The IOC Session at Rio will almost beyond doubt accept the five-sport package of additional sports requested by Tokyo 2020 and approved by the Executive Board in Lausanne — Baseball/Softball, Indoor Climbing, Karate, Skateboarding and Surfing. The swarm of skaters who daily tried to run me down during the 2013 Session in Buenos Aires are now eligible to be Olympic contenders.
And about time- announcing the decision by the EB, Kit McConnell, Sports Director, enthused about ” a real emphasis for youth” that , without detracting from 28 established sports, will embrace an additional 474 athletes in 18 events, gender equal: baseball/softball two, climbing two, karate eight, skateboard four and surfing two. McConnell spoke of IOC vision: I would reflect a long time in arriving in a historic but heavily traditional global festival, finally given momentum by the Agenda 2020 conference.
Will these five ‘interlopers’ remain in the fold for 2024 (the host to be elected next year)?
Wait and see, McConnell suggested, saying they would be eligible along with any further sports proposed by whichever host city is elected. He roundly dismissed a querulous comment that baseball had limited global popularity — “global reach is considered, we are ensuring the release of the best players.”.
Rivalry over skateboarding’s international admin has been resolved, and the sport’s anti-doping profile re-affirmed. However, the new sports will receive no share of Olympic revenue. Surfing, enjoying a solid cultural backing in Japan, will have a natural sea venue “to encourage a youthful festival mood.”
I queried the safety element of Skateboarding, which as with some freestyle skiing
disciplines can involve ‘extreme’ techniques by the elite which are riskily beyond the competence of performers in , say, performers qualified from smaller nations. McConnell reasons that safety remains an issue but that the benefit of inclusion „will be the ability of the sport to engage (internationally), to develop the sport and make it less institutionalized.”
The EB further emphasised its intention to remove cheats from Rio’s celebration — also a
policy somewhat overdue. A statement announced that the budget for pre-Olympic testing has been doubled, especially in ‘non-compliant’ countries, Kenya, Mexico and Russia; there will be exclusion of any implicated athletes from Rio; the Olympic stakeholders (IFs , NOCs) will coordinate with IOC to distinguish between ‘collective responsibility and individual justice’; the re-analyis of samples from 2008 and 2012 will be further extended
A German journalist asked me yesterday: “Do you think the Olympics can survive?”. I
replied that the IOC had been at risk for 120 years, that management was always vulnerable in such a huge, complex multi-national administration by mostly honorable part-timers, but that the current mood was as positive as it is possible to be in the face of many external exploitations.
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.