In partnership with:
Not just what's happening in and around the Olympic Movement and International Sports but what it all means.
Death is part of life. We all know.
Still, when it comes so unexpectedly, it’s a shock.
All the more so in the case of a genuinely good person, a fundamentally decent human being who cared about things that matter and sought to make — in his years, too short — our broken world better.
This was Yang Ho Cho. He died in Los Angeles a few days ago. He was 70.
Absent some freaky event between now and then, in late June, at its annual assembly the International Olympic Committee almost surely will award Stockholm the 2026 Winter Olympics. There’s a joke for this 2026 race that’s apropos. In the aftermath of this week’s news of government support in Sweden for the project, there now seems little sense in waiting more than two months to tell it.
So here goes: who does the IOC want to win for 2026?
2. Anyplace not named Milan
The problem with pretty much all the journalism on the 2026 Winter Games race is that it totally has missed the blindingly obvious point. Which is — see above.
Yes, yes, yes, Chariots of Fire, the 1981 movie that won four Oscars in telling the story of track and field at the 1924 Paris Olympics, is all about the sprints, not cross-country.
OK, OK, OK, Chariots of Fire is about the Olympics but something bigger. It’s a story about British athletes at those 1924 Paris Olympics, one who is a devout Scottish Christian running for the glory of God, the other an English Jew and what it takes to overcome prejudice.
People, we need not quibble here with details.
When people think about Paris and the 1924 Olympics, what do they think of? The iconic beach running scenes from the movie, right? The sunlight! The sand! The sea foam! Especially since Mr. Bean — Rowan Atkinson — had great fun with the whole thing during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Games.
Those beach scenes are, more or less, kinda-sorta, cross-country running. Good enough, anyway. At least for this point:
The 2024 Games will be 100 years since the Games were last in Paris. As things happen, those 1924 Games were also the last time cross-county was on the Olympic program.
Paris 2024 organizers want cross-country back. So does track and field’s world governing body, the IAAF.
The United States Olympic Committee has been all but consumed for months by the fallout from Larry Nassar’s crimes.
Virtually every single person in the Colorado Springs leadership team is new. The focus has seemed to be primarily if not entirely on gymnastics and on other domestic matters.
Now comes a reminder that a significant part of the USOC’s work is outward-facing, too. And here it has a huge mountain to climb, complicated by factors both of its own doing and by those beyond its control — in particular to policy and perceptions attributable to the 45th president of the United States.
Indeed, huge might be an understatement.
In the aftermath of last week’s World Youth Weightlifting Championships in Las Vegas, shadowed by visa issues that complicated entry into the United States for some and in other cases all but made entry impractical or impossible, USA Weightlifting has announced it is — at least for the near future — out of the bid game for high-level championships.
When the Olympic Games are on, Summer or Winter, it’s easy to declare that they are not just relevant but material — that is, they matter, and a lot.
The challenge for everyone involved with the Olympic movement around the world is when the Games are not on, and that challenge is elemental: being relevant, especially to young people, and making a difference in their lives.
When a teen activist from Swedish can inspire far-reaching school climate strikes — and a Nobel Peace Prize nomination — is it really too much to ask the International Olympic Committee as well to seek to make a difference, a really big difference, in our broken world?
Coming together in peace and unity — that is the entire point of a Games’ opening ceremony. It’s why it is the highlight of any Olympics, the world’s athletes gathering in what is both an expression of hope and a longing for peace — that maybe, just maybe, as the inadvertent soul poet Rodney King once put it, we can all get along.
The Games and the values for which the Olympics purport to be about — excellence, friendship, respect and, by extension, tolerance — are the very thing that stand in marked contrast to an abhorrent shooting spree like the one that ripped Thursday across two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The death toll now stands at 50.
Thus, this call for change:
At the Olympics, the guns have to go — that is, be gone.
In September 2016, this column was first in the world to declare that the International Olympic Committee ought to declare a historic two-fer and allocate the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games at a single stroke.
The IOC did just that in 2017, though it reversed the order of the suggestion first made here — LA for 2024, Paris for 2028, instead awarding 2024 to Paris, 2028 to LA, the IOC’s Eurocentric sensibilities coming once more to the fore after a three-Games Asian swing (2018 South Korea, 2020 Tokyo, 2022 Beijing) even though LA is and will be all the more ready. In exchange for waiting for ’28, LA struck a killer financial deal.
Now the IOC’s so-called evaluation commission is on the ground this week in Sweden, the first of the two remaining candidates for the 2026 Winter Games — Milan is yet to come — and thus it is time for this column, taking stock of what is going on in Stockholm and beyond, and more generally in the Olympic bid process, to yet again be first-in-the-world with another so-clearly-obvious take of what-should-be:
Salt Lake City for 2034.
Not — repeat, not — 2030.
This after the IOC picks Stockholm for 2026.
And with Sapporo poised to emerge as front-runner for 2030.
2020 Bid Cities,2020 Track Trials, 2022 Bid Cities, 2024 Bid Cities, 2026 Bid Cities, Archery, Baseball, Boston 2024, Boston Marathon, Diplomacy, Doping, Figure Skating, Gymnastics, Hockey, IOC, Istanbul 2020, Judo, LA 2024, Lance Armstrong, Los Angeles 1984, Madrid 2020, NCAA, NFL, Olympics, Pyeongchang 2018, Rio 2016, Security, Skiing, Soccer, Sochi 2014, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tokyo 2020, Track and Field, Uncategorized, USOC, Water Polo, Weightlifting, Wrestling, YOG
About Alan Abrahamson
Alan Abrahamson is an award-winning sportswriter, best-selling author and in-demand television analyst. In 2010, he launched his own website, 3 Wire Sports, described in James Patterson and Mark Sullivan's 2012 best-selling novel Private Games as "the world's best source of information about the [Olympic] Games and the culture that surrounds them." Read full bio.