Host nations typically get a slot for every team sport at a Games, so come the LA 2028 Paralympics, the US will have the opportunity to be in the blind football (in the US, it’s blind soccer) tournament for the first time, but to participate, you have to develop a competitive team, which is a years-long process.

Today we’re getting a look at that process from Molly Quinn. Molly is the CEO of the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), the National Governing Body for blind soccer and goalball. Molly joined USABA in 2020, and prior to joining the USABA, Molly was the VP of Fitness & Endurance Partnerships with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. We talked with Molly about the development of a blind soccer team and how that works with its mission and its other sports leadership in goalball.

Learn more about blind soccer at the USABA’s website and follow them on X, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn! If you get involved with the team, we’d love to hear from you!

There’s nothing like a 12-year-old doping-related medal reallocation, but that’s what we’ve got this week. The International Weightlifting Federation has officially changed the results from the men’s +105kg category competition at London 2012, and we have new results for 3rd-8th place:

  1. Sang-guen JEON (KOR)
  2. Ihor SHYMECHKO (UKR)
  3. Jiri ORSAG (CZE)
  4. Almir VELAGIC (GER)
  5. Shih-Chieh CHEN (TPE)
  6. Peter NAGY (HUN)

With less than 128 days to go, we have a lot of news from Paris, namely around the collection of individual neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus competing at the Olympics (Paralympic announcement was last week). The group will be known as Individual Neutral Athletes (AIN), and they’ll use this as their flag:

Individual Neutral Athletes flag - White circle on a turquoise (Pantone 2399 C) background. Center of circle says AIN and it's rimmed by the English and French full team name.

They will have a special anthem as well, which we play on the podcast.

AIN athletes will not be allowed to participate in the Opening Ceremonies, but they’ll have an opportunity to experience the event. No decision yet on their participation in the Closing Ceremonies.

Needless to say, Russia is not happy with these developments and have resorted to nastiness to prove their point.

No more pandemic means the Village intimacy ban has been lifted. We’ve got details on condom and lube supplies headed to Paris.

Listener Katie let us know about an interesting event that’s part of the Cultural Olympiad.

The draw for the basketball tournaments has happened – even though 4 of the men’s countries aren’t yet known because qualifying tournaments are still to happen.

Plus, NBC has some interesting ways to watch the Games, including a partnership with AMC movie theaters (h/t Listener Brittany) and an all-day show called Gold Zone.

Brisbane 2032’s stadiumnovela continues to provide some content — we’ve got some updates and why this is important in relation to the IOC’s Agenda 2020 plan.

The IOC Executive Board has been in meetings this week and had a lot to say about the politicization of sports (oh hi, Friendship Games).

Plus, we have updates from TKFLASTAN, where we hear from:

  • Nordic combined athlete Annika Malacinski
  • Wheelchair curler Steve Emt
  • Sled hockey player Monica Quimby
  • Commentator Olly Hogben

Thank you so much for listening–and until next time, keep the flame alive!

Photo courtesy of the US Association of Blind Athletes.

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect the date Molly Quinn joined the USABA. She joined in 2020, not 2000. We apologize for the error.


TRANSCRIPT

Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.

329-Blind Soccer with USABA CEO Molly Quinn

Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown.

Alison, hello. How are you?

Alison: Hello. Today is the first full day of spring, which means I’m going to go outside and engage in some competitive egg balancing. Egg balancing. Have you not heard this? That on the, spring equinox. At a certain time, you can balance eggs.

Jill: I did not know this. And stay upright.

Alison: So the competition lasts about 30 seconds, because it’s just at that right moment, and your eggs will not topple over.

Jill: Far out. Well, good luck. I hope you bring home the gold, and not the golden egg yolk. Though that could be tasty. All right. We have got a ton of Paris news today, including, oh, the ongoing saga.

I, I would guess it’s a Russian novella. Here we go. It’s a lot. Yeah, it is. Uh, ongoing saga with Russia. Tons of Paris News.

Molly Quinn Interview

Jill: But first, we wanna look ahead a little bit. You know that host nations typically get a slot for every team sport at games. So come the LA 2028 Paralympics, the U. S. will have the opportunity to be in the blind football or soccer tournament for the very first time. But to participate, you have to develop a competitive team, which is a years long process. So today we’re getting a look at that process from Molly Quinn. Molly is the CEO of the United States Association of Blind Athletes.

She was hired as the USABA’s first CEO in 2000 to help the organization uh, expand its mission to involve more children and adults in life changing physical activity. Prior to joining the USABA, Molly was the VP of Fitness and Endurance Partnerships with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. We talked with Molly about the development of a blind football team and how that works with the organization’s mission and its other sports leadership in goalball.

Take a listen.

Molly Quinn, thank you so much for joining us.

Molly Quinn: You’re welcome. Glad to be here. Thank you.

