SPORTS

Greek Olympic officials call for gov’t to back rugby

The Greek Olympic Committee (HOC) has urged the country’s government to reverse its decision to suspend the national rugby federation’s operations and back its bid to become a fully-fledged, professional sport.

The state surprisingly withdrew the Greek Rugby Federations’ (EOR) authority over the sport last month and placed it under the jurisdiction of the country’s handball federation because just five clubs exist.

Greece occupies the last place in the IRB world rankings at 102nd.

“The HOC has unanimously adopted the decision to offer its support to the Greek Rugby Federation – a new Olympic sport – and also asks the deputy sports minister Yiannis Adrianos to lift the decision to suspend the operation and its integration with the handball federation,» said HOC in a statement.

HOC’s rationale for the move is that rugby sevens will be included for the first time in the Olympic program for the next games in Rio in 2016, and currently as it’s not subsidized by the state it does not burden the state budget.

The statement added: «There needs to be a transitional period of one Olympic cycle for the organization in order for it to be able to seek out its own resources in the form of sponsorships and partnerships; in this way the sport can also have the opportunity to claim qualification and participation in the Olympic Games in Rio.”

“The last year has been an especially tough one for Greek rugby but we see this (the inclusion of rugby as an Olympic sport in 2016) as an opportunity to move forward and grow,» said Vangelis Soufleris, the HOC’s plenary session member for rugby, told Reuters.

“We need the state to support us in the effort to strengthen, not decisions suspending our operations.”

The ministry for sport could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but should the state decide not to reverse its decision to suspend the EOR’s operations, a HOC press official told Reuters that the case is likely to go through the courts.

[Reuters]