Olympic Skaters Are Still Without Medals 500 Days Later
Olympic skaters are still without medals 500 days later. Evan Bates and Madison Chock of the United States recall walking back to their rooms in Beijing after learning that the ceremony to receive their Olympic medals had been canceled.
Before they went to night, they were given empty black-and-gold boxes with letters inside signed by IOC President Thomas Bach. "An Olympic medal is forever," started the message.
The boxes were meant to be the ideal location for the skaters to store the medals they never got. Five hundred days later, the medals are still someplace in storage due to yet another heinous and unsolved doping scandal to emerge from Russia.
The nine empty boxes, one for each U.S. skater who finished second in the Olympic team event, are now on display under glass at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum, which opened Thursday to commemorate the 500 days since the medals ceremony in Beijing was abruptly canceled.
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As the time has gone by, it almost feels like it didn’t happen at times. And when we think about it, it’s hard not to get emotional and just feel kind of sad about the whole situation, and how it’s turned out and how long it’s taking to be handled.- Madison Chock
After hearing that 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, who led Russia to a first-place finish, had tested positive for a performance enhancer months before the games, Olympic officials made a move that had never been done before, they chose not to give out any trophies.
Anti-doping and judicial proceedings on the issue have taken place in Beijing, Russia, and Switzerland. In an ironic twist, on Day 500, the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced that it has finally scheduled dates to hear the Valieva issue and maybe settle it once and for all.
Because of the dates, Sept. 26-29, it might be more than two years before the Americans receive their medals, whether silver or gold.
You want to cross the finish line and be awarded for that race, or for what you have accomplished in that moment. The exclamation point on the sentence is not supposed to come, like, 10 sentences later, or in the next paragraph,- Evan Bates
The residuals that frequently accompany an athlete's Olympic moment have also largely eluded them. Most of the skaters' hopes for media tours, post-Olympic exhibitions, sponsorships, and other opportunities have been dashed.
Most people are well aware that many apparent joyful situations will inevitably come back to the same question: "Where's your medal?"
At this stage, you can’t possibly salvage what they would’ve earned if they had stood on the podium when the world was watching,- Travis Tygart
said Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
The Americans are not the only ones who have been harmed in this situation. The third-placed Japanese team never got medals, and the fourth-placed Canadian team may be entitled them as well if Russia is disqualified.
There's also the example of Valieva, who was 15 at the time of the Olympics and is commonly seen as an innocent victim whose health and fitness, not to mention her medical requirements and prescriptions, were in the hands of her circle's trainers and managers.
Tracy Marek took over as CEO of US Figure Skating in January, with the unresolved medals matter at the top of her in-box.
In my opinion, the common American out there would be shocked right now. In retrospect, they might say, ‘Oh, yeah, I remember that.’ But they would probably be shocked to know that these athletes have achieved one of sports’ greatest accomplishments and they’ve received an empty box.- Tracy Marek
When the matter is determined, the skaters will be like the scores of Olympians who have gotten their medals in "alternate" ceremonies – at malls, or at later Olympics or world and national championships — throughout the years.
Bates and Chock described an emotional encounter with Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, the day after their ceremony was canceled. They still have the Olympic torches he gave them as a gesture of goodwill while the medals were being sorted out.
He assured us that when this was resolved, they would do everything to create a medals ceremony that suited our expectations. To which we said, ‘Well, we would like it yesterday.- Bates
They are still waiting five hundred days later. Some of their comrades have elected to retire, knowing that their finest days are behind them and that their best day of all is yet to come.
If I could change anything about the antidoping movement, it would be, just improve the transparency and improve the time frame. The shelf life for an Olympic athlete is short. We think in four-year cycles and it’s almost been two years. It’s such a shame this moment hasn’t taken place and there’s still no closure or resolution to this so many months later.- Bates
The Winter Olympics were rocked by a high-profile doping scandal, when the medal presentation for the figure skating team event was postponed because a Russian skater tested positive for a banned drug.
The International Olympic Committee postponed the ceremony due to legal issues that needed to be worked out with the International Skating Union. The ongoing legal wrangling may be on whether the chemical was taken in or out of competition.
Kamila Valieva's amazing quadruple leap secures team gold in figure skating. The team gold was won by the skaters competing under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee. Four Russian skaters failed not show up for their scheduled training session.
