Thomas Bach

IOC creates fund for Ukraine athletes

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The International Olympic Committee set up an emergency fund of $300,000 to help Ukrainian athletes amid a difficult situation, IOC president Thomas Bach said in a statement Wednesday.

“The IOC is following the political, economic and social developments in Ukraine with the greatest attention and growing concern,” Bach said. “Also the situation of Ukrainian athletes, including those who have so successfully represented their country in the recent Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, which has dramatically deteriorated.

“For all these reasons I repeat my appeal of Sochi to all political leaders involved to enter into a summit dialogue in the Olympic spirit of mutual respect and peace.

“To help the Ukrainian athletes – wherever they come from in Ukraine and whatever their background – and to mitigate their difficult situation, the IOC has established an emergency fund of USD 300,000. This fund is to be used for the benefit of the Ukrainian athletes, through the NOC of Ukraine, for training and competition purposes.”

Political tensions between Ukraine and Russia were present before and during the Sochi Paralympics, when Ukraine sent one athlete to the Opening Ceremony (out of its delegation of more than 20) and others covered their medals in silent protest on the podium.

The Ukrainian city of Lviv is bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

New York Governor open to Olympic bid proposal

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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