Jill: Blind soccer is the last Paralympic sport that the U. S. is going to compete in at the Paralympic level. And on the surface, one could go, why has it taken it so long for the U. S. to be in blind soccer, but from an organizational standpoint, it’s a really different situation. So talk to us about what the steps are involved with creating a national team for this sport.

Molly Quinn: So let’s start a little bit at the beginning here. So the United States Association of Blind Athletes is the national governing body for two Paralympic team sports.

The first is goalball, G O A L B A L L, and then the second is blind football. We’re going to refer to it as blind soccer here in the United States. And as part of being a national governing body, That means that we are certified under the U. S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee umbrella of governing sports across the country.

And we received that designation to be responsible for blind soccer. In the United States in January of 2022. So we’re two years into our efforts in order to build this sport from the ground up, which is a monumental undertaking. But our organization, along with our board of directors, is very committed to this journey.

From that standpoint,

Jill: what is involved with becoming certified by the USOPC.

Molly Quinn: That’s a great question. Becoming certified by the USOPC has a lot of different buckets of responsibilities, including sport safety, audit and compliance, reporting on where your sport’s at. It also includes high performance, uh, so that we can receive funding in order to find the best athletes across the country so that we can have them prepared for either one of our two Paralympic team sports.

It is a process of certification that happens every four years. And, , as a matter of fact, the United States Association of Blind Athletes will enter. It’s recertification process in Q3 of this year.

Jill: How long does that process take?

Molly Quinn: Process can take a number of months. it usually is anywhere between four to eight months depending on where your organization is at from that standpoint. And I think what’s important is a lot of people don’t understand, I think in the world of sports, the importance of what role the committee plays so that we’re making sure every day that we’re safe, if we’re safe, will be successful from that standpoint.

So myself, along with a team of people go through this, this 4 to 8 month process, in order to make sure that we’re dotting our eyes and crossing our T’s and making sure that we’re providing the best that we can to our members, our membership and our elite athletes.

Jill: You joined USABA in 2020, where was blind soccer in the priorities of the organization at this point?

I,

Molly Quinn: So, the priorities of blind soccer in 2020, it was also covet. And so I think that had a lot to do with what everybody’s priorities were across the world. And from U. S. A. B. A. S. standpoint, Our programming had to, we had no live event programming. And so during that time was when we really set forth what we wanted blind soccer to look like in the United States.

And in May of 2023, our board of directors approved our five year strategic plan and vision. Moving from Paris and then into the L. A quad so that we will be in the best position possible in order to field a competitive team. And also what’s important. It’s not just feeling a competitive team. It’s making sure that there’s sustainable blind soccer sites across the country, so that we can continue to provide opportunities, activities, and resources for blind and visually impaired participants who want to do more through the world of sport.

Jill: So in a way, it sounds like the pandemic, although you couldn’t have live events, that was helpful in the way that it gave the organization time to build a solid strategy going forward.

Molly Quinn: Absolutely 100 percent we utilized our time as best as we could in order to make sure that we could move forward with the right direction. And since coming out of covet and at the beginning of, it was more at the end of November. , 2022 is when we named the 1st. USA blind soccer men’s national team.

And what’s so important about that moment in time for the organization is it provided us the platform where we could start building awareness, educating people across the U. S. on this sport. And also. the first 10 athletes that were selected in order to represent the U. S. And put on a, a USA blind soccer jersey.

Alison: Earlier you said, if you’re safe, you’ll be successful. What does that actually look like in real terms?

Molly Quinn: So I’ve been in the sports marketing, event management, and philanthropic world, most of my career. And I think what’s important when you make decisions is making sure that.

You’re thinking through them safely, and also reducing, mitigating risk for the organization. And so it’s a phrase that we use that we’ve thought through a lot of the different elements of, how we put together camps, how we put together clinics, and making sure that they’re safe first and foremost, and knowing that that safety aspect, It’s so important that we will be successful.

Alison: And you said you started putting together camps. How are you finding your athletes?

Molly Quinn: Great. Great question. How are we finding our athletes? Well, as a sport organization that’s dedicated to providing resources for blind and visually impaired participants , the sport of goalball has certainly helped us with finding some of those elite level athletes.

We are the most decorated. And so that’s another piece that’s really helped us with our foundation of how we go about athlete recruitment and retention from that standpoint, the way that we look at blind soccer, because of the familiarity of a global sport, it’s really helped us think a lot bigger about, One of the things that’s difficult with the sport of goalball is that it does not have an Olympic counterpart.

And so it makes it tough to be able to, to market such a great sport on a regular basis. As soon as you say the word blind soccer, people are automatically intrigued and they want to know how the sport is played, so on and so forth. So the way that we have approached this strategic. Plan and where we wanna go is we need partners.

And obviously the world of soccer has many, many large organizations already promoting both elite level soccer and youth soccer across the country. We’re very fortunate to be a recipient of US Soccer’s Innovate to Grow program, which is allowing us, which has allowed us to kick off. Blind soccer sites and 7 cities across the country with funding that they provide to help with, coaches equipment.

