Federations React to IOC's Shortlist of New Sports

(ATR) Sport federations tell Around the Rings there is a long road to Olympic inclusion… Sports that missed out express disappointment.

Ready for 2020

International federations tell Around the Rings they are gearing up to have their sports enter the Olympic Program, following the IOC Executive Board announcement of eight sports that could be added to the 2020 Games.

The list includes baseball and softball, which were dropped after the Beijing Olympics, and squash, karate and roller sports, which have tried to enter the program before.

Sports climbing, wakeboard and wushu are on the list for the first time.

Riccardo Fraccari, president of the International Baseball Federation, IBAF, said baseball with work with softball to return to the Olympic Program.

"It is now important that baseball and softball come up with a joint project as soon as possible to consolidate efforts and increase the odds of returning onto the Olympic program," he said.

"Together (baseball and softball) meet all the requirements to be put onto the program," Fraccari added.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said the eight could be shortlisted further at the 2013 IOC Session in Buenos Aires.

In preparation for 2013, the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation is preparing a technical dossier to showcase cable wakeboard to the IOC.

In this form, wakeboarders compete in a cable park or a small lake where they are pulled by an overhead system instead of a boat. The IOC is only considering wakeboard at the cable.

IWWF President Kuno Ritschard tells ATR that the venue would be easy to construct for the Games.

"A Cable Park is created around a lake of about 400 to 80-100 meters. There can be grandstands around the whole lake like for a tennis court. Investments cost compared to other sports are cheap and the venue can be used easily for the public after the Games," he said.

In order to further showcase the sport, last year IWWF added cable wakeboard to the Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup. There are plans to have cable wakeboard stops in Abu Dhabi, Istanbul and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

International Federation of Sport Climbing President Marco Scolaris said the organization is also working to increase the exposure of sport climbing through its World Championships in Arco, Italy. "We hope this could be an important step to improve the exposure and visibility of our sport," he said

World Karate Federation President Antonio Espinos tells ATR the organization is planning to host more competitions and is working to make WKF better and stronger by 2013.

Espinos noted that the final decision will come from the IOC, not WKF.

"At the end of the day, it’s a decision that doesn’t depend on us," he said.

The Road to 2020

Despite their excitement over the shortlist, some federation leaders say it will be a long struggle to get their sports into the program.

WKF has already spent years trying to get karate in the Olympics. The IOC discussed including the sport in 2005 and 2009. Espinos said WKF was "deeply disappointed" that the IOC decided to not add karate.

Both IBAF and ISF recognized the long journey ahead.

"Obviously, the current IBAF administration is very happy with the announcement of the IOC, but as we have learned from the past, this is only the first step of a very long and hard road," said Fraccari.

ISF President Don Porter agreed that restoring softball to the Olympics would not be an easy task.

"Certainly we are excited that we will have another opportunity to regain our Olympic status. We of course have a lot of work to do and will start setting out strategy in hopes of bringing back the Olympic ‘dream’ for the millions of young female Softball athletes," said Porter.

Scolaris, IFSC president, said the organization is honored to be considered.

"The IFSC was founded in 2007, so to be selected for the 2020 Olympic Games shortlist is an incredible success and an honor. It’s the recognition of our athletes and of our sport: we are really grateful to the IOC," said Scolaris.

The Federation Internationale de Roller Sports told ATR that they are ready to take their deserved spot in the program.

"We were not surprised at all by the news, as we perfectly know that roller sports deserve a place in the Olympic Program. Our sports are cool, young and spectacular and we are convinced that the hard work made during the last years will produce the result we all are waiting for since a long time," said FIRS President Sabatino Aracu.

Sports Still Looking to Join the Olympics

A number of sports, including netball, surfing and dance sport, will have to hold off on their Olympic dreams after the IOC’s shortlist.

The International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre said in a statement that the association is disappointed by the decision, but will continue to pursue a spot in the Olympics.

"We remain firmly convinced that, with its unique attributes of sport performance, youthful relevance and growing global industry, surfing would bring proven excitement, value and fun to the Olympic Games," said Aguerre.

"We may have missed this big wave, but like any good surfer, we know there are more waves to come. We will therefore continue to develop the sport of surfing on a global level and explore the best way to continue to contribute to the Olympic Movement," he added.

In a statement on its website, the World Dance Sport Federation expressed disappointment, but said it will continue to refine its sport to meet Olympic standards.

"The next review process starts in 2015. Reassured by IOC officials that the direction it had chosen for the development of its sport is indeed the appropriate one, WDSF will make every effort to demonstrate that it, too, can add significant value to the Olympic Games in 2024," the statement read.

According to Reuters, International Federation of Netball Association President Molly Rhone will work to get netball into the program by showcasing it at more multi-sports events.

Rhone expressed concern that the IOC would insist on a men’s competition to join the Olympics.

"I don't think it (men's netball) has developed to the level where you would be seeing a World Championship … But I will say it again, I really hope that it is not one of the criteria for being included in the Olympic program," said Rhone, according to Reuters.

A spokesperson for the International Cricket Council told ATR the ICC decided against applying for inclusion and has no immediate plans to get the sport back into the program.

Cricket was featured only once in the Games, at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Written by Ann Cantrell.