The Trinidad and Tobago men’s 4x100-metre team who competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics can now call themselves gold medallists 14 years later.

Richard Thompson, Marc Burns, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender and Aaron Armstrong received their medals in a short Olympic medal reallocation ceremony at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, Tuesday.

At the 2008 Olympics, Jamaica won the men’s 4x100m event, led by legendary sprinter Usain Bolt.

However, in 2017, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) revealed that Nesta Carter, who ran the lead-off leg for the Jamaican quartet, had violated the anti-doping code by testing positive for methylhexaneamine.

Jamaica was subsequently disqualified and T&T, who had earned silver, were announced as the new winners.

At the ceremony on Tuesday, IOC president Thomas Bach said the IOC's goal was to protect the clean athletes and that he knew the T&T athletes would have liked to experience such a special moment at the 2008 Games

After Bach spoke, the T&T athletes were introduced and brought on stage. After receiving their medals, president of the T&T Olympic Committee Diane Henderson presented all the athletes with a bouquet of flowers.

The national anthem was played and then pictures were taken with the T&T flag.

The athletes were accompanied by members of their family.

 

Sergey Bubka has been summoned to Switzerland to lead the Olympic movement's humanitarian response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The pole vault legend, now 58, is president of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee and considered the best-placed figure to spearhead efforts to help those in need.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is based in the Swiss city of Lausanne, and it is there that plans will be drawn up to support Ukrainian athletes and sport bodies affected directly by the Russian invasion.

IOC president Thomas Bach said in a letter to the Olympic movement that there had been an overwhelming "outpouring of solidarity" from stakeholders towards Ukraine, with efforts already under way to help exiled athletes.

The IOC has created a solidarity fund, and Bach said it was necessary "to increase the assistance already provided, but also ensure that it is coordinated in an effective manner".

This is where Bubka comes in, with Bach "urgently" requesting that the long-time former world record holder and IOC member makes himself available "to coordinate all elements of humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian Olympic community", including the allocation and distribution of funds raised.

Bach added: "To facilitate this task we will begin collecting information on the whereabouts of these members of the Ukrainian Olympic community as well as ongoing initiatives and support."

According to Ukraine's National Olympic Committee, in a statement issued this week, Bubka stayed in Ukraine after the Russian attack began.

He issued a statement on Tuesday that read: "Thank you for all your supportive messages and calls we received from around the world. Ukraine is grateful to the IOC for its full solidarity as well as to its task force for its communications with the NOC of Ukraine for coordination of humanitarian assistance. The war must stop, peace and humanity must win."

Thomas Bach reiterated his wish for peace as the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially closed the Beijing Games.

In his welcoming speech earlier in February, Bach stated: "There will be no discrimination for any reason whatsoever. In our fragile world, where division, conflict and mistrust are on the rise, we show the world: yes, it is possible to be fierce rivals, while at the same time living peacefully and respectfully together.

"This is the mission of the Olympic Games: bringing us together in peaceful competition. Always building bridges, never erecting walls. Uniting humankind in all our diversity."

And with tensions between Russia and the west rising over the possibility of a Ukraine invasion, Bach believes the Beijing Games have been the perfect example of "solidarity and peace", as he called on world leaders to be inspired by the athletes.

"Each and every one of you strived to achieve your personal best. We were deeply touched how you were wishing and cheering for your competitors to achieve their best as well.

"You not only respected each other: you embraced each other, even if your countries are divided by conflict.

"You overcame these divisions, demonstrating that in this Olympic community we are all equal – regardless of what we look like, where we come from, or what we believe.

"This unifying power of the Olympic Games is stronger than the forces that want to divide us: you give peace a chance," he said.

Bach also emphasised the importance of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has been ongoing for two years, and Bach stressed the crucial need for poorer nations to have equal access to the vaccines.

"If we want to finally overcome this pandemic, we must be faster," he said.

"We must aim higher, we must be stronger, we must stand together. Vaccination means caring for each other.

"In this Olympic spirit of solidarity, we call on the international community: give equal access to vaccines for everybody around the world."

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach says it was "chilling" to see the way Kamila Valieva was treated by her coach after falling in her figure skating routine.

Valieva was left visibly upset after making a number of errors as she missed out on a place on the podium in Thursday's singles event at the Winter Olympics.

