POSTED: September 22nd 2009

Cash concerns blamed by karate boss for Olympic vote defeat

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON/MADRID: World karate boss Antonio Espinós has accused the IOC’s executive of putting financial consideration ahead of Olympic values in the decision on new sports for the 2016 Summer Games.

Espinos, president of the World Karate Federation, has addressed an open letter to the Olympic movement ahead of next month’s Copenhagen Congress and Session. His concern was fuelled by the decision of the executive, on August 13 in Berlin, to propose rugby union sevens and golf for votes for inclusion in the 2016 programme.

The consequence of that decision, said Espinos, meant that “the Olympic programme faces in Copenhagen its first serious opportunity for change in 16 years.”

Karate was one of five sports – along with baseball, roller sports, softball and squash - which had competed unsuccessfully for Olympic access.

Addressing the vote in the executive, Espinos said: “To overlook the possibility that the overruling consideration for acceptance in Berlin was income potential from sponsors and television rights rather than social benefits for youth and athletes associated with national federations that depend on inclusion into the Olympic programme for public funding is difficult.


“To reflect on the apparent values of the Olympic movement versus the actual priorities of its leadership tends to cause confusion and promote disillusionment with the Olympic ideal.”

Espinos claimed that the voting patterns from the first vote, which chose rugby, suggested karate should have won the second vote. This subjective interpretation proved unfounded when the executive voted for golf instead.

He added: “Karate had a clear lead of votes for selection for the second sport . . . thus maintaining a balance between elitism and popularity in the two new additions to the Olympic programme. Yet a different outcome was announced only a few moments later. What precisely happened in Berlin?”

Espinos admitted in his letter to a sense of bitterness over the process while he acknowleged that the unsuccessful sports needed to “understand their deficiencies.” However, he questioned also whether “they will ever have a genuine opportunity to be included in the programme.”

Like several of the other sports’ leaders, Espinos railed at the time and cost of entering a bidding process from which only two out of seven sports could emerge successful. He added: “The process has left several demoralised and financially exhausted federations, which have been forced to decelerate or even paralyse their solidarity programmes for years.”

Arduous path

More controversially he suggested that over-arching financial concerns meant “no action they could have taken along this arduous path would have altered the final outcome.” Hence, the other sports had wasted time, effort and money on campaigns which were always doomed to be proved futile.

The World Karate Federation has submitted a paper to the Copenhagen Congress proposing a means to “multiply by at least three the number of slots available [to be voted on] in 2013.”

Espinos has also suggested that the so-called core sports should be subject to individual vote and that the IOC should consider increasing, not reducing or restricting, the number of Olympic sports.

He said: “Universal sports with millions of supporters and many inherent social values that are highly popular among the youth of underdeveloped, developing and developed countries must be given an opportunity to show how they add significant value to the Games.

“Such changes would help to reduce stagnation and the feeling permeating the non Olympic international federations that the rigidity of the system is what prevents their incorporation in the Olympic programme irrespective of their merits.”

Such changes would, said Espinos, “also favour fair play and give the IFs the right impression that the IOC supports the concept of: ‘Improve to enter, improve to stay.’”

Keywords · Espinos · World Karate Federation · 2016 Olympic Games · bid sports · Berlin · executive board · Copenhagen · rugby union · golf

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

All original materials contained in this section are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Sports Features Communications, Inc the owner of that content. It is prohibited to alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.