said, referring to the American president’s similarly sympathetic yet realistic comments about Richardson, “but the rules are the rules and that is the way they have been interpreted.”After the 2012 London Olympics, the threshold for what constitutes a positive test for marijuana was relaxed in an attempt to ensure in-competition use is detected and not smoking at least days ahead of competition.The WADA rule can be changed again.“It’s not an unreasonable moment to have a review of it,” Coe said. “The AIU will look at this in the light of current circumstances.”WADA updates the prohibited list each year and change could be in place for the 2022 season. That includes a return to Hayward Field in Eugene for the track world championships — the first to be held in the United States and one in which Richardson will be among the favorites.“She,” Coe said, “will bounce back.”———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Russians suspected of doping stopped from going to Olympics

Russians suspected of doping stopped from going to Olympics

Some Russian athletes were denied places on the country’s Olympic team of 335 athletes for the Tokyo Games because they are under suspicion of dopingBy GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports WriterJuly 23, 2021, 8:08 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Some Russian athletes were denied places on the country’s Olympic team of 335 athletes for the Tokyo Games because they are under suspicion of doping.The World Anti-Doping Agency said Friday it intervened to stop several Russians from competing based on evidence from the Moscow testing laboratory that was shut down in 2015. The database and samples from the long-sealed lab were finally given in 2019 to WADA, which prepared and shared about 300 potential cases for governing bodies of Olympic sports.“It was not particularly complicated,” WADA director general Olivier Niggli told The Associated Press. “There was not many but there was a handful, I would say, of athletes who would still potentially be at the Games which we would qualify as strong (database) cases.“And none of them are here,” Niggli said. “They will not be competing.”Fallout from the database case led to a ban on Russia’s national identity at the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.The 335 athletes accredited for Tokyo are officially competing for ROC, the acronym for the Russian Olympic Committee. The word “Russia” is banned from their uniforms.Gold medalists from Russia will not hear their national anthem on the podium but instead a familiar piece of piano music composed by Tchaikovsky. A Russian Olympic flag will be raised, not the national flag of white, blue and red horizontal stripes.Getting the database from Russia was supposed to bring closure to the state-backed doping scandal that tainted the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and prevented many athletes from going to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.WADA investigators found the database was manipulated while in the hands of Russian law enforcement. Information was altered and deleted, and false emails tried to incriminate lab officials who became whistleblowers.A panel of three Court of Arbitration for Sport judges imposed a two-year slate of punishments in December. WADA originally requested four years.WADA expressed disappointment with a CAS verdict at a news conference on Friday in Tokyo.“We have made our arguments, we got a decision, it is what it is,” Niggli later told the AP.One concession from CAS is letting the Russian uniform be in white, red and blue, the colors of the country’s national flag. Russians were not allowed to wear their colors at the past two track world championships, and WADA wanted neutral uniforms at the Olympics.“CAS decided that this was going too far, this was unfair to a generation of athletes who had nothing to do with what happened in the past,” Niggli said. “The vast, vast majority of the delegation that is here from Russia is made up of athletes who were not competing back in 2012, 2013, 2014.”———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

IOC to include athletes kneeling in highlights, social media

IOC to include athletes kneeling in highlights, social media

The International Olympic Committee says it will now include images of Olympic athletes taking a knee in its official highlights reels and social media channelsBy GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports WriterJuly 22, 2021, 7:02 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — After images of Olympic soccer players taking a knee were excluded from official highlight reels and social media channels, the IOC said Thursday that kneeling protests will be shown in the future.Players from five women’s soccer teams kneeled in support of racial justice Wednesday, the first day it was allowed at the Olympic Games after a ban lasting decades.The concession under Olympic Charter Rule 50, which has long prohibited any athlete protest inside event venues, was finally allowed this month by the International Olympic Committee.The IOC has tried to reconcile enforcing the rule while recognizing, and sometimes celebrating, the iconic image of American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raising a black-gloved fist on the medal podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.On Wednesday, the British and Chilean teams kneeled before the opening games and were followed by the United States, Sweden and New Zealand players in later kickoffs. The Australia team posed with a flag of Australia’s indigenous people.Those images were excluded from the official Tokyo Olympic highlights package provided by the IOC to media including The Associated Press that could not broadcast the games live.Official Olympic social media channels also did not include pictures of the athlete activism.“The IOC is covering the Games on its owned and operated platforms and such moments will be included as well,” the Olympic body said Thursday in an apparent change of policy.The IOC said hundreds of millions of viewers could have seen the footage watching networks that have official broadcast rights and “can use it as they deem fit.”The decades-long ban on all demonstrations was eased by the IOC three weeks ago when it was clear some athletes — especially in soccer and track and field — would express opinions on the field in Japan.It was unclear if the IOC would distribute images of an athlete raising a fist at the start line, as United States sprinter Noah Lyles has done before his 200-meter races in the past year.Two reviews of Rule 50 in the previous 18 months by the IOC’s own athletes commission had concluded Olympic competitors did not want distractions on their field of play.The new guidance allows taking a knee or raising a fist in pre-game or pre-race introductions but not on medal ceremony podiums. The IOC will still discipline athletes who protest on the podium.Sports governing bodies still have a veto, and swimming’s FINA has said its athletes are prohibited on the pool deck from any gesture interpreted as protest.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Brisbane picked to host 2032 Olympics without a rival bid