The 15-year-old had been on course to win the title after Tuesday's short programme, having controversially been cleared to compete despite testing positive for trimetazidine in December.

However, the immense pressure Valieva has been under in Beijing appeared to have taken its toll as she could only finish fourth after a score of 141.83 for her final routine had her 224.09 overall at the Capital Indoor Stadium.

Anna Shcherbakova took gold with a combined score of 255.95 and fellow 17-year-old Alexandra Trusova made it a Russian Olympic Committee one-two, with Kaori Sakamoto of Japan claiming bronze.

However, rather than comfort Valieva, coach Eteri Tutberidze instead reportedly asked her "why did you stop fighting?" in reference to an initial mistake on the teenager's opening triple axel.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, IOC chief Bach confirmed the organisation was concerned.

"There is a very sad story about Kamila Valieva," Bach said. "I was very disturbed when I watched the competition on TV, in her performance how high the pressure must have been. This pressure is beyond my imagination in particular for a girl of 15 years.

"Rather than giving her comfort, rather than trying to help her. You could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance. If you were interpreting the body language, it got even worse. It was even dismissive.

"To see her struggling, trying to compose herself, you can see the immense mental stress, perhaps she would have preferred to leave this story behind her.

"All of which does not give me confidence in the entourage of Kamila, neither in regard to what happened in the past or as far as it concerns the future. This was no way to treat a 15-year-old under such mental stress. 

"I hope she has the support of her friends and family to help her through this difficult situation."

Valieva won team gold last week before her failed drugs test came to light, which prompted calls for the youngster to be thrown out of the Games.

A Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling allowed Valieva to compete in the singles, but she is still the subject of an anti-doping investigation and her entourage – including doctors, coaches and other adults surrounding her – are also being investigated.

Olympics chief Thomas Bach has confirmed he will meet with tennis star Peng Shuai during the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

There has been global concern expressed for the safety, whereabouts and wellbeing of Chinese player Peng, who has competed at three summer Olympic Games.

In December, Peng denied making an accusation of sexual assault against a Chinese government official, saying there had been "a lot of misunderstandings" about a post on social media in November.

That post on her Weibo account, since removed, contained sexual assault allegations against Zhang Gaoli, the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee.

Amid concerns for Peng after the accusation, the head of the women's tennis tour, WTA chairman Steve Simon, said he struggled to believe she had sent him an email that claimed the allegations were false and that she was safely at home.

The WTA has since suspended all its tournaments in China.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Bach said in a news conference on the eve of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony that 36-year-old Peng was living in Beijing, and that she claimed to be allowed to move freely. He said the IOC would support Peng if she considered an "inquiry" into her circumstances necessary.

Bach's stance throughout has been that "quiet diplomacy" is required, and he did not deviate from that on Thursday. He explained Peng would enter the "closed loop" of the Games, which has been designed to separate the Olympics from the rest of Beijing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"The answer is, yes, we will have the meeting," Bach said, when the issue was raised in a news conference.

"I'm very happy and grateful to Peng Shuai that she will enter, in order to have this meeting, because she also wanted to have this. We discussed it in November."

Bach said the IOC had previously made contact with Peng "to get to know where she is and as far as possible how she is". He has already spoken to Peng via video link.

"What better way than to have a personal meeting," he added. "This is why already in the first meeting, I said I want to meet personally once I arrive in China, and this will happen.

"It is also not only a sign of respect, but a necessity to respect her and then to listen to her and how she sees the situation, how she wants to live her life. This is what we are step by step trying to find out.

"If she wants to have an inquiry, of course we would also support her in this, but it must be her decision. It's her life; it's her allegations. We have heard the allegations, and we have heard the withdrawal.

"We will have this personal meeting and there we will continue this conversation, and we will know better about her physical integrity and her mental state when we can meet in person. This was the objective of this initiative from the very beginning.

"We say it publicly we have this information, but so far only by video conference. This cannot replace the personal contact and appearance.

"We know from her explanations during these video conferences that she is living here, in Beijing. She's reporting she can move freely, she's spending time with her family and friends, and now we will be able to do the next step in a personal meeting to convince us of her wellbeing and her state of mind."

Gianni Infantino's plan for a biennial World Cup came under fire from Olympic figures on Thursday, with a claim FIFA could "create immeasurable damage" across sport.

