Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov

Man indicted for fixing 2002 Olympic figure skating has ‘life of luxury’

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Russia is providing a safe haven for the man indicted for fixing pairs figure skating at the 2002 Olympics and other criminal activities, according to ABC News.

Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, a 65-year-old man described as a Russian mafia boss, has an Interpol arrest warrant yet lives a life of luxury.

“Frankly, there’s not much that we can do unless he voluntarily decides to show up at [New York’s] JFK [airport] one day,” said FBI agent Mike Gaeta, according to ABC.

Tokhtakhounov was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2002 for allegedly fixing the pairs competition at the Sale Lake City Olympics using bribes and threats.

Tokhtakhounov, known by the nickname “Little Taiwanese,” has denied wrongdoing. The FBI is still keeping tabs on him, according to the report.

“I am not bad, like you think,” he told The New York Times in a June article. “I am not the mafia. I am not a bandit.”

What happened at the 2002 Olympics changed figure skating forever.

In the pairs competition, Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were attempting to keep a Soviet Union/Unified Team/Russia gold-medal streak going that dated to 1964.

The Russians won gold over Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, by a 5-4 judges vote.

The next day, a French judge reportedly said she was pressured by the head of France’s figure skating federation to vote for the Russians. Duplicate gold medals were awarded to Sale and Pelletier in light of the findings with a second, awkward medal ceremony.

The French judge later issued a denial and said she believed the Russians deserved to win.

The other part of the fix was to include a Russian judge voting for a French ice dance team later in the Olympics. Tokhtakhounov reportedly hoped this would help him with a French visa.

The fallout helped lead to an upheaval in figure skating scoring and the trashing of the 6.0 system in favor of today’s code of points.

Tokhtakhounov does not plan on attending the Sochi Olympics.

“It’s too cold,” he told ABC. “I’ll be watching the Olympics on my TV at home in the warm.”

Who will represent U.S. Figure Skating in team event?

2026 Winter Olympic host: Milan-Cortina

Milan-Cortina 2026
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Italy will host the 2026 Winter Olympics, with Milan-Cortina winning an IOC vote over a Swedish-Latvian bid centered on Stockholm-Are.

After Winter Games in Vancouver (2010), Sochi (2014), PyeongChang (2018) and Beijing (2022), they return to a traditional European site for the first time since Italy hosted in Torino in 2006.

The two bids were left after five others dropped out for various reasons, all in 2018: Calgary, Canada; Erzurum, Turkey; Sapporo, Japan; Graz, Austria and Sion, Switzerland.

With the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games hosts both decided two years ago (Paris for 2024, Los Angeles for 2028), next up is the 2030 Winter Games. The U.S. has already said that if it bids, it will be with Salt Lake City, which held the 2002 Winter Olympics.

MORE: Tokyo 2020 Olympic master schedule

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Japan’s gymnastics worlds team: no Kohei Uchimura, Kenzo Shirai

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Not only is Kohei Uchimura going to miss the world championships, but so is 11-time world medalist Kenzo Shirai.

Japan finalized its five-man team for October’s worlds in Stuttgart, Germany, following a national-level meet this past weekend. Uchimura, arguably the greatest gymnast in history, was already out of the running, sidelined with his latest round of injuries.

Shirai, reportedly slowed by a left ankle injury this season, did compete this weekend. But he finished fifth on floor exercise and third on vault, his two best events, and did not earn one of the last two spots on the world team.

Uchimura, a two-time Olympic all-around champion with six world all-around titles, misses worlds for the first time since 2007. Shirai, a 22-year-old with four world titles between floor and vault, had competed in every worlds since debuting in 2013, just after his 17th birthday.

Without their two stars, Japan sends a relatively inexperienced team. Kazuma Kaya and Wataru Tanigawa, both 22, are the only men who have been to a worlds (and were part of the 2018 silver-medal team). The youngest member is 17-year-old Daiki Hashimoto.

Japan has earned a team medal at every Olympics and world championships since 2003, a streak bettered only by the U.S. women.

MORE: Olympic gymnastics team sizes return to five for Paris 2024

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