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    • Olympian1010

      The IPC Governing Board concluded four days of online meetings on December 15, making key decisions relating to the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games sport programme.

      The IPC Governing Board approved the inclusion of para alpine skiing, para ice hockey, para nordic skiing, para snowboard and wheelchair curling at the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games.
      Milano Cortina 2026 will mark the 14th consecutive appearance for both para alpine skiing and para nordic skiing at the Winter Paralympics. Both sports have featured at every edition of the Paralympic Winter Games, since the inaugural edition held in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden in 1976.
      Para nordic skiing will once again hold competitions in two disciplines, cross country skiing and biathlon. Biathlon was first introduced to the Paralympic Winter Games in 1988, and has featured at every edition since. 
      Para ice hockey also retains its spot on the program, having featured at every Paralympic Winter Games, since 1994. Likewise, Wheelchair Curling will also remain a part of the sports program. In fact, this will be welcome return to Italy for the sport, since it was first included in the Paralympic Winter Games at Torino 2006.
      Another sport that will be happy to make a return to the Winter Paralympic program is para snowboard. Para Snowboard debuted as a sport at the last edition of the Paralympic Winter Games held in Pyeongchang in 2018. However, the sport actually first featured at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games as a discipline of para alpine skiing, meaning that Milano Cortina 2026 will mark the fourth time snowboard events have been included at the Paralympic Winter Games.
      The IPC Governing Board deferred a decision on whether to include para bobsleigh until early 2021. Para bobsleigh was originally due to feature at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. However, the IPC deemed that the sport had failed to met some of the criteria outlined by the organization for the sport’s inclusion at the Games, and thus para bobsleigh was ultimately cut from the program. 
      At the time of that decision, IBSF President Ivo Ferriani vowed that the IBSF would not give up on their para-sport program, and that the organization would work towards the sports inclusion at the 2026 Paralympic Winter Games.

      The IPC Governing Board also provisionally approved the first 18 medal events in order to give National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) and International Federations additional time to plan for the Games. The approved events included a new mixed doubles wheelchair curling event and two new medal events in women’s snowboard for athletes with upper limb impairments.

      Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said, “We are pleased that with more than five years to go until the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games we can confirm six disciplines from five sports for the sport programme and announce the first 18 medal events that will be provisionally included.”
      He continued, “We strongly believe the provisional inclusion of medal events will facilitate participation growth, advancing the possibilities of them meeting the criteria for inclusion when the medal events programme is fully confirmed in two years’ time. Moreover, provisional inclusion offers the International Federations opportunities for athlete development and recruitment while giving national governing bodies clarity in their long-term planning, funding and development programmes.”

      Chelsey Gotell, IPC Athletes’ Council Chairperson, said, “The provisional medal event programme for Milano Cortina 2026 includes 18 events that are either new or have had limited participation at previous Games. With more than five years to go until the Games, athletes, national and international federations, as well as NPCs have a target to aim for in terms of developing the talent pool.” 
      A full list of the 18 medal events provisionally included for Milano Cortina 2026 can be found Here.

