Jacques Rogge

IOC wants clarification after Russia gives written confirmation anti-gay rights law won’t be enforced at Sochi Olympics


International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said the IOC is looking at written confirmation from Russia that anti-gay rights activism legislation will not apply to athletes and visitors at the Sochi Olympics, but it needs more clarification.

The Russian law, enacted in June, bans the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors, and carries with it fines and possible prison sentences.

“There are still uncertainties and we have asked for more clarification as of today,” Rogge said at a news conference Friday in Moscow, according to R-Sport. “When we understand the law, we are prepared to abide the Olympic charter, which says sport is a human right and it should be available to all.”

Rogge said the confusion is in the translation of the law from Russian to English.

“The Olympic charter is clear,” Rogge said, according to The Associated Press. “A sport is a human right and it should be available to all, regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation.”

The AP reported Thursday that the U.S. Olympic Committee engaged in discussions with the IOC and the U.S. State Department to ensure the safety and security of U.S. athletes at the Olympics.

“We do not know how and to what extent (the law) will be enforced,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun wrote in a letter addressed to U.S. Olympic organizations date July 25, according to the AP.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he had no tolerance for gays and lesbians to be treated differently.

Last week, the IOC stood by its assurances from Russian officials that the law would not be enforced during the Olympics, despite Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying those “propagandizing” gay relationships would be “held accountable.” The IOC said its Russian source outranked Mutko.

Mutko said Thursday the Western criticism over the law is an attempt to “undermine Russia’s athletic performance” at the Sochi Games, according to R-Sport.

“I would call this a bit of pressure ahead of the Olympics,” Mutko said. “Russia should understand that the stronger we are, the more they don’t like it.”

World Track and Field Championships start amid cloud of doping, missing stars

Bob Beamon on his favorite track and field record, amputee long jumper, Mike Powell’s comeback

Bob Beamon
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NEW YORK — Bob Beamon holds the longest-standing Olympic track and field record, and it looks likely to survive Rio 2016 and cross the 50-year mark.

Beamon leaped 8.90 meters to win the Mexico City 1968 Olympic long jump. It smashed the world record at the time and stood as the longest jump ever until Mike Powell‘s 8.95-meter leap in the epic 1991 World Championships.

Nobody, in any competition, has come within 17 inches of Beamon’s Olympic record since 2009. It would be astonishing if the Olympic record fell in Rio next year.

NBC SportsWorld documented Beamon, Powell, Carl Lewis and the long jump world record last fall.

OlympicTalk spoke with Beamon at NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti‘s Fund to Cure Paralysis dinner at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel Tuesday.

OlympicTalk: Which track and field record, outside of the long jump, impressed you the most?

Beamon: I think that Al Oerter is probably one of the most exciting who has broken world records but also is a five-time Olympian, just incredible [Oerter won four straight Olympic discus titles and held the world record for most of 1962-64]. I think Edwin Moses, 107 wins consecutively [in the 400m hurdles from 1977-87]. I think Carl Lewis duplicating Jesse Owens, four gold medals [in 1984]. He’s amazing. He’s a guy that had all the potential to hold the world record in the 100m, the 200m and the long jump [Lewis held the world record in the 100m only]. I think he’s probably at the top, but of course you have Usain Bolt now who has mastered the 100m and the 200m.

OlympicTalk: You mentioned last year that you were working on a documentary to come out in 2016. What’s the status of that?

Beamon: It’s still going. Since I’ve been doing some things with the IOC but also Adidas, I’ve stayed pretty busy, but, yes, that’s a top priority.

OlympicTalk: How would you feel if you had to compete against impressive German amputee long jumper Markus Rehm, who has won against able-bodied athletes?

Beamon: I think it’s amazing that people don’t give up and that they feel they’re just as competitive as the next person. So you have to look at this athlete as probably, if not, a great one. He has what looks like a handicap, but he’s really not handicapped. If I was competing against him, I would say, “Good luck to you,” because you have the juice to win. I’d give him all his dues.

OlympicTalk: Mike Powell said this year that he was considering trying to qualify for and then entering the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. What do you think of that?

Beamon: I didn’t know that. I think Mike is extremely ambitious, and I think that, you know, who knows? Who knows when you should retire? People are living longer. People are living better. I’m almost 70 years old. Sometimes I feel like I might want to come out of retirement [laughs].

Editor’s Note: Beamon retired before the 1972 Olympics and said he never competed in masters-age track and field competitions.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Usain Bolt beaten by boy YouTube sensation on ‘Ellen’

Baseball qualifying for 2020 Tokyo Games would be tricky

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ROME (AP) — If baseball rejoins the Olympics for the 2020 Tokyo Games, just qualifying for the tournament could be a challenge.

Under Tokyo’s recommendations, the men’s baseball competition would consist of just six teams — two less than the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s proposal.

WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari told The Associated Press on Friday that, in addition to host and automatic qualifier Japan, one team would qualify by winning the 2019 Premier 12 tournament.

The other four entrants could be determined by continental qualifying tournaments: two from the Americas, one from Europe-Africa and one from Asia-Oceania.

The toughest competition could come in an Americas tournament featuring the United States, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Panama and Venezuela.

“It’s going to be a battle to the last out,” Fraccari said.

Under the current plan, the 2017 World Baseball Classic will have no impact on the Olympic tournament. That will give more importance to the Premier 12, a tournament Fraccari devised for the top-12 ranked nations.

The first edition of the Premier 12 will be held in Japan and Taiwan next month.

Fraccari is still holding out hope that his original Olympic proposal of eight teams can be revived.

“There’s still a chance, depending on the number of athletes,” he said.


A combined baseball-softball bid was among five additional sports recommended last month by Tokyo organizers. Karate, surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing were the others.

The International Olympic Committee will make a final decision in August.

The IOC voted in 2005 to remove baseball and softball after the 2008 Beijing Games. As separate bids, the two sports failed to return for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Baseball and softball merged into a single confederation two years ago.

MORE BASEBALL: Mark McGwire remembers Olympic baseball boom in 1984