Seven sports aim for Olympic slot

June 15, 2009

Roller sports, golf, rugby sevens, karate and squash will also compete for the two spots that are up for grabs.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said: “We are looking for an added value – wide appeal, especially for young people.”

Click here to hear Jaques Rogge on the Evaluation process

The four cities bidding to host the Games will also make their presentations in Switzerland this week.

Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo will put their case straight to IOC members on Wednesday and Thursday in the first ever forum for rival cities to stake their claim.

First up this week in Lausanne though, will be the seven sports federations which will get 45 minutes to make their case for 2016, followed by a question and answer session.

Retired Swedish great Annika Sorenstam, winner of 10 majors, and European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie will push golf’s case.

Softball’s team in Switzerland includes American star Jessica Mendoza, an Olympic gold and silver medal winner who has been helping develop the sport in the Middle East and other areas.

Baseball and softball were voted off the 2012 London Games in 2005, while the five others failed to get enough votes in 2005 for Olympic inclusion.

The need for a new women’s Olympic team sport has been stressed by some IOC members after softball was kicked out of the Games and the International Rugby Board’s proposal includes a men’s and women’s rugby sevens tournament.

IRB general secretary Mike Miller said: “The recent Rugby World Cup had both a men’s and women’s tournament that was integrated.

“The good thing about rugby sevens is that there has been an explosion in the women’s game in the last four or five years and 84 countries took part in the qualification tournament.”

The IOC program commission has been evaluating the seven sports, attending their major events and assessing their strengths and weaknesses.

“It’s a very open race,” Rogge said. “There are supporters of all seven sports both inside and outside the executive board. I can say any of the seven would be good in the Olympic programme.”

Rogge said the IOC is looking beyond the individual merits of each sport.

“We are looking for an added value – wide appeal, especially for young people, universality, whether infrastructure is costly or not,” he said.

“And, first and foremost, there must be a big fight against doping. This is a very important aspect. We also are looking to see if the sport or two sports fit well into the puzzle of the Olympic programme.”

The 15-member board will meet in Berlin on 13 and 14 August to choose the two sports to submit for ratification by the full membership in Copenhagen.

Later this week, the 2016 bid cities will also have 45 minutes to make their case, followed by a 45 minute question and answer session. The following day, the members can visit the bid teams in their hotel suites.

Rogge said at least 94 out of 107 members will be attending the meeting.

“For the members, it’s the opportunity to get a presentation without the frills,” Rogge said. “There will be no heads of states, no flashy videos, no presentation of fancy athletes. We can enter into more detailed questions.”

IOC delegates have been barred from visiting candidate cities since the Salt Lake City scandal, so this week’s programme was arranged to give the bid teams direct contact with the members.

The sessions set the stage for the final months of what looks set to be a tight race.

“I think it’s going to be a very close call, a little bit like Singapore,” Rogge said, referring to the 2005 vote in which London edged Paris in the final round.

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