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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Tokyo, kept one foot in the traditional world (of the Games) with all of the expected sports taking place. This will continue in Paris. However, the IOC introduced new sports and iterations to attract more women and youth. This will also continue. While some events are not sports and should be removed, re-shaped or reduced (see below), others need to continue.
In Tokyo, some women’s canoe or kayaking events were introduced for the first time and skateboarding rolled in with a giant 540. Expect greater gender equality and a youth movement for Paris 2024.
The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in December 2020, approved the event program and athlete quotas for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
More skateboarding, sport climbing, as well as surfing, and breaking were confirmed as additional sports proposed by the Paris 2024 Organising Committee. This new flexibility is part of the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020. The decision will help to make the Olympic Games Paris 2024 fit for a post-corona world.
In Rio 2016, the gender split looked great at 45.6 per cent of athletes being female. Aiming for parity is the goal and Tokyo improved upon that number with 48.8 per cent being female. Paris is expected to offer an exact split at 50 per cent female and 50 per cent male. Good.
Although this is absolutely the right goal to go after, the IOC has been adamant for several Olympiads that sports need to be competitive enough at a global scale to become an Olympic sport. While wrestling is the oldest sport and is competed globally from middle-school age on, it was threatened to be removed. As has the 50K racewalk, as well as the 10,000m running event. Just a few years later, the 10,000m is now one of the most competitive events. Considering the length of it, 25 laps of the 400m track, and a race that takes 26 to 30-minutes to run, the 10,000m is something that the global audience can relate to. Millions of runners around the world participate in 10K road races.
If anyone missed the 50km racewalk this year, they missed one of the most exciting finishes of the entire Games.
There were 22 mixed events in Tokyo and there will be 28 in Paris. While this is noble and perhaps a marketing tactic, will women who live with hyperandrogenism be left off the mixed-gender events? Would two women who live with hyperandrogenism equal a mixed pair? Although this question may engender a chuckle (or an eye roll), the elephant in the room of hyperandrogenism continues to need to be fine-tuned in a fair and equitable way for all. They walk among us.
Although I very much enjoy snowboarding (winter), and surfing and skateboarding are very similar, with different surfaces, are they as competitive globally as wrestling, swimming, running, baseball, soccer, or basketball, for example? Let’s talk about cross-country again. Although it appears to be slated for the Summer Olympics, one day, it is very much a winter sport. With the 10,000m being strong now, cross-country at 12K in distance is too similar in distance and may rob Peter to pay Paul. Why cannibalize an event that has now recovered?
Cross-country would bring the Winter Games a new audience, who otherwise would never watch the Winter Games, except for a few bored people harbouring some morbid fascination from a desert hut or tropical cabana to see what the rich northerners are up to. Cross-country is participated in school around the world from as early as six and eight or 10 years old, depending on the region. Hundreds of millions of people grow up with cross-country.
Coca-Cola, Nike, and Mars no doubt want to continue to sell more of their products to a global audience. Perhaps someone at Nike is just a bill short of launching a lunar module?
Put cross-country into the Winter Olympic Games and be done with it.
Cross-country requires the “Faster” and the “Stronger” part of the motto Faster, Higher and Stronger or Citius, Altius, Fortius the motto of the modern Olympics since the IOC was created in 1894. Coined by Henri Didon, a friend of Pierre de Coubertin, the IOC’s French founder, he said (at the time), “These three words represent a program of moral beauty. The aesthetics of sport are intangible.”
Should anyone worry that cross-country in the Winter Olympic Games would rob Peter to pay Paul because of nordic skiing, I doubt the mass of population nearer to the equator are going to strap on skis any time soon.
Tightening of the programming
The IOC wants to add events, and Title IX-up the gender situation, but they also want fewer athletes and fewer sports.
There were 339 events in Tokyo. The IOC wants 329 for Paris. I am not sure the complete list of what is going to be dropped, while being devoid of evidence, I will say that marketing (read money) has much more to do with decisions than global competitiveness.
