Paralympic action starts today in Sochi with China’s 10-strong contingent looking to claim the country’s first ever Winter Paralympic medal. Five of the 10 form the curling team, which finished third at the World Championships in both 2012 and 2013, so a medal is a definite possibility. The other five are cross-country skiers: no red hot favorites, but results have been improving and a podium finish is not out of the question.
With several high prominent western leaders boycotting the Sochi Olympics, it was of even more importance to Russia and the IOC that Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony. In an official press release about the first ever IOC President’s dinner, Xi was mentioned in the same breath as Russian President Vladimir Putin, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Karolos Papoulias, President of Greece (home of the Olympics). All other attendees were listed further down the release, showing the importance of Xi’s presence.
Day 3 review
As predicted, things got better for China on Monday Feb 10. Much better.
There was no actual sport on Friday February 7 in Sochi, but there was plenty of action, not least the opening ceremony, which kicked off at 20:14 local time. The Chinese team, led by figure skater Tong Jian, was described by one website as “reliably pleasant peppermint candies“. Here’s why:
In this week’s round-up, Taiwan takes centre stage on the world sporting map, golfing teen sensation Guan Tianlang explores America, the most ludicrous claim you’ll hear this decade and a hot sporting WAG.
Wrestling has been in the Olympics for more than 2,600 years but looks almost certain to be axed from 2020 onwards after the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended that wrestling no longer be included in the list of core sports. It has a final chance to save itself, but only one of baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding, wushu and now wrestling will be chosen for inclusion when the Committee meets again in May.
So who loses out and who will likely gain from this?
The IOC says it’s looking for a new sponsor after Taiwanese computer company Acer pulled out as a member of the TOP Olympic sponsorship programme. Asus or Lenovo, anyone?
Gerhard Heiberg, the head of the IOC’s marketing team, said Acer would not necessarily be replaced by another computer company, but you have to think the most obvious replacements are like-for-like ones, with Lenovo and Acer also ticking the Asian box left empty by Acer’s departure.
One reason why that may not happen, though, is a fear of sponsorship overlap, with other companies encroaching on the “computer” category, something that Heiberg added may lead to changes as a result.
12 years after China’s Olympic coming out party, Tokyo is aiming to be the next Asian city to host a Summer Olympics as one of three candidate cities for 2020. And the signs are looking good.
On September 7 in Buenos Aires, IOC President Jacques Rogge will declare victory for one of Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid, and, if the bookmakers are to be believed, Tokyo is the favorite, noticeably ahead of Istanbul and significantly ahead of Madrid.