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    • Olympian1010

      The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Executive Board (EB) has approved the inclusion of E-Sports as a discipline of baseball and softball, setting the stage for future official E-Baseball and E-Softball international competitions and World Cups/Championships.
      The WBSC Executive Board passed a resolution formally adopting E-Sports as the virtual version of the sport, along with Baseball5 - a five-on-five street version of the sport - and agreed to notify all National Federations of this decision.
      Following E-Sports’ integration into the WBSC Statutes, which will be put forward for approval to the WBSC Congress in 2022, the world governing body will establish the rules and regulations for the governance of E-Baseball and E-Softball competitions, in addition to preparing for the launch of the WBSC’s first E-Game next year.
      It’s unclear when the first baseball-themed video game was released. Most sources seem to suggest some time in the 1970s, but even that remains disputed. What is clear however, is that baseball-themed video-games have remained widely produced and played around the world.
      Some popular titles in the genre include, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s MLB The Show franchise, and MLB Advanced Media’s R.B.I Baseball franchise. Baseball also featured in the popular Nintendo video game Wii Sports.
      Interest in baseball-themed video games hasn’t gone unnoticed by the WBSC, with President Riccardo Fraccari stating, “The WBSC looks forward to more progressive innovation in the dynamic and youth-focused space of E-Sports, which will potentially expand the reach of our sport to millions of gamers and fans. Advancing future-oriented initiatives such as online/virtual competitions will support the development of baseball and softball -- and all disciplines under them -- for many years to come."
      The World Baseball Softball Confederation isn’t alone in looking towards E-Sports as a means and medium to further grow their sport. With the Covid-19 pandemic bringing most international sports to halt, many international federations have looked to the virtual world to promote and grow their sports.
      The Union Cycliste International (UCI) recently held their inaugural Cycling Esports World Championship, which featured 54 women’s and 78 men’s riders respectively. World Sailing sanctioned an entire eSaling World Cup, and held an eSailing World Championship earlier this year. The Federation Internationale De Ski recently announced its own ESports Alpine World Ski Championships, which will be held in February 2021.
      The importance of establishing a virtual version of baseball/softball was underscored by Fraccari, who stated, “The welcoming of E-Sports into the WBSC family comes at a critical time, considering the fast-evolving digital world in which we live and the ongoing global pandemic.”
      The affect of the Covid-19 pandemic on baseball/softball has been substantial. The WBSC have had to cancel and postpone multiple age level World Cups that were due to held this year. The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games has also delayed the return of baseball and softball to the Olympic program.

      Notably, baseball was one of the sports included on the Tokyo 2020 Official Video Game. The World Baseball Softball Confederation will be hoping that more attention is brought to the sport as a consequence of its inclusion at the Olympic Games.

      Softball is scheduled to be the first sport to get underway in Tokyo, with the first match scheduled to begin at 9:00 (local time) on July 21, 2020.

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    • Olympian1010

      The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) adopted a number of provisional measures against the National Olympic Committee of Belarus today. 
      The measures stem from an investigation process opened on November 25, after concerns were raised from various groups that the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Belarus was engaging in discrimination against athletes for political reasons. 
      After reviewing the allegations received, and the responses provided by the NOC of Belarus; the IOC came to the conclusion that the current NOC leadership had not appropriately protected Belarusian athletes from political discrimination within the NOC, their member sports federations, or the broader sports movement.
      According to the IOC, this conduct is contrary to the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter, and has a serious affects on the reputation of the Olympic Movement. 
      Building on that conclusion, the IOC Executive Board decided to level the following provisional measures against the NOC of Belarus until further notice:
      1. Exclude the currently elected members of the Executive Board of the NOC of Belarus from all IOC events and activities, including the Olympic Games. This includes in particular Mr Alexander Lukashenko, in his capacity as NOC President and legal representative of the NOC; Mr Viktor Lukashenko, in his capacity as NOC First Vice-President and the person responsible for the NOC’s operations and activities on a daily basis; and Mr Dmitry Baskov, in his capacity as an NOC Executive Board member and in view of the specific allegations raised against him.
      2. Suspend all financial payments to the NOC of Belarus, with the exception of payments related to the preparations of the Belarusian athletes for, and their participation in, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. All Olympic scholarships for Belarusian athletes will now be paid directly to the athletes, and no longer through the NOC.
      3. Request the relevant International Federations to make sure that all eligible Belarusian athletes can take part in qualification events for the upcoming Olympic Games without any political discrimination.
      4. Suspend any discussions with the NOC of Belarus regarding the hosting of future IOC events.
      5. Request all constituents of the Olympic Movement to respect these measures in the interest of protecting Belarusian athletes’ rights and the reputation of the Olympic Movement.
      The IOC Executive Board vowed to continue to monitor the situation and reserved the right to consider any further measures or sanctions, or to remove any of the provisional measures depending on the evolution of the situation.

