The USA Sports Council comments on IOC Sports Director's Statements.

The IOC sports director reveals “composition of program for 2028 Olympics will remain at same level as 2024” in an interview he gave to Max Winters (insidethegames 7/21, Wroclaw). In that interview, McConnell has warned that the composition of the sports program for the 2028 Olympic Games will remain at the same level as 2024 to avoid the host having to incur extra costs. But to most of the sports waiting in line to have an event or two included in the program of the Olympic Games, 2028 is too far out for strategic and funding efforts. Even though the IOC has the luxury of looking at a “long term vision” the sports not on the program do not have it.  


It is clear that the IOC is now confidently looking at adding sports events in a limited format that allow for showcasing sports that are popular and youth-oriented and include men and women but without increasing the number of athletes in any significant manner. To achieve this, the sports events that have been approved for 2020 and who do not have any assurances that they will become permanent part of the Olympic program, notably have to prove that they are indeed worthy of the most important sports event in the world, but they will also have to prove they are well organized and adhere to Olympic standards as per the IOC Charter and the Universal Principles. McConnell further states: “With the pace of change and innovation in these sports we need the flexibility in the Olympic program to also reflect that and we will see what sports develop and what the Games’ Organizing Committee’s may propose over this time. It is a matter of not increasing the overall size, cost and complexity, but allowing some room for innovation and flexibility. With 2024, it will be a very similar process as before, but we will make the decisions on the event program and athlete quotas earlier than we have in the past in December 2020.”  


So with a deadline set, what do the aspiring and existing events have to do to meet the criteria set by the IOC? Two roads are clear, even if neither is easy: the first one is an official and traditional one that follows the established route of incorporating an international federation (not necessarily a non-profit), bring on board a reasonable number of national federations, submit an application to GAISF/Sportaccord, hope there is no opposition, hope it gets processed quickly and submitted for approval at the GA, and then submit the application for recognition to the IOC. And then hope one of the events is selected. 


The second one is the non official short-track one where the IOC brings together a group of interested parties, usually more than one group claiming jurisdiction for the sport and, critical step, it also brings to the table an existing and recognized IF that has (from the IOC’s perspective) some similitude to the sport in question, or ambitions of its own to expand. Following strategic meetings at the end the IOC hands over the control of the sport to this recognized IF - as was the case with Skateboarding, handed out to FIRS, and more recently Parkour handed out to FIG. In neither case have any of the two IFs have had any previous experience or done any work with the corresponding new and popular sports. 


McConnell remains keen, however, to ensure that there would be some room for maneuver within the program for 2028 moving forward. There were five sports added to the program for Tokyo 2020 after they were awarded the Olympics in 2013. Karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing are due to make their Olympic debut in the Japanese capital, while baseball and softball will return to the program for the first time since Beijing 2008. "We want to keep the flexibility that we have shown with Tokyo 2020 and obviously in the event program and athlete quotas as we look forward to 2024 to be able to continue to adapt and to continue to reflect what will happen in the existing sports between now and 2028," McConnell said.  


"I think we will look at a similar cycle for the finalization of the event program for 2028, but we certainly won’t be looking to increase the overall size.” 


So, if you are an IF with expectations or hopes of reaching a place in the Olympic Program, albeit with no financial benefits expectations and no assurance that the event will remain from then on in the Olympic Games, these are now the two roads you can follow. Expect the visit of consummate consultants to guide and charge you through the process, whichever you chose. 


- Alfredo La Mont, CEO, The USA Sports Council


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