LA 2028 will be here before you know it, so we wanted to learn a bit more about what’s going on behind the scenes at the Organizing Committee. Izzy Cerullo, two-time Olympian in rugby sevens and current commercial and consumer insights associate at LA 2028, tells how she landed a gig on the other side of the Olympics and what insights she’s looking at.

Izzy’s got a really interesting story about transitioning out of sport — including facing some serious rejection. We talked about the difficulties athletes have with this inevitable life event with TKFLASTANI Leslie Klein, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely made a lot of localized support vanish, so we hope that Izzy’s story will help someone else who’s going through the same situation.

In our Albertville 1992 history moment, Alison takes a look at the amazing closing ceremonies. It’s almost time to bid adieu to Albertville 1992! Perhaps the snow globe ladies are ready for us to go. Check them out here:

In news from TKFLASTAN, we have updates from:

In doping news, the International Testing Agency has finished its reanalysis of London 2012 samples. It’s a shame it had to be done, but the truth has hopefully won this battle.

We’ve got some news from Milan-Cortina 2026. Would you believe that they want to demolish the bobsled track in Cortina and build a brand-new one? With an $84 million budget? Who did not see this coming? We’ve got thoughts — including, find a better construction company than the one that built the Torino 2006 track, because why can’t we use that one? OH. It wasn’t well-constructed and can’t be used anymore. Who’s going to sigh more over this one, Jill or Alison?

And the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board met this week — on tap, tons of problem issues like:

  • Climate change
  • Boxing
  • Russia

but surprisingly, not North Korea.

Special shout out to our patron of the week: Listener Lorry! You can get a shout out too – find out more at our Support page!

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


TRANSCRIPT

Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. 

Jill: [00:00:00] Hello fans of TKFLASTAN, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you?

Alison: Hello. So how did you do with your Paris Lottery sign up?

Jill: I have not signed up yet.

Alison: I didn’t either, and I actually did it on purpose because I said, you know what, I’m gonna let everybody else. You know, first adopters and tell me what all the problems were. But from the Facebook group and from what I’ve heard, it went pretty smoothly.

The only thing people were complaining about was they weren’t confident that it had gone through. Mm-hmm. . There seemed to be some delay in receiving a confirmation, but other than that, the signup seems to have gone smooth. We have time. We have until the end of January to get our names in there.

Jill: Exactly.

So I figured I would sign up either over the holidays or at the beginning of January just to see how that process goes.

Alison: And maybe the turn in year, who knows what’ll happen. It’ll be like the year 2000 where the world blew up.

Jill: What? Well, let’s hope that doesn’t happen

The last thing we need is a big Olympic system just crashing.

Alison: Well, FIFA had its problems, so thank goodness this went more smoothly than that. So let’s go with that.

Jill: That they did, and hopefully the parish 2024 organizers are learning a bunch from what. When at fifa, if you don’t know, during the World Cup, all of the tickets were also all electronic, which is what they will be for Paris, and you had a special app and.

Fans were opening up the app and finding that their tickets had disappeared or that the app wasn’t working right and they’d have to go to a special location and get tickets printed out. So it was just a lot of frustration, especially if you’re hustling to get to a stadium or you wanna be there ahead of time.

I have a feeling that just go and be early is just the mantra you need to have for games of the.

Alison: Oh, what a lovely segue there.

games of the future. Nicely done.

Jill: That’s right. We are talking LA 2028 today with Izzy Cerullo. Izzy is a two time Olympian representing. Brazil in Rugby Sevens at Rio and Tokyo. She’s also a graduate of Columbia University and now works for the organizing committee for LA 2028 as a commercial and consumer insights associate.

We spoke with Izzy about her rugby career, her transition into corporate life, and an update on the planning for LA 28. Take a listen.

[00:02:41] Izzy Cerullo Interview

Jill: Izzy, thank you so much for joining us. First off, year two time Olympian in Rugby Sevens. What is it like to be on the other side of the organizing element of the games?

Izzy Cerullo: I’ll just introduce myself. I’m Izzy Solo. I two time rugby Olympian for Brazil.

I retired from international rugby in January to join LA 28. And being on the other side has been a bit of a coaster, kind of jumped right into the deep end. So I work on the data insights team at LA 28. And I had never done data insights before , not in my rugby career, not even in my pre rugby career.

So, everything is pretty new and there’s a lot to learn and so many layers to the Olympic and Paralympic games and also the Olympic and Paralympic movement. So being on the other side gives me that perspective of how big this operation is on many levels, but also a really interesting window into how to bridge what happens on one side to what happens on this side of the organizing committee.

So it’s been a really interesting road. I think I did a fair bit of work to prepare myself for this career transition, which I’m really happy to dive more into that. But being on the other side is really just kind of opening my eyes up a little more to the scope of the operation and also how important every stakeholder is in this big giant thing that we call the Olympic and Paralympic games.

So from the athletes to the fans, to everyone inside the organizing committee in every department there are so many moving pieces and what we’re trying to do here is make everything mesh really well and, and deliver a really unique experience to the city of, and city of Los Angeles and the world.

Alison: So you’re part of the LA 28 Athlete Fellowship program. So how does that actually work? How did you get involved in that?

Izzy Cerullo: So I started as an athlete fellow. I’m now full time mm-hmm. , which is just an incredible, also an incredible step in my career transition. So the athlete Fellowship program is for retired Olympic and Paralympic athletes not specific to the us.

So we have a bunch of international experiences represented already in the Athlete Fellowship program. And it’s set up to be kind of like an internship. We go through an interview process and rank the departments that we would like potentially work in. And then [00:05:00] those departments also rank the athletes that have interviewed as who they feel would be a, a good fit for the work.

And after that interview process I was selected to work on the data insights team and it’s set up to be a six month rotation. So six months in one department. After those six months you rotate in another department and a couple athletes. So I’ve been hired full-time. We have another athlete who was hired full-time in, in tech and another athlete, a couple other athletes.

So one also in the comms department and one in the games planning department. So we joke that we’re slowly taking over. We’ve done the math so more former Olympic athletes working here than in any other organization including potentially the ioc. Uh Which is a cool little tidbit of bringing the importance of bringing athlete perspectives into the planning process.

Alison: What is Data insights? What does that mean day to day?

Izzy Cerullo: Well, speaking broadly data insights is using many forms of data to inform decision making within the marketing department. So we’re within the marketing department, and so marketing is involved in

what the face of the games is. So our brand creating engagement with our fans and the insights team within that uses many forms of data qualitative and quantitative to help. Inform those decisions and analyze performance. So my specific role in that is social listening. So I get access to lots of public social media data and basically put my ear to the ground and tap into what people are saying about us.

So us being LA 28 Team usa the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee other various stakeholders in the Olympic and Paralympic movement. So analyze what people say, how many people are talking about this, how much are they talking about X, Y, and Z, and how they feel about all these things. And sometimes it’s very objective and clear what the ask is and, and what the questions are.

And other times it’s pretty subjective and you kinda have to fit a bunch of puzzle pieces together to understand the big picture.

Alison: So when we’re looking at what LA 28 is doing currently for marketing and, and its presentation, what has changed because of the data being analyzed in your group?

