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  • Federation Focus: Weightlifting Weathers the Pandemic


    (ATR) Both USA Weightlifting (USAW) and the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) are so far in pretty good financial shape despite the coronavirus pandemic.

    Phil Andrews is currently working for both USA Weightlifting and the IWF. (USA Weightlifting)
    Phil Andrews would know. He’s the Chief Executive Officer for USA Weightlifting and the interim Deputy Director General for the IWF.

    He tells Around the Rings that while USAW is “doing better than most, it’s not to say we’re thriving”.

    Among the positives, the national governing body has managed to limit the loss of its membership, with only about a five percent drop. Andrews says most of the NGBs in the United States are about 20 percent down.

    USAW has received a Paycheck Protection Loan under the U.S. government act aimed at helping small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. Even so, Andrews has taken no salary for the last eight weeks and counting to “ensure everyone stays employed and also to fund our athlete income program in full”. The top athletes in the program earn $4,000 a month.

    No layoffs or furloughs are planned at USA Weightlifting.

    As for the IWF, Andrews says the federation has "good reserves" and that's one of the reasons why it is hoping not to need any money from the IOC. He says the IWF views the current lack of revenue as being delayed rather than never becoming available.

    An additional cost for the IWF will be moving its headquarters from Budapest to Lausanne. Andrews says the move will take place “as soon as Covid allows us”. Discussions are ongoing with the Canton of Vaud for office space in the Olympic capital.

    The move to Lausanne follows last month’s departure of long-time president Tamas Ajan in the aftermath of a German TV documentary accusing Ajan and the IWF of malfeasance tied to finance, governance and doping control.

    The initial report of an independent inquiry by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren and his firm into the allegations is expected on June 4.

    Ice Hockey Elections Postponed

    Rene Fasel presents gold medals to Finland at 2019 world championship. (ATR)
    The election of a successor to International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) president René Fasel seems likely to be postponed until 2021.

    Along with elections for new Council members, the voting was initially scheduled for the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress in St. Petersburg, Russia, in late September. The Council has proposed a one-year extension to its current mandate, with new elections to be held at the 2021 Semi-Annual Congress on a date to be determined.

    The 70-year-old Fasel, who has served as federation president since 1994, announced in November 2018 that he would not run for another term.

    During a video conference call on Tuesday, the IIHF Council also established a set of key proposals, including a two-week delay of the 2021 world championship in Riga, Latvia, and Minsk, Belarus; to be brought up for vote at a virtual 2020 Extra-Ordinary Congress intended for June 24.

    The new dates for the 2021 championship would be May 21–June 6, pending Congress approval.

    “It is already apparent that the start of the season will be delayed for many of our top leagues,” said Fasel. “We have to try and adapt our schedule to be able to give more days for European leagues and clubs to finish their seasons.”

    The 2020 world championship – which would have been ongoing in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland – was cancelled, with no rescheduling dates, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    ITTF Launches World Table Tennis

    The International Table Tennis Federation is not letting the pandemic delay its plans for growing the sport.

    ITTF CEO Steve Dainton on Tuesday announced the launch of World Table Tennis (WTT), which will house the ITTF’s core commercial assets from 2021. The WTT will be responsible for running all of the federation’s events beginning next year.

    The ITTF split the commercial and governance arms of the organization last year, calling it fundamental to driving commercial growth. The structure of the WTT was approved in October of 2019.

    “Our original plan might predate the pandemic that has engulfed the globe, but if ever there was a time to embrace change and reinvent oneself, it is now,” Dainton said in an open letter.

    Among the significant outcomes expected from WTT are increased prize money, new professional event series, an exclusive women’s tour to promote the women’s game, globally renowned commercial partners and investors, enhanced TV production to showcase the sport’s stars, and investment in a new social and digital strategy.

    Homepage photo: ATR

    Written by Gerard Farek and Brian Pinelli

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