At the International Olympic Committee (IOC) congress in Beijing, held on the eve of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, the view was voiced that football could have a profoundly negative impact if the World Cup switches from being held once every four years.

The powerful European and South American confederations, UEFA and CONMEBOL, have refused to support world governing body FIFA's plans, but there is support from within Asia, Africa and the CONCACAF region that covers North and Central America, plus the Caribbean.

FIFA issued studies in December that showed solidarity funding for each of its 211 national associations would rise from $6million to "potentially" $25million for the first four-year cycle of an era of biennial World Cups.

Yet there is concern among senior figures in other sports that football's power could be detrimental in the wider picture of sport, pushing other events into the background.

Algerian Mustapha Berraf, who serves as president of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), told the IOC congress he was firmly opposed to FIFA plans.

"The plan would create immeasurable damage and would put sport in danger and in particular football," Berraf said. "It would simply push away other sports and relegate them to the back benches – which is unacceptable – and create a rift between women's and men's sport, and be a setback to our aim of creating equity and parity for all sports."

According to the Guardian, Berraf added: "I make the request to put an end to this endeavour which is incompatible with our Olympic values."

There was also opposition expressed by Nenad Lalovic, president of United World Wrestling, and Ryu Seung-min, vice-president of the IOC Athletes' Commission.

IOC president Thomas Bach said Infantino, who is also an IOC member, had written to him this week to advise he would not be able to attend congress, denying members a chance to discuss the World Cup plans face to face.

"We would like to discuss this with the FIFA president, but this is not possible because he cancelled his visit to Beijing the day before yesterday," said Bach.

"We should not discuss this now on a wider scale on this issue in his absence in respect for our colleague."

Bach said the remarks would be sent on to Infantino.

Asked later in the day how he had learned that Infantino would not be coming to Beijing, Bach told a news conference the FIFA chief had blamed the pandemic.

He said: "Mr Infantino has written me a letter the day before yesterday, [in which he said] that because of the pandemic situation he would not travel to Beijing, and he would follow the session from Cameroon, where he would be for the semi-finals and the final of the Africa Cup (of Nations)."

China has called for people to stop "deliberately and maliciously hyping up" the Peng Shuai saga.

Two-time grand slam doubles champion was reported to have been missing since making sexual assault allegations against Zhang Gaol, the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, more than three weeks ago.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) welcomed pictures that showed Peng on a video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, but say the images do not alleviate its concerns about her wellbeing.

According to the IOC, Peng said she is "safe and well" in the call on Sunday and the 35-year-old spoke to president Bach for half an hour.

Despite footage released by Chinese state-run media on Saturday purporting to show Peng in a restaurant with friends, followed by images of her at a youth tournament on Sunday, concerns have continued to be raised regarding her safety.

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic are among many fellow players to have issued a plea for answers over Peng's whereabouts.

Human rights group Amnesty International stated the IOC is "entering dangerous waters" by taking part in a call with Peng and "should be extremely careful not to participate in any whitewash of possible human rights violations."

There was a firm message from China's foreign ministry on Tuesday, declared the issue is "not a diplomatic matter".

"I believe you have all seen that she recently attended some public events and had a video call [with IOC president Bach]," spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

"I think some people should stop deliberately and maliciously hyping [the issue] up, let alone politicise this issue."

 

 

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has welcomed pictures that show Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai on a video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, but say they do not alleviate its concerns about her well-being.

The 35-year-old had been widely considered to have been missing since making sexual assault allegations against Zhang Gaol, the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, more than three weeks ago.

According to the IOC, Peng said she is "safe and well" in the call with president Bach on Sunday.

The IOC said in a statement that Peng had spoken to president Bach for 30 minutes.

"She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time," the statement added.

"That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now. Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much."

In response, a WTA spokesperson said: "It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don't alleviate or address the WTA's concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.

"This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern."

Despite footage released by Chinese state-run media on Saturday purporting to show Peng in a restaurant with friends, followed by images of her at a youth tournament on Sunday, concerns have continued to be raised regarding her safety.

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic are among those to have called for answers on Peng's whereabouts.

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai said she is "safe and well" in a video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach on Sunday, the governing body said.

Peng had been widely considered to have been missing since making sexual assault allegations against Zhang Gaoli, the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, more than three weeks ago.

