By Callum Murray in St Petersburg
The International Olympic Committee today announced a new grouping of Olympic sports for the purposes of the distribution of Olympic revenues to international federations, which involves the addition of a fifth group, and gymnastics and swimming joining athletics in the top – the best-rewarded – group.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, modern pentathlon is demoted to the new fifth grouping, along with the two new sports added to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games schedule - golf and rugby sevens.
Klaus Schormann, the president of the UIPM, the international modern pentathlon union, told Sportcal in the immediate aftermath of the announcement that the decision was “a little bit of a surprise,” adding that there were “political” motives behind it.
The IOC unveiled the groupings at a joint meeting of its executive board and that of the Association of Olympic International Federations at the SportAccord convention in St Petersburg this morning.
As expected, wrestling was placed in group D of the ranking, and not in the bottom group E, raising a further question mark over the IOC executive board’s motivation for its controversial recommendation that the sport should be excluded from the programme of the 2020 games to make way for a new one.
However, the IOC’s view is that the process for creating the groupings for revenue distribution takes into account only the sports’ popularity, while a review that preceded the executive board’s recommendation was based on many other factors as well, including the overall integrity of the programme – or how well the 26 sports reviewed work together to create a coherent programme.
In the wake of today’s announcement, Nenad Lalovic, the president of FILA, the international wrestling federation, was guarded over whether the ranking would help the sport in its campaign to stay in the games, telling Sportcal: “Maybe, yes. Yes, probably. We will see first what’s going on and what this means for the future.”
Later today, the IOC’s executive board is due to decide which sport(s) to recommend for inclusion in the 2020 games, and the final decision will be made by the full IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September.
The new ranking of existing sports is as follows:
aquatics; athletics; gymnastics
basketball; cycling; football (soccer); tennis; volleyball
archery; badminton; boxing; judo; rowing; shooting; table tennis; weightlifting
canoe/kayak; equestrian; fencing; handball; (field) hockey; sailing; taekwondo; triathlon, wrestling
modern pentathlon; golf; rugby sevens.
The amount of money to be distributed among the 26 federations whose sports featured in the 2012 Olympic Games in London has risen to $519.6 million, a 75.5-per-cent increase on the figure of $296 million that was distributed from the 2008 Beijing games, Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, announced today.
The rise is attributed to the success of the IOC’s media and commercial sales programme for the London games, but federations also stand to receive a larger share of the cake because the 2012 programme comprised only 26 sports, instead of the 28 of previous games, following the elimination of baseball and softball from the programme.
All but one of a series of payment instalments has already been made to the federations by the IOC, which was awaiting final sales figures from London 2012 before deciding the amount of the final instalment. Rogge confirmed that this final payment will now be made “within a month.”
The ranking is of crucial importance in deciding the total revenues distributed by the IOC to international federations in return for their participation in the games, albeit, Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, insisted that it was for ASOIF, not the IOC, to determine the actual amounts awarded to each federation.
He said: “It is ASOIF that will distribute the money. Our task is to propose the groupings, but not more than that. We will not discuss what each sport is receiving.”
Francesco Ricci Bitti, ASOIF’s president, said ahead of the announcement of the groupings that ASOIF would start work on the distribution immediately, but that it would seek to “soften” the impact on any federation that has lost ground in the rankings.
To general laughter, Rogge responded: “You threw a hot potato in our hands but you are now giving us the gloves to protect our skin.”
In a presentation of the ranking review’s methodology (but not its results) given to ASOIF during its General Assembly yesterday, Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s sports director and deputy Olympic Games executive director, said the review had the following aims: fairness and objectivity; robustness; thoroughness; and consistency.
Sports were judged according to six criteria, which were each given a weighting, as follows:
• TV (the television audiences that each sport attracted during the games): 40
• Internet (the number of internet page views and social media mentions): 20
• General public (favourite sports, according to a survey): 15
• Spectators (ticket requests in the host territory): 10
• Press (number of favourable press articles): 10
• Universality (number of national federations): 5.
The integrity of the review’s methodology has been guaranteed by CIES, the International Centre for Sports Studies in Lausanne, Dubi said.
Ricci Bitti insisted that the review has not produced “a ranking of the sports – more a ranking of the contribution that each sport makes to the Olympic Games.”
The comparison between the previous groupings and the new ones can be seen in the following table:
Olympic sports groupings for IOC revenue distribution
Sports (from May 29, 2013)
Sports (before May 29, 2013)
*Dropped from the 2012 games programme **Added to the 2016 games programme
From the above table it can be seen that other sports that have gained ground in the new groupings are archery, badminton, boxing, judo, shooting, table tennis and weightlifting, which have all moved up from Group D to Group C.
Conversely, equestrian, handball, field hockey and wrestling have all lost ground, moving from Group C to Group D.
Finally, both golf and rugby sevens are placed in the new fifth group because they have been newly added to the Olympic programme, leaving modern pentathlon looking isolated as the only existing sport in the new bottom tier.
Modern pentathlon and taekwondo were also in the firing line, together with wrestling, when the IOC executive board made its controversial recommendation to drop wrestling fom the 2020 Olympic programme in February. Field hockey and canoeing (perhaps surprisingly) also featured in the voting to exclude a sport.
Wrestling has joined baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, squash, sport climbing, wakeboard and wushu in vying for the one available space on the 2020 programme. The executive board is expected later today to recommend a shortlist of up to three of these to go forward to the vote at the IOC Session.
There have been widespread reports that these sports will be chosen from baseball/softball, karate, squash and wrestling.
Wrestling seems certain to join the shortlist after an outcry over the executive board’s recommendation. It is also thought that the Olympic Charter will dictate wrestling’s inclusion on the shortlist, on the basis that the Charter states that the Session, not the executive board, has the final say over changes to the Olympic programme.