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  • Top Story Replay: IOC Warns Sports Bidding for 2020 Olympics Against Lavish Spending


    Christophe Dubi (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
    (ATR) IOC sports director Christophe Dubi tells Around the Rings that the eight sports bidding for inclusion in the Olympics can compete on a level playing field as big-spending campaigns will be frowned upon.

    In an exclusive interview with ATR, Dubi also explained why baseball and softball’s merger was acceptable to the IOC and dismissed any concerns the other six sports federations still have that the united body would make for an unfair bidding contest.

    Karate, roller sports, sports climbing, squash, wakeboard and wushu are the other sports vying for a place on the 2020 roster, with a decision due at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September 2013. The IOC Executive Board will add another to the mix in February when an existing Olympic sport gets cut.

    While baseball-softball, karate and squash have the finance to promote their bids internationally, some of the smaller federations don’t have the money to invest in promoting their profiles globally.

    Dubi told ATR that they shouldn’t worry as the IOC had set out very clear bidding guidelines and warned against expensive campaigns.

    “We are on public record on many occasions including letters being sent out that we don’t want any big campaign,” he said. “It has to be techically sound, they have to have the right arguments to convince the IOC that their sport will bring an added value to the Olympic program.

    “That’s everything that it takes, nothing else. Any undue expense… no one can blame it on the IOC.”

    He added: “I can tell you those letters were very clear in black and white – keep it low-key with the right arguments. We don’t even need glossy paper, keep it simple.”

    The technical dossiers from the sports are due with the IOC shortly. They will be studied by several members of the IOC program commission and experts before it meets in December to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the sports. This meeting will kickstart preparation of a report to the IOC EB.

    Dubi said there was “no real favorite. They are all doing a good job I think”.

    So far, he said, observations from federations about the bidding process were positive as the sports gear up for the final year of their campaigns.

    “The process is clear and transparent including the difficult issue of the merger of baseball and softball,” Dubi said.

    “At some point among the federations they were wondering how it would happen and whether the IOC would allow an artificial bid or whether we would impose strict conditions.

    “The decision of our juridical
    Both Sports were dropped after the 2008 Olympics (Getty Images)
    commission and executive board was very clear with a merger prior to any decision by IOC,” he said. “As a result everybody understands the situation and conditions, so everybody is comfortable, which is a good thing.”

    Asked if the IOC’s acceptance of the merger had made the contest unfair on the smaller, less well-resourced federations, he responded: “It would be unfair from the IOC to prevent a merger if it’s the way that the sports are going to develop.

    “That’s the path they want to go, we accept it but it has to be clear that it’s a real merger and that the two sports are becoming one because this is what they want in the long-term and this is their vision. Anybody has the right to do that.”

    He added: “What we didn’t want because this would have been unfair is an artificial bid together while the sports would remain separate. And that we said ‘no’. It’s a merger, a total one, prior to any decision from the IOC and that’s now and forever as far as we are concerned.

    “I think it’s a pretty tough stance that is being taken by the IOC.”

    Last month, the International Baseball Federation and International Softball Federation got the IOC green-light to move forward with a merger and bid together for 2020.

    The leaders of the federations, IBAF president Riccardo Fraccari and ISF counterpart Don Porter, are spending the weeks ahead finalizing a charter and constitution for their merged IF, which will be known as the International Baseball and Softball Federation. These must be rubberstamped by the extraordinary congresses of the ISF and IBAF before a December presentation to the IOC program commission and EB.

    Members of the EB will meet next May to decide which sport to recommend to the IOC Session in Buenos Aires set for September 2013.

    Dubi admitted that the federations would have to work quickly to deliver on their merger promises.

    Bringing Major League Baseball players into the Olympics remains a significant challenge facing the merged federation.

    “The feeling is that it is a fantastic opportunity for the development of baseball,” Dubi said, noting that the support of MLB and other professional leagues such as the Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan would make a difference to the bid offering. “If they can get everybody in, it will benefit their bid no doubt.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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