Today: Last Update:

  • Belarus Shakeup; Luge Track Closure; 2019, 2021 FINA Bidders; Coe's New Role


    Lukashenko Fires Sports Minister, Aide

    Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus and its NOC, fired his sports minister and top sport aide following the country's “failures” at the London Olympics.
    Oleg Kachan (MST.BY)

    A statement on the presidential website on Sunday said sports minister Oleg Kachan and Igor Zaichkov, Aide to the President for Physical Education, Sport and Tourism Development, were “relieved” of their posts.

    No further details or explanations were offered.

    Belarus targeted 25 medals in London, but won 12. At the Beijing Games, the country won 19.

    On Friday, Lukashenko spoke at the Belarus National Olympic Committee meeting, saying: “let us remember about responsibility. I would like to remind you that the President of the country has every right and authority to hold each one, starting from an athlete to a top-ranking executive, responsible.”

    “Belarus was 26th in the unofficial medal scoreboard in London. This is certainly not a disaster. However, evaluating everything that is done for the sport in our country, we have the right to expect better results.”

    Luge Track Closure

    The closing of the 2006 bobsled and luge track in Turin appears to be a case of real estate evaluations.
    Luge competition during the 2006 Winter Olympics (Getty Images).

    Svein Romstad, secretary general of the International Luge Federation, tells Around the Rings the land was purchased by a U.S. corporation that deemed the best use of the land did not include a sliding venue “when applying the traditional commercial real estate principle of ‘highest and best use of the land.'"

    “Ever since the Olympic Games in 2006, we have been using the track on a regular basis, including hosting a World Championships,” he added.

    “So, unlike some venues that have been pretty much abandoned following an Olympic Games, this was an operational venue that simply fell prey to a commercial real estate evaluation.”

    Tennis Champions in Istanbul

    Olympic gold medalist Serena Williams defeated silver medalist Maria Sharapova at the 2012 WTA Championships in Istanbul.
    Serena Williams en route to the title in Istanbul. (Istanbul 2020)

    Sinan Erdem dome hosted the year-end showcase, and attendance was at its highest in thirteen years.

    The eight top-ranked women all participated in the tournament. This included world number one Victoria Azarenka and Polish flagbearer Agnieszka Radwankska.

    “Istanbul continues to prove itself as a trusted host city for international sporting events. This year alone, the city has hosted numerous major sporting competitions – demonstrating that it is a city that is not only passionate about sport, but one with proven experience in providing the optimal athletic conditions for Olympic-standard athletes to perform,” said Istanbul 2020 bid leader Hasan Arat.

    Istanbul will host the Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon in October and the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in December.

    2019, 2021 FINA Bidders

    It’s a three-way race for hosting rights to the World Aquatics Championships in 2019 and potentially 2021.

    FINA announced Saturday that the national federations of China, Japan and Korea each expressed their intention to bid ahead of the Oct. 22 deadline.

    At this stage, the cities from each country are to be confirmed, though Around the Rings is told 2015 Summer Universiade host Gwangju is South Korea’s choice.

    A meeting Jan. 16 in Lausanne will further inform candidates about the process.

    Formal bids are due April 4 with presentations to the FINA Bureau scheduled for July 19 in Barcelona on the sidelines of the 2013 World Aquatics Championships.

    After the presentations, the Bureau will vote for 2019 and likely 2021 as well.

    In the meantime, the World Aquatics Championships head to Kazan, Russia in 2015 and Guadalajara, Mexico in 2017.

    Another New Role for Coe

    Sebastian Coe is cashing in on his successful organization of the 2012 Olympics.
    Sebastian Coe. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)

    According to an Associated Press report, the LOCOG chair will sell his management company for $2.4 million as well as the rights to his earnings for the next 15 years.

    Sports and entertainment firm CSM, headed by former vice chairman of London’s bid Alan Pascoe, will complete its takeover of Coe’s company, Complete Leisure Group, in January.

    The double Olympic champion miler is also guaranteed “commissions, royalties and consulting income” through 2017 as the new executive chairman of CSM.

    Coe has already accepted Prime Minister David Cameron’s offer to become Olympics legacy ambassador and is expected to win the chairmanship of the British Olympic Association next week.

    Boomers Coach Steps Down

    Brett Brown stepped down as head coach of the Australian men's basketball team.

    Brown coached the team from 2009 through the London Olympics in 2012.

    The Boomers finished 10th at the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Istanbul, and their 7th place finish in 2012 was their best ever.

    “I am especially proud of the commitment that Australia's best players made to the Boomer program during this term. I leave with fond memories of a group of players who played with a spirit and toughness that earned the respect of the global basketball fraternity. I am proud to have been their coach,” Brown said in a statement.

    Basketball Australia has not announced a replacement for the Rio 2016 cycle.

    Media Watch

    Cherie Blair alongside David Beckham in Singapore. (Getty Images)
    In extracts from Sebastian Coe's new book "Running My Life" published Monday in The Times of London, the LOCOG chair credits London’s winning bid to former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie going at Jacques Chirac “like a banshee” after the French president insulted British cuisine in the lead-up to the 2005 IOC Session in Singapore.

    Public Ranks Sports Cities in New Index

    Voting is open for the inaugural Sports Cities Index, presented by Around the Rings and TSE Consulting.

    The comprehensive biannual ranking is built around a group of 50 cities selected through criteria such as staging recent and upcoming Olympics or other major multi-sport Games, hosting professional sports teams as well as organizing major championships or world-class events such as tennis Grand Slams and Formula 1 races.

    Though the initial batch is already set, it’s up to the public to help sort them out 1 through 50 based on their perceptions of the cities as having hosted major events, having quality facilities and being healthy and active places to live.

    An online survey open through Nov. 11 asks respondents four brief questions on those themes and then gives them the opportunity to suggest other cities for inclusion in future editions.

    A group of 100 “TSE Survey Experts” drawn from international federations, National Olympic Committees, sports media and other influencers will also respond to the survey.

    Answers from these experts will be combined with those from the general public to produce the final Sports Cities Index, to be released Nov. 16 at the City Events Conference in Lausanne. ATR subscribers will receive results via email Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. ET.

    Written by Ed Hula III, Aaron Bauer and Matthew Grayson

    For general comments or questions, click here.

    20 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.