Olympics – Baseball wants to come back

IOC PROGRAM COMMISSION FOR OLYMPICS

Let the debrief begin for members of the IOC Program Commission.

After a series of inspection visits to major championships throughout 2012, they spent Wednesday hunkered in the Lausanne Palace Hotel, hearing presentations from seven sports bidding to join the 2020 Olympics.

It’s likely there will be room for only one, leaving Chairman Franco Carraro and his team of 12 with quite the task in coming weeks.

They are charged with delivering the report in January that will inform the Executive Board on which of the shortlisted candidates to recommend for addition to the Summer Games – and which existing sport to recommend for the chopping block.

EB members make their first proposal – which to cut – Feb. 12-13 in Lausanne and their second – which, if any, to add – May 26-31 in St. Petersburg.

Both are subject to the approval of IOC members Sept. 4-12 in Buenos Aires.

How well they listen to the Executive Board – and how well the EB listens to the Program Commission – is one of the big questions ahead as Carraro and company begin work on their report, based on the following bids…

Baseball/Softball

For its first order of business following Monday’s name announcement, the World Baseball Softball Confederation sent Co-Presidents Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter to make the case for reinstatement after both sports were cut post-Beijing.

WBSC’s team also featured 2008 Olympian Maria Soto of Venezuela, national team pitcher Alessandro Maestri of Italy, International Softball Federation Secretary General Beng Choo Low and International Baseball Federation VP Antonio Castro, son of Fidel Castro.

“We put forward men’s baseball and women’s softball for their global popularity in terms of participation levels, fan and media interest, the important issue of gender equity, as well as their enormous commercial power and strength,” said Fraccari.

Notably, their presentation included a video featuring the commissioners of baseball’s four biggest professional leagues voicing their support for the bid, including Bud Selig of Major League Baseball.

Karate

The candidacy of the World Karate Federation is about universality, its presentation stressing the 185 national federations and 100 million athletes worldwide.

President Antonio Espinós, Secretary General George Yerolimpos, Sports Commissioner and Executive Committee Member Francis Didier, Athletes’ Commission Chairman Davide Benetello and Athletes’ Commission Member Tessy Scholtes formed Wednesday’s team to Lausanne.

“We are very happy for a very well-done job,” a WKF spokesperson said, adding that the “many questions” from the Program Commission proved IOC interest in the sport.

Karate is proposing just one discipline – the sparring-based Kumite – rather than the more choreographed Kata, which is most often practiced solo.

Roller Sports

Leaders of the International Roller Sports Federation are pitching five track events for 2020 after missing out to rugby and golf for Rio 2016.

Following feedback from the IOC’s inspection of the World Speed Skating Championships in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, a marathon road race once included in the bid was replaced with a 300m indoor time trial.

Races of 500m, 1km, 10km and 15km races round out the proposed Olympics program.

Efforts made by Around the Rings to reach FIRS for comment on Wednesday’s presentation are so far unsuccessful.

Sport Climbing

The verticality of the sport – and its different look than the rest of the Olympics – will be key for the candidacy of the International Federation of Sport Climbing.

President Marco Scolaris, VP Debra Gawrych, Sport Manager Jérôme Meyer, Athletes’ Commission President Sean McColl and Athletes’ Commission Member Evgeniya Malamid made Wednesday’s trip for the bid.

“The presentation went well, although we were scared like hell,” Scolaris tells ATR. “The atmosphere was friendly and we enjoyed presenting our sport to the IOC Olympic Program Commission”

Lead climbing with 30 men and 30 women is the plan for 2020.

Squash

World Squash Federation President N Ramachandran and CEO Andrew Shelley brought along No. 1 James Willstrop of England and U.S. junior Reyna Pacheco for Wednesday’s pitch – as well as a pair of bid videos.

“Our presentation set out to show that squash has been on a journey of innovation over recent years,” said Ramachandran.

“Developments such as state-of-art all glass courts, under floor lighting, referee video review, side court entrances, and improved in-venue presentation have all led to a dramatic change in the broadcast and fan experience.”

Singles is the WSF’s event of choice for the Games. Competition would include 32 men and 32 women on two all-glass courts to be placed wherever would best showcase the host city – or inside another sport’s venue if need be.

Wakeboard

President Kuno Ritschard tells ATR the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation’s presentation “went really well” Wednesday.

“We have very good feelings from the reactions and questions of the members of the Program Commission,” he adds by email from Lausanne.

Ritschard was joined by Secretary General Gill Hill, Media and Marketing Chairman Des Burke-Kennedy and Cable Wakeboard World Council Chair Varna Laco as well as Singaporean judge Argyrios Daskalopoulos and Austrian athlete Daniel Fetz.

IWWF is proposing a single discipline, cable wakeboarding, with competition for 30 men and 30 women spread across three days of the Olympics.

Wushu

It’s up to International Wushu Federation President Zaiqing Yu to convince his IOC colleagues of the sport’s popularity worldwide.

Rooted in traditional Chinese martial arts and considered the country’s national sport, wushu is better known elsewhere as kung fu.

IWUF is asking for 72 athletes across four events: men’s long fist, broadsword and long staff (one medal for all around); men’s taiji fist and taiji sword (one medal for all around); women’s long fist, sword and spear (one medal for all around); and women’s taiji fist and taiji sword (one medal for all around).

Efforts made by ATR to reach wushu for comment on Wednesday’s presentation are so far unsuccessful. 

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