Winter Political Games 2018: ‘National discrimination against Russia’

A last-minute appeal from 45 Russian athletes and two coaches against a ban preventing them from competing in the Winter Olympics has failed

The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s secretary-general announced the ruling with just hours to go before the Games got underway in PyeongChang, South Korea. 

As some of the people banned have no prior doping convictions, investigative journalist Dave Lindorff said he thinks “a lot of it has to be politics.”

Lindorff recalled that other countries had been accused of “nationally-run doping campaigns” but their teams had not been banned.

“The individuals who don’t pass tests obviously are banned or have their medals taken away if they are found to have been doped earlier,” Lindorff continued.

He pointed out that this kind of ban on a whole team “reeks of an attack on the nation rather than individuals who are cheating.”

According to Lindorff, “the thing is that the Olympics are not just what they are made out to be: the celebration of amateur athletes. It is big money.”

“People who win these gold medals become endorsers of products and can make a fortune. It is a huge life change. If you have worked that hard to get to the top and then it is taken away from you, it isn’t just national honor, it is incomes.”

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World’s biggest franchise: Who profits from the Olympic Games?

To make it more specific – whose money makes the Olympics roll?

There’s arguably no sleeker money-making machine in the world than the IOC currently is – selling its name & symbols for a major buck. But let’s address common misconceptions first.

Popular belief:

The IOC is somewhat similar to the UN – it exists on fees paid by respective country members or, more specifically, National Olympic Committees.


The IOC is, essentially, a private organization incorporated in Switzerland as a non-profit.
It proudly says about itself

…As an entirely privately funded organisation, the IOC’s commercial partnerships continue to prove invaluable to the staging of the Olympic Games and the operations of every organisation within the Olympic Movement.

Popular belief:

The IOC and the Olympics organizers share costs of preparing and staging the Olympics.


The Olympic Games are the world biggest franchise – an applicant-city has to convince the IOC that is has already prepared, or will prepare in time, what is necessary for the Games. Bearing all associated costs. ‘What’s necessary’ is at the sole discretion of the IOC. In exchange the successful bidder gets the right to call its competition ‘the Olympic Games’.

The lion’s share of expenses is always borne by the organizers. Including, but not limited to, building sport facilities, organizing lodgings and transportation for athletes and officials, feeding them during the Games etc., etc.

The only large expense borne by the IOC is the organization of television broadcasting of the events.

Popular Belief:

Surely, the profits are shared between the Olympics organizers and the IOC?


Barely. The IOC retains and controls almost all the marketing rights associated with the Games. Profits from on-site Olympic paraphernalia and venue tickets sales are shared – but those are minor compared to the main sources of income. The main profits from those marketing rights always go straight to the IOC.

Popular Belief:

Speaking of main sources of income: the Games are largely underwritten by all those transnational corporations whose ads you get to see all the time, both as posters on the Olympic arenas and on your TV, right?


Yes and no. In order to be associated with the IOC and have the right to display patented Olympic Rings on your wares, one has to buy into the Olympic Partner (TOP) Programme. Currently there are 13 large corporations, mostly US-headquartered that “pay the IOC for the rings.” They pay hundreds of millions of dollars per year for the privilege.

Yet the TOP Programme, while important, is a secondary source of money for the IOC.
Did we mention that all the money from the TOP go straight into the IOC coffers, the Games organizers have nothing to do with that?

…So, if ticket sales are minor source of income and even the money from those mighty Coca-Cola, P&G and Visa are small fry in comparison – who’s the IOC’s main financial sponsor?

The answer is simple: NBC Universal. An American media conglomerate that provides the IOC with a whopping 40+ percent of all its revenue from any given Olympic Games.

That follows from simple math: the New York City-headquartered corporation paid the IOC $4.38 billion for the TV rights for the US market for the four Olympics from 2014-2020, inclusive of PyeongChang 2018, or $1.1 billion on average (the contract does not distinguish between the Summer and Winter Olympics). 

For those stunned by the amount of money the Americans are willing to send to Lausanne, here’s an even more impressive figure: as early as 2014, NBC and the IOC extended their deal to cover the next six Olympics till 2032 – for $7.75 billion, or 1.3 billion each.

How and if NBC makes return on such a huge investment (the biggest sum paid in television history) is a separate story – but the fact is, the Americans are the Olympic movement’s biggest ‘shareholders’. One might even call it having a ‘controlling stake’.