Izzy Cerullo: Hmm. Yeah. So one big question that we’re looking at and finding different ways to answer on many levels is not specifically related to LA 28, but more broadly related to the Olympic and Paralympic movement, as we’ve seen in some respects people not being so interested in the Olympic and Paralympic games and that’s historically speaking.

We’ve seen controversies in recent games. We’ve seen just the nature of the games change over time. And so that’s a question of we want people to stay engaged with this. I would. Gander, everyone within this organizing committee and who is has a personal stake in delivering these games cares a lot about the power of the Olympic and Paralympic movement to create positive change.

And if we’re not utilizing that in the best way possible for not connecting to people and, and helping this movement feel relevant in people’s lives, then we need to change some things that we’re doing or try to influence some different ways of thinking or imagining how this can be more relevant in people’s lives.

So that’s a really big question that’s very, very broad, but that’s an example of the data within that is trying to tap into on my side, like what are people talking about? Are they engaging? Content with other aspects of the brand. Just sports in general and how they feel about these things.

And we can track that over time. We can analyze that in many capacities. So, that’s one example of things that data is doing to help inform some decisions.

Alison: So we are five and a half years out. Where are we in LA with the process? I mean, it was awarded early, you had 10 years. Now we’re kind of in that normal process. So I know we’re coming up on the, the calendar and coming up on the sports program, but what else is actually being decided right now?

Izzy Cerullo: Yeah. Right now there are a couple interesting things on the horizon and I can’t give any details, but soon the public will know, like, what sports will be held where and I mean if we had to put on the Olympic and Paralympic games tomorrow, LA is ready. Like that’s the cool part is that we have state-of-the-art facilities.

We have a city whose infrastructure and people can complain about traffic and all that jazz, but we have a city whose infrastructure and yeah, logistics is ready to receive international fans at an enormous capacity already. And we see that with not only sporting events like the Super Bowl, but also cultural events like the Emmys and the Grammys and and other awards events.

So that’s just. Let’s not talk about like BTS filling stadiums for their shows. Like they’re just many examples in the way that LA is already equipped to put on world class events. So on the horizon is just how to [00:10:00] optimize that for the Olympic and Paralympic games. What more can be done to make that experience the best possible for every stakeholder that will be a part of that.

So that’s pretty exciting. But also because we’re so far out, we do have luxury of yet another Olympic and Paralympic games ahead of us that we can learn from, observe identify potential opportunities and really use this time as best as possible to craft what will be the LA brand that we want put on the Olympic and Paralympic games.

What

Jill: is the pressure like, or do you even see a, a pressure with. Knowing what Paris is going to be doing, and you see the changes they will be making, how does that affect the planning and, and not trying to, to one up it, but make it very la and make it very special Olympics as well?

Izzy Cerullo: Yeah, that’s a great question.

And yeah, nobody will see that I’m smiling a lot with that question because my experience as an athlete, especially within a team sport about pressure is that when you embrace that pressure, it makes you better. We will be pushed to push the envelope, we will be pushed to reimagine things and, and be innovative so that we can one up the next Olympic games and, and to make it memorable enough moving forward.

So that sort of pressure is, is an opportunity. It really, it’s not that it’s easy to handle. Pressure does make you feel nervous or anxious, but being able to lean into that as an opportunity to identify what LA can do better or differently or in a way that is just more relevant to our city, to our communities is, is really where those opportunities lie.

So, there will be pressure, of course, Paris, it’s a classic city. They have a memorable brand and very already because of its history and just launching their mascots. But that is also, those are all ways for us to already start thinking about and we already are in a lot of ways thinking about how will those changes and innovations push us to level up and, and hopefully surpass any expectation.

Alison: When you’re looking at the LA plans as they stand currently, what’s something you’re really excited about when you look at and say, oh, I wanna go to that. I wanna see that. In, in reality.

Izzy Cerullo: Yeah, that, that’s a great question. And yeah, I have to watch, I don’t spill any beans right now, but it’ll sound a little cheesy, so I am actually more excited to, so there are a couple things.

One hand, I was at Rio when Brazil was hosting, so being in a home stadium with a home crowd, being a part of that environment is special. Like there, I, there’s no other word. The energy is electric. It, it seems to mean more when you’re in the place where people feel like it’s home. And so that’ll be really special.

Being able to be in LA all this time leading up to it and then being there, seeing Angelo’s embrace the experience of, having it in their backyard and in their homes essentially. But one thing that really does make me. Even more excited is in this lead up there is such a focus now on youth sports.

So LA 28 has put in uh it will be by the time 2028, comes around a total of like 160 million in youth sports in Los Angeles. And I think we will see some kids or teenagers who are gonna be a part of, in some capacity or like trying to make the games or just falling in love with a sport and being able to watch that sport be competed at the highest level in their backyard because the Olympic and Paralympic games are coming to LA and because they discovered this sport through Play la this youth sports program Olympic and Paralympic youth sports program that, yeah, I.

That’s exciting to be a part of that for me is what in a lot of ways is, is a bit of an invisible aspect of the movement that can get overshadowed by all the metals and everything happening on the big stage. But the big stage is the tip of the iceberg. And there’s gonna be a lot happening from now up until 2028 that especially in Los Angeles in communities here, that will, will help people see how, deep the movement really is and the impact it can have on people’s lives.

Alison: What keeps you up at night? Oh, so from a data side, like if I’m asking the right questions, if I’m delivering quality work so that we can make the right decisions and so that’s. Ooh. Sometimes it’s a, that’s a big ask. That’s especially because I’m so new to the work and I’m in my first year trying to get a handle on all of this.

Izzy Cerullo: But the, yeah, the big questions and the things that keep, keep me up at night are, if we’re gonna be able to do all of this, there are big goals and if, if I’m helping to deliver that in my best capacity.

Jill: in a, in a way, that approach [00:15:00] just shows you’re an Olympian because it’s the best of a best, but when you get a whole bunch of Olympians together, do you all feel that same kind of pressure to deliver on like an office side of things versus the playing field?

Izzy Cerullo: Yeah, it’s, it’s fun having other athletes in the office because we have a. That shared experience and that, and that shared mentality of how we approach work, how we show up every day. So, yeah, it’s not that, I mean, yes, we are not only overachievers, but it’s more in the process of we’re willing to push ourselves, we’re willing to put ourselves in uncomfortable, like learning phases.

that sort of growth phases is uncomfortable. You’re, you’re a beginner, you, you’re stepping outside of your skill set in order to grow and be better. So bringing that mentality, I’ve seen in a lot of ways that I try to apply that mentality in this corporate space and this intellectual space of data and insights when I’ve done that mostly with my body on the rugby pitch and trying to run fast and tackle hard and and make good decisions.

On the field of play. And, and I think that there really is something that translates into when the athlete steps off the pitch or climbs out of the swimming pool, like all of that is still a part of, of the athlete.

Jill: You mentioned earlier about a little bit about transitioning and, and things she did to prepare for life after sport, what kind of things did you do?

Izzy Cerullo: Yeah so it was a pretty long process because I thought initially in 2019 leading into 2020 that I would retire after Tokyo. And then we all know that all of our plans took a bit of a nose dive. So, when the world basically shut down in March of 2020, I realized I didn’t really have a plan for this, broad, very Unclear deadline of, oh, I’ll just retire after Tokyo.

I was like, oh, if I had to retire tomorrow, I have absolutely no idea what I would do and I had to do something. So before I moved to Brazil to be a pro rugby player before I chose being a professional athlete has the path that I would follow. For almost eight years, I was gonna go to medical school.