Do we need to rent a field? And so that support from U. S. Soccer Federation has been incredible and they’re a great partner. Another partner that we have is U. S. Youth soccer, and there’s a state association. In every state across the country, and what we’re doing is working with individual state associations, 1 at a time in order to find a more adaptive soccer programs where we can recruit participants from so I would say that the 2 largest soccer organizations that help us recruit are those 2 organizations and then a lot of this is word of mouth and also the 44 state schools for the blind. Right now there are, according to, our research and what we do on a daily basis, we have 10 schools for the blind actively participating and providing blind soccer right now across the United States.

And so our goal is to work more closely with those states, state schools, so that if there’s a. A boy or a girl that’s interested in pursuing this sport at beyond the recreational level. They connect to the United States Association of Blind Athletes for the next step to be invited to a development camp.

So that’s pretty much the progression of how athlete recruitment works at a high performance level First, we work with kids and youth at a recreational level, then they’re invited to a development camp and then from there, they could be invited to what we would call a development national camp. I will add 1 area that we have seen a lot of success in the last, five or six months as we’ve started a virtual combine where participants can go ahead and fill out a survey, provide us with some information, and then most importantly, they provide us with some videos . on how well they know how to play blind soccer.

And then from there, our coaching staff and our high performance team makes a decision if one or two of those athletes is going to be selected to come to a national camp.

Alison: Where’s the elite coaching staff coming from? Is it coming from, not blind soccer or from other blind sports?

Molly Quinn: Great, great question.

So our current coaching staff is a mixture of, 1st and foremost, somebody who has almost 20 years of experience in the high performance, arena with adaptive sports, very, very important from that perspective. And then the rest of the coaching staff has experience with blind soccer and then also with soccer in general at the club level and, at what I would call the minor league level.

And the other part that’s interesting about blind soccer is that the goalkeepers are sighted. And so we also have to be recruiting sighted goalkeepers in order to be a part of the team. So it’s a, dual recruitment, process.

Jill: What about for the women’s side of the sport in that, uh, one of the things I was reading and preparing for this was that you’re hoping to also be able to feel the team of women for 2028. We don’t know yet if women’s. Soccer is on the program, but what does that side look like as well?

Molly Quinn: Great, great question.

So right now at the highest level of blind soccer, which is managed by an international federation called the International Blind Sports Federation, they’re responsible for this sport. And for the first time last year, there was a women’s world championship held, and there were eight countries that participated.

The United States was not one of those countries. The U. S. will be looking at launching women’s blind soccer within the next year, and in hopes of having an exhibition as part of the L. A. 28 games right now, blind soccer for women is not on the L. A. Program and that process takes years and years to make happen.

So, from our perspective, we are looking at that women’s blind soccer would come on the program at Brisbane in 2032.

Alison: I realize we’ve been using the term blind and most of the time in the Paralympics they’re using the term visually impaired. Is there a significant difference to that? Is one better or worse or it doesn’t matter?

Molly Quinn: It has to do with classification. So every sport in the Paralympic or in the adaptive program has a classification level and for blind and visually impaired athletes, the classification is B1, B2 or B3 and for ease of, Just explaining this in a short period of time, a B1 is somebody who , is blind.

A B2 is somebody who has some vision and a B3 is somebody has low vision. And then every kind of scenario in between for the sport of goalball, you are able to play as a B1, B2 or a B3 athlete and at the Paralympic games or at a world championship games, you have to put tape over your eyes, and then also you’re wearing blacked out eye shades.

And so that’s what makes the sport fair from the standpoint of the different variations of the classification between B1, B2, and B3. For blind football, In the Paralympic Games, it is currently a men’s B1 sport. And so, when you look at, that’s the difference of why it’s also called blind football, from that standpoint, because it is just B1 athletes.

And then on the women’s side, It looks like they are sticking with women being able to play at a B1, a B2, or a B3 classification. And again, you still have to have tape over your eyes and put on eye shades in order to make the playing field equal from the different athletes in that standpoint.

Jill: How is it having the World Cup be partially in the U.S. in 2026 a possible help for the sport of blind football here.?

Molly Quinn: So, incredibly excited. Cannot wait. It has really been one of the areas that our dev, our business development team has been focused on so that in certain strategic areas of the country, we are looking at three or four building blind soccer sites that are also.

local organizing committees responsible for the World Cup underneath the FIFA umbrella and we’ve had some great conversations within those cities because what we want to be able to do is again, continue to educate, build that awareness and also be a part of the World Cup in general so that people can have a better understanding of what soccer looks like in the United States and how much we’re growing from an adaptive level to provide these opportunities.

Jill: Was the organization happy that when the games were awarded in 2017, that LA didn’t get 2024, they got 2028 instead. And it sounds like , for blind soccer, this was an incredible gift in a way to have that extra time and be able to build these extra partnerships.

