Getty Images

Patrick Baumann, rising star in Olympic circles, dies at 51

Leave a comment

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Patrick Baumann, the secretary general of basketball’s world governing body who was seen as a potential IOC president, has died at the Youth Olympics. He was 51.

Baumann “unexpectedly succumbed to a heart attack” in Buenos Aires despite getting immediate medical help, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said Sunday in a statement.

“Basketball has lost a leader, an advocate and a friend and our thoughts are with Patrick’s wife and two children at this tragic time,” the Switzerland based FIBA said.

Baumann was FIBA’s top administrator for 15 years, and an International Olympic Committee member since 2007.

“We can hardly believe this terrible news,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement. “We lose a young and sympathetic leader full of hope who was standing for the future of sport. Our thoughts are with his wife, his children and his family.”

Flags will be flown at half-staff at IOC offices in Buenos Aires and its home city of Lausanne, Switzerland. The IOC said a memorial will be held in the athlete village in Buenos Aires.

A lawyer from Switzerland, Baumann had taken an increasingly important role in Olympic circles.

He led an IOC panel evaluating the Paris and Los Angeles bids for the 2024 Olympics, and then took charge of overseeing preparations for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. The IOC appointed Baumann to the World Anti-Doping Agency executive board, and he was elected president of the global group of sports federations, known as GAISF.

At meetings last week on the sidelines of the Youth Olympics, Baumann updated IOC members on the Los Angeles Games and the 2020 Lausanne Youth Olympics. He was president of its organizing committee.

Baumann was key to developing the 3-on-3 urban version of basketball and pushing for its inclusion as an Olympic medal event.

He earned masters degrees from the Business School of the University of Chicago, and in sports administration from the University of Lyon in France.

Swim meet canceled after FINA’s threat to ban athletes

Getty Images
Leave a comment

GENEVA (AP) — Amid growing conflict between swimmers and their world governing body, an international swimming meet was canceled on Thursday after threats to ban athletes who took part seeking better prize money.

The Italian swim federation called off the Dec. 20-21 competition it was organizing in Turin, saying it acted to protect athletes from FINA.

The Turin meet was linked to a proposed International Swimming League, a privately run operation which aims to operate outside FINA’s control and pay higher prize money.

“FINA declared the event ‘non-approved,’ threatening sanctions against the participating athletes,” Italian officials said in a statement.

FINA, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Olympic champions have long criticized FINA, believing swimmers should be better rewarded, have more say in decisions, and could create their own union.

Olympic champion Adam Peaty of Britain wrote on Thursday on Twitter he was “incredibly disappointed” by the cancellation.

The politics involved will “galvanize swimmers, not break them,” wrote Peaty, who holds 50m and 100m breaststroke world records.

Peaty has previously supported Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu in her public criticism of FINA, and calls to create a swimmers’ union.

Italian organizers said Peaty, Hosszu and other Olympic champions including Chad le Clos of South Africa and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden were due to take part in their 25-meter pool event. It was scheduled days after the short-course world championships being staged in Hangzhou, China.

The clash of events seemed to provoke FINA into finding more prize money for its worlds event in the smaller pool.

On Nov. 6, FINA added to its promised prize fund for China by almost doubling the total to $2.07 million.

FINA wrote to member federations on Oct. 30 warning of bans of up to two years for taking part in Turin.

However, a European Commission decision last year suggests swimmers could successfully challenge any attempt to limit their right to race and earn money.

The European Union’s executive arm ruled the International Staking Union in breach of anti-trust laws by threatening severe bans for speed skaters who wanted to compete in a South Korean-organized event in Dubai.

The ISU’s threats “also serve to protect its own commercial interests,” the European officials said.

MORE: Katie Ledecky on her new suit, challenges for Tokyo 2020

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Simon Ammann believes ski jumping career end is near

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Simon Ammann, the most decorated active ski jumper with four Olympic gold medals, said it is hard to imagine competing beyond this season, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.

Ammann, 37, swept the individual Olympic titles in 2002 and 2010 to join retired Finn Matti Nykänen as the only four-time Olympic ski jumping champs.

In PyeongChang, his sixth Olympics, Ammann placed 11th and 13th, one month after making his first World Cup podium in nearly three years. He decided after those Winter Games that he would continue at least one more season, but has no plan to go all the way to a seventh Olympics in 2022, according to Blick.

Ammann has teased retirement since at least 2011 and even said going into the 2014 Sochi Olympics that he was “99 percent sure” they would be his final Games.

The now-father of two first gained crossover celebrity with his surprise Salt Lake City 2002 gold medals, his first wins in top-level international competition. The bespectacled Ammann’s victory screams and resemblance to Harry Potter helped land him on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and one of Europe’s biggest shows, sitting next to Shakira.

Fellow ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan holds the Winter Olympic record of eight appearances. Kasai, 46, has said he plans to go for a ninth participation at Beijing 2022.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Finland ski jumping legend retires for third time