I had everything lined up. I told my parents, Hey, if this doesn’t work out, if trying out for Brazil rugby doesn’t work out, I’ll go to send in my medical school applications. I had taken the mcat, I had everything that goes into a medical school application, lined up and signed a contract with Brazil rugby, ended up not applying to medical school.

And so then in, in March, 2020, you know, seven years later, I realized I have no plan. My everything has expired from that phase of my life. The, the MCAT score expires after a few years. I was like, oh, what am I still interested in that, I could kind of hop slightly over horizontally into and I decided to prepare myself for physical therapy school.

I was like, oh, I can be a doctor of physical therapy to do that, I had to take some prereqs. I had to take the gre. I did all this while quarantining and trying to train alone away from my team for almost nine months. And sent in that application and moved essentially back to, to Sao Paulo to join the team again in January, 2021.

Kind of pick up that final stretch to Tokyo, and I got rejected from physical therapy school just. rejection . And I wasn’t expecting that first off, but in a lot of ways it, the silver lining is that I had to take a deeper look at what it meant to prepare to career transition. It wasn’t just about taking a box and choosing the next best thing.

So now with a second time around, still no plan, I reached out to a therapist, a sports psychologist who specializes in career transitions. She was highly recommended by a friend, and I reached out to her and was like, Hey, I’m an athlete and I think I have trouble on my horizon. And I started doing therapy.

It was one of those things where I realized I, I just had this big question. Every time I tried to talk about it, I would get like feelings of. Intense panic and anxiety, and I didn’t really know how to start unpacking that. I didn’t even know where to start. Besides, every day is getting closer to this unclear deadline of, oh, I’ll just retire after Tokyo.

Knowing that for an athlete at any point you can unfortunately be forced to retire or have a, an injury or, or something can, can derail that plan. Yeah, so I started, therapy and it’s been, and I continue with the same psychologist. She’s been fantastic in helping me work through, so all of the layers involved in an, an athlete’s career transition.

So it’s not only the work, like what will I do after. It’s also, there’s a lot of identity involved in being an athlete. Like we work with our bodies. We, we work 24 hours a day, seven days a [00:20:00] week. Sleep is work for an athlete. Nutrition and feeding yourself is work for an athlete and all of a sudden I had to reframe what is my work for me now?

It’s not my complete identity nor was being an athlete, my complete identity. But it’s unpacking all of those layers and yeah, and then also I feel like a total beginner in my role. And that’s weird because I had an entire career before I and breached this like, pinnacle of success that a lot of people put a lot of value in.

But I walk down the street, nobody knows who I am or what I did or in a lot of ways that’s, you have to confront a lot of those, things that do come up that are lot more unexpected than I, I was like, oh, I just have to choose a new career and, and things will fall into place. And it’s been a process of trying to be open and, and vulnerable mostly with myself about a lot of stuff there to unpack and, and work through.

Jill: Did the Brazil Olympic Committee have any kind of support in that area?

Izzy Cerullo: No, it’s still, it’s still an area that’s it’s pretty new for Okay.

I mean, and not just for the Brazilian Olympic Committee, but I think for a lot of Olympic and Paralympic committees there’s a lot of value placed in the athlete when they’re competing and working towards medals and in that present work. And unfortunately, there needs to be a big paradigm shift in what the value of an athlete is when they are no longer competing because they’ve built up a big toolbox of skills and experience and a lot of stuff that can be applied in so many different areas, but, , making sure that those connections and bridges are made and, and that an athlete feels prepared and supported to make those next steps is really important.

So I didn’t receive any, like, institutional help from the Brazilian Olympic Committee and even the rugby union was, was really open in when I told them of my decision. But it’s something that I, I try to be open with my former teammates, other athletes that I meet now and like, who reach out and wanna know about the fellowship program, which is just a key piece in an athlete’s career transition.

This program is an example of a possibility and a real opportunity to help athletes bridge those first few steps. So yeah, I try to be open about my experience so that. It’s not that people should do exactly what I did, but I try to show that there are ways to go about it so that you feel supported and that you have resources.

Because it’s, it’s a big, big process. There’s so much involved and I, I wish more people really understood it , like how, how much is involved at so many, so many levels of personal and the professional mental, emotional retraining your body. Like that’s a big old thing too. Like . Yeah. How, how do

Jill: you deal with not having eight hours of training a day?

Izzy Cerullo: So the first couple of weeks was a bit of a relief, like I could finally rest and I realized how much I really needed that. But then a couple of my therapy sessions were about, like, I go to the gym and I feel it’s pressure to. , push myself to a limit that I, that my body remembers being in.

and then I would feel pressure if I didn’t do that. I would judge myself at, like if I, if I didn’t show up at the gym and like absolutely wreck myself because that’s what I was used to. And it took a while to just be more intuitive about what I want to do physically and why I want to do things.

So when I retired, I, didn’t touch a rugby ball for almost six months. I moved to LA and I knew that I needed time because I was grieving loss of my team, of my teammates of this thing that I did really well. And I’m not a part of that space anymore. It was a lot of it’s a grieving process. And I knew that I needed space to go through that instead of just hopping onto another team and trying to fill some gaps. And I’m grateful that I was able to like, verbalize that and had a professional who was like, Hey, let’s take a look at this a little more closely. And so I did, and then when I still though, I still watched some gains and I, I know what people are feeling. I know I can put myself in those situations and experiences and now I, I have my first rugby scrimmage coming up for a club, and I’ll be playing fifteens, which isn’t seven.

So it’s a way to step into a new role because I realized after that, like six month mark, five, six months, I missed rugby. and then I was able to tap into how I was feeling and understand, oh, I still want this to be a part of my life. Because I, I’ve seen so many other athletes who retire either on their own terms or not and feel really.

I feel like they have to have a break from sport in general, or, or feel like they, they can no longer relate to sport and then cut it out of their lives. And I knew that it was gonna be important for me to, to understand how I felt, if that was gonna be how I felt. And really grateful that now I’m tapping into the rugby that made me fall in love with the sport.

Like it’s fifteens, it’s team culture driven. It’s the [00:25:00] game that, that Izzy from more than a decade ago saw for the first time and fell in love with and, I get to, tap back into that. So yeah, it’s kind of cool relearning a bit. And then I go to the gym maybe two times a week, three times a week, which is very different.

Picked up beach volleyball a little bit here. I started biking, like doing all these other things that I can take advantage of because I have more time. I don’t have to just play rugby and prevent injury. .

Jill: Did your club now know who you were coming in or did, did you just say, well, I’ve been playing rugby for a few years.

Izzy Cerullo: Yeah. That’s funny. So I, I also held off on joining a team cuz I knew there was gonna be some icebreaker and I would have to tell everyone. So, yeah, I went to my first practice and like, I had obviously talked to like the club president, like, Hey, I wanna get involved. And so she knew who I was and then like one other person who had like saw me at an event or like had reached out, they handled the social media for the club. So they’d been like, Hey, door is open for whenever you want. So they knew who I was, but then it was the icebreaker at practice that was like, Hey, just name if you’ve ever played rugby before and like how many years you’ve been playing

It was one of those like have and then obviously I was like, right, we’ll just get it over with like, yes, play for Brazil for eight years. And yes, I, I went to the Olympic games, but then there’s always a crop of new players. So the following week there were people who weren’t at that first practice who showed up and then I was warming up my passing with someone and they’re like, yeah.

