OLYMPICS

A smartphone app that athletes and others attending next month’s Winter Games in Beijing must install has glaring security problems that could expose sensitive data to interception, according to a report published Tuesday.

Citizen Lab, an internet watchdog group, said in its report the MY2022 app has seriously flawed encryption that would make users’ sensitive data — and any other data communicated through it — vulnerable to being hacked. Other important user data on the app wasn’t encrypted at all, the report found.

That means the data could be read by Chinese internet service providers or telecommunications companies through Wi-Fi hotspots at hotels, airports and Olympic venues.

China is requiring all international Olympic attendees — including coaches and journalists — to download and start using the app 14 days before their departure. The app allows users to submit required health information on a daily basis and is part of China’s aggressive effort to manage the coronavirus pandemic while hosting the games, which begin Feb. 4. The multipurpose app also includes chat features, file transfers, weather updates, tourism recommendations and GPS navigation.

Citizen Lab’s report comes amid heightened concerns over athletes’ data and privacy. Many countries are advising their athletes not to take their normal smartphones to China, but instead to bring temporary – or burner – phones that do not store any sensitive personal data, according to news reports.

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The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee issued an advisory to athletes telling them to “assume that every device and every communication, transaction, and online activity will be monitored.”

“There should be no expectation of data security or privacy while operating in China,” the advisory said.

HOCKEY

PREMIER HOCKEY FEDERATION: The Premier Hockey Federation is more than doubling each teams’ salary cap to $750,000 and adding two expansion franchises next season in a bid to capitalize on the wave of attention women’s hockey traditionally enjoys following the Winter Olympics.

The PHF’s announcement on Tuesday of its board of governors’ commitment to invest more than $25 million over the next three years is also considered a major step in attempting to thaw its relationship with United States and Canadian national team players, who have balked at joining North America’s lone professional women’s hockey league.

The PHF currently has teams based in Boston, Toronto, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, St. Paul, Minnesota, Danbury, Connecticut, and Buffalo, New York. The league is moving forward with plans to establish a team in Montreal and, without disclosing where, adding another expansion franchise in the United States.

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The boost in the cap from $300,000 this season will lead to an average salary of $37,500 based on a 20-player minimum roster or $30,000 for a league-maximum 25-player roster. There will be no limits placed on a player’s salary as long as the team’s overall payroll remains under the cap.

SOCCER

MLS: The Columbus Crew have hired Kristin Bernert as president of business operations, the latest woman to move into a prominent executive role in Major League Soccer.

She previously spent 10 years with Madison Square Garden Sports, leading initiatives for the New York Knicks and Rangers before co-founding KB2 Sports, a sports business consulting firm. Among her duties with the Crew, Bernert will oversee all the team’s business endeavors, including fan engagement and marketing; facility management; ticket sales and services, and organizational administration.

Bernert began with MSGS in 2011 as vice president of business operations for the WNBA’s New York Liberty. She’s also worked in the front office for the Los Angeles Sparks and as a vice president of team marketing and business operations for the NBA.

The MLS has been at the forefront of gender inclusion in senior executive positions. Last year, Shari Ballard became the league’s second female CEO when she took on that role with Minnesota United FC, and Lucy Rushton was hired as GM of D.C. United, just the second woman in Major League Soccer history to be a full-time general manager, after Lynne Meterparel with the San José Clash in 1999.

 


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