Skateboarders’ petition against Olympic inclusion likely a misunderstanding, IOC official says

Skateboarding
AP
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TOKYO (AP) — IOC vice president John Coates is pleased with the “balanced package” of proposed additional sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and expects that skateboarding will soon be represented by a single international federation to push its case for inclusion in the games.

Baseball-softball, surfing, skateboarding, karate and sports climbing were recommended for inclusion last month by the Tokyo organizing committee.

A final decision on which sport or sports to add to the Tokyo program will be made by the International Olympic Committee next August. Under new IOC rules, a host city can propose the addition of one or more sports to their games.

“Our reaction is that it’s a very good balanced package,” Coates said Wednesday. “We have traditional sports, innovative new sports that appeal to the youth of the world. We have outdoor sports, indoor sports. It’s the assessment of the package as a whole that is very important.”

Coates was in Tokyo as head of an IOC “project review” of the city’s Olympic preparations.

In response to media reports citing opposition among some skateboarding groups to be recognized as an Olympic event, Coates said the IOC will recognize a separate skateboarding federation independent of the International Roller Sports Federation.

“Skateboarding is a comparatively new sport,” Coates said. “There are a number of federations that conduct skateboarding events internationally, and we are in discussion with them, and I would expect that one of the federations will be identified in the near future that we will work with and recognize.”

Coates said that a petition by skateboarders not to have their sport included was likely the result of a misunderstanding.

“I’ve seen tremendous support from international and national skateboarders on the basis that there will be a new federation representing them,” Coates added.

Baseball and softball have been out of the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Games, and their proposed inclusion as a joint bid had been considered a virtual certainty because of the high popularity of those sports in Japan.

A recent gambling scandal has tarnished the image of baseball in Japan, but Coates said it was unlikely that would hurt the sport’s chances to get back on the Olympic program.

A pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s most popular baseball team, was suspended for betting on games, including those involving his own team.

“Certainly Illegal betting on games, the IOC has zero tolerance for that,” Coates said. “In drafting the rules for participation of athletes in the games, we make it quite clear that athletes are not allowed to bet on games. … This s a problem that is frowned on in sports in Japan and it’s not going to effect the decision to be taken with baseball.”

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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