With PyeongChang Games close, IOC meeting to discuss North Korea threat
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
First posted: Friday, August 11, 2017 04:59 PM EDT | Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017 05:05 PM EDT
LONDON — Escalating tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have caused security challenges posed to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to be assessed at an upcoming IOC meeting.
The International Olympic Committee session comes five months before the Winter Games are staged 80 kilometres (50 miles) across the border from North Korea.
Although regional concerns have been building for months amid new missile tests by the North, the pace has intensified since new sanctions were passed against Kim Jong Un’s regime by the U.N. Security Council last week. It led to heated rhetoric between the United States and North Korea, with threats of attacks.
“We are monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula and the region very closely,” the IOC said on Friday from Lausanne, Switzerland. “The IOC is keeping itself informed about the developments. We continue working with the organizing committee on the preparations of these games which continue to be on track.”
France Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia told The Associated Press the North Korea situation will be discussed at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru, in September.
“There is no reason to be too worried at the moment,” Masseglia said. “We are five or six months away from the Olympics. We are monitoring the situation carefully. Of course if the tension escalates, we’ll need to adapt. But Pyeongchang is ready to host the games.”
Pyeongchang is presenting the IOC with the third successive problematic build-up to an Olympics after Sochi in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016 were beset by human rights, environmental, and political crises.
“Each host city presents a unique challenge from a security perspective,” United States Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said, “and as is always the case, we are working with the organizers, the U.S. State Department and the relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”
Germany’s Olympic body said it will follow government travel advice which currently does not warn against travel to South Korea.
“We are observing the situation in the interests of both our athletes and fans,” the German Olympic Sports Confederation said. “Naturally we hope that it doesn’t worsen and that it calms down. In such cases, before we go to any such tournaments or competitions we always consult with the Federal Foreign Office for guidance.” With PyeongChang Games close, IOC meeting to discuss North Korea threat | OLYMPI
IOC announces hosts for 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games in first double-gold ever
Eddie Pells, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
First posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 03:58 PM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 04:15 PM EDT
LIMA, Peru — This was one of those rare Olympic moments where everyone walked away a winner.
Paris for 2024. Los Angeles for 2028. And the International Olympic Committee for transforming an unruly bidding process to lock down its future by choosing not one, but two Summer Olympics hosts at the same time.
The IOC put the rubber stamp on a pre-determined conclusion Wednesday, giving Paris the 2024 Games and LA the 2028 Games in a history-making vote.
The decision marks the first time the IOC has granted two Summer Olympics at once. It came after a year’s worth of scrambling by IOC president Thomas Bach, who had only the two bidders left for the original prize, 2024, and couldn’t bear to see either lose.
Both cities will host their third Olympics.
The Paris Games will come on the 100th anniversary of its last turn — a milestone that would have made the French capital the sentimental favourite had only 2024 been up for grabs.
Los Angeles moved to 2028, and those Olympics will halt a stretch of 32 years without a Summer Games in the United States. In exchange for the compromise, LA will grab an extra $300 million or more that could help offset the uncertainties that lie ahead over an 11-year wait instead of seven.
Doing away with the dramatic flair that has accompanied these events in years past, there were no secret ballots and no dramatic reveals to close out the voting.
Bach simply asked for a show of hands from the audience, and when dozens shot up from the audience, and nobody raised their hand when he asked for objections, this was deemed a unanimous decision.
A ceremony that has long sparked parties in the plazas of winning cities — and crying in those of the losers — produced more muted, but still visible, shows of emotion. Paris bid organizer Tony Estaguent choked up during the presentation before the vote.
“You can’t imagine what this means to us. To all of us. It’s so strong,” he said.
Watch the full IOC announcement ceremony here
Later, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo stood by Bach’s side and dabbed away tears as the vote was announced and the IOC president handed the traditional — but now unneeded — cards to she and LA mayor Eric Garcetti. One read “Paris 2024,’ and the other ”Los Angeles 2028.“
But there was no real drama. As if to accentuate that, the LA delegation wore sneakers to the presentation.
Bid chairman Casey Wasserman said the footwear “reflects who we are, and the unique brand of California-cool that we will bring to the 2028 Games.”
