The biathlon track for Sochi '12 has "very dangerous" features that could cause injury and must be modified, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee Sergei Zhukov said Sunday, according to IANS. The track is hosting its first major test event with a World Cup round "that has so far seen many falls on the steep slopes." Zhukov said, "The biathlon track will have to be corrected. You've probably seen that there is a place where there is a dangerous turn and some athletes can't cope with it, they fly off." He added: "It needs to be fixed in order not to take the risk of injuries but it can be done quite easily. The track won't be simplified but it will be made safe." Russian four-time World Championship Medalist Anton Shipulin suggested that "he would struggle at the Olympics on the 'very uncomfortable' track despite the Russian team having much more practice time than their rivals" (IANS, 3/10).
Councils are reporting "a big rise" in people taking part in obscure London 2012 Olympic sports like beach volleyball, handball and BMX racing, according to Christopher Hope of the London TELEGRAPH. The Local Government Association discovered that three-quarters of councils had seen "an increase in people accessing their sports facilities or activities." One third of councils were also reporting "a rise in people with a disability getting involved in Paralympic sports." The organization suggests that the government's hopes that the Olympics would encourage large numbers of people into sport "are being realised." The LGA found athletics, cycling/BMX, beach volleyball, swimming and gymnastics "recorded the biggest jumps." Participation in handball was also increased by 50%. Paralympic sports "which have had a surge in popularity" include equestrianism, goalball, cycling and boccia (TELEGRAPH, 3/8).
Seven of Turkey's leading conglomerates "have pledged to contribute to the bid" to bring the 2020 Summer Olympics to Istanbul, with sponsorship deals worth $3.2M. The list of sponsors includes Turkish Airlines, Koç Holding, Ülker, Doğuş Group, Digiturk, Sabancı Holding and Turkcell (TODAY'S ZAMAN, 3/10). ... Belarus shot putter Nazdeya Ostapchuk, who was stripped of her gold medal from the London Olympics after failing a drug test, "is facing a life ban after she was revealed as one of six athletes who tested positive for a banned substance during a mass re-test of urine samples from the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki" (TELEGRAPH, 3/8) ... The IOC has pledged to support the planned development of the World Olympian Association (INSIDE THE GAMES, 3/9).