Tag: 2022 Olympics

Getty Images

FIFA says soccer clubs don’t have to release players for Rio Olympics

Leave a comment

Soccer clubs are under no obligation to allow their players to play in the Rio Olympic men’s tournament, FIFA said Friday.

“The event is not part of the international match calendar,” FIFA said in a press release. “However, FIFA is asking for support from the clubs to allow players who are called up by their national teams to be given the chance to be part of the Olympic experience.”

The move could impact Brazil’s biggest sports star, Barcelona striker Neymar, who has said he’s made his intentions to play in the Olympic soccer tournament known to his club.

In 2012, FIFA ordered club teams to allow under-23 players to compete in the Olympics. In 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Barcelona did not have to release Lionel Messi to compete in the Olympics, though Messi did end up winning gold with Argentina anyway.

In May, Brazil national team coach Dunga, who is also the under-23 Olympic team coach after the firing of Alexandre Gallo, said Neymar’s participation in the Rio Olympics was dependent on talks with Barcelona, according to O Globo.

Neymar may be the 2016 Olympic host nation’s most famous potential Olympian, but there is at least some question of whether he will suit up at the Rio Games.

Copa America Centenario is slated to take place from June 3-26. Soccer at the 2016 Olympics takes place from Aug. 3-20. Neymar plays for Barcelona in La Liga, whose season usually begins in late August. That would be a busy summer of national team duty, which may not sit well with Barcelona.

Three of the world’s other top players — Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Messi — also play internationally for nations that qualified for Rio 2016 (Portugal, Sweden and Argentina).

World Cup winner Germany also qualified for Rio.

Olympic soccer teams are made up of players aged 23 and under. There’s also an option of having three over-age players, which is where Neymar, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic and Messi would come in.

Some nations take greater advantage of the Olympic rule that allows three over-age players more than others. In 2012, Brazil used its exceptions on three exceptional players —HulkMarcelo and Thiago Silva — who started for Brazil in the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil, which has won five World Cups, has never won Olympic gold in soccer. It won silver in 1984, 1988 and 2012 and bronze in 1996 and 2008.

Neymar, then 20, was part of the 2012 Olympic team that lost to Mexico in the final.

Also Friday, FIFA confirmed that the Qatar 2022 World Cup would not interfere with the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, as the IOC has said for months.

The 2022 World Cup dates are Nov. 21-Dec. 18, which will coincide with various winter sports seasons.

MORE SOCCER: World Cup players left off U.S. Olympic soccer qualifying roster

Beijing to host 2022 Winter Olympics; first city to hold Summer and Winter Games


Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city to hold a Summer Games and a Winter Games, after beating Almaty, Kazakhstan, in an International Olympic Committee members vote Friday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Beijing received 44 votes to Almaty’s 40.

“Just as with the Beijing 2008 Summer Games, the Olympic family has put its faith in Beijing again to deliver the athlete-centred, sustainable and economical Games we have promised,” the Beijing bid committee said in a statement. “This will be a memorable event at the foot of the Great Wall for the whole Olympic family, the athletes and the spectators that will further enhance the tremendous potential to grow winter sports in our country, in Asia and around the world.”

Beijing, site of the 2008 Olympics, plans to spread 2022 Olympic events across three clusters over 100 miles and use the Bird’s Nest stadium for Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as it did seven years ago. One of the lowest-latitude Winter Olympic hosts will supplement natural snow with man-made snow.

The Water Cube, where Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in 2008, will become the Ice Cube, used for curling.

It will mark the third straight Olympics in East Asia, following the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Almaty hoped to bring the Olympics to Kazakhstan for the first time and to the smallest nation by population since Athens 2004 (and Lillehammer 1994 for the Winter Games).

Also Friday, the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics were awarded to Lausanne, Switzerland, over Brasov, Romania, in an IOC members vote.

Watch Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic promo video

Both 2022 Winter Olympic bids made presentations to IOC members earlier Friday, starting with Almaty. The Kazakh bid team, which included Sochi Olympic bronze medalist figure skater Denis Ten, emphasized its bid’s advantages over Beijing — lots and lots of natural snow and a compact venue plan.

“Real snow,” “a winter wonderland” and “frostbite” were uttered.

All proposed venues were within a 30km radius of the Olympic Village, a statistic repeated in the presentation.

“No bus, train or car rides for hours,” Almaty bid vice chairman Andrey Kryukov said. “No one endures many hours just to enjoy snow and ice events in a single day.”

Almaty pointed out that it would become the first Central Asian nation to host an Olympics.

“Historic moment as a finalist,” Ten said. “A tremendous victory just by being here.”

Kazakhstan prime minister Karim Massimov delivered Almaty’s final speech, asking IOC members to “have faith in us.”

“Perhaps because we are unknown to most of you, some might consider us a risky choice,” he said, adding that all bid cities have a level of risk before concluding with, “Almaty is not a risky choice. We are a golden opportunity. We are a golden opportunity to prove that smaller, advancing nations can successfully host the Winter Games.”

Beijing came next, armed with a delegation including 7-foot, 6-inch retired basketball star Yao Ming, who also played an ice hockey goalie in a recorded promotional video. Its message often reminded IOC members of the city’s successful 2008 Olympic Games.

