Jean-Claude Killy, Gilbert Fell, Jean-Benoit Gauthier

IOC convinced there will be no discrimination at Sochi Olympics

18 Comments

Russia’s law banning gay propaganda toward minors doesn’t violate the Olympic charter, and Russia is ready to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said Thursday.

“The Olympic Charter states that all segregation is completely prohibited, whether it be on the grounds of race, religion, color or other, on the Olympic territory,” IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean Claude-Killy said in French, according to The Associated Press.

Killy said he was convinced Russia will respect the Olympic Charter.

“That will be the case, we are convinced,” he said. “Another thing I must add: the IOC doesn’t really have the right to discuss the laws in the country where the Olympic Games are organized. As long as the Olympic Charter is respected, we are satisfied, and that is the case.”

(An earlier version of The Associated Press story quoted Killy saying he was “fully satisfied” over Russia’s anti-gay law. The AP misquoted Killy and amended the story.)

Killy and the IOC Coordination Commission concluded its 10th and final inspection of Sochi before the opening ceremony Feb. 7.

“Our impression is unanimous, everything is very impressive,” Killy said, according to R-Sport. “Everything is almost in place, there are just a few minor things that have to be done, but those minor things, those details make a great difference,” he said without going into detail. “There are still a lot of things to be done.”

Killy, the triple Olympic Alpine skiing champion in 1968, said the commission deliberated for several days before reaching its conclusion on the anti-gay law, which was passed in June.

Killy’s statement agrees with what then-IOC president Jacques Rogge repeated in August:

“We have received strong oral but also written reassurances that there will be no discrimination for the people who will attend the Games in Sochi,” Rogge said. “We are going to inform all the National Olympic Committees and the athletes who want to have clarity that we are being comforted by the fact that the Russian Federation agrees to respect the Olympic Charter.”

In August, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets for a 2 1/2 month stretch around the Olympics.

Sunshine splashed Sochi on Thursday, a welcome sight after floods and mudslides caused a state of emergency in the Olympic host city. Killy said there was no damage and that a similar event in February would not stop the Games.

“I understand this is a historic event,” Killy said, according to R-Sport. “It would go unnoticed during the Games.”

No guarantees for Olympic luge course, supervisor says

Brittany Bowe, Heather Richardson-Bergsma upset at World Championships

Brittany Bowe
AP
Leave a comment

Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson-Bergsma are the two fastest women’s speed skaters in the 1000m all time, but the Netherlands’ Jorien ter Mors was faster on Friday.

Shani Davis, a two-time Olympic 1000m champion, also finished fifth in the 1500m, behind Russian winner Denis Yuskov.

Ter Mors, the Olympic 1500m champion, upset the Americans in the shorter event at the World Single Distance Championships in Kolomna, Russia.

Ter Mors clocked 1:14.73 in an early pair and then nervously watched, her hands gripping her face, as Richardson-Bergsma and Bowe skated in the final two pairs.

Richardson-Bergsma, the world-record holder for eight days until Bowe snatched it Nov. 22, crossed the finish line in 1:14.94 in the penultimate pair.

Then came Bowe, winner of four of the last five World Cup 1000m races. The former Florida Atlantic University basketball player clocked 1:15.01.

Richardson-Bergsma and Bowe earned silver and bronze, respectively. In 2015, Bowe took gold and Richardson-Bergsma silver.

Full results are here.

Bowe and Richardson-Bergsma, who combined to sweep the 500m, 1000m and 1500m World titles last year, could share the podium again in the 500m on Saturday and the 1500m on Sunday.

Bowe and Richardson-Bergsma were part of a disappointing, medal-less U.S. speed skating showing at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The best individual finish between the two was seventh in Sochi.

They’ve dominated since. In the 1000m alone, the Americans combined to win 10 of the last 11 World Cup races.

On the first day of Worlds on Thursday, the Netherlands’ Sven Kramer took the 10,000m and the Czech Republic’s Martina Sablikova captured the 3000m.

Kramer, 29, earned his 16th career World Single Distance Championships title, doubling the number of the No. 2 man all time, Davis. All 17 World champions in the 10,000m have been Dutch.

Sablikova, who reportedly qualified for the Rio Olympics in road cycling, earned her 11th career World Single Distance Championships title. She’s one behind retired German Anni Friesinger-Postma for the women’s record.

MORE: Two years to Pyeongchang: Updates on Sochi Olympic medalists

IOC president: ‘No intention’ by any countries to pull out of Rio Olympics

Thomas Bach
AP
Leave a comment

LILLEHAMMER, Norway (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach said Friday that no countries intend to pull out of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over concerns about the Zika virus.

Bach, speaking ahead of the opening ceremony of the Winter Youth Olympics in Lillehammer, said he has “full confidence” in the actions being undertaken by the Brazilian authorities and global health organizations to combat the outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus.

“There is no intention by [any] national Olympic committee to pull out from the Rio Olympic Games,” Bach said. “This does not exclude that we are taking this situation very seriously.”

Brazil has been the epicenter of the Zika outbreak, which has spread across Latin America and been labeled a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.

Health authorities are investigating whether there is link between Zika infections in pregnant women and microcephaly, a rare condition in which children are born with abnormally small heads. The outbreak has raised concerns ahead of the Olympics, which are still six months away in August.

“We have full confidence in all the many actions being undertaken by the Brazilian and international authorities and health organizations,” Bach said. “We’re also very confident that the athletes and the spectators will enjoy safe conditions in Rio de Janeiro.”

Some athletes, most notably U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, have expressed fears about going to the Olympics. Solo said earlier this week that if the games were being held today, she would not go.

Bach said the IOC was working with national Olympic committees and the World Health Organization to monitor the situation. He reiterated that, because the games are taking place during the Brazilian winter, the colder conditions should mitigate the threat from mosquitoes.

“The World Health Organization has not issued a travel ban,” Bach said. “All the experts agree that the temperatures in the Brazilian winter time when the games are taking place in August … will lead to a very different situation.”

Bach’s comments echoed those of the IOC’s medical director, Dr. Richard Budgett, who told The Associated Press on Thursday that “everything that can be done is being done” to contain Zika ahead of the games, stressing that health authorities have not issued any travel restrictions for Brazil.

Bach is in Lillehammer for the second Youth Winter Olympics, where more than 1,000 athletes from 70 countries between the ages of 15 and 18 will compete in 70 medal events over 10 days.

MORE: Youth Winter Olympics broadcast schedule