Bach asked the 94 IOC members to allow the real contests to play out at the Olympics themselves and turn the vote into a pure business decision — not a bad idea considering the news still seeping out about a bid scandal involving a Brazilian IOC member’s alleged vote-selling to bring the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.
More than that, Bach needed to ensure stability for his brand.
The public in many cities, especially those in the Western democracies that have hosted the majority of these games, is no longer eager to approve blank checks for bid committees and governments that have to come up with the millions simply to bid for the Olympics, then billions more to stage them if they win.
That reality hit hard when three of the original five bidders for 2024 — Rome, Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary — dropped out, and the U.S. Olympic Committee had to pull the plug on its initial candidate, Boston, due to lack of public support.
“This is a solution to an awkward problem,” said longtime IOC member Dick Pound of Canada. “Many of the (candidate) cities are not prepared. They say, ‘Let’s have an Olympics,’ but they haven’t done the background work, checked the finances. But I guess we have to share it and say, ‘Have you done A, B, C, and D?”’
Only two candidates made it to the finish line — Paris and Los Angeles, each with a storied tradition of Olympic hosting and an apparent understanding of Bach’s much-touted reform package, known as Agenda 2020. It seeks to streamline the Games, most notably by eliminating billion-dollar stadiums and infrastructure projects that have been underused, if used at all, once the Olympics leave town.
Can they deliver?
Paris will have the traditional seven-year time frame to answer that.
Only one totally new venue is planned — a swimming and diving arena to be built near the Stade de France, which will serve as the Olympic stadium. Roland Garros, which will host tennis and boxing, will get a privately funded expansion. In all, the projected cost of new venues and upgrades to others is $892 million.
To be sure, Paris already has much to work with. Beach volleyball will be played near the Eiffel Tower; cycling will finish at the Arc de Triomphe; equestrian will be held at the Chateau de Versailles. And what would an Olympics be without some water-quality issues? There will be pressure to clean up the River Seine, which is where open-water and triathlon will be held.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, will get an extra four years, though the city claims it doesn’t need them. All the sports venues are built, save the under-construction stadium for the NFL’s Rams and Chargers, which will host opening ceremonies. Los Angeles proposed a $5.3 billion budget for 2024 (to be adjusted for 2028) that included infrastructure, operational costs — everything. A big number, indeed, though it must be put into perspective:
Earlier this summer, organizers in Tokyo estimated their cost for the 2020 Games at $12.6 billion. The London Games in 2012 came in at $19 billion.
Traffic could be a problem — it almost always is in LA — but the city will be well along multi-decade, multibillion-dollar transit upgrade by 2028, and those with long memories recall free-flowing highways the last time the Olympics came to town, as locals either left the city or heeded warnings to use public transportation or stay home.
Those 1984 Games essentially saved the Olympic movement after a decade of terror, red ink and a boycott sullied the brand and made hosting a burden. The city points to its Olympic legacy to explain a nearly unheard-of 83 per cent approval rating in a self-commissioned poll — not an insignificant factor when the IOC picks a place to hold its crown-jewel event.
Along with Paris, LA is stepping in again to try to change the conversation about what hosting the Olympics can really be.
“It’s a unique opportunity to do two at the same time,” Wasserman said. “Hopefully, it’s an interesting paradigm for the world going forward. We’re two great cities, it’s two great Olympic hosts and it’s going to be two great games.” IOC announces hosts for 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games in first double-gold ever |
Canadian Olympic Committee unveils uniforms for PyeongChang
By Scott Stinson, Postmedia Network
First posted: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 06:28 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 06:38 PM EDT
TORONTO — Sitting in front of a stage in the middle of the Eaton Centre atrium on Tuesday morning was a class of schoolchildren, brought in by the ever-crafty Canadian Olympic Committee for the unveiling of the 2018 Team Canada uniforms.
If you want to make sure there are lots of cheers and smiling faces for the TV cameras, put a bunch of kids in the front rows. And give them free mittens.
As the hosts introduced the 15 athletes — Olympians and Paralympians, and those hopeful of joining them — in various states of official clothing, from parkas to pyjamas, the cheers were particularly noticeable for Gilmore Junio, one of the more famous non-medallists this country has ever produced.
