An Inside Look at the Sports Bidding for Inclusion in the 2020 Olympics
17 Apr, 2013By: Steve Moorhouse
On the 7th September in Buenos Aires, the IOC will make important decisions regarding the 2020 Olympic Games. On top of electing a new President and deciding which city should host the Games, the Olympic top chiefs will decide which sport will be added to the 2020 programme.
In this latest report, iSportconnect has caught up with the Presidents and leading members of all the eight sports vying for a spot in 2020, to ask them the simple question; why you?
Olympic History: Baseball has been in the Olympics since 1904, but on an irregular basis, whilst softball was dropped from the programme in 2012, having been present between 1996 and 2008. The two sports have now joined forces to try and gain acceptance to the 2020 Games.
The Powerhouses: It’s perhaps unsurprising that the USA is a major force, with the women’s Softball team taking silver at Beijing 2008 and the men taking bronze in Baseball. Japan’s women struck gold in Beijing, with Australia claiming bronze, whilst the South Korean and Cuban men’s teams took gold and silver in Baseball. Puerto Rico were the surprise package at the World Baseball Classic.
The Bid: The President of International Baseball Federation (IBAF), Riccardo Fraccari explained the difficulties of their bid and merger with Softball. Gaining the support of the 125+ member federations was a tough task, before even convincing the IOC, but Fraccari believes “this merger is a very significant step forward for the development and well-being of both our sports on a global basis.”
Why Baseball/Softball? “Most important for us at the moment is doing everything we can to demonstrate to the IOC that baseball and softball together add unique value to the Olympic Games,” said Fraccari. “Now that we are a “team”, we can say we would add a separate category to the Olympic Games: the bat and ball category, and you could say that we are almost offering the Olympic movement two sports for the price of one.”
Olympic History: Karate has never been represented in the Olympic Games. In 2008 they were confirmed as a Recognised Sport by the IOC and were therefore in the running to take part in the 2012 Games. In 2009, at the 121st IOC voting, the sport did not receive the two-thirds majority vote they needed for inclusion.
The Powerhouses: Japan, France, Italy, Spain and England are in the top five based on World Championships and World Games medal ratings.
The Bid: The sport was very close to achieving the ultimate goal in their 2005 and 2009 bids. Because of this World Karate Federation President, Antonio Espinós reckons: “Since 2009 we have tremendously improved in all aspects, and we are more ready than ever. The last World Championships in November 2012 in Paris, observed by the IOC, showed and confirmed all this progress.”
Why Karate? Espinós said: “Spectators in TV and other media, an attractive show, we appeal to the youth, we are a sport for the people, we provide educative values and Karate is easy to implement.”
Espinós also added that at a survey taken during London 2012 showed a whopping 70% of Olympic goers thought Karate was already an Olympic sport. Is 2020 their year?
Olympic History: The sport has pushed for Olympic inclusion for a number of years, but has so far been unsuccessful. In 2005 the IOC selected them as a potential sport but they missed out.
The Powerhouses: Colombia’s Pedro Causil is a real medal threat, having picked up seven golds in 2010 at the Caribbean Central American Games and the South Anmerican Games. Belgium, South Korea, France and Italy are also very strong.
The Bid: FIRS President Sabatino Aracu was keen to show that their bid highlighted the “values and potential” of the sport. Aracu also expressed his confidence in the bid by saying: “We are the favourite ones, without a doubt!”
Why Roller Sports? Aracu said the IOC should pick Roller Sports because it “is a sport with a very high athletic value that assures continuous emotions.” He also said the spectacle is a big reason for Roller Sports, because after all, the Olympic Games is all about the sport and entertainment.
Olympic History: Sport Climbing is another one to never be involved in the Olympics, but considering the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) was only created in 2007, being considered for the 2020 Games is a great achievement in itself.
The Powerhouses: At the last Climbing World Championships in 2012, Austria, Canada and the Czech Republic came first, second and third respectively. In the women’s competitions South Korea and again Austria dominated.
The Bid: IFSC President Marco Maria Scolaris said web visibility is their focus, as well as improving their World Championships. As he said: “The even in Paris (2012) was sold out and the competition was very good.”
Why Sport Climbing? “Climbing is one of the basic human movements, like walking, jumping, swimming and so on,” said Scolaris. “This basic human movement is missing from the Games. So if we win the bid, the Games will be complete.” A bold statement indeed, backed up by the sport’s youth driven audience that the IOC so greatly desires.