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    • Olympian1010

      The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) plans to provide free-to-air (FTA) coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of their efforts to raise awareness of para sport and para athletes in the region.

      For the first time across the region, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be FTA and broadcast live on 24 August and 5 September 2021. There will also be a 52-minute daily Games highlight show of African centred content in English, French and Portuguese. 
      TV Media Sport (TVMS) is working on behalf of the IPC to secure Sub-Saharan broadcasters. So far, FTA broadcasters have been confirmed in 24 countries: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.  The IPC will waive the broadcast rights fee for Tokyo 2020 in order to maximise coverage in the region, which has traditionally aired only limited coverage of the Games.

      The broadcast initiative is a key element of the Para Sport Against Stigma project between the IPC, Loughborough University, and the University of Malawi, Chancellor College, which aims to support social change and overcome stigma and discrimination against persons with disabilities in Africa. Para Sport Against Stigma is part of AT2030, a programme funded by UK Aid and led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub. 

      The 2020 broadcast will be funded by the IPC and UK Aid. The IPC hopes that this initiative will be a catalyst for commercial partners becoming involved in broadcasting Paris 2024 to Sub-Saharan Africa. 

      Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee, said, “The IPC is very excited about the prospect of more people than ever before watching the Paralympic Games in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through sport the IPC wants to normalise and challenge the stigma attached to disability. One of the best ways to achieve this is through people watching the Paralympics and seeing first-hand what persons with disabilities can do. 

      He continued, “Going free-to-air across so many territories will allow us to tell the compelling stories and athletic achievements of Para athletes and raise awareness of the Paralympic Movement. We are confident that we will engage new audiences and make a bigger impact than any previous Paralympics. I truly believe that this could be a turning point for the region: the awareness that Tokyo 2020 will create could lead to more media, people and sponsors getting involved in Para sports, which in turn will create new opportunities for people with disabilities. We are going to show that change can start with sport.”  

      Dr. Emma Pullen, Lecturer in Sport Management at Loughborough University, added: “This project offers a really unique and exciting opportunity to work closely with the IPC and broadcasters to bring the Paralympic Games to Sub-Saharan Africa. The media visibility of Para sport is so important in helping change attitudes toward disability and can be such a powerful platform for raising awareness around disability rights, access, and inclusion.”
      She continued, “Our aim is work closely with local partners and broadcasters in Sub-Saharan Africa to improve the reach and access of the broadcast as well as localising the content to include narratives of local Para athletes. It’s the start of a journey that will hopefully see the sustained roll out of Para sport across many parts of the Global South.”
      Vicki Austin, CEO of the Global Disability Innovation Hub, which leads the AT2030 project said: “As Head of Paralympic Legacy in London, I saw first-hand what a massive difference London 2012 made to perceptions of disability.”
      She explained, “It is why we set up GDI Hub. And with more than a billion people in the world needing access to basic assistive technology  - and only 10 per cent currently using AT (assistive technology) - our amazing Para athletes can do so much to overcome the stigma and promote a positive association for the first time for many young women and men with disabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa.  This project will change lives, and we are delighted to partner with IPC and Loughborough on this important work and thank UK Aid for their backing.” 

      Hédi Hamel, President of TV Media Sport, said, “We are delighted to partner with the IPC on this important project to create awareness around Para sport all over the African continent. TVMS is committed to introduce in all TV homes the values of inclusion through the performances and stories of African Para athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”

      The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are scheduled to begin on August 24, 2020. Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) will serve as the host broadcaster of the Games. It is expected that as many as 19 sports will be broadcast live. The IPC expects record viewing figures for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

