Mexico’s Rio Olympics participation under threat

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s participation in next year’s Olympics could be in jeopardy because of a conflict between the government and national sports federations.

The sports bodies are facing financial inspections by a national government agency, which is questioning how funds are being spent.

The International Olympic Committee opposes political interference in national sports bodies. Last month, it suspended Kuwait’s national Olympic committee over government interference, leaving the country’s athletes in limbo for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“It would be a tragedy if Mexico does not participate in the Olympics, although I hope it doesn’t come to that,” said Carlos Padilla Becerra, president of Mexico’s national Olympic committee. “I’m sure this will not happen. Higher-ranking national officials will not prohibit our athletes from competing.”

The Rio Olympics open on Aug. 5, 2016, and close on Aug. 21.

Alfredo Castillo, head of the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports, has been critical of the Olympic Charter, which among many other things spells out the non-interference rules.

“The Olympic Charter is the best invention that has been created to avoid monitoring of how public money is spent and what it yields,” Castillo said.

Castillo has focused on the national federations that run archery, boxing and basketball, and has looked into others.

Padilla said he met with Castillo but failed to find an agreement. He said he subsequently traveled to Switzerland and met recently with IOC President Thomas Bach. He said he showed Bach documents that he said showed government interference.

“For me the unconditional respect of the Olympic Charter is important,” Padilla said. “All I did was make the facts known to the IOC.”

The IOC did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press.

In a statement, Castillo said he would not permit outside forces to meddle in Mexican affairs.

“What’s at stake is not the Olympics but rather the future of sports in the country,” said Castillo, who was appointed earlier this year by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

If Mexico is suspended, its athletes would be barred from representing their country at the Olympics. The IOC could consider giving them special permission to compete as individuals under the Olympic flag, which it has done before for athletes from other countries under suspension.

South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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