You have a really good pass. And I was like, oh, you know, I’ve put some time into it, . And then like someone goes over like, whispers in your ear and they get all bashful. And I’m like, no, it, I’m a person. Like, I still have to warm up my pass. Like, it’s, oh man. So it’s funny to me still.

Like it’s, it’s, pretty surreal for me. .

Alison: So most of your rugby was played in Brazil, in Portuguese. Is there any difference in playing in the United States and then playing in English?

Izzy Cerullo: Yes. And that’s hilarious because now my brain is pretty ingrained for rugby in Portuguese and practice, you know, it’s from eight to 10:00 PM which is like how clubs normally train.

And my brain is tired by the end of the day. And so sometimes I, I don’t have the words in English still. I’m still practicing. We tell, and I tell everyone, I was like, you have to practice communication. It’s just like any other skill, like repetition. So if that’s something I say to the team so that I do it too, because I’ll be like running a line or I’ll want the ball and I’ll like, how do I say that in English?

And same thing when I moved to Brazil, I had no rugby experience in Portuguese. So my first tryout practice with the national team, I wanted a skip pass and I had no idea how to say that in Portuguese. So I just like shouted and waved my arms and was raw and like, and the person, none other than who would go on to be our Olympic captain was playing at fly half.

And she like, just kind of looked over and was like, who is that weird person? And I don’t know what she wants and did not pass me the ball, which is a great decision. Because it probably wouldn’t have gone well and then. Afterwards I had to like go up to someone and ask them, Hey, so you know that past that like doesn’t go to the next person goes like over them to the like two people out.

Like what do you call that? And then I had to learn a new word and . Yeah. So there’s some funny stories of like the lost in translation. And when my brain gets tired and I have to say things on the fly, like I hope some muscle memory kicks in .

Alison: Well this leaves you very safely being able to trash talk because your trash talk will all be in Portuguese and they’ll just get the feel.

They won’t get the

Izzy Cerullo: words . Yeah. But there’s some pretty colorful things you can say in Portuguese. And I think even without a translation, people won’t, no

Alison: So you mentioned before that the LA 28 office is filled with former athletes. How does that affect the office environment? Does everybody have a treadmill desk and is there that kind of feeling to it?

Izzy Cerullo: So I’m pretty sure everyone, or almost everyone has a standing desk that they can put at the right height.

But yeah, we’ve had a couple groups sign up for like beach volleyball together and we did a tea with like an office table tennis tournament. So that got quite competitive quite quickly. is all, I’m gonna say

gosh, you know, I lost in the first round. It’s

Jill: Oh, it’s rough. If they still do like city office softball teams, like could you imagine playing LA 2028 ? That’d be awesome. We got the lawyers here. Oh great. We’re playing the former Olympians today. .

Izzy Cerullo: Yeah, but I mean, it’s fun cuz it was great fun. We, we put together a beach volleyball team that had like Four or five former Olympians and we were not very good. Like none of us are volleyball players. so competitive. Sure. Willing to to [00:30:00] go all out, running around in the sand. Oh yeah. But coordination wise and like hitting skills wise, I mean, we got better with time, but it was one of those funny moments where like, I hope nobody asks what we do or why we look athletic.

Alison: Well, to be fair, Izzy, you are not physically built like a beach volleyball player,

Izzy Cerullo: right? This is what I tell everyone’s like, Hey, rugby, not volleyball player.

Alison: And I, and I can say this to you because you are still taller than I am.

Izzy Cerullo: Yeah. Which means I get all the digs, but you know, getting over the net sometimes is

Alison: you, you like me, fit under the net

Izzy Cerullo: Unfortunately, you can’t do that either.

Jill: So when you, started working in the office, were you starstruck by anybody, any of your coworkers?

Izzy Cerullo: Oh yeah, definitely by one of the women who founded this program. So Janet Evans legend in Olympic Swimming is none other than one of the founders of the Athlete Fellowship program.

So, yeah. My first day got to shake her hand and just like be in the same space as her and was like, oh, okay. This is suddenly very real and also unbelievably unimaginable at the same time. And then meeting other former athletes who have also shared their stories with me.

So We have Olympic fencer, a big, or yeah, gymnast like a swimmer, like just being able to share those experiences. I, I feel like I will always be starstruck by athletes who have forged their own path to get to where they are. And I feel like it’ll be every, every Olympic and Paralympic athlete that comes our way or that I have the, the, the privilege of meeting that will always make me feel a little starstruck.

Jill: but it’s interesting that you say that because I would think just me on the outside go, you also forged your own path to get to where you are because you went to a different country to play and, and found that way to, to do it. I, I got no question with that, but I I thought that was interesting.

It’s always interesting to, to hear how people think versus go and, and not realize that in a way that they also have similar qualities.

Izzy Cerullo: yeah, when you put it like that, it is something, when I look in the mirror, I know that it was not an easy path. It definitely kind of strayed from a lot of the narratives that other people have.

So it’s been a wild ride so far. I tell people I feel like I’ve already lived two full lives and I’m still going at 31. So . Yeah. It makes me really curious to see yeah, how I’ll keep applying this way of doing that. My par makes my parents nervous sometimes , but now you’re settled, right?

I’m like, oh yeah. You know, we’ll see .

Alison: So speaking of your first lifetime, let’s ask a couple questions about Rio and. I mean, you were playing on the home team in Rio as rugby is being reintroduced into the Olympics and certainly women’s rugby for the first time. What was that

Izzy Cerullo: experience like? Yeah, that was a, a crazy experience because I was on the team for about two years when I played in Rio.

So I, it was like a race against time. I moved to Brazil during a World Cup in 2014. Definitely don’t recommend doing anything in Brazil during the World Cup because like the country shuts down. Like it’s very hard to get furniture delivered. just not a, it’s a hard thing, . But I knew when I moved there, I had, I had no international rugby experience.

I, Become an Olympic athlete in two years time, and it was gonna be a race against time. And so when I was able to call my parents that I made the team it was emotional. It was a dream come true. It was a bit of proving not only to myself, but also to them and, and to anyone who, who has a dream.

Like I, I had to crowdfund my way to Brazil, first of all to make this all possible. My parents are very clear. they supported me like yes, emotional support and all that, but it was my dream. So, implicitly, I would have to make that happen. So I crowdfunded my way. I asked friends and friends of friends like, if you have ever had a dream or if you like the Olympic and Paralympic games dream an Olympic dream with me.

And so being able to make that dream possible in two years time was. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But also I was like a bit of a bench warmer. Like I was still , this reserve player for our Olympic captain and another very experienced player in that position. So, I got like 30 seconds of playing time each match maybe, and, and made the most of it.

Like I, in my, our final match, I, I scored a cheeky chip kick try, like with a home crowd going nuts. Like there is no, no experience. Like, it, it was beautiful to see. There was also a lot of doubt if Brazil would be able to pull it off in a lot of ways. And being able to see the Brazilian people just rally behind this seemingly impossible mission of welcoming the world and, and doing it.

Brazilian style with flare and friendliness and creativity. And then being able to, to feel real pride in representing that sort [00:35:00] of that sort of attitude of, yeah, we don’t have all the resources that a lot of other countries have, but we’re gonna do this in a way that will be memorable and special.

