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Which sport will join the Olympic Games programme?
With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently announcing its shortlist of sports vying for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympics, SportsPro is asking its readers, which one of the eight contenders will be added to the programme for the 32nd Olympiad?
While baseball still remains as popular as ever in America, the IOC clearly deemed it to have less appeal on the world stage when, in 2005, it announced that baseball, like softball, would make its final appearance at the 2008 Games in Beijing. Despite making the latest shortlist, the sport is unlikely to be chosen so soon after being excluded, but will the IOC be convinced enough by the new bid to perform an uncharacteristic about-turn?
Softball’s high proportion of female participants may be its advantage over other sports in the list, mainly because the IOC is looking to increase female involvement in the Games. In fact, while the IOC noted the sport’s lack of global appeal for its exclusion from the programme, many were shocked by its decision, considering its well-publicised commitment to gender equality. Though softball has the support of Australian Olympic Committee president, John Coates, will the sport gain enough backing from other members of the board to see it reinstated on the Olympic roster?
The International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) was recognised by the IOC in 1967 and, since then, it has grown to include over 90 member nations and organise a number of international competitions. Of the eight sports vying for inclusion, wakeboarding is the only watersport and its popularity is growing worldwide. IOC president Jacques Rogge said the sport “provides great entertainment for the spectators and adds further youthful appeal,” but will that be enough to see it included in the 2020 programme?
Squash’s campaign for a place on the 2020 sports programme has been led by one of the sport’s legends, six-time World Open champion Jahangir Khan. President of the World Squash Federation (WSF) until 2008, Khan believes that, while squash has been trying for inclusion for several years, it should be included “on merit.” Now, the WSF has turned to Vero Communications, run by public relations strategist Mike Lee, who previously worked on the successful summer Olympic bids for London 2012, Rio 2016 and the Qatar 2022 football World Cup bid, as well as the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Having narrowly missed out on the 2012 and 2016 Games, will it be a case of third time lucky?
While many in the climbing world doubt whether the sport will actually be included in nine years time, merely being considered by the IOC is widely regarded to be a huge step forward for the multi-discipline event. In 2007, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) was recognised as the world governing body for the sport, giving the newcomers the necessary organisational backing in the face of widespread criticism. Amongst other things, huge costs to build venues, a lack of popularity and doubts about broadcasting appeal have been outlined as reasons why the sport will not be included come 2020. However, despite its opposition, the sport remains popular in Europe and is growing rapidly, so will it be chosen when the IOC meet to announce the winner in Buenos Aires, 2013?
In its review of roller sports’ previous bid for Olympic inclusion, the IOC cited the sport as having relatively low worldwide reach, little media appeal and small revenues for its failure to include it in the London 2012 programme. On the plus side though, the sport would cost little to stage, as it requires no new facilities, and would appeal to a younger audience. Roller speed skating, one of the sport’s sub-disciplines, is currently present at events like the World Games, the Pan-American Games, the Asian Games and the Mediterranean Games, but will roller sports win over the Olympic committee skeptics?
Despite being put forward, along with squash, to the final two in the selection process for the 2012 Games, karate missed out on being included due to receiving just a third of IOC member votes, well short of the two thirds required for inclusion. Over the years, the sport has been championed by Ticky Donovan, who helped Great Britain to five consecutive World Team Championship victories. According to him, “it’s the tenth most popular sport in the world and there’s 50 million people training now. We should have been included in the Olympics many years ago – it’s long overdue.” Do you agree with Donovan?
As taekwondo is to South Korea and judo to Japan, so wushu is to China. Based on traditional Chinese martial arts, wushu is a full-contact discipline and would make for interesting viewing for foreigners who haven’t ever seen any action. But, despite the sport’s novelty factor for many, its obscurity and vast array of styles and judging criteria will most likely see it overlooked by the IOC, especially with the better known karate in the running. One proponent of the combat sport is film star Jet Li, himself a former Chinese wushu national champion. According to Li, realistically wushu will not be included for many years to come, but will the IOC take a gamble on the lesser known martial art?
*source – Sports Pro Media
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