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Olympic Inclusion:

Roller Sports Gets Mixed Review in Olympic Sports Report

Report Cites Low Worldwide Distribution; Lack of Coordination With "TV-Friendly" Teen Skating

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

The Olympic Programme Commission gave roller sports a mixed review in its report of the 28 current and five prospective sports for the 2012 Summer Games.

The report, released today by the International Olympic Committee, cites roller sports' relatively low worldwide reach, small media draw and small revenues.

It also notes that "teenage skating activities" -- by which it means aggressive skating or skateboarding -- "are outside the control of" roller sports' governing body.

Another Sports Also Get Dinged

But while the report notes the sports' shortcomings, it also points out problems with the other four Olympic contenders: golf, karate, rugby and squash.

It notes that some of the best golfers in the world might choose to skip the Olympics. Why? Because the Olympics would interfere with their lucrative PGA tour.

The report seems relatively kind to karate. But it notes that "a very low number" of countries broadcast the last karate world championships.

As for rugby (IOC president Jacques Rogge's favorite), the report points out that it is -- at this point -- a men's-only sport, which runs contrary to the Olympic ideal of inclusion.

Squash is another sport that the report seems to favor. But it notes that very few countries participated in the sport's last continental championships, particularly in Africa, American and Asia.

It also noted that few members of the media sought accreditation to cover the last two squash world championships.

The Criteria ...

The Olympic Programme Commission reviewed each of the 28 current and five prospective summer sports on the basis of popularity, universality, image, added expense and other criteria.

Its 265-page report draws no final conclusions about which sports, if any, should be added or removed from the Games. Instead, it evaluates each sport (for the most part empirically) based on the criteria.

The report has already been sent to the members of the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC will vote by secret ballot on July 8th in Singapore on whether to add or remove any sports from the Games.

If one or more is cut, an equal number of new ones could be added.

Roller Whacked?

To say that roller sports did not fare well in the report is probably true, although debatable.

On the plus side, the report notes that adding inline speed skating to the Summer Games wouldn't cost much. Under the proposal, the event would last only three days, involve 72 athletes and require no new facilities.

The eight events would be held either on the velodrome used for cycling or on an existing road or parking lot.


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