But that’s not it. Tired of haggling with European broadcasters individually, the IOC decided to sell the TV rights to the whole of Europe in one package. The Europeans tried, but failed, to appease the IOC’s appetite. The rights went to another US-based media behemoth – Discovery Communications. The deal is not as sweet for the IOC as the NBC one, but not a pesky number by any means: the Maryland-based corporation paid €1.3 billion for four Olympics 2018-2024 (about US$1.6 billion at the current rate, or $40 million ‘per item’). Discovery then proceeded to resell the rights piecemeal to individual European broadcasters, which caused no end of anguish for the latter, but again, that’s a separate story.

Compared to the NBC and Discovery deals, the rest of the world is paying a lot less – while not publicly disclosed, estimates indicate that the two biggest IOC earners outside the US and Europe – the Japanese and Chinese TV rights – give the Olympic right-holders $250 and $125 million per ‘Olympiad’, respectively.

All in all, the latest breakdown of the IOC revenue looks as follows:

• 73 percent broadcasting rights
• 18 percent the Olympic Partner (TOP) Programme marketing rights
• 5 percent other revenue
• 4 percent other rights

The total IOC revenue for the upcoming Games could be (rather conservatively) estimated at $2 billion. Does that mean the IOC bosses get to put it into the Swiss bank vaults nearby? Of course not! Most of the money will be spent on aiding poorer countries’ sports development, as well as staging loss-making competitions such a Youth Olympic Games. The IOC, however, modestly mentions in its documents that “somewhat less than 10 percent of revenue goes towards keeping it functional” – not a small chunk of money by any means.

More importantly, the IOC is barely hiding that these days its prime function is to increase the revenue flow by selling what could be sold to the highest bidder. Whoever that bidder is and wherever it comes from. As a result, it starts to resemble a corporation in which key investors demand more compliance from the management – “or else.” So much for the ‘international Olympic movement.’

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5 Russian Olympic medal contenders who might be barred from 2018 Games

Following the Russian Olympic ban imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on December 5 as a result of doping allegations, the right to approve athletes’ participation at the upcoming Games was delegated to a specially-appointed Invitation Review Panel. The body is chaired by former French Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron.

The panel, aimed to grant Olympic entry to ‘clean’ Russian team members never implicated in doping, has already excluded 111 Russian athletes from the application. It originally included 500 participants.

“Following intensive weeks of work by the Independent Invitation Review Panel members, in which they went into detailed consideration of each individual athlete, they have established a pool of clean athletes from which athletes to be invited by the IOC to take part in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as an ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia’ (OAR) can be chosen. More than 80 percent of the athletes in this pool did not compete at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. This shows that this is a new generation of Russian athletes,” the IOC said in the staement.

While the final pool of the Russian competitors has not yet been announced, the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) vice-president, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who received the list on Monday, said that several athletes had been left off it.

RT Sport takes a look at five Russian Olympic-medal hopefuls who might be banned from the 2018 Games in South Korea.

1. Sergey Ustugov (cross-country skiing)

After several Russian skiers, including Olympic champions Alexander Legkov and Nikita Kriukov, were banned from competing in any future Games for alleged doping violations, all Russian medal hopes have become tied with Sergey Ustiugov. He grabbed five medals at the 2017 pre-Olympic world championship in Lachti, Finland, leading a depleted Russian squad to silver in the men’s 4x10km relay.

In January 2017, he won the prestigious Tour de Ski cross-country competition, establishing himself as a strong contender to fight for an Olympic podium place in the absence of his well-decorated team mates, who were suspended and later banned as part of the doping investigation.

So far Ustiugov, who has never violated doping rules, has not been approved to compete at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.

2. Anton Shipulin (biathlon)

Top Russian biathlete Anton Shipulin, who has been preparing for his third Olympics, might miss the upcoming event, following the Invitation Review Panel’s refusal to add his name to the list of athletes allowed to compete in South Korea.

The 2014 Olympic champion in the men’s relay is in excellent form this season, after taking several medals at the Biathlon World Cup. He was widely considered to be one of the favorites to win medals in South Korea.

Shipulin, whose sports career has been unmarred by doping, and whose name was not included in the notorious McLaren Report, was somehow excluded from the list of eligible athletes. His absence has raised questions with many countries that have condemned the IOC’s decision.

3. Viktor Ahn (short-track)

The most decorated short track speed skater risks being left out of the 2018 Olympics, which will be held in his native South Korea, in less than three weeks.

Ahn competed for his native South Korea under the name Ahn Hyun-soo until 2011, when a disagreement with the Korean Skating Union (KSU) led him to acquire Russian citizenship and compete for his new country at the 2014 Sochi Games, where he earned three gold medals.

His participation in the PyeongChang Olympics remains in doubt, as the IOC’s Invitation Review Panel has reportedly denied him entry into the Games due to the fact that his name was mentioned in the McLaren Report.

