OLYMPIC GAMES AND SOFTBALL
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will hold a number of meetings in Sochi prior to and during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games that will take place from 7 to 23 February:
– IOC Executive Board (EB) meeting: 2 and 3 February 2014
– 126th IOC Session: 5-7 and 23 February 2014
As a general rule please note that the EB meeting will be closed to the media and the IOC Session will be broadcast live on CCTV at the Main Press Centre.
Reports on EB meetings will be made through press releases or bulletins to accredited media (including Spy). The following press release was issued after today’s EB meeting:
With only five days to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the IOC Executive Board (EB) convened today in the Host City and received its final update from the local organisers.
Sochi 2014 President and CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko provided the EB with an overview of the progress that Sochi has made since its election seven years ago, and outlined its readiness to deliver the Games. This readiness includes the recruitment and training of 25,000 volunteers for the Games, the construction of an Olympic Park that can accommodate around 80,000 people and the ability to feed 185,000 people a day, as well as 600 personnel to ensure snow removal. IOC President Thomas Bach, Coordination Commission Chairman for Sochi 2014 Jean-Claude Killy and the Executive Board all restated their full confidence that the hosts will deliver successful Games.
The EB also heard reports from the Chairs of the IOC Coordination Commissions for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and in PyeongChang in 2018, as well as from the IOC administration and Olympic Movement stakeholders.
With regard to the currently suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the EB noted that the National Olympic Committee (NOC) had set 9 February 2014 as the date for its next General Assembly and elections for a new board. The elections are to fully respect the recently passed NOC constitution, which complies with all IOC requirements, including the clause that no person convicted or charge-framed can run for a position within the organisation. IOC member Robin Mitchell will act as the official IOC observer during the General Assembly. Should everything proceed as expected by the IOC, the EB may reconsider the suspension of the NOC in the near future.
Concerning issues of government interference in the NOCs of Pakistan and Egypt, the IOC was recently approached by government representatives of both countries after several weeks of silence. The EB sees their willingness for dialogue as a positive step. However, it reserves its right to take strong measures should such dialogue not bear fruit in the very near future. End
Previously an IOC official advised Spy: The potential inclusion of baseball/softball is indeed something that the IOC might consider but before making such a decision it is important to study the situation and to gather views/feedback from our different stakeholders. Some have expressed the need to see more flexibility. So we are studying the possibility but will not speculate on the outcome of the discussions at this stage.
Subsequently, Spy was told the EB sessions will analyze “the program going forward” and subsequently suggest changes. An evaluation of all sports is expected later this year, according to one observer.
Thus there is little or no expectation that the EB will recommend changes vis softball to the full IOC sessions later in this Olympiad.
PREDICTION ON THE GAMES
More than 200 USA athletes are now in Sochi, preparing for the games. Sports Illustrated predicts the USA will be #1 in total medals (37) followed by Germany with 30, and Canada with 26 medals.
But, SI predicts the USA will garner 13 Gold, tied with Norway, Canada with 12, Russia qwith 9, Germany with 8, etc.
Gold is predicted for USA:
Ted Ligety, alpine combined
Mikaela Shriffrin, slalom
Steven Holcomb, 4-man bobsled
David Wise, skiing half-pipe
Nick Goepper, skiing slopestyle
Hannah Kearney, moguls
Maddie Bowman, skiing half pipe
Kikkan Randall, cross-country 1.2K sprint
Meryl and Charlie White, ice dancing
USA women, ice hockey
Shaun White, snowboarding half-pipe
Jamie Anderson, snowboarding slope style
Shani Davis, speedskating 1000 meters
The USA count could increase. Until the USA lost women’s bobsled a week ago at World Cup, pilot Elana Meyers was favored; she lost to Canadian driver by .003, and now Humphries is favored in Sochi, with Meyers taking silver; Meyers, the former GW shortstop, could prevail for USA. With Lindsay Vonn out, Shiffrin is the best bet in skiing, a projected gold in slalom but also a medal threat in giant slalom; Bode Miller may have another surprising run; Neither of the USA figure skaters – Gracie Gold or Ashley Wagner — are predicted to medal but both have solid chances; Shaun White is not predicted to medal in slopestyle snowboarding but the redhead is rumored to have surprises; Heather Richardson is projected to win a silver and a bronze in speed skating but she and Brittany Bowe were outstanding in US trials and Gold is a long track possibility. Kelly Clark and Ariele Gold are predicted to win silver and bronze in halfpipe but Clark is an amazing aerialist and could capture gold. Former world champion Lindsay Van was part of a group which successfully lobbied for Olympic inclusion of women’s ski jumping; now at 29, the former world champion is in Sochi as is Sarah Henderickson, who won the 2013 world title. Neither is projected by SI to medal in a sport included for the first time in the Olympics.
Watching via television is also an Olympic contest in terms of its physical demands on the body. Some events in which Americans are favored will be broadcast at 3am and 5am ET.
The prospects are definitely upbeat for the USA.