Molly Quinn: 100 percent I wasn’t here at the time, but I would say it’s, it is an incredible gift. And the other part as a part of that gift is the LA 28 initiative and the legacy that that games wants to leave behind for the city of Los Angeles is to provide more opportunities for youth sports with a huge focus on adaptive sports.

And so the United States Association of Blind Athletes is headed into its third fall season in 2024 offering free Blind and visually impaired soccer clinics in the Los Angeles area at two park and rec locations. What this has also done is helped us open up doors to the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the largest school district in the country, in order to provide Some type of, you know, physical education and recreational opportunity for kids who may not have an opportunity and also for their parents, because when you think about your son or daughter and they’re looking at a sport and they’re saying something along the lines of participating and blind and visually impaired soccer, there’s a commitment there.

And so it’s been great that we’ve been able to work with. The Los Angeles park and rec program in order to provide these free clinics to kids, within Los Angeles. And we’ve had a great turnout and we’re continuing just to, go deeper in Los Angeles to find boys and girls who want to be a part of potentially the L. A. 28 games or part of, a national program here down the road.

Alison: So what are the specific challenges when you look at LA28? What keeps you up at night?

Molly Quinn: So when we look at LA28, we want to be able to put our best foot forward in regards to fielding a competitive team and When we look at what that entails over the next quad starting in 2025, as I mentioned before, it’s a monumental undertaking.

I think one of our biggest challenges is finding youth and adults to participate in the sport. And specifically right now, because the classification is B1, is finding male B1 athletes who, who want to participate in a sport that’s a little bit more aggressive than other sports that they may have been a part of.

Our strategic plan. That we have in place for the next 5 years has us in a really great position to move through all of the work that we need to do. And 1 area that we’re launching in 2024, which will really help this effort from a recruitment standpoint is coach and referee certification. You know, without coaches, we don’t have athletes and without athletes, we don’t have coaches.

And so that program is going to be launching at the end of Q1. And I think once that launches, that’s really going to help us with the recruitment from that standpoint.

Jill: How are you doing this on the association’s budget, which is not very big. That’s what I, I want to know. How are you managing two Paralympic sports plus trying to make opportunities for athletes of all levels and all ages on a budget that’s less than 2 million.

Molly Quinn: So the way that we look at this is strategic partnerships, , with, as I mentioned earlier, with us soccer, US youth soccer, and also through the adaptive sports programs. I think that what is important is we can’t be everything to everybody, and this organization has had to make some tough decisions in the last, call it, 8 to 16 months on other programming opportunities that we’re not able to do because of having three national teams that will be qualified for Los Angeles, uh, that’s a lot of pressure from that standpoint, in order to perform and so our focus has really been on how are we going to continue to build these 2 Paralympic team sports and also make sure that those programs are sustainable within communities across the country and then what we. What we’ve really had to do is work more closely with community partners.

At the end of the day, we have the expertise and the experience in these 2 team sports and what we want to be able to do is bring that experience to these community partners and give them the tools. To be and to teach them and give them the tools so that they can go and lead the sport within their local communities.

And we’re off to a great start from that initiative and really the coach and referee certification for both of our sports, which will launch in 2024 will help that effort tremendously, because then you’ll have people who will. know how to coach the sport and then can lead our vision and our mission forward.

Jill: One last quick question, but what’s been the response from the athletes who have gotten involved and now see, have gotten the introduction to blind soccer as a sport that could be for them?

Molly Quinn: It’s fantastic. Our first national team camp is the first week in February, and we have 10 athletes who have been invited to this development camp and coming out of this camp in late February, early March, we will name the 2024 national team, and they’re very involved in our content, our social media and helping us get the word out, not just only nationally, but within their, within their individual communities across the country.

Jill: Excellent. Molly, thank you so much. We are so excited to see the development of sport, the sport here in the U S and we’re looking forward to following it through 2028 and beyond.

Molly Quinn: Great. Thank you for having me this morning. Really excited that we were able to share more about the sport and what our vision is in order to provide these opportunities across the United States.

Jill: Thank you so much, Molly. You can follow along with the team at USABA. org and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. We will have all of those in the show notes.

Doping News

Alison: Yes. What sport?

Jill: Oh, weightlifting. Yes. Let’s just get this doping news out of the way. The International Weightlifting Federation has officially changed the results from the men’s plus 105 kilogram category from the London 2012, a mere 12 years ago. Two athletes have been disqualified, including the, the original bronze medal winner. Places three through eighth have been reallocated and Sang Kwon Jeon from Korea will be the new bronze medalist.

And the medal ceremony is due to begin. to be determined.

Show Your TKFLASTAN Pride

Jill: There’s also been some reallocation of items in our very own Tee Public store.

Alison: There has, and I got a text this week, as did you, of some fantastic children modeling our shirts.

