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  • Olympic Newsdesk -- IOC Members in South Africa; Russia Sports Minister Under Fire


    Bach, Samaranch Ready for Germany-Spain Semi-Final

    IOC vice president Thomas Bach and Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. are in South Africa to cheer on their teams in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup.

    Germany meets Spain in the semi-final of the tournament in Durban tomorrow; today's semi-final is a clash between Uruguay and the Netherlands in Cape Town.

    Bach, who is head of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, and Samaranch were invited by FIFA to attend the semi-finals and final. IOC president Jacques Rogge, who was in London yesterday to check out the Olympic Stadium, arrives in Johannesburg on July 10 and will watch the final at Soccer City on Sunday.

    Before the first semi-final clash at Green Point Stadium, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee's president Gideon Sam and CEO Tubby Reddy treated Bach and Samaranch to a tour of Cape Town and visit to the place in the Cape Winelands where former South African president Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned.

    SASCOC chief executive Tubby Reddy tells Around the Rings there are no specific events taking place to mark the one-year-to-go milestone to the opening of the IOC Session in Durban. The Session opens July 6, 2011.

    Reddy says SASCOC is hosting a dinner for Rogge on Saturday, the eve of the World Cup final. SASCOC chiefs plan to talk with Rogge about a possible 2020 Olympic bid.

    On Monday, Rogge will visit Olympic House in Johannesburg where he will address representatives of 30 to 40 national federations.

    Russian Sports Minister Deflects Criticism

    Vitaly Mutko came under fire for his expenses at the Vancouver Olympics. (Getty Images)
    Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said the criticism lodged against him for spending $1000 a day on accommodation during the Vancouver Olympics are “nonsense”.

    According to a report from the Russian government , Mutko spent $1400 a day for his 20-day stay in Vancouver and also received 97 breakfast vouchers, the equivalent of five breakfasts a day.

    "Why do those who want to accuse me of something not interest themselves in how much the French minister's accommodation cost?" Mutko asked the Russian daily Vedomosti.

    Mutko, while facing fire over the spending and performance of the Russian team in Vancouver, is not expected to be sacked.

    Singapore Moves Closer to 2010 YOG

    The first-ever Youth Olympic Games will now cost around $279 million, more than triple the original cost, according to the Singapore government.

    The Singapore government originally expected to spend $88 million.

    The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports cites a desire for the Games to be at the highest international standard for the cost increase.

    $188 million of the cost came from contracts given to local companies.

    The cost also includes the Youth Olympic Flame torch relay. The torch relay will cover all five continents and be broadcast to an audience around the globe.

    Public ticket sales for the YOG began Monday in Singapore.

    Closing ceremony tickets are available for $80, $40 and $15.

    Half of the tickets have already been sold, and tickets for all diving, fencing, handball and swimming events are sold out.

    Less than 100 tickets are available for basketball, equestrian, modern pentathlon, shooting and taekwondo.

    Tickets for sport competitions are $10 for preliminaries, $15 for quarter/semi finals and $30 for finals.

    “We are happy that ticket sales to the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games have been encouraging. As tickets are still available, I urge everyone to quickly buy the tickets and join us at the various competition venues as the exhilaration, action and festive mood will be best felt live at the venues,” Kee Nguan Goh, CEO of the Singapore Organizing Committee.

    Caster Semenya Allowed to Run

    Caster Semenya of South Africa can compete in athletics events as a woman.

    The International Association of Athletics Federations announced on Tuesday that Semenya may begin competing immediately.

    Semenya, 19, stepped into a maelstrom of controversy last year when her gender was questioned at the 2009 IAAF world championships where she won the 800m event.

    "I am thrilled to enter the global athletics arena once again and look forward to competing with all the disputes behind me," Semenya said in a statement through her lawyers.

    The IAAF formed a panel to study her case.

    “The I.A.A.F. accepts the conclusion of a panel of medical experts that she can compete with immediate effect,” the federation said in a statement.

    No details about the medical panel’s findings were released.

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    Written by Mark Bisson and Ed Hula III.

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