The story was first revealed at the IOC press conference on Wednesday. The IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said:
A situation arose at short notice that requires legal consultation, without providing any details on the nature of the consultation.- Mark Adams
You can bet your bottom dollar we are doing everything that this situation can be resolved as soon as possible. I cannot give you any more details but we will do our level utmost.- Mark Adams
He said the ceremony would take place as soon as possible.
The legendary Russian coach Tatiana Tarasova denied that any of the Russian Olympic Committee skaters would dope.
This cannot be true. We can be pointed fingers at, but we are all clean.- Tarasova
Tarasova said in response to a question regarding doping allegations.
A request for comment from the International Skating Union was not returned. The Russian Olympic Committee had no immediate reaction. The Russian Sports Ministry told Tass it was "premature" to speculate on the reasons for the delay.
The International Testing Agency, which conducts tests at the Games, said:
The ITA is aware of the various reports circulating regarding the postponed medal ceremony for the figure skating team event at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. Any announcement connected to these events would always be publicly issued on the ITA’s website and not commented on otherwise.- The International Testing Agency
There have been diplomatic boycotts of the Olympics in large part because of the human rights situation in China, including the genocide against the Uyghur people. The politicization of the games, which is said to have occurred in China, is another reason diplomatic boycotts have occurred.
Beijing, the capital city of China, played host to the Winter Olympics in 2022, which were held between February 4 and February 20, 2022. The games were held in China. Concerns and controversies over the expense, environmental effect, censorship, espionage, COVID-19, sportswashing, and human rights issues were voiced in relation to the nation that was chosen.
The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to give the games to China was condemned by American sportscaster Bob Costas, who said:
The IOC deserves all of the disdain and disgust that comes their way for going back to China yet again referencing China's human rights record.- Bob Costas
According to critics, the Chinese government is using the 2022 Winter Olympics to engage in sportswashing, a process in which a country utilizes athletic events to deflect from human rights violations or other concerns.
Amnesty world cautioned the world community not to participate in China's sportswashing attempts in January 2022. According to Amnesty International, "China is hoping for sportswashing gold, and every effort must be made to counteract that." Amnesty International has explicitly attacked the IOC.
According to Amnesty International, Swedish Olympic champion Nils van der Poel donated his gold medal for Beijing 2022 to the daughter of a Hong Kong dissident in order to protest the Chinese government's atrocious human rights record. He won gold in the men's 10,000 meter speed skating event.
Members of both main parties in the United States Congress have voiced concern over athlete safety. Noah Hoffman, a retired Olympic cross-country skier, has also raised worries about athlete safety, noting China's human rights record and the IOC's lack of concern.
The Beijing Organizing Committee cautioned in January 2022 that any behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment.
Human Rights Watch has warned competitors that speaking up is not permitted in China, and that if they speak out on human rights or other issues in China, they may suffer substantial legal consequences.
The American squad has been sheltered from human rights questions for their own security. Athletes, sponsors, and other international participants in the games have been encouraged by Uyghur and Tibetan activists to utilize the opportunity to advocate for human rights.
All participants in the Games, including competitors, spectators, and media, are forced to download the My2022 app, which is ostensibly used for daily Covid monitoring.
Citizen Lab, a research center at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, has cautioned that the My2022 app lacks encryption on many of its files and has security flaws that risk users to data breaches.
It is China's most successful Winter Olympics performance, with nine gold medals and a total of 15 medals, placing third in gold medals and twelfth in total medals.
The total cost of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games is anticipated to reach 38.5 billion US dollars, with the majority of the money spent on infrastructure (more than 20 billion US dollars).
With 224 athletes, the United States has the largest delegation. Canada has 217, Russia has 215, the People's Republic of China has 174, Switzerland has 167, Germany has 149, Japan has 124, and Italy has 118. Sweden and the Czech Republic each have 116 athletes.
While the Chinese government may view these confrontational words as a propaganda gain, many in the foreign audience perceive them as a reminder of how politically charged these Games are, despite their organizational success and sports accomplishments.
Going back to these patient athletes, well they are still waiting five hundred days later. Some of their comrades have elected to retire, knowing that their finest days are behind them and that their best day of all is yet to come.