Jill: Oh, yes, we did.

Alison: Yes. Superfan Sarah sent us pictures of her boys with the, palm de terre de sofa featured design for Paris 2024.

And we do have a whole bunch of Paris 2024 designs, some new things on t shirts and mugs and hoodies. They’re very good with coupons and those will pop up automatically so you can get all your fashion for Paris and be ready to go. That’s right. So that is at our website flamealive, flamealivepod. com and you just scroll down to the bottom to store and that will take you right to our TeePublic store and you can get everything you need for Paris.

Jill: Be sure to look fashionable. We’ll be looking and when we’re in Paris, we will be looking for choukflastanis wearing the shirts. That’s for sure.

Alison: Oh, absolutely. We’ll be looking and taking pictures.

Jill: That’s right. So get your gear while it’s hot.

Paris 2024 News

Alison: Oh,

Jill: but cool. Yeah, we do have a lot of news. It is as of this taping, it is 128 days to go to Paris, 2024, which, you know, for me, 128 days to go is not very long, I feel like 100 days out is a long ways away still.

Alison: A lot of things are going to happen between now and the 100 days out. Things happening.

Jill: Right. Right. And then, then everything will just fly by. So big news of the week. Is that, as you recall, last week, we had the International Paralympic Committee’s decisions on how they were going to deal with the neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus, and this week, we’ve got the IOC’s response, so, they will be called the Individual and International Paralympic Neutral athletes or athlete, individual, neutral.

The abbreviation for them will be AIN if you’re keeping track at home, although you won’t see them show up in the medal results at all. Their results will be kept off of the total, the medal tables. Currently qualified are 12 athletes from Russia and seven from Belarus.

The IOC projects that there will be 36 from Russia and 22 from Belarus. This will be under their maximum quotas, which are 54 athletes from Russia and 28 from Belarus, which I thought was interesting. I didn’t realize they put a quote on this.

Alison: Well, there would have to be because no teams, so that just may be what could possibly qualify in.

Jill: Oh, right. When you think of the sports that are still allowing athletes to come in. Okay. If you want to compare this to what their last Olympic appearance was in Tokyo 2020, Russia had a team of 330 and Belarus had a team of 104.

Alison: Now what was not clear to me was of those. 12 Russians and 7 Belarusians that have qualified.

Have they been approved based on the IOC guidelines?

Jill: I am not sure because there is, uh, this element of a panel review where there are 3 IOC members who make up a panel and they will be reviewing all of the qualifiers to see whether or not that they, uh, do qualify. Don’t violate these guidelines of being supportive of Russia in the war.

Alison: And on that panel is, uh, Pau Gasol,

Jill: the basketball player,

Alison: which I thought was a great little tidbit because he had a reputation as being, like a good guy when he was playing in the NBA. So I’m hoping that that makes it not quite so controversial. with him being on the panel.

Jill: The IOC will publish a list of athletes and support personnel who pass the panel review and will have been invited to the games.

They did release the flag for the, AIN athletes. It’s a aqua color flag. if you’re into design, it’s Pantone 2399C. the base of it is aqua in the center is there’s a big white circle with an emblem in it that says AIN in the center and individual neutral athlete, athlete, individual neutral around the edge.

So it’s colorful compared to the IPC choice,

Alison: which look like the generic groceries of the black and white labels.

Jill: so we’ll see that they have also produced an anthem for AIN in case they have a medal ceremony. And it goes like this.

Jill: that has no lyrics. Although I can tell you I’ve been working on some in my head.

Alison: It also doesn’t exactly have a great musical quality. Well, I John Williams was not involved in that movie theme.

Jill: No, and I wonder how they time it because to me, it sounds a little long, but I wonder if it’s like, okay, we need to time how long it takes to lift a flag in whatever kind of stadium setting you’re in.

yeah, all I got in my head is like, Yeah, no lyrics, but we are athletes neutral.

Alison: I think it sounds like the music that they play at the end of every sports movie we

Jill: watch for the

Alison: sweeping, you know, triumphant moment. But I guess that’s kind of what they’re going for. They want In the past, they have given the Russian athletes competing as neutral very Russian elements. They had Tchaikovsky music, they let them wear their colors, and this they’re saying, guess what guys, there is nothing Russian about this.

Jill: Very true. Very true. So we will see how often we will hear that, but at least you’ve heard it here.

They will not march in the parade of nations in the opening ceremonies because they are individual athletes and what marches in the parade are nations. So the IOC has said that these athletes will have an opportunity to experience the event.

Not sure what that means, but they said it was going to be in the spirit of what happened in Barcelona, 1992 with the independent Olympic participants who were the former Yugoslavia. So we’ll see how that goes. Decisions on the closing ceremony participation will be made later as, teams don’t march in that.

Athletes just come in individually and they’re kind of mixed up. So you may see some athletes there, but we’ll have to see.

Uh, needless to say, with this whole a IN plan, Russia not happy.