4. Alexander Tretyakov (skeleton)

Prominent Russian athlete Aleksandr Tretyakov, who won gold at the 2014 Sochi Games in men’s skeleton, was penalized by the IOC last month as a result of the investigation into Russia’s alleged doping violations.

More than 40 Russian team members, including Tretyakov, received life bans from competing in any future Olympics, and had their Sochi results annulled as part of the massive crackdown imposed on Russia months before the 2018 Olympics.

Tretyakov, who has always passed both domestic and international drug tests, was accused of manipulating tests after scratches were found on the bottles of his Sochi drug tests.

Last month, he filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the IOC’s verdict.

5. Denis Yuskov (speed skating)

World champion speed skater Denis Yuskov, who claimed two titles at the recent European Single Distance Championships, has also been excluded from the list of athletes approved by the IOC.

His participation in the upcoming Games was in doubt long before the IOC’s decision, as the skater does not meet the entry requirement of having a clean record.

In 2008, Yuskov was disqualified after a test revealed the presence of marijuana. It was later proven, however, that the doping case against the athlete had been fabricated and Yuskov’s disqualification was subsequently canceled.

Despite being cleared of doping charges, Uskov is no longer considered to have a spotless record, which was enough for the Invitation Review Panel to ban him from the Winter Olympics.

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North Korea to compete in 4 sports at 2018 PyeongChang Games

North Koreans will compete in the figure skating, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and women’s ice hockey events, Lee Hee Beom, president of the North Korean Olympic Committee, announced on Wednesday. The statement followed the third round of high-level talks between the two Koreas, held in the border village of Panmunjom.

The sides also confirmed previously discussed plans to march together at the Olympic opening ceremony under a unified flag depicting the Korean Peninsula, and to form a joint women’s ice-hockey team.

Last week, North Korea agreed to send a national delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics. The parties have already met three times over the past 10 days, making proposals and exchanging views over their future participation in PyeongChang.

The negotiations between the two neighbors, held for the first time in two years, have marked a thaw in their strained relations, which drastically deteriorated after North Korea’s recent missile tests.

The exact number of participants from North Korea remains unknown, as the final list of athletes requires approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“Basically, the IOC is the one that invites countries to the Olympics,” Lee said. “And the agreement between South and North Korea must follow the IOC’s standards,” he added.

Figure skating couple Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik are the only North Korean athletes who have earned a PyeongChang berth, but the IOC is expected to grant wild cards to several North Korean team members allowing them to perform without meeting Olympic qualifying standards.

READ MORE: 5 big questions facing the world of sport in 2018

On Saturday, the Olympic governing body will convene a four-party meeting to work out all the details relating to North Korean participation in the upcoming Winter Games.

Chaired by IOC President Thomas Bach, the meeting will be attended by representatives of the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee, as well as delegations from the national Olympic committees of the two Koreas.

“I warmly welcome the joint proposals by the governments of the ROK (Republic of Korea) and DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) which have been applauded by so many other governments worldwide,” Bach said.

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Koreas to march under ‘united’ flag in Olympic Games after first high level talks in two years



North and South Korea have agreed to march together under a single “unified Korea” flag at next month’s Winter Olympics in the South.

They also agreed to field a joint women’s ice hockey team in rare talks at the truce village of Panmunjom.

These are the first high-level talks between the countries in more than two years.

It marks a thaw in relations that began in the new year when North Korea offered to send a team to the games.

The games will take place between 9 and 25 February in Pyeongchang in South Korea.

What will happen?

If the plans are realised, a hundreds-strong North Korean delegation – including 230 cheerleaders, 140 orchestral musicians and 30 taekwondo athletes – could cross into the South via the land border to attend the Winter Olympics.

It will mean the opening of the cross border road for the first time in almost two years.

The two countries have also agreed to field a joint team for the sport of women’s ice hockey. It would be the first time athletes from both Koreas have competed together in the same team at an Olympic Games.

The North has also agreed to send a smaller, 150-member delegation to the Paralympics in March.

The agreement will have to be approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday, because North Korea has missed registration deadlines or failed to qualify.

South Korea will also need to find ways to host the North Korean delegation without violating UN Security Council sanctions outlawing cash transfers to Pyongyang and blacklisting certain senior North officials.

What has the reaction been?

South Korea’s hockey coach and conservative newspapers have expressed concern about the prospect of a united hockey team, saying it could damage South Korea’s chances of winning a medal.

Tens of thousands of people are said to have signed online petitions urging President Moon Jae-in to scrap the plan.