“China is a longtime friend and partner of the Olympic movement,” said China Olympic Committee vice president Yu Zaiqing, also an IOC vice president. “You trusted us then [in 2008], and we delivered on every expectation. We hope you will trust us now.”

The Beijing team said hosting the Winter Games would encourage 300 million Chinese to participate in ice and snow sports, building a foundation for the future of the world’s most populous nation.

It also addressed concerns. Beijing mayor Wang Anshun said there’s a $130 billion plan to enhance air quality for a “clean energy future.”

The bid’s venue plan spreads across some 100 miles, but Wang said a not-yet-finished high-speed train would take riders from venue to venue in as little as 20 minutes (and as much as 50 minutes, a promo video said last year).

Beijing’s bid would require man-made snow, but speakers said more than half of the country has below-freezing temperatures, the whole country has more than 500 ski resorts and Beijing has 17 ice rinks.

“Beijing 2022 is a Games about the future of winter sport,” Yu said. “We hope it will have a future of millions of new fans, a future of new sponsors, partners, a future of new athletes, opportunities.”

The 2024 Olympic host will be voted on in 2017. Budapest, Hamburg, Paris, Rome and a U.S. city are stated bidders so far.

Jim Craig wants to sell ‘Miracle on Ice’ memorabilia, gold medal

Almaty or Beijing? IOC set to choose 2022 Winter Olympic host

Sochi Olympics Biathlon

The differences between 2022 Winter Olympic host city finalists Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing start with size.

Look at the nations’ most famous athletes on hand for the International Olympic Committee vote in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Friday.

Kazakhstan has Olympic bronze medalist figure skater Denis Ten, who is 5 feet, 6 inches. China brought Yao Ming, the retired basketball star who is 7 feet, 6 inches.

Only two cities are Olympic bidding finalists, for just the second time in 34 years.

If Almaty wins, it will mark the first Olympics in Kazakhstan. The nation would be the smallest by population to host an Olympics since Greece in 2004 and smallest for a Winter Olympics since Norway in 1994 (Kazakhstan’s first time independently at the Olympics after the Soviet Union breakup).

If Beijing wins, it will become the first city to host a Summer and Winter Olympics, after it put on the 2008 Summer Games, the first held in the world’s most populous nation.

The bid committees will make presentations to IOC members between 10:30 p.m. ET Thursday and 1 a.m. Friday, followed by the vote and then the announcement of the host city between 5:30-6 a.m. (full session schedule here). The 2020 Youth Winter Olympic host city announcement is also scheduled for that half-hour window (either Lausanne, Switzerland, or Brasov, Romania).

The session will be streamed live on the Olympic YouTube channel, an IOC spokesman said. Also on Olympic.org here.

It’s the first time there will be fewer than three finalists, following European bid dropouts, since 2006 (when Torino beat Sion, Switzerland), but it is far from a simple vote, said Rob Livingstone, producer of GamesBids.com, covering Olympic host city bidding.

“A lot of people are calling it a landslide for Beijing,” he said. “I don’t think it will be.”

Almaty’s bid fits well with the IOC’s Agenda 2020, which IOC president Thomas Bach has called “a strategic roadmap for the future” of the Olympics and stresses reduced costs in bidding.

“A lot of the venues are already built, and they’re building more for the Universiade in 2017 [the 2017 World University Winter Games hosted by Almaty],” said Livingstone, who visited Almaty. “It really is a compact footprint. Nothing’s too far to drive to. They’ve got lots of natural snow and a winter sports culture.”

He added that Almaty lacks experience in Olympic bidding, hotels and, especially compared to Beijing, familiarity to IOC members, who are not allowed to visit bid cities before the vote (save the four members on the IOC evaluation commission).

“It’s the kind of place you have to see to get it,” Livingstone said. “Otherwise you don’t know what’s there. That’s a big stumbling block.”

The Beijing bid plans to reuse its iconic Summer Olympic venues. The Bird’s Nest stadium would host Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as it did in 2008. The Water Cube, where Michael Phelps won eight gold medals, will become the Ice Cube for curling.

“The big pro that Beijing has is the same thing with 2008, a huge market for sponsors,” Livingstone said. “If they [IOC members] think Beijing is the safe choice, they’ll go with it. Tokyo was the safe choice in 2020 [beating Istanbul and Madrid in a 2013 vote].”

The Beijing bid is more spread out, with mountain events slated to be held as far away as Zhangjiakou, which is 100 miles northwest. A planned high-speed railway would take passengers from Beijing to Zhangjiakou in 50 minutes, according to a Beijing 2022 promo video launched last fall. A third venue cluster in Yanqing is situated between Beijing and Zhangjiakou.

“They’re going to get it done,” Livingstone said of the expensive railway, “but it’s something that’s debatable whether it’s necessary if they don’t get the Games.”

Beijing faces familiar concerns from the 2008 Olympics, air pollution and human-rights issues. Kazakhstan also is under scrutiny for its human rights record.

Almaty’s slogan, “Keeping It Real,” emphasizes a Beijing weakness — a lack of snow. The last two Winter Olympic hosts — Vancouver and Sochi — also ended up dealing with this issue. Beijing officials are confident they can rely on man-made snow.

Jim Craigs wants to sell ‘Miracle on Ice’ gold medal, more