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    • Olympian1010

      B-Girl Kastet defended her Red Bull BC One women's title as Japanese B-Boy Shigekix triumphed in a stacked men's field to become the youngest ever winner at 17th edition of the competition held at Hangar-7 in Salzburg. 
      B-Girl Kastet, a breaker from Russia, became the first dancer in history to win back-to-back Red Bull BC One titles, after defending the title she won in 2019. She went head-to-head with Red Bull BC One E-Battle 2020 Champion, B-Girl Madmax from Belgium, in the final, and won based on the slightly better execution of her dance moves.
      Kastet, whose name means "brass knuckles" in English, is a member of 3:16 Crew and started breaking in 2010 at the age of 12. Going from Latin dances to judo, before finally discovering breaking, Kastet learned to dance from her crew, especially members B-Boy Marvel, and, her husband, B-Boy Jerry Metal.
      In an interview after the final, Kastet said, "My secret is that I am not afraid to lose. I am just in the moment and want to represent myself in the best way, the true way."

      Russia were denied a clean sweep of the titles however, when B-Boy Shigekix delivered outstanding musicality and variety to defeat B-Boy Alkolil, who is known for his combination of power, footwork and tricks. B-Boy Shigekix, 18, became the youngest competitor to take the title in front of cheering breaking fans and the competitors' crews, who were on LED screens alongside the central stage in a virtual experience throughout.
      B-Boy Shigekix, whose full name is Nakarai Shigeyuki, discovered breaking at the age of seven through his older sister, B-Girl Ayane. With a unique style of breaking, he is known for his fast and controlled power moves, mixed with unexpected, on-beat freezes.
      Shigekix is no stranger to big events either. At the age of 15, Shigekix became the youngest B-Boy in history to enter the Red Bull BC One World Final in 2018, where he was eliminated in the semifinals by B-Boy Menno. He also became one of the first breakers to win an Olympic medal when he took home bronze at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

      Speaking about his victory after the final, Shigekix said, "I'm super happy and I still can't believe it's real. I worked so hard for this competition. Not only this year, I have been working hard to win this."
      In total, sixteen breakers representing 11 countries competed at this year’s Red Bull BC One World Finals. The event serves as the de facto world championships for the discipline of breaking, which has been proposed for inclusion at the Olympic Games in 2024. The event also aimed to inspire local breaking communities and to help celebrate a cultural phenomenon rooted in the early 1970s hip-hop and New York City street culture.
      The 2020 Red Bull BC One World Finals were livestreamed globally on Red Bull TV, and a full replay of the event can be found on the streaming service as well. It is expected that a decision on breaking’s inclusion at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games will be made in December at the upcoming IOC Executive Board Meeting. 

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    • Olympian1010

      The World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Norway, have been postponed to 2022.

      The first joint World Championships for Para alpine skiing, Para biathlon, Para cross-country and Para snowboard were originally scheduled from 7-20 February 2021 and will now take place early January 2022. The reason for the postponement is the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges placed on organizers because of the it.

      The decision was made by the board of the Norwegian Ski Association, in consultation with World Para Snow Sports, the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the Norwegian Biathlon Federation, and the Norwegian Board Sports Federation. The announcement followed a series of meetings and a close dialogue with Norway’s national health authorities about future events this upcoming season. 

      “We know how much the event means to many and we understand well the disappointment of having to wait a whole year, but the championships’ scope, duration and complexity cannot be accommodated under the current situation of the pandemic nationally and internationally,” said Erik Roste, President of the Norwegian Ski Association. “The risk of spreading infection among volunteers, competitors and in the local community does not make it justifiable to carry out the competition as planned.” 
      Managing Director of the World Para Sports, Christian Holtz, said, “We were looking forward to the championships in Lillehammer next year, but we fully support the decision to postpone it to January 2022. While these were not the news we were hoping to share with our sport community, we will always put the health and well-being of athletes and all those involved in the competitions as our priority. All World Para Snow Sports Championships partners have done a fantastic job and we will now keep on working together with them to deliver our most important event to date.”
      With the decision to postpone, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) went from a planning period of 80 days to around 400 days.

