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Monday, September 20, 2021

Tokyo Olympics 2021: The craziest Olympic tournament awaits us in Tokyo

Leaders have been kicked out for doping in the bar, the federation is mired in corruption, and a transgender is claiming gold.

There will be plenty of oddities at the Tokyo Olympics. There are insane antiquated measures, and the absence of foreign spectators, and in general the very fact of the Games being held in the city, where the absolute majority of residents are categorically opposed. But the wildest Olympic tournament is likely to be weightlifting. If only because there are 25 countries under various doping sanctions at once, that is, in general, almost all participants in the Games! Not without punishment in relation to Russia.

Sanctions had to look for athletes in Papua New Guinea

The International Federation (IWF) has grown into a fierce anti-doping fighter a few years ago. There were reasons – otherwise weightlifting would have been thrown out of the Olympic program, without waiting for the Games in Tokyo. There are too many scandals with extremely low broadcast ratings.

As a result, the IWF came up with a rule: for 20 or more doping violations (including rechecking), reduce the national quota from eight athletes to two (one man and one woman who can compete in any weight category). If there are more than 10 violations but less than 20, a total of four weightlifters may compete. If a country does not cope with the fight against doping at all and does not fulfill the requirements, it is completely excluded.

As of now, only one athlete in the men’s and women’s standings will be nominated by seven countries, including Russia. Another 12 countries will have two athletes. And Thailand, Egypt and Malaysia were expelled finally and irrevocably.

There are only two leading countries that have not suffered from doping sanctions – China and the United States. Only they will perform with a full complement, which means that they will most likely divide all the gold among themselves. They will be opposed at times by very strange athletes like representatives of Papua New Guinea or Madagascar. And also, for example, Laurell Hobbard from New Zealand, who went through a gender reassignment procedure. However, given the massive removal of leaders, she even has theoretical chances of an award.

Timur Naniev (up to 109 kg) and Christina Sobol (up to 49 kg) will compete for the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo. Both are prize-winners of the recent European Championship in Moscow. But it is still difficult to talk about their medal prospects at the world level. Still, there is still a chasm between weightlifting in Europe and the rest of the world.

Barbell by a thread from exclusion from the Olympic program

A separate horror film is the story of the change of power in the international federation. The weightlifters themselves seem to be confused with the names of the IWF presidents. Last year, our well-known professor Richard McLaren published a report on corruption. He found a lot of unsightly stories, after which the long-term head of the IWF Tamash Ayan can no longer boast of an honest name.

And then chaos began. American interim president Ursula Papandrea was overthrown by a coalition of her rivals. After that, Papandrea gathered her group of allies and will now fight to become permanent president.

Again, here it is worth remembering that it would be strange to compete for the presidency for representatives of countries that are currently under doping sanctions. And this excludes a lot of strong people from the number of candidates. And in fact, it narrows the circle of applicants to a minimum. Which absolutely does not prevent Russians, Turks and Asians from actively participating in the pre-election campaign behind the scenes.

In general, it is not surprising that the International Olympic Committee is seriously thinking about the prospects for weightlifting in the Games program. So far, in Paris 2024, only the number of disciplines will be reduced. But if everything remains as it is, most likely, weightlifters will deal with their doping and corruption scandals on their own, not in the status of an Olympic sport.

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