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Friday, April 1, 2011
Lightning round: The news of the week

By Bonnie D. Ford

• Life in Japan won't be anything approaching normal for a long time, and that includes the sporting scene. Other international federations are going to have to weigh the same factors the International Skating Union did when it first postponed, then relocated, the World Figure Skating Championships from Tokyo (where the event was scheduled for last week) to Moscow. The World Gymnastics Championships, the main qualifying event for London 2012, are slated for Tokyo in October, and international gymnastics officials said they'll decide next month whether the site is still appropriate. They have the luxury of weeks, rather than days, to analyze the situation. Here's hoping their choice is based on what's right for the athletes, rather than what's politically correct or sponsor-driven.

• A year ago, Washington D.C. was still being touted as a potential host for the start of the 2012 Giro d'Italia. The idea was probably dead in the water the day former mayor and uber-bike advocate Adrian Fenty lost the Democratic primary last fall, and it officially went belly-up this week when race organizers announced the three-week Grand Tour will begin in Denmark.

There will be no tears shed here. The Giro is already a near-inhumanly difficult event in a sport that should be putting the health and welfare of riders first. A fatiguing transatlantic trip in the first week -- with its accompanying cost and carbon footprint -- would have been nothing short of irresponsible.

• With baseball season opening this week, it's only appropriate to recognize another kind of Sabermetrician. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis of Beaverton, Ore., is well into her second year at the top of the women's saber rankings and just notched her third Grand Pix event podium of 2011. She is one of the most dominant athletes in her sport or any international sport heading into the Olympic qualifying process. In more good news for the U.S. team, Philadelphia's Miles Chamley-Watson is now No. 3 in the world in the foil, the highest-ever ranking for an American man.

• The start of FINA's 10-kilometer Grand Prix circuit was postponed for more than two months so that an investigation ordered by swimming's world governing body could recommend safety measures to ensure the tragic circumstances of Fran Crippen's death are never repeated.

It's now 16 days until the first race in Brazil, and the silence is deafening -- from FINA and from USA Swimming, which commissioned a separate probe. The national federation has at least made a start by providing some resources for its athletes, but it's outrageous that racing is about to begin again in the absence of any concrete reforms.

• Skateboarding in the Olympics? The concept has been discussed for years but flared into public view again this week when the UCI, cycling's international governing body, announced its public backing for the other two-wheeled sport, citing its appeal to younger viewers. Remember, this is the same body that's trying to back cycling into a Luddite corner by forbidding use of race radios. The bottom line, according to the beyond-legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, is the Olympics need skateboarding more than the other way around.