      “Although the sporting performance of Para athletes is unique, Para sports have not always been given the great attention that the athletes really deserve. The enthusiasm we now experience around the athletes and the Word Championships we will build on every day until 2022 – and for many years to come,” said Ola Keul, Director of the Lillehammer 2021 LOC.
      Norwegian broadcaster NRK, which will produce and show the championships together with TV2, will also extend its involvement until 2022.

      With their new date in January 2022, the World Para Snow Sports Championships will be an important warm-up event for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. The rescheduled World Championships will retain the name Lillehammer 2021, and will likely be the largest para sport event in Norway since the 1994 Paralympic Winter Games in Lillehammer. It is expected that the championships will attract some 750 participants from over 30 nations, along with some 700 volunteers to aide in the running of the event.
      Further information about the postponed championships, such as the new competition schedule, will be released by organizers in the future.

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    • Vojthas

      The UIPM has recently announced the introduction of the New Olympic Pentathlon, which aims to shorten the time of the competition and make it more attractive to the audience. The approval of the format by the Executive Board caused a mostly negative reaction, from the athletes, whom the changes will affect the most. The following is an interview with Shiny Fang, UIPM Secretary General, in which she tries to explain the biggest doubts about the changes.
      The first question is, what is on the mind of the Pentathlon community – what is the reason for those changes?
      To aim for the future, to embrace the youth, and to widen the sport’s audience with a more compact and understandable sport product for media, also to demonstrate our most complete athletes in a shorter time without losing audience in between parts of the longer competition.
      Modern pentathlon’s place in the Olympic programme is a crucial thing for the sport, which is also a legacy of being founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin himself. Was the proposal consulted with the IOC representatives as they should be the ones to know better, in which direction the changes should go?
      Certainly UIPM as the world governing body of the sport knows better how we can improve the sport and its product/format. However, if we are talking about Pentathlon in the Olympic Games, we first need to understand what is the IOC’s vision for future Games, and what would be the most valuable things to evaluate the sport’s impact in the Games. Therefore, it is a collective effort by all involved or responsible parties in the Games, including valuable advice from OBS, Olympic Channel and Paris 2024.
      Modern pentathlon has been changing for some time, but this is a true revolution. Doesn’t it bring confusion to new pentathlon fans to learn the sport from the beginning?
      Well, what we are changing or innovating is about our sports product, to smoothly shape it to a fan-friendly and media-friendly format so that audience can see a compact and complete sport within a shorter time. As you might know well, the sport has come from 5 days, to 1 day, to 5 hours, and now to 90min. However, what we haven’t changed is the core essence of the sport created by Coubertin –  that is, the historical elements/disciplines are still the same since the sport was born.
      The proposed changes apply for only the Olympic Games (and the Olympic qualifiers, as far as I understand). Would it not be harder for fans to learn one format for the Olympics and another for all other competitions?
      We do have EB approved Olympic format and qualification events format, and those Olympic qualification events will be major UIPM competitions. Therefore, in terms of the format for UIPM major competitions, we will keep the same direction as the Olympic format, but with certain flexibility, such as number of athletes in final group, length of the breaks between each disciplines, etc.
      For UIPM competitions, we will have relatively more time to test and to fix more details, since the qualification events will only start from 2023. But for the Olympic format, we must be in line with the timeline of the IOC and Paris 2024, to give organisers enough time. By the way, it is quite normal that some other sports also have an Olympic format and a different IF format, so nothing unusual.
      The athletes are openly against it, and primarily because of the increased injury risks caused by a shortened warm-up time. Was the new format consulted with them?
      Actually the athletes are not against innovations, they are open-minded and intelligent, also sometimes they give us a lot of good ideas. For the new format, due to a series of processes which we also want to keep low profile with mainly athletes representatives in each working group and committees, it is normal that a lot of athletes who haven’t joined in athletes meetings at earlier stage, haven’t been well informed.
      Clearly, the communication with athletes is the key, and during the athletes call on November 11, a lot of their questions and doubts were addressed. But it is not enough, we will certainly engage more with them during the rest of the process.
      There were also very few test events with the new format – just the two in Budapest and Cairo, where the participation of athletes from all around the world was limited due to Covid-19 pandemic. Has the UIPM tried to conduct more test events, for example during the national competitions that were held in different countries, for example Russia, Belarus or Poland?
      Actually, we felt fortunate that we were able to manage two decent tests during this pandemic time with full support of our organizers, and yes, we will have more tests in 2021 before and/or after the Tokyo Olympics. More details will be fixed early in 2021.
      The changes were to be introduced this year, but because of the pandemic the Congress will be held in 2021. Were there ideas to postpone it to the 2024-2028 Olympic cycle, as the pre-Paris one is a shortened one after?
      No we won’t postpone, innovation has been a continuous process for decades in UIPM, Paris is a milestone that we cannot miss, and it will demonstrate more possibilities for LA 2028 as well.
      In Polish
      По-русски (Трансляция: Себастьян Стасяк)