Alison: You know, I can say. Um, I can validate a lot of comments about Thomas Bach. You want to call him power hungry and he doesn’t want to lose his job. You want to say he’s too Namby Pamby. You can say lots of things about Thomas Bach, but the Russians have dropped the German Nazi bomb on him,

which, you know, everyone at this press conference was horrified. Bach wouldn’t even address it. Mark Adams, who’s the press secretary addressed it. And it is so wrong on so many levels, not the least of which, we do have neo Nazism in the world, and it’s not Thomas Bach, and you’re diminishing people who are victims of that kind of violence and discrimination.

So I don’t know what the Russians are doing and why we’re throwing this word around again. I mean, I know why they’re doing it. This is not going to help you.

Jill: The IOC has approved seven athletes to change nations for Paris. Uh, none of these are really familiar names to me, uh, but there are two Russians in this mix. That would be Anastasia Kirpich Nikova, who is a swimmer. She will now be representing France. And Alexander Komarov is a wrestler who will be now representing Serbia. And I wonder if we’re going to see any more changes of nationality before Paris. If there’s time. I’m not sure.

Alison: There have been some in the last two years. Mm hmm.

Already. So this may be the bit of tail end changes that were available to them.

Jill: Could be. And I wonder how well that goes over in Russia. I mean, people have their reasons for changing nationalities all the time. so I, I wonder if, , they’re just like, we’ve got new countries now and we’re living there.

We want to represent the new country. Also guess who you’ll see at Paris 2024 again? Guatemala. That’s right. The IOC has provisionally lifted the suspension on the Guatemala National Olympic Committee. So these are athletes will be able to march under their flag and wear the uniform for Paris again. The IOC has mentioned that Champions Park will be an option for medal reallocation ceremonies. So Champions Park is like, as I thought about it today, cause they talk about this being the first ever time they’re doing this, but it’s not really, it’s, it’s a medals plaza, but instead they’re, the new element is having a runway type catwalk where athletes will walk down, , with their medals.

So, it’s possible that medal reallocation ceremonies will happen there, maybe a team figure skating medal ceremony

Alison: or medal ceremonies from 12 years ago.

Jill: Could be. We don’t know.

No more pandemic means that the intimacy ban at the village has been lifted. Laurent Michaud, who is the director of the village, told Sky News that they will have 300, 000 condoms for the games, which is about two each per day for every game’s day.

Although, I think that’s simple math. Because, and we have rolling

people coming in and out of the village all the time, depending on when they’re competing.

Alison: You know, this is a story in which you should not use the word rolling.

Especially when not followed by the phrase, in the hay.

Jill: And coincidentally, we got a press release from a company called Cam Soda who Provide adult products and they said, Oh, Hey, we’re going to send a thousand bottles of gold flake lubricant to Paris. we have no idea whether this was asked for.

We have no idea. Like, where do you ship that to?

Alison: I guess it’s to the athlete’s village supply house. I. Maybe the bathrooms? Like in the nightclubs?

Jill: I don’t know, but we’ll, we may have to ask if anybody sees some gold flake lubricant around.

Alison: Well, we, we do have the opportunity to do the tours.

Jill: We do. That’s right.

That’s right. We’ll have to ask.

Alison: We’ll go over well on that one.

Jill: We got a note from listener Katie who told us, uh, about, an event tied to the cultural Olympiad. It’s called Exposition Les Marseilles et la Sport. It’s an exhibition of sportswomen in Marseille. the track is getting done. This is very cool.

Mondo supplies the track. It will be purple and they, I’ve read that it may be faster than Tokyo. Track is always on my list of, of, uh, events. How it gets faster.

Alison: How did you not say that? Mundo!

Jill: I, no, because Mondo won’t return my messages,

but I will keep trying. I will keep trying. The draw for the basketball tournaments has happened. even though four of the men’s countries aren’t yet known because the qualifying tournaments have, are still to happen. The women’s tournament is fully set. Uh, we will have a link to the groups in the show notes and we will update our viewing guide as soon as we have full information on that.

if you’re going, the Paris 2024 tickets app is now available in iOS and Android, but the functions for accessing your tickets, transferring them, and reselling them will not be available until mid May.

Alison: So fear not, you will have assigned seats, just not yet.

Jill: Exactly. and then NBC announced some developments, and thank you to listener Brittany for pointing this one in our direction.

They have partnered with AMC Movie Theatres to air live coverage of the games. At the movie theater,

Alison: I’m so confused by this because of the time of day is this because it’s live So I guess it would have to be Midday.

Jill: Yeah, I would guess so. I I’m not quite sure what the Schedule will be like but it sounds like yeah, it’d be a good way to spend a day, especially if you’re you know If it’s hot and you want some air conditioning.

I don’t know if they’re going to have multiple screens.