Despite footage released by Chinese state-run media on Saturday purporting to show Peng in a restaurant with friends, followed by images of the 35-year-old at a youth tournament on Sunday, concerns have been raised regarding her safety.

However, with the likes of Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic calling for answers on Peng's whereabouts, the former world number 14 has now spoken publicly for the first time since November 2.

In a statement released on Sunday, the IOC said Peng had spoken to president Bach for 30 minutes.

The announcement added: "She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time.

"That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now. Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much."

The statement included an image of the video call between Bach and Peng, who was smiling to the camera.

IOC member Li Lingwei and IOC Athletes Commission chair Emma Terho were also on the call, with the latter adding: "I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing fine, which was our main concern. 

"She appeared to be relaxed. I offered her our support and to stay in touch at any time of her convenience, which she obviously appreciated."

Prior to Sunday's latest development, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) called for more information about Peng.

"I am glad to see the videos released by China state-run media that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing," said WTA chairman and chief executive officer Steve Simon in response to the restaurant footage.

"While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference. 

"This video alone is insufficient. As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai's health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug. 

"I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads."

Former hurdles star Edwin Moses questioned the Games going ahead in Tokyo but insisted time will tell as to whether the decision was correct.

Prior to the delayed Games, there was scepticism towards the safety of holding such an event amid a global pandemic, but Tokyo 2020 was completed without major incident.

Moses, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, agreed with the concern throughout Japan – and across the world – as he discussed the unusual competitive conditions.

"I was always very concerned," the former United States athlete told Stats Perform.

"I always wondered whether it was the right decision to expose the Japanese people to tens and thousands of people coming in. I guess we’ll see what the fallout is.

"I would have been compelled to go if I was 25 years old. [The] conditions are not normal for athletes. I can't imagine competing under them."

Paris awaits in 2024 before Los Angeles and Brisbane follow as the next hosts.

But Moses, who set the world record four times in 400 metre hurdles, was unsure as to whether the Olympic model has been too restrictive for a competition that prides itself on inclusivity.

"[It] was talked about trying to move the Olympics to different countries," the 65-year-old continued. "I think the set up and model now means that it will never be somewhere like Africa. They can't afford it.

"I think they're behind the eight ball in terms of moving it around. Right now they've restricted themselves to American, [Asian] and European countries. [The] model is not sustainable to diversify delivery."

Asked whether they can alter this issue and make the model more inclusive, Moses responded: "I don't know. I'm not sure if it was in somewhere like South Africa for example.

"People would want that amount of money spent on it. They've been trying but [I am] not sure theyve found a reasonable solution."

One leading light for the delayed games, however, is the conversations that have opened on mental health.

Simone Biles, who would later take to social media to further inform her audience as to her mental health struggles, made the headlines when she courageously withdrew from artistic gymnastic events before emphatically returning to secure bronze on the beam.

IOC president Thomas Bach praised the athletes for offering "hope" as one of the "most precious gifts" during Sunday's closing ceremony and Moses offered insight into the mental health aspects of being an athlete.

"It's intense," Moses added. "People have no idea what it takes. And in today's world with the commercialism, Simone Biles was expected to win five medals.

"I think it was a combo of physical and mental. Her internal GPS system disconnected from her motor system and she could have been in danger."

Moses, who credited athletes for removing the stigma of mental health by opening up on the topic, concluded: "At a certain level competition is competition and if you are not ready for it it's okay.

"The problem is big athletes are pulling out of events now. Athletes will have had deaths in the family, people ill, all kinds of situations."

IOC president Thomas Bach hailed the athletes of Tokyo 2020 for offering the world "the most precious of gifts" in the form of "hope" before bringing the Games to a close on Sunday.

There was plenty of scepticism throughout Japan, and indeed across the globe, about the practicality of hosting an Olympics in the midst of a pandemic.

Bach and the Olympics organisers remained steadfast in their belief the Games – delayed by a year due to the proliferation of COVID-19 – should go ahead, though, and Tokyo 2020 has played out without major incident over the past two weeks.

Speaking at Sunday's closing ceremony, Bach reiterated the message of solidarity he heeded when opening the 32nd Olympiad a little over two weeks ago.

