THE International Olympic Committee announced last night it is assessing proposed new medal events for the 2016 Rio Olympics, including 3-on-3 basketball, BMX freestyle and eight more swimming races.
The IOC is now weighing up possible extra events, teams and athletes for Brazil after the successful London Games, with one of the deepest wish-lists sent in by swimming’s governing body.
IOC sports director Christophe Dubi said that the Olympics sports federations have been “extremely creative” with their requests. “All of them believe that adding something will be fantastic for their sport,” Dubi said. “We look at it from the other angle: will that bring, or not, an added value to the Olympic Games?”
The IOC executive board will decide on 9 August in Moscow which events to add after studying reports from Dubi’s department. Currently, the Rio Games program is scheduled to award 306 gold medals across 28 sports with a maximum of 10,700 athletes. Dubi said the IOC wants to make the same impact with new additions as they made in London, which awarded 302 medals in 26 sports.
Golf and seven-a-side rugby have already been confirmed as new additions to the Rio programme. “Women’s boxing was incredibly successful, and in mixed doubles of tennis, the quality of the field was extraordinary,” the Swiss official said.
The IOC has options to add “radically new events” in Rio, Dubi said, with some designed for youth audiences. Three-a-side half-court basketball successfully debuted at the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore, and the International Cycling Union proposes adding street-style BMX and a mountain bike eliminator, which is a sprint race involving four riders. “You have new properties that are not mainstream yet outside of the Olympics, but where the Olympics could give a boost,” Dubi said.
Traditional sports also are competing and swimming body FINA suggested 50-metre medal events in backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly for men and women, plus 800 freestyle for men and 1,500 free for women. “Is it totally different? No, but it’s important as well,” Dubi said, highlighting swimming’s “super high” ratings. “Every time you put it on TV there is consumption.” FINA also seeks more entrants in women’s water polo (12 teams instead of eight), open-water swimming (30, up from 25), diving and synchronized swimming team event. With the iconic Copacabana sands hosting beach volleyball, the FIVB governing body proposes 32 teams in each of the men’s and women’s events, up from 24 in London. “We think it will be a signature event in Rio,” said FIVB spokesman Richard Baker.
Still, beach football in Brazil is not on the agenda after FIFA “never discussed” its potential with Dubi. The 10,700-athlete quota makes new team events difficult for host cities to accommodate, and not all sports have asked the IOC for more.
As Dubi’s team attends events and prepare reports until July, he also awaits reports from wrestling body FILA, which has an emergency congress in Moscow next month. Wrestling’s gender issues played a part in the IOC board’s recommendation to drop both Greco-Roman and freestyle disciplines from the 2020 program.
“Yes, that was always a controversy that they didn’t have women for Greco,” said Dubi, with seven men’s events and none for women in London. “I will be interested to see what they will propose for Rio.”