POSTED: February 11th 2015

NEIL WILSON: Ski chief breaks ranks on IOC President Thomas Bach's agenda

The IOC approved unanimously a number of recommendations with Olympic Agenda 2020 and now the challenge is in the implementation / SFC
The IOC approved unanimously a number of recommendations with Olympic Agenda 2020 and now the challenge is in the implementation / SFC

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Finally, weeks after over-whelming support when IOC president Thomas Bach's Agenda 2020 was put to the vote, the cracks are beginning to show among members.

Gian Franco Kasper, president of skiing's internationall federation and an IOC member for 15 years, has questioned the effects of some aspects. One in particular caught the eye in his interview with the German agency DPA.

Kasper is sceptical that the proposal to allow more than one city to bid to host a Games will make the Games smaller or cheaper. "I doubt it will turn back giganticism," he said.

Giganticism. There is a word. If memory serves me well, I heard it first in the context of the Olympic Games when I was a boy. Avery Brundage, autocratic IOC president, was against it, and in the 1960s his word was the final word.

He thought the Olympics should dispense with team sports but there must have been more pressing problems because he did nothing about it. And why should he. In 1960 in Rome there were only 18 sports and 23 disciplines. If the Olympics was gigantic then, it is gargantuan now. In Rio 28 sports and 41 disciplines.

And in 2020, judging by the sounds coming from Tokyo, there will be more sports and more disciplines. Every international governing is desperate for a place on the band-wagon, and not only for the projection it brings every fourth year but in many states because only Olympic sports are funded.

Squash wants in. So does surfing. So I read on social media does poker.

With each the price of a Games rises, not because it will increase the number of athletes - still rigid at around  10,500 - but because each demands new facilities and organisation.

The removal of team sports is the one view of Brundage I would support but nobody is going to win that argument today. Football - even its bastard form of under-23 age classification - brings too much revenue into organising committee funds.

So there has to be another route to prune this ever-climbing rose. And there is in the strict enforcement of a rule existing already within the Olympic Charter. Rule 52, 1.1.1.

This states that no men's sport can be in the programme unless widely practised in 75 countries. The emphasis is necessary because many IFs will claim many more than 75 national federations but could not argue that it was widely practised in them.

Modern pentathlon in Bangladesh? Dressage in Myanmar? Archery in Somalia?

So if others among Kasper's colleagues believe that giganticism is a problem, submit every existing discipline and every aspiring sport to a strict census.

** NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

Keywords · Olympics · IOC · Thomas Bach · Gian Franco Kasper

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