But the liberal leader told South Korean Olympic athletes on Wednesday that the North’s participation in the Games would help improve inter-Korean relations.

Japan has viewed the latest detente with suspicion, with Foreign Minister Taro Kono saying the world should not be blinded by Pyongyang’s recent “charm offensive”.

“It is not the time to ease pressure or to reward North Korea,” Mr Kono said, according to Reuters news agency. “The fact that North Korea is engaging in dialogue could be interpreted as proof that the sanctions are working.”

North and South met for the first high-level talks in two years - against a backdrop of mounting military tension No Korean Spring


Analysis by Jonathan Marcus, BBC Defence and Diplomatic Correspondent

The Olympic embrace between North and South Korea represents a rare moment of hope in a crisis that at times has appeared to be steadily moving towards another war on the Korean peninsula.

But is this a brief respite from the bluster and war-like words exchanged between Pyongyang and President Donald Trump, Seoul’s main ally? Or does it really offer a platform for a diplomatic route out of this crisis?

The enormity of an armed conflict is clear to all – even President Trump. However, the Olympic detente does not alter the realities of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Both programmes need more testing to demonstrate a true inter-continental capability. And with Mr Trump insisting that this is a capability that the North will not be allowed to obtain, it is hard to see this developing into a Korean spring, let alone a definitive resolution of the nuclear dispute.

How did the agreement come about?

The talks which resulted in this agreement came after tensions on the Korean peninsula reached their highest point in decades.

This is because North Korea has made rapid advances in its nuclear and conventional weapons programmes in recent years.

Its latest ballistic missile test, on 28 November, sparked a series of fresh sanctions from the UN targeting petrol shipments and travel.

Soon afterwards North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he was “open to dialogue”.

In a New Year speech, he said he was considering sending a team to the Winter Olympics. South Korea’s Olympics chief had said last year that the North’s athletes would be welcome.

Then, on 9 January, the two countries made the breakthrough announcement that the North would be sending a delegation.

It was also agreed that a military hotline between the nations, suspended for nearly two years, would be reinstated.

President Moon Jae-in has said the Olympic agreement could pave the way for the nuclear issue to be addressed and lead to dialogue between the North and the US, according to Yonhap news agency in Seoul.

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‘Kurds are pawns in US strategic games’

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say they could join the government army if they’re allowed to form a federal state in the north of the country.

The statement came after Turkey claimed the US president had promised to stop arming Kurdish forces.

However, there’s apparently no clear position from the White House on the matter. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the US is ready to “stop providing military equipment to certain groups” in Syria during a briefing on Monday.

Nicolas J. S. Davies, author, and political analyst, says Washington’s pronouncements on the issue of arming the Kurds shouldn’t be taken at face value.

“[The White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee] could be referring to Al-Qaeda linked armed groups in Idlib province in the northwest who have received thousands of tons of weapons over the years – mostly paid for by the Saudis but facilitated by the CIA to get all those weapons delivered mostly from the Balkans and South-Eastern Europe,” Davies said.

“If the White House isn’t letting on who it is they are talking about, somebody should ask them,” he continued.

“Obviously, [Trump] is under pressure from Turkey to do that and the Turks actually were the ones who said that he had told them that he was going to stop arming the Kurds. I think we have to wait and see exactly what this means,” he added.

In Davies’ view, “we should be very conscious that most of the arming of rebel groups in Syria by the US or its allies was done covertly. So, whatever they are saying publicly is not necessarily the whole story.”

He said that there are “a lot of holes” in statements both from the military and from the White House “that are big enough to drive ships, planes and trucks loaded with weapons through.”

“The US has a long history of supporting different Kurdish factions when it suits them and then pulling the plug when it no longer fits the US interest,” Davies pointed out.

“This goes all the way to the 1970s when the Iraqi government was fighting Kurdish rebels in Iraq and the US and Iran – which was still ruled by the Shah at that point – were supporting the Iraqi rebels. But then at a certain point in March 1975, Iran cut off the support for the Iraqi Kurdish rebels. And all the US relief and support going to the Kurdish refugees that had been coming through Iran just dried up overnight. And when the US House Intelligence Committee asked Henry Kissinger about this, he very famously told them that ‘covert action should not be confused with missionary work.’ In other words, this was not about helping these Kurdish refugees, it was about using them as pawns in the US policy to destabilize Iraq,” he said.

He went on to recall that later when Saddam Hussein came to power, the situation was reversed.

“The US supported him, and by then, at the same time, there was a revolution in Iran and Iran stopped being a US ally. But the Kurds have been pawns in these strategic games that the US have been involved in for decades in that part of the world,” he told RT.

