Rollersports, Surfing Prepare to Pitch Tokyo 2020

(ATR) Both federations will visit the Japanese capital in the coming weeks to go before the additional event panel.

(ATR) Around the Ringshas learned that the global federations for roller sports and surfing are bidding to join the Tokyo 2020 program.

Delegations from the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) and the International Surfing Association are expected to visit the Japanese capital in the coming weeks for talks with Tokyo 2020 leaders about their Olympic ambitions.

Games organizers have already formed an "additional event" panel to determine which new sport or sports will be added to the program.

After missing out in its quest to join the 2016 and 2020 Games under the IOC’s previous rules, FIRS tells ATR it is more optimistic in the wake of Agenda 2020 reforms passed in December.

FIRS spokesperson Simona Mercuri said the federation was preparing a bid for submission to Tokyo 2020.

"We are waiting for the IOC to give us the guidelines and the best procedures to be followed," she said.

"FIRS very much appreciated the opportunity of Olympic inclusion that Bach, through the Nanjing Sports Lab and the 2020 Agenda, is granting to the non-Olympic sporting disciplines, and we will do all our best to seize this opportunity," she added.

Mercuri confirmed that FIRS’ bid would emphasize how roller sports could bring added value to the Olympics. It would highlight the success of the federation’s Sports Lab experience at 2014 Youth Olympics which "showed how we can present disciplines that have a strong appeal to youngsters and the media and that are able to leave a long-lasting legacy to the hosting city."

Barcelona or Lima will be chosen as the host city of the first FIRS World Roller Games in 2019 at the federation’s congress in Rome on Feb. 21. The inaugural event will bring together in the same city at the same time the world championships of all its roller disciplines. More than 6,000 athletes will take part over 16 days of competition.

Surfing is also vying for a spot at Tokyo 2020. Olympic organizers can propose "one or more additional events" as a one-off for the Games following approval of the the IOC’s Agenda 2020 rules.

In January, Tokyo 2020 welcomed officials from the World Baseball and Softball Federation, World Squash Federation and World Karate Federation.

The International Surfing Association doesn’t think it’s too late to the table, with IOC officials in Tokyo this week discussing with 2020 Games chiefs how the additional event panel should evaluate the wave of bids from sports federations. Wakeboarding and wushu are also set to press their cases for inclusion in the Olympics.

ATR is told that the ISA plans to set up a meeting shortly. Tokyo 2020 is aware of surfing’s interest in the Games.

ISA president Fernando Aguerre believes the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reforms, which move the Games from a sport to an event-based program, enhance his sport’s chances of becoming an Olympic sport.He said the revamp of the program would potentially allow a greater number of sports in the Games.

"This allows fast-growing and inherently youthful sports, like surfing, the opportunity of Olympic inclusion – offering those sports such as ours the chance to showcase how they can make a valuable contribution to the Games and help bring in younger fans," Aguerre said in a recent statement.

According to the ISA, the sport is practiced by 35 million surfers in more than 100 countries around the world.

Reported by Mark Bisson

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