Chess Launches Paris 2024 Bid -- Federations Focus

Also: BWF wants to keep top players happy; FIS mixes business with pleasure in Are; WBSC unveils hosts for Premier12




(ATR) The International Chess Foundation (FIDE) officially launched a campaign on Tuesday to get chess into the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich and French Chess Federation President Bachar Kouatly met with French journalists in Paris to promote the vision of chess as a sport.

Rapid and blitz, two faster formats to traditional chess, are being pushed by the federation for the Paris 2024 competitions.

FIDE has 189 national member federations. Millions of people play chess on a daily basis and its popularity is growing in France, where FIDE says 67% of French Chess Federation members are less than 18 years old.

The IOC recognized chess as a sport in 1999 ahead of Sydney 2000, where it was an exhibition event. An effort to get chess into Tokyo 2020 failed.

FIDE will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2024. Inclusion in the Paris 2024 program would certainly make for a perfect birthday gift.

FIS Council Meets in Are, Sweden

The FIS Council met in Are, Sweden on Wednesday in conjunction with the Alpine World Ski Championships.

The international ski federation described it as a "gathering" of the FIS leadership to help prepare for the next official meeting in May.

The Council also had a few decisions to make. One of them concerned a proposal to replace the alpine combined with the individual parallel events for future World Championships, World Cup and Olympic Winter Games. The Council had deliberated the matter in November but had put off a decision until now.

The Council decided to include both the individual parallel and the alpine combined on the program of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2021 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. In addition, a Council working group will review the alpine combined format and FIS Alpine World Cup calendar strategies, and analyze media viewing statistics and on-site spectators.

The Council also decided to keep Pattaya, Thailand as the host city for the 52nd International Ski Congress in the spring of 2020.

In November, the Council had appointed Pattaya to replace Marrakech, Morocco, which pulled out of hosting the event. A request to reconsider the decision, based on the suitability of the location, was presented but the Council chose to not revisit the earlier decision.

Wednesday was a rest day at the Alpine Ski World Championships. Below is a video recap of what's happened so far in Are.

BWF Working With Top Players

The international governing body of badminton wants to keep the sport’s top players happy.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) announced on Wednesday the formation of the first Players Review Panel, which will be headed by BWF Council Member and former BWF Athletes’ Commission Chair, Emma Mason.

The BWF says the Player Review Panel "is designed to provide enhanced support mechanisms for the playing group and develop strategies for improving the athlete experience at badminton events, as well as looking at athletes’ career development opportunities off the court."

The remit includes getting athletes’ feedback on all aspects of the sport, including the rights and obligations of the players in context of the IOC Athletes Charter.

"Our players are the core focus of many of the strategies and activities we implement, so it only makes sense then to be able to initiate a working platform to optimize the needs of the athletes," BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer said.

"They know the sport better than most and as a result of building a healthy relationship with them, we will be able to contribute to the overall development of badminton for future players."

In addition, the BWF will also hold an Entourage Advisory Meeting to discuss areas relevant to coaches, team officials, support staff and other key stakeholder groups of athletes.

"It’s great that the BWF sees the contributions of the collective player group and their entourage as a priority as I think this will lead to many positive developments for the sport moving forward," Athletes' Commission Chair Koen Ridder said in a statement.

WBSC Announces Groups, Locations for Tokyo 2020 Qualifier

The year’s top international baseball competition and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifier will be held in four countries.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) revealed the locations and groups for the tournament in Mexico City on Wednesday.

The 2nd WBSC Premier12 will be staged from November 2-17 and feature the 12 best Men's National Teams in the world rankings.

Group A includes world No. 2 USA, No. 6 Mexico, No. 8 Netherlands and No. 12 Dominican Republic. The group will play at Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco near Guadalajara, Mexico.

Group B features world No. 1 Japan, No. 4 Chinese Taipei, No. 9 Venezuela and No. 11 Puerto Rico. These four teams will compete against each other at Taichung Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung, Chinese Taipei.

Group C is headlined by the inaugural 2015 Premier12 champion and current world No.3 Korea, along with No. 5 Cuba, No. 7 Australia and No. 10 Canada. These teams will go head to head at Seoul's Gocheok Sky Dome.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the six-team Super Round, which will be played in Japan at Chiba's ZOZO Marine Stadium and the iconic Tokyo Dome, where the championship final will also be played.

"With four world-class hosts sharing duties -- and two places at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at stake -- we expect to break all ticketing, viewership and media figures of the 2015 edition, while providing top conditions for the players and teams to perform,"WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said in a statement.

The top team in the Premier12 final standing from Asia/Oceania (not including Japan, which automatically qualifies as host) and the top finisher from the Americas will gain direct entry into the six-team Tokyo 2020 Olympic Baseball event without having to go through qualifiers. The WBSC Executive Board recently made a ruling, however, that if no team from Asia or Oceania finishes among the top six of the Premier12, this Olympic slot shall be deferred to the last Olympic qualifier.

In addition to hosting Group A of the Premier12, Mexico learned on Tuesday that it was awarded hosting rights for the U-23 Baseball World Cup 2020. Mexico’s Under-23 men’s team captured the nation's first-ever official baseball world championship last October, defeating Japan in the final of the 2018 event.

Written by Gerard Farek

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