“It’s still a bit overwhelming,” said Junio a bit later, when the hats and mittens and faux-lumberjack jackets had all been properly shown off. “This is pretty special.”
Junio, 27, surrendered his spot in the 1,000-metre speed skating race at Sochi 2014 to teammate Denny Morrison, who went on to win the silver medal. (Morrison had fallen in the qualifying race at the national championships, but speed skaters are allowed to swap out teammates during the Olympics.) It became one of the stories of Sochi, one of the selfless acts that reminds everyone that the Olympics can in their best moments be about something other than corporate branding and advertising luchre. It’s also been almost four years, and he’s still The Guy Who Gave Up His Spot.
Asked if anyone has ever interviewed him without first asking about that incident, Junio smiles. “Not too many since the Olympics,” he says. But he understands that it’s a thing, an act that for now will be up in the first sentence of his biography. “It’s awesome to share a story with someone who is a really good friend and someone who is a mentor.”
He allows that the goal this time around is to make a name for himself in a different way. “I think everyone has got to see, hopefully, who I am as a person, and the next step is trying to prove myself as an athlete, and showing what I can do on the ice, and showing that I can be pretty fast as well,” Junio says. “And not just pretty nice.”
To that end, the Calgary native says he’s going about training the same way, hoping to make the Canadian team at the nationals in the early winter and then making a return trip to the Olympics. He almost gave up the sport in his late teens, but was inspired to keep competing after Vancouver 2010 was such a success in this country. Having been an Olympian once, he says that should help in his attempt to return.
“For myself, going into 2014 I really wanted to win a medal, and going into this year I really want to win a medal,” he says. Morrison, meanwhile, a former world-record holder in the 1,500 metres, broke his leg in a motorcycle accident in 2015 and suffered a stroke last year. He’s back to training, now, too, and hopes to return to the Olympics, where he has collected four career medals.
“He’s writing a pretty good story right now,” Junio says, “so hopefully we will write another story in PyeongChang.”
It would certainly be some kind of tale. email@example.com Canadian Olympic Committee unveils uniforms for PyeongChang | 2018 OLYMPICS | Ot
South Korea offers Olympic co-operation talks with North Korea ahead of Pyeongchang 2018 games
More from Associated Press
January 2, 2018
January 2, 2018 12:53 PM EST
In this Dec. 29, 2017, photo, a man walks by the official emblem of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games, in downtown Seoul, South Korea.Lee Jin-man / AP
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — South Korea on Tuesday offered high-level talks with rival North Korea to find ways to co-operate on next month’s Winter Olympics in the South. Seoul’s quick proposal following a rare rapprochement overture from the North a day earlier offers the possibility of better ties after a year that saw a nuclear standoff increase fear of war on the Korean Peninsula.
In a closely watched New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday that he was willing to send a delegation to the Olympics, though he also repeated fiery nuclear threats against the United States. Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington in a bid to reduce international isolation and sanctions against North Korea.
South Koreans watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Kim’s overture was welcome news for a South Korean government led by liberal President Moon Jae-in, who favours dialogue to ease the North’s nuclear threats and wants to use the Pyeongchang Olympics as a chance to improve inter-Korean ties.
Moon’s unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, proposed in a nationally televised news conference that the two Koreas meet Jan. 9 at the shared border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic co-operation and how to improve overall ties.
Earlier Tuesday, Moon spoke of what he described as Kim’s positive response to his earlier dialogue overtures and ordered officials to study how to restore talks with North Korea and get the North to participate in the Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee welcomed the overtures.
“The IOC welcomes the mutual intention of the governments of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to start direct talks about the participation of athletes from DPRK in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.”
The IOC said in a statement it is continuing discussions with North Korea and its invitation to North Korea to take part in the games would remain open.
Children pose in front of an electric board that shows the number of days left until the opening of 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games as the official mascots, a white tiger “Soohorang” for the Olympic, left, and black bear “Bandabi” for the Paralympic, are displayed in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
North Korea did not immediately react. But if there are talks, they would be the first formal dialogue between the Koreas since December 2015. Relations between the Koreas have plunged as North Korea has expanded its weapons programs amid a hard-line stance by Moon’s conservative predecessors.