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    • intoronto

      Longest Winter Games ever!
      For the first time in the history of the Winter Olympic Games, competition will begin two days before the Opening Ceremony. The 2022 Winter Olympic Games would run a total of 19 days, making them the longest in history of the Winter Olympic Games.
      The 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing will begin with Mixed Doubles event in Curling, two nights before the opening ceremony is scheduled. The first competition session is currently scheduled to take place at 20:05-22:00 (local time) on February 2nd. The Opening Ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games is scheduled to take place on February 4th, with the Closing Ceremony scheduled for February 20th. Both are scheduled to be held at the iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing.
      There are currently 109 medal events scheduled to be contested across seven sports and fifteen disciplines. The first medals will be handed out in the women's skiathlon in cross-country skiing on February 5th. Below, you can find a breakdown of the schedule by sport/discipline:
      Alpine skiing
      The alpine skiing competition is scheduled to be held over eleven competition days. As is tradition, the men's downhill will be the first event held on February 6th, with the mixed team event closing the event roster on February 19th.  
      As with alpine skiing, the biathlon events are planned to be held across eleven days. The games will begin with the mixed relay competition on February 6th, and conclude with the women's mass start on February 19th.   
       The bobsleigh competition introduces a new event, the women's monobob, which is scheduled to be the first bobsleigh event at Beijing 2022. The first two heats of the competition are scheduled for February 13, with the last two heats scheduled for February 14. Meanwhile, the men's four man competition will be the last bobsleigh event to conclude, with heats three and four scheduled for the final day of competition on February 20th.   
      Cross-country skiing
      The Beijing 2022 cross-country skiing competition will be held over ten competition days, as in PyeongChang 2018. Just like four years ago, the women's skiathlon will start the competition on February 5th, with women also having the last event with the 30km mass start on the final day of competition, February 20th.   
      Curling has the distinction of being the only sport to be contested over all 19 competition days. Due to the expansion of the mixed doubles competition to ten teams, an additional competition day was necessary, hence day -2, which will have one session. The men's tournament will conclude the competition on the final day, February 20th.   
      Figure skating
      Eleven competition days make up the figure skating competition. The first round of the team event is scheduled to be held on February 4th, with the men's and women's short program, along with the rhythm dance in the ice dancing. The pairs competition will conclude the games, marking a contrast to the last five editions, which had the ladies event conclude the figure skating competition. This could be due to China having the world's leading pairs figure skating combination in Sui Wenjing / Han Cong, which could allow the figure skating competition to end on a high note. The pairs free skating competition is scheduled for February 19th, with the Exhibition Gala scheduled for a day later.   
      Freestyle skiing
      The freestyle skiing competition will see the addition of three new events: the men's and women's big air and the mixed team aerials. Due to the increase in events, the competition schedule for the discipline has been expanded by two days, to a total of fourteen. Just like four years ago, the moguls qualification for both genders will kick of the competition on February 3rd, with the men's halfpipe being the final event. As for the new events, the qualification for the big air will be on February 7th, with the women's finals on the 8th and the men's finals on the 9th. The next day will see the finals of the aerials mixed team event.   
      Ice hockey
      The ice hockey competition is scheduled to be two days longer than it was in 2018. This means the first matches will be held before the opening ceremony, with the first four matches scheduled for February 3rd. The increase in competition days can be attributed to the increase in women's teams from eight to ten. As is tradition, the men's gold medal match will be last medal event on February 20th.  
      The luge competition has the same competition order as in 2018, with the men going first, followed by the women, then the doubles and finally the mixed team relay. The competition will start on day one, February 5th and finish on day six, February 10th.   
      Nordic Combined
      The Nordic Combined will have three competition days, with the first day being February 9th with the men's normal hill. The final event will be the men's team large hill on February 17th.   
      Short track speed skating
      Short track speed skating will move to a six day competition (previously the events were held over five days). This is being done because of an additional event (the mixed relay) being added to the competition program. Short track competitions will begin on day 1 (February 5th), with the first medals being awarded in the aforementioned mixed relay. The competition will wrap up on February 16th with the women's 1500 meters and men's 5,000 meters relay.   
      Just like in PyeongChang, the skeleton competition will be held over three days. The men will start it off on February 10th, with the women's competition concluding on the 12th.   
      Ski jumping
      Ski jumping is one of four disciplines with new events at Beijing 2022, with the addition of the mixed team event. The competition begins on February 5th with the men's normal qualification and the women's normal hill final. The men's team large hill concludes the competition on February 14th. The new mixed team event is scheduled for February 7th.   
      The snowboarding competition also sees a new event added, with the mixed team snowboard cross the new event added. However, even with an additional medal event, the competition will only be held over ten days (versus the eleven in PyeongChang 2018). The snowboarding competition starts on February 5th with the women's slopestyle qualification and concludes with the men's and women's big air events on February 15th. The new mixed team snowboard cross is scheduled for February 12th.   
      Speed skating
      Just like in 2018, the speed skating competition will be held over 11 days. The women's 3000 meters will be the first event on February 5th, and the mass starts will conclude the competition on February 19th.   
      Note: The schedule is subject to change.

