By Fernando Aguerre, ISA President
The IOC and contemporary sports
In the past few years the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has dramatically evolved in its view of the so-called extreme or contemporary sports and their place in the Olympic Movement.
The very positive effect of the inclusion of snowboarding in the Winter Games has also been a great wake up call for many. Another example of this positive evolution is the inclusion of BMX in the Beijing Games.
Presently diverse stakeholders around the world are friendly to the possibility of surfing's inclusion in the Summer Games. This is in part because surfing has a well functioning and structured IOC-Recognized International Federation (the ISA) and National Federations, but most importantly it has to do with the realization that without "pruning the Olympic Games tree" by adding relevant new sports, and excluding no longer relevant sports, the tree itself will become less relevant and vital.
No doubt the Aussies would love to see surfing in the Olympics, as they’d surely get a few medals out of it. Photo courtesy ISA.
What are the hurdles for inclusion in the IOC GAMES?
The biggest obstacles facing new sports hoping to be included in the Olympic Games Program are the strict requirements for inclusion and the length of time the process requires. A new sport should start its campaign at least nine years before a particular Olympic Games, because the final line-up of sports is decided by the IOC seven years before any given Olympic Games.
Enter the Youth Summer Olympic Games
In a smart decision, which speaks to the vital importance of younger athletes and audiences for the future of the Olympics, the IOC announced the 2010 Youth Summer Games (Singapore, 2010).
Unfortunately, the IOC decided that only sports from the "regular" Summer Games would be included in Singapore. Some of the world's most popular youth sports, including surfing and skateboarding are not slated for inclusion.
This is unfortunate, as surfing is one of the most visible and inspirational extreme sports, practiced in all continents, and loved by countless millions of fans. After all, surfing has been the "mother sport" of skateboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, wakeboarding, and other great modern "board sports."
The 2009 Olympic Congress: An opportunity for positive changes
For the first time in history, the IOC has created a Virtual Olympic Congress. In preparation for the 2009 Olympic Congress (a kind of constitutional assembly that is held from time to time), the IOC has invited all sports leaders, and even members of the public, to submit proposals for improving the Games and the IOC. This welcome move is fresh air for the whole Olympic Movement.