Last year, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test and test-launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles as part of its push to possess a nuclear missile capable of reaching anywhere in the United States. The North was subsequently hit with toughened U.N. sanctions, and Kim and President Donald Trump exchanged warlike rhetoric and crude personal insults against each other.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during a cabinet meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (Kim Ju-hyoung/Yonhap via AP)
Kim said in his speech Monday that North Korea last year achieved the historic feat of “completing” its nuclear forces. Outside experts say that it’s only a matter of time before the North acquires the ability to hurl nuclear weapons at the mainland U.S., but that the country still has a few technologies to master, such as a warhead’s ability to survive atmospheric re-entry.
Talks could provide a temporary thaw in strained inter-Korean ties, but conservative critics worry that they may only earn the North time to perfect its nuclear weapons. After the Olympics, inter-Korean ties could become frosty again because the North has made it clear it has no intention of accepting international calls for nuclear disarmament and instead wants to bolster its weapons arsenal in the face of what it considers increasing U.S. threats.
Visitors use binoculars to see the North Korea side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
“Kim Jong Un’s strategy remains the same. He’s developing nukes while trying to weaken international pressure and the South Korea-U.S. military alliance and get international sanctions lifted,” said Shin Beomchul of the Seoul-based Korea National Diplomatic Academy.
He said the North might also be using its potential participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics as a chance to show its nuclear program is not intended to pose a threat to regional peace.
In his address Monday, Kim said the United States should be aware that his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. He said he has a “nuclear button” on his office desk, warning that “the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike.”
A visitor uses binoculars to see the North Korea side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
He called for improved ties and a relaxation of military tensions with South Korea, saying the Winter Olympics could showcase the status of the Korean nation. But Kim also repeated that South Korea must stop annual military exercises with the United States, which he calls an invasion rehearsal against the North.
About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to help deter potential aggression from the North, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. South Korea offers Olympic co-operation talks with North Korea ahead of Pyeongchang 2018 games | Toronto Sun
To slide and protect: Calgary cop eyes Olympic glory on skeleton track
January 20, 2018
January 20, 2018 9:15 PM EST
Calgary police Const. Joe Cecchini is headed to South Korea later this month to complete on the Italian olympic skeleton team. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Network
Const. Joe Cecchini. Calgary police handout
If all goes well, his badge won’t be the only gold one Calgary cop will be wearing next month.
A two-time national champion and fixture on the international skeleton circuit, Const. Joe Cecchini will soon be trading in his Calgary police uniform for an Olympic competitor’s bib — en route to Pyeongchang to compete with Team Italy.
It’s believed Cecchini — a dual Canadian-Italian citizen — will be the first member of the Calgary police to compete in the winter Olympics.
Relocating to Calgary in 2007 to pursue his dream of competitive skeleton racing, the B.C.-born 35-year-old raced internationally with Team Canada for three seasons before joining the Italian team in 2013.
Since then, he’s raced full-time on the world cup skeleton circuit and netted himself two national championships — all while working full-time as a Calgary police officer.
“Not only am I blessed to represent Italy, Canada and the Calgary Police Service, but I am in a position that allows me to give back,” said Cecchini, an 11-year veteran of the service and member of the downtown beat unit.
“Skeleton and athletics are platforms that have allowed me to coach youth and speak to others about goal setting, motivation and hopefully impact and inspire the lives of others.”
Clocking out on his final shift on Friday, Cecchini will fly to South Korea next week to prepare for the games.
Initial heats for men’s skeleton begin on Feb. 15, with the medal finals set to take place the following day.
Joe Cecchini hits the ice at Winsport on Wednesday Oct. 2, 2013. Lyle Aspinall/Postmedia Network
Similar to luge, skeleton competitors slide down the track head-first and enter the course at a running start.
First introduced in the 1928 winter games in St. Moritz, skeleton became a regular event at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The Olympic Winter Games begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Feb. 9, running until the 25th. firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume To slide and protect: Calgary cop eyes Olympic glory on skeleton track | Toronto Sun