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    • John Foyne

      The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) announced today that the Spanish city of Palma will serve as host for the 2021 version of the IFAF Flag Football World Championships from October 6-10. This comes several months after the 2020 IFAF Flag Football World Championships, which were supposed to be held in Denmark, were cancelled because of COVID-19. This is not a surprising move by IFAF since the Spanish Federation of American Football (FEFA) expressed immense interest in picking up the hosting duties since the cancellation of last year’s World Championships. 
      Perhaps the biggest part of this announcement is the fact that these World Championships will serve as the qualifier for the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. According to IFAF, the top seven men's and women's teams will book a trip to the World Games in July of 2022. Because of COVID-19, there will be no qualifications for this event, instead IFAF will announce a field of teams in early 2021. However, expect Austria, Israel, Denmark, France, Japan, Mexico, and Panama to be very competitive.
      Throughout the world there are many versions of flag football. According to the current IFAF rulebook, the version that will be played at the World Championship is the 5 on 5 Non-Contact version, which to many in the American Football community is the least entertaining version of not just flag football, but American Football. It will be interesting to see if these rules are adjusted at the next IFAF General Meeting. Perhaps the Birmingham Organizing Committee will step in and insist on an 8 on 8, or 7 on 7, more exciting version of flag football. 
      With this announcement, not only do we see IFAF continuing to offer olive branches to those nations who were on the IFAF-Paris side of the IFAF schism of 2015; but also, their dedication towards flag football over the traditional tackle version of American Football. IFAF sees flag football as their entry into the Olympic Games, and thus have thrown most of their resources into the flag bucket. Shorter, safer, and gender equal sports seem to be the rage with the IOC, as seen with the additions of Rugby 7's and 3x3 Basketball. Could Flag Football be next? It's an opportunity that IFAF will not pass on. But first, let's see what Palma will offer next fall. 

