LOS ANGELES: The United States Olympic Committee said Thursday it had had no discussions with the US government over the possibility of staying away from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea on security grounds.In a statement issued in response to comments from United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, USOC said its plans to send full delegations to Pyeongchang remained unchanged.“We have not had any discussions, either internally or with our government partners, about the possibility of not taking teams to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” USOC spokesman Mark Jones said in a statement. “We plan on supporting two full delegations in Pyeongchang.” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders also played down any suggestion of a US no-show. “The US looks forward to participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea,” she wrote on Twitter. “The protection of Americans is our top priority and we are engaged with the South Koreans and other partner nations to secure the venues.” The USOC statement followed remarks by Haley on Wednesday in an interview with Fox News in which she appeared to suggest it was an “open question” as to whether United States would participate.The venue for next year’s Winter Olympics is approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea. Tensions between the United States and North Korea have simmered in recent months following Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats. Asked if she believed it was safe for athletes to travel to South [Read More…]
LAUSANNE: Russia was banned Tuesday from the 2018 Winter Games by the International Olympic Committee over its state-orchestrated doping programme, but clean Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under an Olympic flag. The sanction was the toughest ever levelled by the IOC for drug cheating and came just 65 days ahead of the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.In announcing the decision, IOC president Thomas Bach accused Russia of “perpetrating an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport”.An explosive report by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and two subsequent IOC investigations have confirmed that Russian athletes took part in an elaborate drug cheating programme which peaked during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Mounting evidence has indicated that the scheme involved senior government officials, including from the sports ministry, with help from secret state agents.The IOC also banned Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko — who was sports minister during the Sochi Games — for life. Mutko is currently the head of the organising committee for the 2018 World Cup, which Russia is hosting. Attention will quickly turn to see if football’s world governing body FIFA allows the scandal-tainted ally of President Vladimir Putin to retain his senior World Cup role. In a statement, FIFA said it had “taken note” of the IOC decision but it had “no impact on the preparations” for Russia 2018. The IOC also suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and its chief Alexander Zhukov. Zhukov said he “apologised” to the IOC [Read More…]
SEOUL: Winter Olympics organisers said Wednesday they would prefer if Russians competed under their own flag, but accepted as “second-best” an International Olympic Committee ruling which allows clean athletes from Russia to take part in the Games as neutrals. Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Games on Tuesday because of a state-orchestrated doping programme, but the IOC said clean Russian athletes would be able to enter under an Olympic flag. “We find it the second-best alternative, albeit not the best, that Russian players are at least allowed to compete individually,” said Lee Hee-Bum, chief of the Pyeongchang organising committee for February’s Winter Olympics in South Korea. The ban constitutes the toughest sanctions ever levelled by the IOC for drug cheating while still offering Russian athletes who can prove they are clean a route to compete in Pyeongchang. The decision caught the Games organisers off guard, Lee said in a radio interview. And it raises the prospect of Moscow boycotting the Games, something that organisers will be desperate to avoid as they battle low ticket sales and concern over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests. “We did not know that it (the punishment) would be this much,” Lee said, adding there was a “heated debate” among the IOC members before reaching the decision. Click for detailed story
LOS ANGELES, California: The US Olympic Committee wants to bid for the Winter Olympics, but is still mulling whether it would be better to seek the 2026 or 2030 Games. “I put a stake in the ground that we are interested in hosting the Winter Games,” USOC chairman Larry Probst told reporters on Friday as he discussed talks at the USOC Assembly in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “Ideally, that’s probably 2030, so that there’s no confusion with preparations for 2028,” Probst added, referring to the Summer Games awarded to Los Angeles. The United States last hosted the Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2002. USOC board members discussed the pros and cons of possible 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympic bids on Friday, Probst said, adding that officials still need more information from the International Olympic Committee on the bidding process. Click for detailed story
SOCHI – Russia on Friday staged a glitzy opening ceremony for one of the most controversial Winter Olympics in history, seeking to convince a sceptical world that the Games spearheaded by President Vladimir Putin would be a success. The high-octane ceremony at the 40,000 capacity Fisht stadium on the Black Sea in Sochi got off to a rocky start when one of five illuminated snowflakes which were … Click for detailed story
KARACHI: Pakistan’s Muhammad Karim left for Sochi on Wednesday to compete in the Winter Olympics that is scheduled to begin on February 7. He is accompanied by a team manager and coach for the event.
The mega-event will have as many as 98 categories from 15 winter sport disciplines, from which Karim will represent Pakistan in the alpine skiing competition.
Before leaving for Sochi, Karim had told The Express Tribune that he would compete in the giant slalom category as he had dreamt of making a mark for Pakistan at the Winter Olympics this time around.
In 2010, Muhammad Abbas became the first Pakistani to compete in the Winter Olympics. Karim said that he would follow Abbas’ footsteps, while also trying to improve his personal-best time.
In order to prepare for the Olympics and qualify for Sochi, the teenager trained in Austria last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2014.