And we can say a lot of things about the legacy or not left behind, but being able to feel that pride for a lot of pride in Brazil or about my family. Uh My parents left Brazil with the clear intention of never going back at the end of the military dictatorship, but they made that decision to kind of close the door.

On Brazil and, and become American . And they did that. They raised, in their minds, they raised American kids. And I came with this crazy idea of going back to a country I’d never lived in before, to tap into that identity and those roots. And being able to call them up and be like, Hey, we’re gonna represent our country.

and they were, they became Olympic. Olympic in that moment too.

Alison: Tokyo was very different.

Izzy Cerullo: Oh, yes.

Alison: you know, no fans not being home. What was that experience like as a, as an athlete?

Izzy Cerullo: Yeah. it was bittersweet. It was very celebratory in the sense that we made it, like there was this just collective solidarity in the village between teens as well, especially in rugby of like, We made it here. And that’s essentially for a lot of, for a lot of teams, that was what mattered.

That was like I knelt with the Canadian team because they were protesting more safeguards for athlete safety in Canadian Olympic committee. So yeah dealt with them against athlete abuse and discrimination. Also with Great Britain, who was taking a stand in a lot of ways.

So yeah, Tokyo was very, very different. My family had tickets and everything, like entire trip planned out and had to know that they would be tuning in in a different time zone on tv, on online for streaming when it wasn’t broadcast , because rugby, again, is not as popular as other sports. But it was also for me It was one of my best tournaments individually, it was, I knew I had done everything possible to be prepared and, and to be at my peak at the right time.

I think that’s what every, every Olympic and Paralympic athlete dreams to do is, is peak at the right moment to have that pinnacle performance at the biggest and most important tournament. And I was able to do that objectively. I was physically in the best shape of my life tactically and technically, I, I knew the game better than I had ever known it and studied it and was just ready to perform under pressure.

and I had all, I had also a couple months, few months of therapy under my belt cuz I was while I was preparing to transition, I was also tweaking my mindset and being able to adjust those final details of mental preparation. For the games. And so, yeah, for me it was this feeling of just being exactly where I needed to be, knowing that it was gonna be over way too fast.

Because that was the thing that stuck with me from Rio is like, you prepare. I had done, I had two years to jam pack with, with all that preparation and, and then a week later it’s over. So I, I knew that’s what I, I told all the new people like, Hey, goes by really fast. Just so could all end be in the moment.

get off your phone, . so I knew, I, I just tried to, to be as present as possible and, and really leave it all out there. I poured my heart and soul into those, moments that we had and appreciated it because, in early 2020, I didn’t think that that was gonna be possible. So there was also this layer of just profound gratitude to be able to do what I love next to people that I love and care about for the purpose of, of representing a country that I, I’ve fallen in love with.

And that means a lot to me. So it was bittersweet also, like amputee stadiums, knowing that people continue to this day to die from covid. And we were doing what we were doing because it’s big entertainment and it generates a lot of money at the end of the day. But on a personal level it did mean a lot and it was really special.

Jill: Random Tokyo question, did you ever have an encounter with a little vehicle car robot that would bring the rugby ball onto the pitch?

Izzy Cerullo: Yes. Yes. That is also my, one of my brother’s favorite parts of the game, . He just, the only thing he asked me was like, can you get one? And I was like, yeah, it’s, they’re fantastic.

They zip on to deliver the ball at the beginning of the game and then zip halftime, they deliver the ball again. And yeah, it’s a nice little feature.

Alison: During Tokyo, we kind of had a, a little car watch, you know, between rugby and athletics and wherever these little cars showed up, we got very excited.

Izzy Cerullo: I love it. I think it’s, I think it’s fantastic. And yeah, so for, the Olympic game, Toyota is a sponsor. So it was like little Toyota truck. And then during the World Series, which are the other tournaments, year round, DHL is a sponsor, a little DHL truck that delivers the ball. It’s fantastic.

Yeah.

Alison: You are a rugby player in your [00:40:00] soul. Are you ever in the office and just wanna take somebody down? ?

Izzy Cerullo: I cannot comment. Um Is there moment, I won’t say in the office, but just in the life, you’re like, oh, I could be physically prepared for if I were had to intimidate someone or hold my own for some reason, any physical altercation yeah, rugby definitely gives you those life skills.

But I would definitely just run in the opposite direction. No, we don’t. No, no tackling in the office and it’s very civil and cordial and professional.

Alison: But if somebody puts a rugby ball on the floor, all bets are

Izzy Cerullo: off. I do wanna do a rugby clinic with the office and we’ll play touch rugby. I’ve told everyone like, there’s no tackling, don’t worry.

But just like the ball movement of I think the, the wonderful, insane part about rugby is that your support is behind you. You don’t actually like really know what’s happen. You don’t have eyes in the back of your head, so you have to communicate really well. You have to do, you have to have your head on a swivel shirt, but you also have to have a lot of trust.

and so I, I think it would be really, really wonderful to, and I tell people, don’t worry, there’s no tackling. We’ll, just like you touch someone with like tip your finger, fingernail counts. that’s how you stop someone and touch rugby. So I think it would be really cool.

Jill:

Thank you so much Izzy. You can follow Izzy on Twitter and Insta Izzy Cerullo and We will have links to those in the show notes.

[00:41:21] Patron Shout Out

Jill: It’s time to give a patron shout out. We love our patrons. say thank you to some of our gold medal level patrons, and today we are celebrating Lorry Lucre. Lorry lives in Chicagoland, and she has been a very valued member of the Facebook group. We hear from her a lot and she gets to go to a lot of stuff, like she goes does a lot of women’s basketball and she met some Olympians after Beijing and has shared pictures of all of that and the Facebook group, and it’s been awesome.

Alison: And she sent us some emails, I think during Beijing. She

Jill: did. She was one of the people, like for me, I know I’ve said this before, but in Beijing, because of the time difference, I would get lonely at certain parts of the day and it wasn’t really talking to anybody cuz I didn’t, you know, he had masks on and so many Covid protocols and it was just awkward.

And Lorry was one of the first people to get up in the morning and your time. So she would start popping up in my Twitter and I would be very, very happy. You

Alison: kept Jill going when she was all alone until I got there.

Jill: That’s correct. So thank you so much Lorry, for your support and if you’d like to support the show, there are tons of ways to do so. We have one time option, so we have commissions where you can be a part of the show. And ongoing support. Check out flame alive pod.com/support for more information.

[00:42:42] History Moment – Albertville 1992

Jill: That sound means it is time for our history moment in all year long. We’ve been focusing on Albertville in 1992 as it is the 30th anniversary of those games. Alison, it’s your last story for the year. What do you

Alison: got? It is my last story. So I am talking about the closing ceremony which happened on February 23rd, 1992, and they had another spectacular ceremony.

We’ll put links to, to videos of this, but it really. Such a joy to watch. And we came back to the theatre day ceremonies, which was, as we talked about before, a temporary venue shaped like a circus tent. So the circus theme continued from the opening ceremonies. We had the women dressed as snow globes.

They returned.

Jill: a man. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Were the women in Snow globes very happy to be moving the snow around or was it the same where it kind of varied?