Alison: Well, I guess you could bring your phone into the theater. But when you think about it, that’s a really great way because it’ll be big screen. You’ll be with other people. So you can experience that group dynamic.

Jill: And I would be curious how the sound sounds.

On, on the surround sound element of it. It would be interesting also if they had different events in different theaters. You know, like just, you could maybe bop back and forth.

Alison: And it’ll be interesting also to see how this works with summer movie season, because that’s kind of the height of, of summer movie season and what theaters are being purchased for those movies versus what NBC is purchasing to have that air.

Jill: Good question. But if you do something at maybe 10 in the morning to get something in the afternoon or early evening in Paris, maybe it’s worth it. Don’t know if you, but if you go to AMC to watch the Olympics, please let us know how it, what it’s like and what the experience is like. Because my guess is this is an experiment and who knows if it’s going to happen again.

Could be

Alison: one of them. And how much it’s going to cost. We don’t know that yet either.

Jill: Right. But we will keep an eye out for more details of that. NBC is also going to have a new live show during the games called Gold Zone, which will be on Peacock. This will be on from 7 in the morning till 5 in the evening Eastern time.

Every day from July 27th to August 10 hosts will be Scott Hanson, Andrew Siciliano, Matt Eisman, and Akbar Bajmilabila with special guests on often every day. And the show will feature highlights from what’s going on at the time to help keep you on top of the day’s action. Could be cool.

Brisbane 2032 News

Alison: Yo, gabba gabba.

Jill: We have more stadium news drama from Brisbane 2032 and and things have been going kind of off the rails in the news I think in it to me in an attempt to get some headlines so much so that there’s. Claims that they may have wanted to give back the games, but I don’t know, you know, it’s, it’s one of those, what is real, what is exaggerated, but, uh, we do have the results of a 60 day review of the stadium situation, which was triggered by the government’s decision, maybe with a little John Coates in their ears to scrap the plan to tear down and rebuild the GABA that would have cost 2.

7 billion. The refuse. Commissioner, former Brisbane Lord Mayor, Graham Quirk reported, Yes, let’s not tear down and rebuild the Gabba. Instead, let’s spend 700 million more and build a brand new stadium in Victoria Park. So the Queensland Premier Stephen Miles has rejected that option, preferring to use two existing stadiums, Suncorp Stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies and the Queensland Sports and Athletic Centre for Athletics, and then include 500 million for upgrades to the GABA.

But even with those upgrades, accessibility is still going to be an issue in that stadium. This has been a point of conversation at, IOC press conferences over the last couple of days. With the IOC being big on, look, Agenda 2020, which I noticed they kept saying Agenda 2020 and not Agenda 2020 plus five.

Have we already forgotten our own clever name for Agenda 2020 plus five, IOC?

Alison: I think we’re going to have to start a drinking game at the IOC press conferences. Every time Thomas Fox says agenda 2020,

Jill: but they were pretty adamant in the, Hey, this is the deal now. Don’t build a new stadium. Do not build a new stadium.

We will the game and they kept saying the games will adapt. to what you already have. And we don’t want new, we want what you’ve got or temporary.

Alison: I thought it was very interesting when at the IOC press conference earlier today, one of the reporters made a comment about this being the smallest stadium to be used for the Olympics since Amsterdam.

And I have to absolutely fact check that because that seems outrageous. But then when I thought about it, I said, maybe that’s possible because so many stadiums were built, you know, especially post World War II, there was a lot of stadiums that got rebuilt specifically for the games. So this may be a tiny stadium.

I don’t know. But LA is using two stadiums for their opening ceremonies. Why can’t Brisbane?

Jill: Good question. And we’ll see how that L. A. plan works out because I still can’t wrap my brain around that. I also can’t wrap my brain around doing the ceremony on the Seine, but that’s neither here nor there.

But it’s interesting how the media goes, Oh my gosh, we can’t believe the stadium that you want to build is so expensive. And then on the flip side, go. Well, if you don’t have a new stadium, is that going to be good enough for your IOC? And And And I think we’re very used to the concept of the big stadium era.

And it seems to be kind of hard for some media to get their head wrapped around the fact that the IOC really wants to make a change. It sounds like the IOC really wants to make a change.

Alison: Referencing that same, conference today, Thomas Bog very much said, go back to the proposal that Brisbane did and it says no new construction of a stadium.

So he was very strongly placed at the side of, we don’t want you building these giant stadiums. And I think the idea is one, they don’t want the white elephant yoke around their necks and they don’t want to keep getting blamed for cities going over budget. You know, there’s this idea that the IOC wants the IOC wants.

So then when the city, like Montreal, spends 50 years trying to pay off its debt, who’s to blame for that? And Thomas Bach is completely correct in saying, you’ve got a stadium, please don’t build one for us because then we get the blame as the quote unquote Olympics that we put you into debt. Not good for the brand.

Jill: Not good for the brand. So yeah, they’re trying to change that look. We’ll see. I, I just, I find it funny with the way that you can’t, well, you can’t win in the media.

