Monday, July 09, 2007

Greetings from Guatemala City

The International Olympic Committee has been meeting in Guatemala City. Their most notable announcement, of course, was the awarding of the 2014 Winter Games to Sochi, Russia.

But the IOC has been doing other things down there as well including overhauling the criteria for adding sports. They have capped the number of summer sports at 28, also setting a minimum of 25. They have also set a maximum of 10,500 participants in a total of 300 events. They have gotten rid of the rule that required 2/3 of voting members to approve the addition of a sport. Unfortunately the article does not say what the new process will be. We do know there will be what are considered "core sports" that are protected from elimination except under extreme circumstances, for example scandals over doping. (Seems like maybe nordic skiing should watch its back, then.)

The good news for these rule changes is that softball may be able to get back into the summer games program. Not for London in 2012 but maybe the 2016 games where there will be room for 2 sports on the program.

On the winter games front, the IOC said it will only consider adding women's ski jumping to the 2014 games in Russia if it can prove "significant growth." IOC president Jacques Rogge said the women must show their sport has "universal interest." I didn't know men's ski jumping had universal interest. How many of the winter sports really have universal interest anyway? Sure I like watching bobsledding, luge, curling, and even ski jumping--but I honestly barely remember in the interim years.

The Olympics themselves create interest. How many stories have we heard from female athletes who said "I remember watching so-and-so or this sport and thinking 'I'm going to do that someday.'" Women have been barred access to the sport for so long--by some of the people and their predecessors that have these "universal interest" requirements. It would be nice if those same people maybe helped promote the sport.

This kind of gets to another issue the IOC addressed in Guatemala City: the lack of women in governance positions in the organization. Of the 115 members only 16 are women. And the 15-member executive board--the one the makes all the important decisions--only has one woman. Unfortunately the fact that they have acknowledged this does not mean much. I haven't seen anything that suggests they are going to do anything about it. In fact the article linked above suggests that it might be harder for women to get elected to the executive board because the IOC just waived a rule that said former officers must sit out two years before running for re-election. Lots of talking--not much action.

1 comment:

EBuz said...

When I saw the title of this post, I thought you had taken off for Central America! (I quickly realized you were just in the other room).