(ATR) A new discipline at the Winter Olympics marks the start of competition for PyeongChang 2018.
Mixed doubles curling will be the first match of the Games in South Korea, featuring athletes from the United States competing against the Olympic Athletes from Russia team.
The match begins at 09:05 on Feb. 8 in South Korea and will be the first competition shown by U.S. host broadcaster NBC at 23:00 Eastern Time on Feb. 7. The broadcast will not be live as NBC starts its live coverage of the Games on Feb. 8.
Mixed doubles matches between Canada and Norway, South Korea and Finland and China and Switzerland will also begin at the same time.
The teams will continue round-robin match play through Feb. 11 before moving into the elimination rounds on Feb. 12. The mixed doubles curling gold medal will be awarded on Feb. 13 in Gangneung.
After a day of mixed doubles curling and training sessions for skiers, lugers and biathletes, the Winter Olympic will officially begin with the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron on Feb. 9 during the Opening Ceremony.
FIVB Showcases Snow Volleyball
Snow volleyball is gaining popularity around the globe. (FIVB)
Austria’s hospitality house in PyeongChang will host a demonstration of snow volleyball in the midst of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) will showcase the sport during ‘Snow Volleyball Night’ on Feb. 14. Some of the world’s best beach volleyball and court volleyball players will play friendly matches against other Olympians.
After the match, FIVB will hold a press conference with FIVB second vice president Aleksandar Boricic, Austrian Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss and top athletes. The FIVB executive will speak about the sport and what’s in store for the future.
Snow volleyball’s Olympic aspirations may have to be put on hold for another four years as Beijing 2022 said it would not be introducing new winter sports for the Winter Olympics in China. Beijing 2022 made the announcement that was approved by the IOC during its Session in PyeongChang.
“We are excited ahead of this truly unique opportunity to showcase Snow Volleyball to members of the Olympic family, sports officials, fans and media,” said Boricic. “We are confident that many will share our excitement for this rapidly growing sport.”
FIVB President Ary Graça said in a statement that the federation’s full plans for the discipline will be revealed during the 2018/2019 winter sports season.
“We believe that volleyball is now accessible to everyone, from the summer to the winter, from the beach to the mountains,” said Graça. “It is our mission to be the world’s number one family sport, and Snow Volleyball brings us closer to this goal.”
FIFA Turns to Rodchenkov in Russian Doping Probe
FIFA is reportedly increasing its investigation into possible doping cases within the Russian national football team.
According to the Daily Mail, football’s world governing body is probing the squad’s alleged part in the Russian national doping conspiracy. The paper reports that FIFA is now seeking the cooperation of Russian whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory who oversaw Russia’s doping and is now in a witness protection program in the United States.
Jim Walden, Rodchenkov’s lawyer, has confirmed that his client is helping FIFA gather evidence against Russian football players. Dr. Rodchenkov is said to have admitted that Russia’s national football teams and their 2014 World Cup squad were part of a doping system designed to fool testers.
FIFA has come under pressure to ensure there is a full inquiry into the claims of Russian doping. Recently, Vitaly Mutko had to resign as the 2018 World Cup chairman after being heavily implicated in the Russian doping conspiracy . FIFA, however, has yet to appoint an independent investigator to follow possible traces of doping within the Russian national team.
Richard McLaren, the independent investigator of the Russian doping conspiracy appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), identified 34 suspect Russian football samples in his initial probe.
The doping scandal in Russia broke when it was discovered that its state security service, the FSB, had developed a way of opening urine-sample bottles to replace doped urine with clean urine.
Although subsequent investigations detected the cheating scheme, it has now been thrown into question after a recent ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport suggesting it was not effective enough to secure doping convictions against 28 Russian Winter Olympic athletes.
The International Olympic Committee is now considering an appeal of that decision.
Written by Kevin Nutley and Javier Monne
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