Alison: Oh no. Now all of a sudden the media has discovered it might be hot in France in August.

It’s like, don’t we have enough awful things and we have enough awful things in the Olympic world and in the Paralympic world. You don’t need to create controversy. Let’s investigate more corruption. Let’s investigate, you know, bribery. There’s so many things that are bad. And could use that media spotlight, but no, we’re talking about heat.

Bedbugs and trash strikes right, though. Trash strikes would be a problem. , as would bedbugs. Just for myself.

International Olympic Committee News

Jill: As we’ve mentioned, the IOC has had, uh, an executive board meeting this week, which has meant some press conferences and a lot of free news releases, Including a big statement against politicizing sport, calling out the new friendship games that Russia has, that the Russian government is organizing.

I almost said Soviet Union there. I really almost said Soviet Union. You know,

Alison: Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia will be competing in those.

Well, it does feel very Soviet era. I feel like we’re back there and it’s. So, it hurts. It just, it hurts.

Jill: Right, and it does even harken up the Goodwill games. From the U. S., which is what the U. S. developed to take place in of the boycotted Olympic Games. And it went on for a few years, but didn’t last all that long.

We’ll see how, how the Friendship Games does the summer edition. It’s supposed to be this September in 2024. And the first winter edition will be in 2026. And that will be held in Sochi. So, uh, Legacy.

Alison: It’s getting used for something.

Jill: Right. the IOC says the Russian government is approaching countries directly to participate and going around the sports federations.

And that is another violation of the Olympic charter and infringement of some of their related UN resolutions. The IOC also claims that they will be using athletes as propaganda and they have, concerns about the lack of anti doping standards that could. take place. Therefore, they said, quote, the Olympic movement strongly condemns any initiative to fully politicize sport, in particular, the establishment of fully politicized sports events by the Russian government.

The IOC strongly urges all stakeholders of the Olympic movement and all governments to reject any participation in and support of any initiative that intends to fully politicize international sport, end quote. So, I have misplaced my chart of what strongly and very strongly and, uh, strongly condemns.

I’ve, I’ve lost that chart. So, I don’t know where this lands on the temperature warning gauge of the IOC.

Alison: I think it sounds like the Friendship Games and the Enhanced Games should just merge into one event.

Jill: And, as well, they should, they should. But we’ll see. I’m curious to see what nations do participate.

Alison: China, North Korea,

Jill: and then what will that mean for the Olympic movement after that? Because I’m sure if China participates in the friendship games, they will also still want to participate in the Olympic games. We’ll see how this goes. it’s just, if it happens, it’s going to open up a whole can of worms.

As we’ve talked about legacy being an issue with the IOC, we’ve got some legacy news from Rio 2016, London 2012 and Atlanta 1996, which we will be talking about in our Facebook group.

And you’ll also be able to see it in our newsletter, because it’s, it’s piling up on us really.

Alison: And you can join the keep the flame alive podcast group on Facebook or sign up for the newsletter at the website, flamealivepod. com.

TKFLASTAN News

Alison: Welcome to Shook Flus Don.

Jill: It is the time of the show where we check in with our team Keep the Flame Alive. These are our past guests. Guests of the show and listeners who make up our citizenship of Ashokvaston, our very own country. First up,

Alison: Annika Malasinski competed in the final Nordic Combined World Cup of the season in Trondheim.

She finished 18th place for her 14th top 20 finish of the season. She finished the season also in 14th place in the overall standings.

Jill: Steve Emt and Team USA placed ninth in the World Wheelchair Curling Championships, in the Wheelchair Curling World Championships with a record of five and six.

Alison: Monica Quimby and the U. S. Women’s Development Sled Hockey Team beat Canada 7 2 in the third and final game of the 2024 Sled Series. They swept the series this year.

Jill: And commentator Ali Hogben is in Miami commentating at the WTA tennis tournament there. So Ali, if you’re listening, look north and wave at us.

Get in Touch!

Jill: And that’s going to do it for this episode. Let us know what you think about the development of blind football in the US.

Alison: Find us on Xthreads and Instagram at flamealivepod. You can send us an email at flamealivepod at gmail. com. Call or text us at 208 883 4255. 3, 5, 2, 6, 3, 4, 8, that’s 2, 0, 8, flame it. Chat with us and other fans on our Facebook group, keep the flame alive podcast and sign up for the weekly newsletter with even more Olympic and Paralympic info for you at our website, flame alive, pod. com

Coming Soon

Jill: Next week we are going to be talking about a new book coming out that’s called All in Stride and we’ll have a few episodes around this book, uh, talking with some of the athletes involved, including our very own Shukla Stani, Samantha Schultz. But next week we will be talking with its author, Joanna Garten, and learning more about the stories behind the book.

It’s a, another really good read. So, uh, be sure to tune in. Join us again next week to hear all about it. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.