"Dear athletes, over the last 16 days you have amazed us with your sporting achievements, with your excellence, with your joy and with your tears. You created the magic of these Olympic games Tokyo 2020," he said.

"You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger, because we all stood together in solidarity. 

"You were competing fiercely with each other for Olympic glory and at the same time you were living peacefully together under one roof at the Olympic village. This is a powerful message of solidarity and peace. 

"You inspired us with this unifying power of sport, this is even more remarkable given the many challenges you had to face because of the pandemic. In these difficult times you gave to the world the most precious of gifts. Hope. 

"For the first time since the pandemic began the entire world came together, sport returned to centre stage, billions of people around the globe were united by emotion, sharing moments of joy and inspiration. This gives us hope, this gives us faith in the future, the Olympic games Tokyo 2020 are the Olympic games of hope, solidarity and peace. 

"You the best athletes of the world could only make your Olympic dream come true because Japan prepared the stage for you to shine. You the Japanese people can be extremely proud of what you have achieved. On behalf of all the athletes we say thank you Tokyo, thank you Japan.

"And now I have to mark the end of this most challenging Olympic journey. I declare the Games of the 32nd Olympiad closed."

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, added: "The athletic events of the past 17 days have inspired us, given us courage, and shown us hopes for the future.

"I would like to express my feelings of gratitude and respect to all the athletes, and to everyone else who overcame so many difficulties to so thoroughly prepare for these Games and deliver their absolute best performances."

The long-standing Olympic motto of 'faster, higher, stronger' has been updated at the Tokyo Games, it was revealed on Tuesday.

The founder of the modern Games, Pierre de Coubertin, backed the original motto in 1894 and 127 years later it has been refreshed.

Now it reads 'faster, higher, stronger - together', with International Olympic Committee members said to have unanimously agreed to the update.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: "We want to put a strong focus on solidarity. That’s what the word 'together' means – solidarity.”

Bach explained: "Solidarity fuels our mission to make the world a better place through sport. We can only go faster, we can only aim higher, we can only become stronger by standing together – in solidarity.”

IOC spokesman Mark Adams added: "The idea is that you are unable to go faster, to go higher, to be stronger without a team around you.

"It's not just about individual excellence. It's about the team around you, whether it is a medical team, a coach, your family, your entourage.

"The idea to update the motto is to really understand that if you want to go faster, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go together.

"The IOC is keen to stress the value of solidarity - it is key. If you really want to do something, you have to work with other people to achieve that."

Olympics chief Thomas Bach revealed he masked his concerns about Tokyo 2020 going ahead because of fears the Games might "fall to pieces".

Bach is president of the International Olympic Committee, which he said "had to show a way out of this crisis" in order for the global event to go ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on Tuesday in Tokyo, Bach said the IOC had experienced daily concerns about the Olympics being able to proceed but had to present a positive message to stakeholders including sporting federations, sponsors, the Japanese government and broadcasters.

Had the IOC been open about worries for the Games, which were delayed by a year due to the global health crisis, Bach said it could have triggered a chain of events that would have seen the Olympics collapse.

Instead, the Games get under way this week, with the opening ceremony due to take place on Friday.

Bach said: "Over the past 15 months, we had to take daily decisions on very uncertain grounds. We had doubts every day. We deliberated and we discussed. There were sleepless nights. Like everyone else in the world, we did not know, I did not know, what the future would hold."

Bach appeared to scoff at any suggestion of the IOC deciding to "blindly force ahead at any price" and spoke of the "extreme stress test of the coronavirus crisis".

"Imagine for a moment what it would have meant if the leader of the Olympic movement, the IOC, would have added to the already many doubts surrounding the Olympic Games, if we would have poured fuel onto this fire," Bach said.

"How could we have convinced the athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games by adding to their uncertainty?

"How could we have convinced all the other stakeholders to remain committed to the Olympic Games if we would have even deepened their already serious doubts.

"Our doubts could have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Olympic Games could have fallen to pieces. This is why, we had to keep these doubts to ourselves. This today I can admit and say it, it also weighed on us, it weighed on me.

"But in order to arrive at this day today, we had to give confidence. We had to show a way out of this crisis. We had to provide stability. We had to build trust. We had to give hope."

The IOC announced updated COVID-19 case figures for the Games on Tuesday, with 40 confirmed cases involving residents of Japan and 31 affecting those from overseas.

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