Alison: It definitely varied and there was less moving of the snow because you know, in the closing ceremonies, all the athletes marching together and the country snow globe ladies came in as a.

Oh, that’s cool. They weren’t leading each of the teams in, so there was definitely less swooshing of the snow. I did not specifically look for Swaziland , who was so poor in her, her snow sweeping at the opening ceremonies. Uh, We’ll link back to that story cuz that was a lot of fun. Flying was a big theme in this ceremony.

A man flew in on a wire pedaling a wooden bicycle. Wings on it so that it represented the dove. Oh. So as he pedaled the wings would flap like a bird.

Jill: Very nice. Because we are also, the first games after Soul, 1988 with the infamous dove fry, which we will talk about next year. I am sure.

Alison: Absolutely. So nobody was fried at the ceremony. There was an angel that flew. To extinguish the cauldron, and there was a silver clad man who also slid down on a wire to lower the Olympic flag. So people were flying on wires all over the place. Lots of acrobats. Lots of dancers. [00:45:00] We also had the amazing costumes, which we talked about at the beginning of the year by Felipe Elle, and the choreography again by Felipe at Dele.

And at the very end of the. They did a country folk dance with all these children and, all these people in, folk costumes, and it involved a lot of kissing. Each would kiss their partner like two or three times throughout the dance. And I’m like, man, I hope you like who you got stuck with . But to me the best part of it was the Lila Hammerer presentation.

So then as in now, the next host city does a presentation and Lila Hammerer was great. Their show included illuminated Viking ships. Elf children, an ice bear, some singing Nordic goddess, I don’t quite know what she was saying. It didn’t matter. She was beautiful and ethereal and they were pretending to row the ships and the shields would light up and they had lots of children.

That looked like what eventually became the mascots, the two children for little Hammerer and those costumes. So much fun.

Jill: You know, I wonder because Lila Hammerer was only two years away if some of those elements were just so well developed. because that sounds familiar from like that triggers some vague memories of their opening ceremony in my head.

Yes. When you talked about that, I’m like, oh, did some of that stuff just end up in the opening ceremony or they had it already and they, we’ll just use it like

Alison: twice. Right. the whole Elf children kind of dancing around was a big element in the little hammer opening ceremonies. They had them. I know they’re not called elves.

I know the Norwegians have a very particular name. Sort of mythical creature, but they had them coming up from the ground with the children in the very fancy Norwegian knitwear. So yeah, I have a feeling that they actually pulled elements, and if we went back and watched this closing ceremony and the Lil Lahamer opening ceremony, we would see the connections.

Fascinating.

[00:47:09] TKFLASTAN Update

Alison: Welcome to Shook.

Jill: Now is the time of the show where we check in with our team, keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests of the show who make up our country of Shook, starting with some results. Anika Lesinski, our Nordic combined skier had a World Cup event in Li Lahamer.

There were two separate races. On day one, she placed 24th, and on day two she placed 26th.

Alison: Kelly Chang and partner Sarah Hughes won gold at the Elite 16 Torque Beach Volleyball Pro tour event in Torque Australia. That is back to back gold for them in the two events in Australia.

Jill: Excellent. And John Schuster and his team made it to the semi-finals of the DeKalb Super spiel before losing to in their quest to get into the finals.

They will be playing again at the Karu Zawa Invitational on December 16th through 18th in Japan.

Alison: And some good news for our figure skating analyst, Jackie Wong. He was promoted to associate partner and senior expert at McKinsey and Company. So congratulations to

Jill: Jackie.

AO of Jenny Cova has moved on from the International Testing Agency and she has an exciting new opportunity that we’re gonna be looking out for. But congratulations for a job well done at the Itta.

Alison: And Roy to Maza has been named the Chief Executive of sasan Executive Education. Roy will lead the executive education team in delivering practical action learning based certificate and custom programs to meet growing market needs.

Jill: Competing this weekend will be Erin Jackson. She’s going to be in the 500 meter and 1000 meter at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating event in Calgary.

[00:49:03] Doping News

Jill: See, this is not necessarily bad news, but there is a bad news element to it. , right? I

Alison: saw this piece of news and I said, I feel like I wanna raise our doping tone. Like, could we put it in a major key instead of a minor key to have it like the happier doping sound, if that’s possible.

Jill: The International Testing Agency announced that it has finished its London 2012 reanalysis program. So, because there were so many doping violations, the IOC said, Hey, let’s reanalyze them all. And so they did. They’re finally done. As a result of the program, 73 anti-doping rule of violations were sanctioned, leading to the withdrawal.

31 and the reallocation of 46 medals in four different sports.

Alison: Okay. But I’m gonna look at it this way. That means that 46 Olympic medals are now in [00:50:00] the hands of the athletes who deserved them. Yes.

Jill: Took a while, took up to 10 years for some, but there has to be some comfort in knowing like if you had that hunch, someone was doping in your race and knowing that eventually the right decision and the right results were made uh, written down in the history

Alison: books, you know, in one of our.

Early book club books where we talk about Shirley Boff talking about the violations that we know happened with the East German swimmers in 1976. She is still fighting to get that acknowledged and to get those medals allocated. So even though we’ve talked about all the bad things that happen when you don’t win your medals, when you should, but having that justice and having that medal in your.

Is the way it should be. And I do think that even for the athletes who lost that chance and lost that moment on the podium, to have it rectified means a lot. And I’m glad to see that they did this reanalysis and that it was successful and they found these cheats and let it be known that you think you got away with it and you didn’t.

Jill: Right? The truth catches up with you

Alison: at some point. I’ve been telling my daughter that her whole life, You’ll always get in trouble twice if you lie for the lie and for whatever you did wrong first.

[00:51:17] Milan-Cortina 2026 News

Jill: Oh, well, we’ve got some news from Milan Cortina 2026, and you know that music is so happy and this, this news just makes me angry because

Alison: gee, shockingly we’re having trouble with the sliding track again, we knew, we knew from the beginning that the sliding track was going to be such a bone of content. .

Jill: So the town of Cortina de Peso the town council voted to demolish the current sliding track that is there and build a new one in time for 2026 Because the whole sliding center that they have is just not function. And we don’t have a sliding center to fall back on, from Tono because that sliding center was so poorly built that it’s not very function. Do they, does that one even exist anymore?

Alison: Nope. Gosh, yeah, it was so poorly built that by 2011 they couldn’t use it anymore.

Jill: Right? So think of the millions upon millions of euros they’re going to dump into this project. And they don’t, and I know this is not pun, but they don’t have a good track record here. They let sliding center one fall into disrepair.

Sliding center two can no longer be used. Is the third time that’s harm. With your sliding centers,

Alison: And you would think that having a functional sliding center in Italy would be a good place to invest money because the tour is in Europe. I mean, we’re kind of stuck with two tracks in Germany and that’s it.

And having a track in Italy would have made so much

Jill: sense. Oh yeah, for sure. It doesn’t make sense why they weren’t doing regular maintenance on the current Cortina sliding track. I don’t know. It could be like the one in Calgary that finally.

The dust because nobody wanted to put the millions of dollars that it was gonna take into refurbishing it. And these systems do need refurbishing at some points in time. the equipment doesn’t last forever, but According to inside the games, the new track is expected to cost approximately 80 million euros, nearly double the original price that they thought.

