POSTED: August 11th 2009

Rogge pointers hint at bid sports decision - on lucky or unlucky 13th

LAURA WALDEN & KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON/TAMPA: Rugby is the popular favourite to be one of two Olympic bid sports likely to be proposed on Thursday in Berlin for inclusion in the programme for the 2016 summer Games – wherever they may be held.

IOC president Jacques Rogge has made no secret of the criteria on which he wants the decision made.

As he told the Oceania Olympic assembly: "The first one will be the universality of the sport; it has to be practised as much as possible around the world. Secondly, the sport has to give added value to the Olympic programme and must contain something which will attract viewership either in the stadiums or on TV."

Those words will have prompted mixed reactions among the seven hopefuls which have been campaigning over the past two years: baseball, golf, karate, roller sports, rugby union (sevens), softball and squash.

New system

They have had the benefit of working to a newly-installed procedure for selection although the schedule of expectation and events caused occasional confusion for a few of the various sports’ directors along the way.

Now they all see light at the end of the tunnel – until the IOC executive board turns it off again for five of them on Thursday lunchtime.
The IOC’s programme commission has both heard and read submissions from the seven competing sports and, this year, visited a major international event staged by all seven. Its recommendation goes before the executive board in Berlin on Thursday, ahead of the world athletics championships.

That recommendation is expected to be a proposal for two sports to be put up for votes of approval by the full body of the IOC in Copenhagen in October.

Rugby, seeking to return to the Games for the first time since the United States took gold in Paris in 1924, is among many observers’ favourites thanks to the hard work undertaken by Bernard Lapasset (president of the International Rugby Board) and Mike Miller (chief executive) to allay concerns about too narrow an international appeal.
Personal appeal

Golf has also earned plaudits for working hard to counter stereotypical images while squash has impressed on a personal appeal level by bringing its star players to talk the talk at major conferences and congresses.
Karate’s bid appears to have been handicapped by a lack of unity of purpose while roller sports has apparently suffered from insufficient campaigning resources.
The two sports with the most complex ‘sell’ have been baseball and softball – precisely because these are the two sports which ‘fell out’ after Beijing.
Players from both sports as well as directors and officials of the International Baseball Federation and the International Softball Federation both have bitter/sweet all-too-recent memories of the adrenalin rush of Olympic participation.
Olympics presence is important for baseball to counter its popular foreign image as an isolationist sport and for softball to help maintain the perception of its independence from . . . baseball. Both have been fighting uphill battles.
That said, spurned sports may lobby friendly IOC members to attempt some manoeuvring of the Copenhagen voting procedure. So while Thursday may not be the end . . . it is certainly the beginning of the end.
The voters

* The executive board of the IOC comprises: Jacques Rogge (president, Belgium), Lambis V Nikolaou (vice-president, Greece), Chiharu Igaya (vice-president, Japan), Thomas Bach (vice-president, Germany), Zaiqing Yu (vice-president, China), Ser Miang Ng (Singapore), Mario Pescante (Italy), Sam Ramsamy (South Africa), Gerhard Heiberg (Norway), Denis Oswald (Switzerland), René Fasel (Switzerland), Mario Vázquez Raña (Mexico),
Frank Fredericks (Namibia), Nawal El Moutawakel (Morocco), Richard L Carrión (Puerto Rico).
* The programme commission (responsible for sports bids) comprises: Franco Carraro (chair, Italy), Phillip W Coles (Australia), Guido de Bondt (Belgium), Bob Elphinston (Australia), Michael S Fennell (Jamaica), Frank Fredericks (Namibia), Ron Froehlich (United States), Nat Indrpana (Thailand), Lingwei Li (China), Gunilla Lindberg (Sweden), Shun-ichiro Okano (Japan), Sam Ramsamy (South Africa), Sir Craig Reedie (Great Britain), Andrew Ryan (Great Britain), Walter Sieber (Canada), Robert H Storey (Canada).

* The introduction of women’s boxing at the next summer Games in London is a possibility the IOC executive will study this week in its considerations over the competition schedule for 2012.

Keywords · IOC · Rogge · bid sports · Berlin · programme commission · baseball · golf · karate · rugby union · sevens · squash · softball · roller sports

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Laura Walden ()

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