Campaign for no change

GENEVA – International federations will make a direct plea to IOC members not to drop any of the 28 sports from the program of the Summer Olympics. The International Olympic Committee is putting each sport to a vote at its session in Singapore next month. Any sport failing to get a majority will be dropped from the program for the 2012 Olympics. The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), which represents all 28 sports, met Tuesday to review the situation and decided to address the members before the July 8 vote. «We unanimously agreed they should avoid the risk of disrupting this successful balance of this program,» Denis Oswald, ASOIF’s president, said. «It’s like a house of cards. «You take one card out and the whole thing might fall down.» Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, says the Olympic Games must maintain a maximum of 28 sports, 301 medal events and 10,500 athletes. Five sports are hoping to get into the Olympics – golf, rugby, karate, squash and roller sports – but none will be added unless one is dropped. Secret ballot IOC members will vote by secret ballot on each of the sports contested in Athens last summer. If one or more sports go out, the IOC executive board will decide which of the five sports on the waiting list should be proposed for admission. Oswald said he will address the members shortly before the vote, both verbally and in a written letter. «This is an excellent balance and has led to great financial, social and media success of the Games,» he said. «The collective value of the sports is much greater than the sum of its parts.» ASOIF said there is no evidence that the sports hoping to gain entry would be any better than those already on the program. Oswald called rugby sevens – the abbreviated version of rugby being considered for the Olympics – «a joke.» He also said there was no guarantee the world’s top golfers would play in the Olympics. «There was talk of eliminating baseball because Major League Baseball doesn’t send their best players,» Oswald said. «But what if the top golfers say the Olympics are not interesting? In this case the replacement would not be adequate.» Open to evolution Oswald insisted the federations were open to evolution and willing to consider cutting or reducing disciplines, classes or distances in certain sports. ASOIF also agreed the IOC should keep the vote totals secret to avoid potential embarrassment and problems with sponsors for any sport which barely scrapes in. «It would only be announced if a sport is in or out,» Oswald said. «We want to avoid the results of the vote from being exploited or having some sports considered ‘more Olympic’ than others.» The IOC has already agreed to keep the percentages secret from the public, IOC members and even the federations themselves, if that’s what ASOIF wants, Oswald said. Oswald said Rogge promised to address IOC members and remind them the vote is about the global picture, not about settling old scores or excluding a sport because their country doesn’t compete in it. Loss of prestige Elimination from the Olympics would mean the loss of prestige that comes with competing at the world’s largest sports event, as well as considerable funding from the IOC, generated largely from television revenue. In 2002, Rogge proposed that baseball, softball and modern pentathlon be removed and golf and rugby be added, but IOC members resisted and no vote was taken. No sport has been cut from the Summer Olympics since polo in 1936.

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