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    • Olympian1010

      Ireland has become the newest member of the International Luge Federation after the country’s membership was approved by the governing body.
      Ireland’s membership was accepted during the 68th Congress of the International Luge Federation, which took place virtually for the first time due to the ongoing global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Ireland becomes the 53rd country to become a member of the International Luge Federation. 
      Ireland’s admittance into the FIL was met with great enthusiasm by luge athlete Elsa Desmond, who announced that she will begin sliding for the nation. In a post on Instagram, Desmond stated, “I am beyond excited to be able to officially announce that I will now be racing for Ireland! Thank you so much to everyone who has helped make this possible! I hope I can make you proud on the ice!”
      Desmond originally started luge as an athlete representing the United Kingdom. She has yet to officially start in a World Cup race, but she does have multiple Nations Cup starts under her belt. She also placed 10th at the 7th FIL U23 World Championships, which were held in tandem with the 48th FIL World Championships, where she finished ranked 30th.
      It’s unclear if Desmond will race for Ireland on the FIL artificial track circuit this year, but she did indicate in her Instagram post that she is targeting qualification for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. She will be required to enter World Cup races in either the 2020-2021 season, or the 2021-2022 season in order to stand a chance at Olympic qualification. Her prior ranking as an athlete for the United Kingdom also suggests that she will have to attend the 2021 International Training Week at the Olympic track in order to meet the full requirements for Olympic qualification.
      Desmond’s first opportunity to represent Ireland will come soon, with the 2020-2021 FIL World Cup season quickly approaching. The 2020-2021 FIL World Cup begins in Innsbruck on November 28, 2020.

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    • intoronto

      The Pan American Hockey Federation (PAHF) has announced Santiago, Chile as the host of the men's and women's field hockey Pan American Cups.
      Both events are scheduled to be held between January 20-30, 2022 at the newly built National Hockey Stadium in Santiago. The venue is also scheduled to host the 2023 Pan American Games field hockey competition. Santiago last held the men's competition in 2009, while this will be the first women's Pan American Cup staged in Santiago. Argentina are the defending champions in both tournaments.
      The Pan American Cups are a qualifier for the aforementioned Pan American Games. The top two countries not qualified after the South American Games and the Central American and Caribbean Games have concluded, will qualify for the respective Pan American Games competition. More information on the qualification system is available here. 

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    • Olympian1010

      The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation announced that the 2021 IWWF World Waterski Championships will be held in Lake County, Florida.
        After an 18-year wait, the IWWF World Waterski Championships will return to the United States. The biennial event will be hosted at the Jack Travers Water Ski School on October 11-17, 2021. It is expected that more than 200 water skiers, from around 35 countries, will compete in the championships.   “We are thrilled to host the 75th Anniversary edition of the IWWF World Waterski Championships in Florida, the birth place and waterski capital of the world, at one of the premier venues so athletes can perform to the best of their abilities.” said Jose Antonio Perez Priego, President of IWWF.   “As the National Governing Body for the sport in the United States, we are thrilled to host this global event here in Florida,” said Tim Cullen, President of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports. “For competitive three-event water skiers this is the marquee event on the competition schedule.”   “On behalf of our partners at Visit Lake and Jack Travers Water Ski School, we are excited to welcome the 2021 IWWF World Waterski Championship to Lake County,” said Jason Siegel, President & CEO of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission. “Our community looks forward to providing a safe and exciting environment for the skiers and their families who are traveling to compete in this prestigious event.”   The 2021 event will include a week of meetings for IWWF’s Bureau, Executive Board and World Congress, as well as an International Hall of Fame Awards ceremony concluding the week’s festivities.  

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