Sports Campaign For Olympic Status at SportAccord

Campaigning among candidates seeking inclusion on the Olympic sports program has come to Denver at SportAccord.

Seven sports in all – Baseball, Golf, Karate, Roller Sports, Rugby Sevens, Softball and Squash – are vying for up to two spots at the 2016 Games and the winner will be chosen at the Olympic Congress in Copenhagen this October.

Earlier this week at an Executive Board meeting in Denver, the IOC decided that they will cut the list to two at an August meeting, denying five sports a chance to plead their case to the 100 plus IOC members. Each of the two sports would then require a majority vote to earn a spot at the Olympics.

“It’s like climbing a mountain”, remarked world fourth-ranked Natalie Grainger on the challenge that the Squash campaign is facing.

“But I guess if it were that easy, it wouldn’t mean as much.”

Jahangir Khan, widely considered the greatest squash player in history, was also on-hand to support his sport.

“In 2005 we came so close and we are still trying very hard”, he said, “It will be a close battle.”

To earn a spot in the 2012 Olympic Games, sports were required to receive two-thirds majority (67%). Squash and Karate qualified for the vote but both received barely one-third of the acceptance votes. This time around the IOC has reduced the requirement to 50%.

Grainger claims squash would be a great fit for the Olympics. Venue requirements would be minimal as the World Squash Federation could provide portable, glass enclosed squash courts that could reside virtually anywhere. Squash is universal, accessible and healthy – and squash champions are scattered around the world.

Also at SportAccord are representatives of the Softball campaign who offer a sport accessible to women around the world – a direction the IOC is interested in moving. International Softball Federation (ISF) President Don Porter explained that new softball federations are being set up in several countries to provide opportunities for athletes in the sport.

Michele Smith – two-time softball gold medalist recently attended a training camp in Abu. She was busy sharing her experiences with delegates.

Softball was on the sports program in Beijing, but was voted off the 2012 program in 2005.

The ISF claims that venues for softball are readily available in each of the 2016 candidate cities, so fitting the sport into existing plans would not be a problem – and the potential for a positive legacy is great.

Baseball is also bidding for a spot on the program. Like Softball – it was on sports program until Beijing 2008. Dr. Harvey Schiller, President of the International Baseball Federation told GamesBids.com that they had sought a joint bid with Softball, however softball declined.

“It was just something we thought might help our bids – but it didn’t work out”, Schiller said.

Baseball was faced with many challenges as an Olympic sport including the proliferation of performance enhancing drugs among its professional athletes, questionable legacies for certain host cities and the non-participation of Major League Baseball players.

For 2016, baseball claims to have a good home in all contending cities that have existing venues, athletes and fans.

The four other sports have taken a lower profile – at least a SportAccord.

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