With the Olympic Games set to kick off at the end of July, preparations for the Games are beginning in all sports, not just in swimming. In this series, SwimSwam looks at some of the leading news from outside of swimming as athletes around the world continue to prepare and qualify for the rescheduled Olympic Games which are due to begin in Tokyo on July 23rd, and Paralympic Games, which are scheduled to begin August 24th.
Russian Olympic Committee Announces 355-Strong Team for Tokyo
On Tuesday, the Russian Olympic Committee confirmed that a team of 355 athletes is heading to the Tokyo Olympics.
Uniquely, the Russian flag or national anthem will not appear anywhere at the Olympic Games after the nation was banned from top international sports competitions after a systemic doping system was discovered in the country.
Instead, athletes from Russia will compete under the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) and will wear neutral clothes. Additionally, if a Russian athlete wins a medal, Tchaikovsky will play across the speakers and no national flag will be raised.
Speaking to local journalists after the announcement, ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov said: “We have approved a roster of the Russian Olympic team for the upcoming Games in Tokyo, which contains 335 athletes.
“Compared to the previous Games [2016 Summer Olympic], our national team was increased by 50 more people. Our delegation is larger now and we are waiting for the outcome of our basketball team’s [qualifying] performance to finalize the roster”.
In 2016, the Russian Federation finished in 4th place in the overall medals table, walking away with 56 medals in total (19 gold, 17 silver, and 20 bronze). In swimming specifically, they took home four medals.
American Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson Misses Olympics Over Positive Drugs Test
After what was a stellar performance by Sha’Carri Richardson at the U.S Olympic Trials, the 21-year-old has been left off the Olympic track and field team after testing positive for marijuana.
The sprinting ace dominated the women’s 100m event to win in a time of 10.86 seconds: the sixth-fastest time in history.
She had been expected to challenge for Olympic gold at what would have been her first Olympic Games, but will now have to miss the competition after being handed down a 30-day ban which lasts until August 5th.
While the ban eliminated her, by rule, from the individual race, USA Track & Field did have the option under selection procedures to include her on the 4×100 meter relay. That did not happen.
In a statement, USATF said it was “incredibly sympathetic toward Sha’Carri Richardson’s extenuating circumstances” and “fully agrees” that international rules regarding marijuana should be reevaluated.
“So while our heartfelt understanding lies with Sha’Carri, we must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes who attempted to realize their dreams by securing a place on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team,” the statement read.
Richardson has cited the death of her biological mother the week before trials as the reasoning behind her use of the drug.
Speaking on the decision, she said: “I apologise for the fact that I didn’t even know how to control my emotions or deal with that during that time.
She continued, saying: “I greatly apologise if I let you guys down – and I did. This will be the last time the US comes home without a gold in the 100m.
“I’m 21, I’m very young, I have plenty of Games left in me to compete in and plenty of talent that backs me up because everything I do comes naturally to me, no steroids or anything.
“This incident was about marijuana so after my sanction is up I’ll be back. Next time I step on the track I’ll be ready for whatever anti-doping agencies come and [they will] get whatever they need because this will never happen again.”
Boxer Mandy Bujold Wins Reprieve Against IOC
We previously reported how Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold had mounted legal action against the IOC and accused them of being ‘discriminatory against women’.
Now, the 11-time national flyweight champion has won her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and will compete at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games as a result.
The CAS ruled that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) must cater for women who were either pregnant or postpartum during their altered Olympic qualification period.
While speaking to Canadian press, Bujold said: “Years down the road, I’m going to have a conversation with my daughter about this stage in my boxing career, I’m now going to be able to tell her that I took time off to become a mom and came back a stronger, better woman and proved that you can have a family and be an Olympian.
“This decision has impacted not only my future, but also the future generation of young girls.”
The qualifying event Bujold was due to compete in May was cancelled. The IOC then decided to refer back to three events held between 2018 and 2019 – a time when Bujold was pregnant and on maternity leave.
The 33-year-old will now compete in what she has said will be her final Olympic Games.