Alison: San Moritz is looking better and better, isn’t it? Well, and

Jill: I just wanna like

firmly talk with all of the IOC members who voted for Milan Cortina to say, did you not know this would be a problem? Stop voting with your heart and, and it makes me glad for the future host commission anyway. This is foreshadowing of IOC news, but this is just really distressing and I, I, I, I just wish they would, the IOC would come in and go, Hey, you know what, if, if you’re gonna build a new track?

And, and I, I understand that everybody’s pro-development still in a way, but, you know, just move your sliding events up to Sam Moritz, it’s gonna be so much better

Alison: for you. Wonder, I’m wondering if there’s a real opportunity here for. How can we develop a sliding center that costs a lot less money?

That would be nice. How can, how can we build a track that is, you know, like we’ve come up with all these temporary venues and things that can be modified or used for multiple purposes. Can we do something like that with sliding tracks? Because you’re gonna kill the sport.

Jill: Yeah, I, I, I just don’t know, and maybe one of the attractions for having a sliding center for sure in Italy is that it’s closer to, like, say the, the Balkans,

Alison: it’s gonna get used.

I mean, it would get, it would be right away on the World Cup circuit. They tried to put Torino on the World Cup circuit. It was so poorly constructed that very quickly it got off the World Cup circuit[00:55:00] and all those countries have so few places to train.

The need is there. Unfortunately, the cost is so excessive and the planning is so poor that we’re once again looking at problems with an Italian winter bit.

Stockholm, just gonna say it. Mm-hmm. , rga.

[00:55:21] International Olympic Committee Update

Alison: And speaking of Stockholm,

as in, we need to apologize to Stockholm and see if they wanna go out on a date again.

Jill: Yes, the IOC executive board meant this week and it is very clear that the winter games are in trouble so much that the IOC was supposed to announce the cities that were moving on to the next phase of being selected for 2030, and they said, Uhuh, we’re not doing this. There are so many issues with climate change that we don’t feel comfortable.

Announcing potential host cities right now. Climate change could reduce the number of cities that could potentially host the games. So they’ve already noticed that international federations have started changing their calendars because of this. Namely, I, I know that the International Bilon Union, they have done that.

But they’re looking at some ideas, so they’re floating around the idea of rotating the winter games within a pool of hosts who have existing venues. That’s a big thing for them with the winter games now, either existing venues or temporary venues.

We don’t wanna see any new construction. There’s a proposal out there that hosts need to show an average minimum temperature of below zero degrees Celsius for snow competition venues over a 10 year period so that they can kind of be assured that there will be snow there, because, I mean, if you award the game seven years or more ahead of time, that could be the difference for somebody who’s on the edge of having snow to not having snow.

Could be a big problem. And we don’t really want another Beijing, where they’re using all manmade snow again. So they wanna take some time to study everything. Put a 2030 decision on hold. That means that, There will not be an announcement at the next session meeting of which city has been selected either.

They’re also exploring the idea of having 2030 and 2034 awarded at the same time so they could have the extra time to establish a rotational system. Much kind of like when they awarded 24 and 28 at the same time. They gave them some leeway and some extra. to set up this new system that we have for selecting the host cities.

So, I don’t know. What do you think?

Alison: I think we all know climate change is such a huge issue in so many ways, and we don’t know what things are going to look like 10 years from now. Climate change and the speed at which the IOC operates do not go together. So on the one hand, it makes a lot of sense to say, okay, we’ll have one North American city, one European city, one Asian city, maybe one southern hemisphere, city, and we’ll kind of rotate them through.

But would that diminish the brand again at a time when the Winter Olympics does not want to be diminished in any way? They’re already struggling. So the idea being that if you’re not going to different places, does that make it ordinary and not as special?

Jill: Well, I think it depends on how many cities they have, because the interest in the winter games already has a kind of self-selected group. So if you live in Africa, I don’t necessarily care about the winter games unless you happen to have some athletes who are competing in it, but it doesn’t have the same broad appeal that the summer games do just because of accessibility to snow and ice.

So, I wonder if you, did take a pool of five cities, well that’s 20 years between when you get them again, so that could be enough of a time,

Alison: I wonder if anyone is considering moving any of the summer sports into the winter games. You know, things that could be in either place.

One, take the pressure off the summer games because they are so enormous and so broad. And maybe bring some of that international interest into the winter games. I don’t know what those sports could be. I mean, it could be basketball, it could be weightlifting, weightlift. Why do I say that? . I mean, it could be anything that’s indoors ultimately.

And you know, a lot of sports function. Actually, you know, like gymnastics world championships usually are in October. They’re not in the summer normally. So things that function in a different calendar, it’s a little strange of an idea, I realize. But could it serve two purposes, increase the interest in the winter games and take some pressure off the summer games?

Jill: That’s true, but then you would would have to have more venue [01:00:00] capacity And I don’t know if what you would think of being a decent host city. You’re looking at Salt Lake, maybe Vancouver. Sapporo, I don’t know if you’d go back to Pyong Chang.

They at least have a newer sliding track there. But they have a lot. You would have to build a lot of temporary venues for Pyong Chang to have it. And then there’s other places, you know, maybe some place in around Albertville could host it again, maybe you could have it in Switzerland. Maybe you could have it in a couple cities in Germany.

Alison: You could have it in Stockholm. You,

Jill: you could have it in Stockholm, and maybe they should have it in Stockholm.

Alison: They should.

On the one hand, they’ve caused themselves a crisis by giving the Olympics to Milan Cortina. You know, the crisis is very clear in terms of money and facilities, whereas Stockholm, Covered that a little bit because they would’ve handled it so much better. Mm-hmm. . But on the other hand, I want, I want it to go to Stockholm, cuz that would be amazing.

Yes, it would. How could we not have had a Nordic Winter Olympics in so

Jill: long? Yeah, the last one was 94 and the Nordic region is really the heart of the Winter games. I don’t know. I don’t think we’re ever gonna get past the fact that 2026 went to Milan Cortina. I’m

Alison: not . I mean, the idea of having it in Stockholm and then doing the sliding in Lavia was such a beautiful physical example of what the Olympics should be about,

and to lose that opportunity was such a mistake. Yeah, I’m hoping they will correct it.

Jill: I hope so too, but we won’t find out for a while. it’ll be interesting to see what they do with this because now you can really see they’re up against a wall here in dealing with climate and dealing with games that go way over budget.

Whether or not those budgets get attached to an Olympic coast, city or not. Cuz I’m sure there’s plenty of development going on for Milan Cortina that is not getting absorbed into. Milan Cortinas organizing committee budget. But yeah, this is, this was troublesome to hear, although, you know, it was good.

was awesome in the press conference. Our, one of our favorite Japanese reporters, wa Kaco Yuki said, well, it’s, you know, Sapporo appreciates the extra time. .

Alison: Yes, we’d like to get our criminals arrested and put away, let’s get that

Jill: story behind us. Yeah, let’s

Alison: get that off people’s minds. So maybe you’ll look at Japan again, but was there anything good that came out of this executive board meeting?

No. No. Let’s talk about more bad things.

Jill: Boxing still a problem, child. So the IOC is still concerned about the governance, financial transparency. I mean, they listed off a whole bunch of things. Basically everything about the International boxing Associations, organizational functions are things that the IOC is concerned about.

They’re less concerned with the athletes.

Alison: Stop being concerned, cut them off.

