POSTED: January 5th 2009

Question time for Olympic bid sports

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: It's question and answer time for the seven sports chasing a place on the 2016 Olympic programme after the IOC issued formal questionnaires last month to baseball, golf, karate, roller sports, rugby, softball, and squash.

All seven are competing to find favour with the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen next October. How they respond to the information-gathering process is crucial for an assessment of the sports' growth and current status since the questionnaire covers a matrix of vital criteria from participation numbers and universality to media and television numbers.

According to the IOC all seven candidate sports will be required to fill in a detailed questionnaire whilst the 26 core sports will be asked to provide a short update. The international federations in question will be reaching out and polling all their national bodies to gather the most updated and accurate information possible. The deadline to return this information is next month though the precise date has yet to be defined.

Simultaneously, the IOC commissions its own independent assessment by a London-based company Sponsorship Intelligence (SI).

Sponsorship Intelligence specializes in television analysis, press evaluation, internet monitoring, survey research, covering 16 territories and utilizes online and spectator interviewing techniques. The company came onboard with the IOC back in June 2008.

Andy Kowalczyk, MD of Sponsorship Intelligence noted of their involvement, "We are delighted to be working with the IOC to provide this key resource. The research will address the objectives of all IOC stakeholders but importantly it will also feed into the IOC's overall strategy.”

An important consideration point is that the criteria method retains the same 33 points which featured on the last 2005 evaluation before the last vote.

The seven sports' stance in relation to the Youth Olympic Games also forms part of the existing questionnaire. There are no new requirements in spite of the launch of the new event. Sports that make the 2016 programme will also be eligible for the 2014 YOG (The IOC, on December 19, invited bids).

However the IOC members should also be considering, with the imminence of the YOG, how well might each of these sports correspond to a youth programme and also from a women's sport perspective.

Despite the global economic crisis and the costs inherent in a full-length bid process, the IOC has stuck by its original plan to maintain all seven sports in the evaluation process.

The IOC expects the candidate sports to follow the technical procedure already put in place as part of the systematic review of the Olympic programme and has recently released rules of conduct for international federations seeking inclusion in the 2016 programme.

So far there has been no official mention of short-listing a group of sports.

The vote on the 2016 summer Games host city will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark on October 2, with the sports programme vote following in the next days. The 2016 Games bids have all been instructed to plan to accommodate any of the seven sports venues as needed according to the outcome of the vote.

Technical versus emotional voting

Many of the sports have expressed that the vote will be more emotional than technical.

Given the technical data in the last evaluation of the 2016 applicant cities by the IOC Working Group carried out in March 2008 two cities Prague and Baku fell just short of the suggested benchmark of 6 on a scale of 0-10 with respective 5 and 4 ratings.

Of the group that remained Rio de Janeiro earned 6, Doha fell in at about 6.5, Chicago at 6.75, Madrid at about 7.75 and Tokyo ranked highest at 8. Technically Rio ranked slightly lower than Doha however the Brazilian city surged ahead to won a place on the shortlist by the IOC Executive Board.

This appears to be more of an emotional rather than technical decision. However in the nature of actual sports one wonders if the decision making process will be the same.

People do tend to be emotional about travel, places to visit, cultures, cuisine, and climate. But none of these qualities ring with sports. Alternatively we have potentially the attention span on the game, ethical reputation, the player's images, sponsor and TV value, and media coverage. This makes it a little harder to make an emotional choice for a sport. Or shall we say a little different kind of emotional selection mode.

Last vote

For the last vote to be included on the program the two thirds majority was required and neither of the two finalist sports karate and squash managed to make the cut. Voting took place in mid 2005 between golf, karate, roller sports, rugby and squash.

In the selection of two sports to possibly be included systematically golf, roller sports, and rugby fell out of the voting rounds in that order of both vote offs.

Baseball and softball were consequently re-voted in February of 2006 for their reinstatement however neither sport managed to make the majority falling short by just a few numbers.

It will be interesting to watch the process how the individual sports endear themselves to the IOC Members during the next 10 months if they do feel like it is not a game of numbers. Intriguing to watch also will be the impact of all the seven sports together for consideration.

Keywords · 2016 Game · olympic bid · baseball · golf · karate · roller sports · rugby · softball · squash · IOC

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