Brisbane picked to host 2032 Olympics without a rival bid

Brisbane has been picked to host the 2032 OlympicsBy GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports WriterJuly 21, 2021, 9:36 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Brisbane was picked Wednesday to host the 2032 Olympics, the inevitable winner of a one-city race steered by the IOC to avoid rival bids.The Games will go back to Australia 32 years after the popular 2000 Sydney Olympics. Melbourne hosted in 1956.“We know what it takes to deliver a successful Games in Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told International Olympic Committee members in an 11-minute live video link from his office.When the award was later confirmed, with Brisbane winning the vote 72-5, Morrison raised both arms in the air and gave two thumbs up.The victory led to a fireworks display in Brisbane that was broadcast to IOC members in their five-star hotel in Tokyo.Brisbane follows 2028 host Los Angeles in getting 11 years to prepare for hosting the Games. Paris will host in 2024.The 2032 deal looked done months before the formal decision at the IOC meeting, which was held ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games.The IOC gave Brisbane exclusive negotiating rights in February. That decision left Olympic officials in Qatar, Hungary and Germany looking blindsided with their own stalled bidding plans.Though the result was expected, a high-level Australian delegation went to Tokyo amid the COVID-19 pandemic to present speeches, films and promises on stage.The city of Brisbane sent Mayor Adrian Schrinner, the state of Queensland sent Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Australia’s federal government sent sports minister Richard Colbeck to woo Olympic voters.They were joined by long-time Australian Olympic official John Coates, now an IOC vice president who shaped the fast-track selection process two years ago that now rewarded his Brisbane bid.The first-time format was designed to cut campaign costs, give the IOC more control in dealing discreetly with preferred candidates and removed the risk of vote-buying.The project was described by the IOC as “a passion-driven, athlete-centric offer from a sports-loving nation.” Events will be staged across Queensland, including in Gold Coast, which hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games.Brisbane’s renowned cricket stadium, known as the Gabba, will be upgraded and may host the sport at the Games. Cricket was played once at the Olympics, at the 1900 Paris Games.The next three Summer Games hosts — starting with Paris in 2024 — are now secured in wealthy and traditional Olympic nations without any of the trio facing a contested vote.The IOC and its hands-on president, Thomas Bach, have torn up the template of traditional bidding campaigns and hosting votes to lock down preferred cities with the minimum risk.Paris and LA were competing for 2024 until Bach and Coates oversaw including the 2028 rights in an unprecedented double award four years ago.The future hosts offer stability for the IOC which was stung by the two previous Summer Games contests being tainted by allegations of vote-buying when multiple cities were on the ballot.The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics are still under investigation by French prosecutors. They have implicated officials who then lost their place in the IOC family as active or honorary members.A low-risk future beckons for the IOC following the often-troubled Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games in February, which will throw scrutiny on China’s human rights record.Key partners have also been secured through 2032. The IOC’s signature broadcasting deal with NBC and top-tier sponsors Coca-Cola, Visa and Omega are tied down for the decade ahead.With only major cities staging the Summer Games from Beijing in 2008 through Los Angeles, Brisbane positioned itself as a new kind of project.“We want to show the world that mid-sized cities and regions can host the Games without financial distress or missed deadlines,” Palaszczuk told voters.Brisbane said it already has 84% of stadiums and event venues in place to fit the IOC’s modern demand of avoiding excessive spending and potential white-elephant projects.A new swimming arena is planned and billions of dollars will be spent on transport projects — not because of the Olympics but in time for them, Brisbane officials said.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

WHO leader says virus risk inevitable at Tokyo Olympics

WHO leader says virus risk inevitable at Tokyo Olympics

The head of the World Health Organization says the Tokyo Olympics should not be judged by the tally of COVID-19 cases that arise because zero risk is impossibleBy GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports WriterJuly 21, 2021, 7:29 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — The Tokyo Olympics should not be judged by the tally of COVID-19 cases that arise because eliminating risk is impossible, the head of the World Health Organization told sports officials Wednesday as events began in Japan.How infections are handled is what matters most, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a speech to an International Olympic Committee meeting.“The mark of success is making sure that any cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible and onward transmission is interrupted,” he said.The number of Games-linked COVID-19 cases in Japan this month was 79 on Wednesday, with more international athletes testing positive at home and unable to travel.“The mark of success in the coming fortnight is not zero cases,” Tedros said, noting the athletes who already tested positive in Japan, including at the athletes village in Tokyo Bay, where most of the 11,000 competitors will stay.Teammates classed as close contacts of infected athletes can continue training and preparing for events under a regime of isolation and extra monitoring.Health experts in Japan have warned of the Olympics becoming a “super-spreader” event bringing tens of thousands of athletes, officials and workers during a local state of emergency.“There is no zero risk in life,” said Tedros, who began his keynote speech minutes after the first softball game began in Fukushima, and added Japan was “giving courage to the whole world.”The WHO leader also had a more critical message and a challenge for leaders of richer countries about sharing vaccines more fairly in the world.“The pandemic is a test and the world is failing,” Tedros said, predicting more than 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 worldwide before the Olympic flame goes out in Tokyo on Aug. 8.It was a “horrifying injustice,” he said, that 75% of the vaccine shots delivered globally so far were in only 10 countries.Tedros warned anyone who believed the pandemic was over because it was under control in their part of the world lived in “a fool’s paradise.”The world needs to produce 11 billion doses next year and the WHO wanted governments to help reach a target of vaccinating 70% of people in every country by the middle of next year.“The pandemic will end when the world chooses to end it,” Tedros said. “It is in our hands.”———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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