Jill: Right? They did send another strongly worded letter that said if we had to support sports for the LA 2028 program today, we would not support boxing.

Alison: Why are we still discussing this? I dunno.

Also in the category of why are we still discussing this

Jill: Russian Bella Russ situation Still ongoing. this was talked about mostly in Tee Box press conference today. He said they had a four hour debate about the situation, which could not have been

Alison: fun. And I have to say I was very concerned.

By the way, Thomas Bach couched his comments and not terribly pleased. Oh, how? How so? In the sense of he was very much of the opinion, yes, we need to punish the government, but not the athletes. Now we know all the time, I am always saying anything that hurts the athletes is a bad thing, however, How many times can Russia get a slap on the wrist?

We’ve gotten slaps on the wrist for major doping sandals, a break of the Olympic truce violation of athlete’s rights. We cannot keep saying, well, we don’t wanna hurt the athletes because ultimately by the IOC not taking a very strong stand against the Russian government and against their behavior, we are hurting the athletes because we are saying, whatever your government does to you, we don’t have your backs.

We are not gonna support you as athletes in the sense of. We’re gonna let your government do whatever it wants and it comes to a point where you just say, you know what? You just have to say Russia like the International Paralympic Committee did. Which I think is the absolute right decision. You can’t come to our party anymore.

you cause too many problems. You’re drunk and rowdy and you make fights and you’re not welcome here. And even though we love your wife, she can’t come either cuz you come. So there comes a point where you just have to say, Russia, you can’t come anymore, and you’ve gotta clean up your act and let those athletes [01:05:00] in Russia know that the international sporting community supports them against the abuses they are suffering at the hands of their government.

Jill: It felt like Tomos Bach was saying, you know, we’ve taken a hard line with this. When we say we strongly condemn your breach of the truths, we said, no international sporting events in your two countries. You can’t have the flag anthem or, or Id, but they, I mean, they’ve lived with that for so long in so many Olympic things, although maybe not having it in their respected sport all year long makes ’em feel crummy.

I don’t know. And how many people really cared that you withdrew the Olympic order from Putin and the Deputy Prime? it’s very symbolic and a big deal to you, but I don’t think it’s holds enough weight in the average person’s eyes or even the average athlete’s

Alison: eyes. I mean, I think it matters to Putin, and I think it matters, I think to anything.

No, no, but I think it does that, that international condemnation does matter. I mean, The IOC and the world in some ways are in a no-win situation with Russia because we have, you know, Russian athletes like the gymnasts who’s supporting the war in Ukraine with the Z that he wore on the, the metal podium.

And we don’t know what they know and what they’re hearing, and we know Russian media is controlled and what is that gonna happen. But I think there’s a point at which you have to. That people and human rights are more important than the Olympics. And at what point is that? I think we’re there. I think we’ve been there for a while, and I’m so impressed with, and I will say this a million times, the stance that the I P C took, that was no easy stance, and that’s no joke.

And to say, you know what, no more was very, very brave. And I’m incredibly impressed and incredibly proud that that organization did that.

Jill: One of the interesting things was most of the questions in the press conference with TAC were about, Hey, how are you gonna let athletes qualify? I think there was a side step to that in trying to, Tebo kind of said and alluded to the fact that maybe they would find some way for athletes to qualify, but one of the journalists from the BBC said, Hey, look, gymnastics has already started its qualification path and there were no gymnasts from Russia or Belarus at the World Gymnastics Championships.

like we have said, you get to a certain point and you can no longer qualify, so what’s the deal? I don’t think they have an answer.

Alison: They don’t have an answer and I, I know in their hearts they’re really hoping that the war ends, so at least they can just go back to ignoring Russian doping and not having a war smack them in the face.

Yeah, so we said, I think it may have been last week, where we said, you know, they’re sort of hunting and saying, well, we’re not talking about whether Rush is gonna be allowed in 2024, but maybe it’s just gonna be, they’re not gonna allow the athletes to qualify.

Jill: Yeah.

Alison: but Bach seemed to say today very much that he wants to see Russian athletes at Paris.

He really wants to make that happen. Clearly he’s arguing on the side of we want to punish the government, not the athletes. And there are a lot of people at that table who are where I am in terms of, we’ve hit the wall here, we have really crossed the Rubicon and I can imagine that four hours was rough.

Yeah. And not for lack of caring. This is not a situation. People are, apathetic.

Jill: No, but I, I would agree with you. I think they would have hoped that the conflict would be over by now, and I think they keep hoping that the conflict will resolve itself, whatever that may be, or come to a conclusion so that they can make a clear decision and say, oh, you can qualify now.

It hurts, doesn’t it hurt? Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . It

Alison: just,

Jill: ugh. Oh one last thing with the ioc, we haven’t seen at the Olympics lately, North Korea because they were suspended, their suspension ends at the end of the year, so they will be back in.

Alison: What does that even mean?

Jill: Well, that, that probably remains to be seen . It opens the door for North Korean athletes to be at the games again.

Alison: It’s so funny because, you know, at Pyong Chang, the whole idea of what was going on with North Korea was all we thought about. We talked about it tremendously. There was concerns about North Korea and now we’re just like, huh, North Korea, that’s just a minor tick on the, on the list, and we’re fine with North Korea.

That’s

Jill: okay. But it, I think it just had greater significance. You’re, you’ve got games in South Korea, so it’ll be interesting to see what we think as we talk about SOUL next year and looking at that relationship and the whole North [01:10:00] Korean question is, is interesting and, and what will they be up for?

Come 2024

we shall. Now you made me sad.

Alison: I was so happy when we started.

Jill: Go back and listen to, you know, I didn’t make you sad. Russia made you sad. This is true. Back in both them. Can we vote them out of our podcast? Oh,

Alison: speaking of voting, before we go, I do wanna mention on our Facebook group, keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group.

We are voting for the national Animal of Stan. Yes. Yes. So there are three animals you gotta go look and see. We’re gonna keep it open probably to the end of. And I have a strong favorite. It is not winning, so I need some help.

Jill: I do not have a strong favorite, so whatever you choose, listeners, I will appreciate, but

Alison: I promise not to overturn. The results

Jill: of the election ,

Alison: despite my personal preference.

Jill: So go vote yes and be part of the group. It is a lot of fun over there. Oh, you know why? Because we’re talking goal ball. The Goal Ball world champs are going on, so it’s so

Alison: exciting as long as they don’t play that song that they played in

Tokyo.

Jill: Oh, the Imagine Dragons? Yes. , the Special Gold Ball song. Gold Ball.

Alison: We’re gonna need an anthem.

Jill: Get ready for that, folks. All right. That is going to do it for this week. Let us know what you’re looking forward to for LA 2028.

Alison: You can get in touch with us by email at flame alive pod gmail.com. Caller text us at 2 0 8 3 5 2 6 3 4 8. That’s 2 0 8 Flame it. Our social handle is at Flame Alive Pod and as I said, be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook.

Jill: Next week we’re having our last movie club meeting of the year in film b Fran is Beck. We are watching the Cutting Edge, one of the classic ice skating movies. To pick . So you know that is one that you wanna put on your list for holidays. If you’re gonna sit on the couch for a while and watch some movies, you’ll wanna hear our discussion and then maybe put it on your list as well.

So look forward to that. And in the meantime, thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive.

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