Daoud Khairallah, professor of International law at Georgetown University, Washington says he would not be surprised at all if the US stopped supporting the Kurds.

“The US realizes that its support of the Kurds has antagonized and alienated Turkey – its tradition ally. The US realizes that it doesn’t stand on solid legal grounds in Syria. If the fighting is to go on with the Kurds as a means for whatever reasons, the Kurds would not stand a chance either to become independent – because everything around them, the entire environment is hostile to them – and the US would be in a very difficult position supporting only trouble in Syria,” he told RT.

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Jail, Drugs And Video Games: Why Millennial Men Are Disappearing From The Labor Force

Last week, Goldman Sachs pointed out a very disturbing trend in the US labor market: where the participation rate for women in the prime age group of 25-54 have seen a dramatic rebound in the past 2 years, such a move has been completeloy missing when it comes to their peer male workers. As Goldman’s jan Hatzius put in in “A Divided Labor Market”, “some of the workers who gave up and dropped out of the labor force during the recession and its aftermath still have not found their way back in.” In fact, the labor force participation rate of prime-age (25-54 year-old) women has rebounded quite a bit and is now only moderately below pre-crisis levels, but the rate for prime-age men remains well below pre-crisis levels.

While Goldman did not delve too deeply into the reasons behind this dramatic gender gap, BofA’s chief economist Michelle Meyer did just that in a note released on Friday titled “The tale of the lost male.” As we have discussed previously, and as Goldman showed recently, Meyer finds that indeed prime-working age men – particularly young men – have failed to return to the labor force in contrast to women who have reentered. According to Meyer, while this reflects some cyclical dynamics, including skill mismatch and stagnant wages, what is more troubling is that there are several new secular stories at play such as greater drug abuse, incarceration rates and the happiness derived from staying home playing games.

The macro implications, while self-explanatory, are dire: with the labor force participation rate among young men unlikely to rebound, the unemployment rate should fall further and cries of labor shortages will remain loud, even as millions of male Americans enter middle age without a job, with one or more drug addition habits, and with phenomenal Call of Duty reflexes.

For almost a decade Gov’t Slaves has worked tirelessly to bring its readers the most critical news the corporate media does not want you to see. We have no intrusive ads, pop-ups or clickbait, just NEWS. If you happen to be in a position to support my work, PLEASE consider making a one-time donation to fund the site. Your support is humbly appreciated. Thomas @ Gov’t Slaves

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Millennial Men Choose Video Games Over Jobs

The American workforce may be shrinking, and it is not for a lack of employment opportunities. As a result of lower prices and enhanced technology, video games are simply becoming a better option for how to spend one’s time—specifically young men’s time.

According to research published in the September 2017 issue of National Bureau of Economic Research Digest, between 2000 through 2015, the “average hours of work for men ages 21-30 fell by 203 hours per year.” This equates to a 12 percent decline over the time period. Excluding those who are full-time students, nearly 15 percent of men in their twenties did not work a single week all of 2015. That number is almost double what it was at the turn of the century.

Research by Mark Aguiar, Mark Bils, Kerwin Kofi Charles, and Erik Hurst finds that young, able-bodied men are simply staying home and filling the extra hours with leisure activities, at much greater rates than young women or older men.

“Moreover, we calculate that innovations to gaming/recreational computing since 2004 explain on the order of half the increase in leisure for younger men, and predict a decline in market hours of 1.5 to 3.0 percent, which is 38 and 79 percent of the differential decline relative to older men.”

In layman’s terms, millennial men are gaming, not working. The effects of this may be felt right now mostly in the pocketbooks of their parents, for all of the energy drinks and Cheetos they purchase to feed their sons, but the economy will surely feel the stale air of the video game basements when the millennials emerge in due time as ill-equipped, middle-aged drains on society. These millennials are having a case of Peter Pan syndrome; they are men who wish to never grow up.

For almost a decade Gov’t Slaves has worked tirelessly to bring its readers the most critical news the corporate media does not want you to see. We have no intrusive ads, pop-ups or clickbait, just NEWS. If you happen to be in a position to support our work, PLEASE consider making a one-time donation below or a monthly recurring donation HERE. Your support is humbly appreciated. Gov’t Slaves

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Russian military scrambles ‘Yars’ ICBM launchers during war games (VIDEO)

A video by the Russian Defense Ministry shows a convoy of ‘Yars’ launchers moving in to their deployment areas while being escorted by support units down the road. An exercise involved mock attacks of an enemy Special Forces unit as well as simulated chemical and radiological attacks on the ICMB launchers.

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