The IOC wants 10,500 athletics in Paris, from the 11,092 that were in Tokyo – approximately.
According to the EB, “Athletics, boxing, and cycling will reach full gender equality for the first time ever at Paris 2024, meaning 28 out of 32 sports on the Paris 2024 program will be fully gender-balanced.”
Excellent, except – and I love boxing – women’s boxing is not on par competitively speaking with women’s cycling globally and neither are on par with women’s athletics, globally and never will be. Did anyone watch women’s boxing?
So it has come to pass that weightlifting and boxing will have the greatest reduction in numbers. With the boxing governing body (FIBA) mired in drama and turmoil that’s okay for the now. Weightlifting albeit a long-standing sport is rife with issues, audience size, and marketing zeal. Reluctantly, I write: at some point, marketing should come into play. Ouch.
Swimming and judged events
It appears that swimming and judged events are not being touched. The world gets it, bikinis in the water, upside down with the athletes made up for the Broadway stage draws a certain audience. In music – this will offend many – this is called selling out. Wholly judged events are not fully sports.
Gymnastics’ incredible power, flexibility, and athleticism need to somehow be remade into a non-fully-judged sport. Time them, let the clock be the judge and the jury, have requirements related to gymnastics, but take out some or all of the artistic element. If the athlete can swing and summersault and stick the landing (oh yeah, apparently the landing doesn’t mean that much), without falling, or going outside of the apparatus or predetermined mat areas (ala wrestling), then exchanging judges for referees would be apt – partially adjudged. Clearly an athletics-biased journalist is hard at work spitballing, here, but there is some truth amongst the cacophony of ideas. Gymnastics takes up much programming time. So does swimming.
The morbid fascination of apparently biased judging does draw even the most devout pure sports jock.
While swimming is purely a sport and is competitive, there are too many swim events. Remove 25 per cent of them.
Synchronised diving and trampolining must go.
Diving takes great skill, timing, focus, and control, however, is not globally competitive on par with athletics or soccer, or swimming. To be fair to the “sport” synchronised diving, where partners do not have to train together and is wholly judged, needs to be removed.
The IOC members
If the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach and company, are absolutely serious about the youth movement, and gender equality on the playing fields, then the IOC needs to be made up of members who, to a degree, represent the youth and gender that are invited to compete.
The IOC Executive Board includes 17 members, five are women. This is a better gender representation than many other top-rung boards, and certainly, the top available candidate, male or female, should be recruited and or voted for, however, the split continues to be weighted heavily towards males.
|Honorary President||Jacques Rogge||Belgium|
|Vice Presidents||Yu Zaiqing||China|
|Ng Ser Miang||Singapore|
|Executive Members||Nenad Lalovic||Serbia|
|Prince Feisal Al Hussein||Jordan|
|Nawal El Moutawakel||Morocco|
|Mikaela Cojuangco Jaworski||Philippines|
|Robin E. Mitchell||Fiji|
|Kristin Kloster Aasen||Norway|
|Director General||Christophe De Kepper||Belgium|
However, 11 of 30 IOC Commissions being headed by females is also leading its global cohort and heading in the right direction. However, youth is sorely missing.
The Tokyo Olympic Games were an apparent success, they were exciting despite the lack of a live audience. The Games appeared to be very well organised with little disruption in programming. As always, the hand-wringing, machinations and protests, and politics that get in the way of many Games during the lead up tend to disappear once those Games begin, as per Tokyo.
Now, the IOC, wanting to reduce participant numbers should look at sanctioning certain nations if they do not clean up their act including Bahrain, Uganda, Morocco, Belarus, Kenya, and Russia. This is a can of worms worth digging into in another article at another time as is the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team which competed independently from Russia but finished fifth in the medal standings with 71 medals.
Are you kidding me? What part of the phrase “systematic doping” do we not understand here?