POSTED: May 26th 2009
NewsUpdate

Rugby sevens values 2016 Olympic slot above world cup cash

Worldwide appeal: women playing sevens in Iran / lake images
Worldwide appeal: women playing sevens in Iran / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: Rugby union is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice and cancel its Sevens World Cup in 2017 to demonstrate how highly it values access to the Olympic Games.

That offer, it is understood, could cost the International Rugby Board up to $20m in lost television, commercial and ticketing revenue but, in London today, president Bernard Lapasset explained that a prize of far greater – even incalculable - value to the sport was at stake.

Rugby is one of seven sports competing for the favour of the IOC in its Copenhagen session in October along with baseball, golf, karate, roller sports, softball and squash. The sevens world cup is staged every four years but the event scheduled for the spring of 2017 would be wiped from the calendar to concede priority to the pursuit of Olympic glory.

Lapasset said: “We think this shows how serious we are about our Olympic bid. Right now we have 116 nations but we need to grow more around the world and being a part of the Olympic family would help us achieve that.

“We believe that sevens is a perfect fit for the Games since the competition can be played over just two or three days. However, we also believe that we can bring to the Games the particular spirit of the sport: we play hard but off the field we work and live as one.

“You could see this at our Sevens World Cup in Dubai earlier this year when all the players – both men and women – and officials were all staying in the same hotels. We think that sevens promotes exactly the spirit and values of the Olympic Games themselves.”

Youth following

Mike Miller, chief executive officer of the IRB, said that sevens had already proved “a huge success” in other multi-sports events around the world. Its demonstrable appeal at youth level "would support the IOC's stated aim of ensuring the Games remain relevant to young sports fans."

Rugby's bid team assesses the significance of an Olympic presence not only in terms of visibility but of financial support for development.

Miller said: “In many countries we have been told in no uncertain terms by our people that an Olympic presence opens the door to national funding assistance towards facilities, coaching and so on. That’s the case even in major countries economically such as the United States, Russia, China, Mexico, Brazil and India.”

Lapasset and Miller reported informal and positive talks with representatives of all the four bid cities for 2016 – Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo – and believed all four would be delighted to host a rugby competitions for both men and women.

All seven bid sports will present their case to the evaluation commission of the IOC in Lausanne on June 15. The executive board will then decide, in Berlin in mid-August, on a recommendation to the IOC session in Copenhagen.

Most likely process is the recommendation of a vote or votes on the addition of two sports but this is far from certain.

Cheryl Soon, captain of the Australia’s sevens world cup-winners – the Wallaroos - said: “It would be great for the sport and the players. To compete at the Olympic Games would be the pinnacle of sporting achievement for us.”


Keywords · Rugby union · IRB · IOC · 2016 · Lapasset · Miller · Cheryl Soon


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