Olympic History: Squash has petitioned to be in the Olympics for a number of years. They were added to the 2016 list and had the backing of former world number one Peter Nicol. Sadly for them they lost out to golf and rugby sevens.
The Powerhouses: Egypt and England have by far the most players in the Top 20 rankings for men, with six in total for each nation. Egyptian Ramy Ashour is number one and England’s Nick Matthew is in second. These nations would be favourites for a medal haul.
The Bid: A big obstacle for squash has always been relaying the action on TV, in a clear and easy to watch manner. Alex Gough, CEO of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) said: “I think in the last three years we’ve filmed 900 matches for online and for the TV side of things we’ve filmed about 75 matches. When we went into this before we didn’t have any of that.”
Why Squash? There’s a genuine belief that this could be squash’s year. The sport has received high profile backing with Victoria Pendleton, Roger Federer, the England Rugby team and Andy Cole amongst the supporters. Gough said: “Whenever we try and invite British people to see squash, especially for the first time, they’re genuinely blown away at how good the athletes are. They’re blown away by how fast the sport is and how athletic everyone is, so to have those endorsements from people who have won Olympic gold is really great for us.”
Olympic History: Wakeboarding is another new arrival and cable wakeboarding will be on show at the 2020 Games if they are selected. The International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) have been recognised by the IOC since 1967.
The Powerhouses: Germany, the USA, Australia and Great Britain are amongst the strongest nations. South Korea also possesses Im San who would be a medal contender if Wakeboarding is added to the programme.
The Bid: The IWWF has really pushed their content to the IOC, through DVDs, brochures and the creation of their specialised Task Force. The main aspects show that the sport is environmentally friendly and costs little to install. As President Kuno Ritschard says, it “gives everyone an opportunity to participate.”
Why Wakeboarding? Engaging the youth is a huge aspect that the IOC is looking for from all the sports and Wakeboarding does this. Ritschard thinks this give his sport every chance of winning by saying “Wakeboarding, like most of the other boardsports is strongly youth driven and seeing the interest which snowboarding created in Vancouver, we believe that Wakeboard would become a similar success with young spectators, TV viewers and users of social media. It could be the uniting sport for all boardsports in the Summer Olympic Games.”
Olympic History: Wrestling was demoted to this list by the IOC earlier in 2013. Considering the sport has been in the modern Olympic Games from the beginning, the decision to axe them was surprising. Considered by many as a true Olympic sport, the sport has to enter into a new chapter of their history to try and regain their status.
The Powerhouses: At London 2012 Russia and Japan finished with four gold medals each, with Russia taking 11 medals in total. Iran, Azerbaijan and the USA completed the top five in the last Summer Olympics.
The Bid: It’s perhaps unsurprising that all of the top five countries protested loudly about the decision to drop Wrestling. But what else has been done? FILA President Raphael Martinetti stepped down after a bid of no confidence against him and Wrestling is focusing on lobbying ahead of the IOC meeting in May.
Why Wrestling? The obvious reason for Wrestling to be in the 2020 Olympic Games, is the argument that it should never have been demoted in the first place. Theodoros Hamakos, Vice-President of FILA Europe said: “The decision for us was a big surprise. We never expected this. We waited respect for the history and contributions of wrestling. But, like wrestling teaches us, we wrestling and hope.” Hamakos also added that they were “confident” Wrestling would succeed.
Olympic History: The International Wushu Federation (IWUF) has tried and failed in the past to become an Olympic sport. In 2008, the IOC did allow China to organise an event called the 2008 Olympic Games Wushu Tournament during the Beijing Olympics, however this was not recognised as an official event.
The Powerhouses: During that event, China finished top of the medal table with eight golds. Russia, Italy, France, Malaysia and other Asian nations are amongst the strongest countries.
The Bid: There are many reasons why the sport thinks it should be in the Games and their bid has pushed the fact that it is a low cost sport, thus contributing to the Financial Viability of the Games. Wushu has also released figures showing that is not just an Asian game (47 European countries compete) and they have high television broadcasting rates.
Why Wushu? Apart from the facts mentioned above, Raymond Smith, President of European Wushu Federation said: “It caters for the fit athlete that wants to compete and offers a great platform for this with beautiful exciting movement. Concerning the Olympic Program we are able to offer a great selection of events that capture the audience with visual performances.”
So there they are, the eight sports that are hoping to be added to the 2020 Olympic Games. But what do you think? Which sport has provided the most convincing bid and which one do you want to see at the next Olympics?
*Article and Images courtesy of isportconnect