Today: Last Update:

  • Olympic Newsdesk -- U.S. TV Rights; Rogge in Czech Republic; Rugby Sevens


    U.S. TV Rights Deal on Horizon

    The IOC’s lead negotiator says he expects to award U.S. broadcast rights by July.
    Richard Carrion (left) is leading the negotiations for a new TV rights deal in the U.S. He's pictured here with IOC president Jacques Rogge, who chairs the TV Rights and New Media Commission. (Getty Images)

    "I suspect we will have a deal in place by [the July 6-9 IOC session in] Durban," Richard Carrion was quoted Tuesday by Reuters.

    "Our goal is hopefully to have it by then.”

    The IOC has taken its time to seek a new deal for the U.S., hoping to ride out a recession to get the best price possible. The U.S. TV rights are the IOC’s single-largest source of revenue.

    Carrion, an IOC member from Puerto Rico, has the job of organizing the bidding and meets regularly with the networks to stoke interest in bidding to air Sochi, Rio de Janeiro and maybe the 2018 and 2020 Olympics as well.

    He revealed last month that expected bidders NBC, ESPN, Fox and perhaps a CBS/Turner coalition are interested in a four-Games deal and that he would pitch the idea to the exclusive TV Rights and New Media Commission chaired by IOC president Jacques Rogge.

    Carrion confirmed Tuesday to Reuters that the IOC is willing to entertain an expanded rights package but will ultimately let the broadcasters decide.

    “We are still open to the idea,” he said. “We will listen to their proposals. But it is not something that we are going to demand from them."

    Carrion added that his team is in the process of updating the 2010-2012 TV contract, one for which NBC paid $2 billion.

    A four-Games deal would likely surpass $4 billion, easily a record for Olympic TV rights.

    Rogge Praises Czech Sports Leaders at EYOF

    IOC president Jacques Rogge has praised the Czech government for its efforts in organizing the 10th Winter European Youth Olympic Festival.
    Swedish cross-country skier Sofia Henriksson won Liberec 2011's first gold medal Monday night. (EYOWF)

    Rogge met with Prague Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas on Sunday soon after opening the EYOF at the city of Liberec's Tipsport hockey arena.

    European Olympic Committees president Patrick Hickey and EOC secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi also attended the meeting along with IOC Member Jan Zelezny and NOC president Milan Jirasek.

    Addressing delegations of the 44 nations participating in the week-long event, Rogge gave a speech at the ceremony praising organizers and hailing the development of the EYOF that he launched in 1990 when he was then head of the European Olympic Committees.

    Hickey also addressed athletes and the crowd at the opening. Describing the event as a "fantastic ceremony", he urged the young athletes present to embrace the Olympic values.

    Around 1,500 athletes are competing for 216 medals in the eight disciplines on the EYOF program. They are: ice hockey; figure skating; cross country skiing; ski jumping; Nordic combined; Alpine skiing; snowboarding; and biathlon.

    The Liberec EYOF concludes on Feb. 19.

    Contador Cleared, Doping Ban Dropped

    Three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is cleared of doping charges by the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC).

    The Associated Press reported Tuesday the rider no longer faces the one-year ban previously proposed by the NGB.

    Contador, 28, tested positive for banned substance clenbuterol at last year’s Tour, which he won, but blamed the result on tainted meat.
    Alberto Contador is a three-time winner of the Tour de France. (Getty Images)

    He is also implicated in the ongoing Operation Galgo investigation and was linked to the 2006 Operation Puerto but cleared of any wrongdoing.

    Tuesday’s decision can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by either the World Anti-Doping Agency or the International Cycling Union (UCI).

    "The UCI reserves the right to conduct an in-depth study of the reasons behind the decision before expressing its opinion," the UIC said in a statement shortly after the decision. 

    "In accordance with the regulations the UCI now awaits the full dossier on the case from the RFEC. Once this documentation has been received, the UCI will issue its decision within 30 days.

    If neither WADA nor the UCI appeals, Contador will keep his third Tour title and be eligible to compete for a fourth come July.

    Rugby Sevens World Series Heats Up

    South Africa is a step closer to catching co-leaders England and New Zealand halfway through rugby sevens’ annual World Series.
    Fiji couldn’t catch South Africa in Sunday’s final in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

    The Springbox Seven topped Fiji 24-14 over the weekend to win the U.S. leg of the eight-tournament season.

    The USA Sevens, held for the second straight year in Las Vegas, is the future Olympic sport’s largest event in North America.

    The host country lost to rival Canada on Saturday but beat Uruguay and Japan on Sunday to win the Shield, rugby’s equivalent of the losers’ bracket.

    England and New Zealand are tied atop the Series standings with 80 points each. Fiji and defending champs Samoa sit in second with 64, and South Africa rounds out the top three with 56.

    Four tournaments remain over the next three months in Hong Kong, Australia, England and Scotland.

    The World Series is the top annual competition for rugby sevens, which will make its Olympic debut at Rio 2016.

    IPC Denounces Kiwi Radio Host

    The International Paralympic Committee is calling for the boycott of a New Zealand radio station in the wake of comments made by one of its on-air talents.
    U.S. sprinter Jerome Singleton dove across the 100m finish line in Christchurch to beat Oscar Pistorius of South Africa in a photo finish. (Getty Images)

    Michael Laws of RadioLive said Friday during his weekly talk show that sports for people with disabilities are “ludicrous” and argued that Paralympians should not be eligible for New Zealand’s coveted Halberg Awards, the country’s top sporting honors.

    "If you have had your legs chopped off, you shouldn't be in there at all," Laws told his listeners.

    IPC president Philip Craven hit back Monday in a statement condemning Laws, RadioLive and station owner RadioWorks for its failure to admonish the controversial talk show host.

    "I speak on behalf of the whole Paralympic Movement when I say that I am utterly disgusted at what this individual said,” Craven said.

    "His derogatory comments are an insult to all athletes within the Paralympic Movement who train for long hours each day to compete at the highest level.”

    Craven also refuted Laws’ claims that the competition level in Paralympic Sport is lacking and expressed disappointment that the broadcaster did not attend last month’s IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch.

    "To say there is not a lot of competition in Paralympic Sport is pure ignorance. It's a real shame that he couldn't attend the recent IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch.

    Media Watch

    The Korea Herald profiles sledding pioneer and PyeongChang 2018 sport director Kang Kwang-bae.

    Brian Hutchinson of The National Post reflects on the failed promise of Vancouver’s Olympic Village.

    In an Ottawa Citizen op ed, International affairs professor Andrew Cohen questions whether the Olympics actually changed Canada as a country and Canadians as a people.

    Ed Willes of The Province argues the Vancouver Olympics were “a great 17-day party” but nothing more.

    Jeff Lee of The Vancouver Sun says the Winter Games host is a changed city one year later.

    Written by Matthew Grayson and Mark Bisson.

    For general comments or questions, click here.

    Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.