By George Meiras, chair of the World Squash Federation’s Olympic Bid Steering Group
Every four years there is a different system for selecting sports for an upcoming Olympic Games. The process for 2020 is as follows.
- Currently there are seven sports competing for the one place to be available in 2020. These are in no particular order: squash, karate, roller sports, wushu, rock climbing, wakeboarding and a combined bid from baseball & softball. Each of these sports has completed and submitted an 88-page questionnaire to the International Olympic Committee’s Programme Commission. The Programme Commission consists of 13 IOC members, athletes and other officials. Each sport also has one of its events inspected by a member of the Programme Commission and a member of IOC staff. Our inspection visit was the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open at the end of November 2012.
- All seven sports gave a presentation to the IOC Programme Commission in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 19 December 2012. Squash was scheduled on that afternoon (it was done in alphabetical order). We had 20 minutes to make our presentation and there was then a 10-minute question and answer session. The leader of our presentation party was WSF President N. Ramachandram. Vital input on the detailed content and scripting came from our bid consultants, Vero Communications, lead by Mike Lee, who was on site in Lausanne.
- As far as we are aware all seven sports will remain in contention after the December presentations, though it is just possible that the IOC might decide to reduce to a short-list. So far there are no indications of that, however.
- In February 2013, we will add an eighth sport. Based on a report of the Programme Commission after the 2012 London Olympic Games, the Executive Board of the IOC will decide to keep 25 out of the 26 sports from London. These will be recommended as the core sports for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Rugby and golf will be added, for a second appearance after their first in Rio in 2016. Thus, there will be a total of 27 sports so far (28 are allowed by IOC charter).
- In May 2013 the Executive Board meets in St. Petersburg to discuss the seven original competing sports plus the one sport they dropped in February from the London 26. The EB will have a detailed report from the Programme Commission after the questionnaire, inspection visits and December presentations to consider. On the basis of this and more presentations in St. Petersrburg, the EB will recommend one sport to go to the full IOC Session to be the 28th and final sport for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
- In September 2013 the IOC Session meets in Buenos Aires. The Congress has to vote over 50% in favor of the block of 27 core sports and similarly then for this one extra sport. The Session could refuse to approve the London 25 (unthinkable really) or that the one extra sport might not get the 50%+ required in which case there would only be 27 sports in 2020. Hence the sport nominated in May will have to continue to work hard to convince over 50% of the IOC members to approve its inclusion at the September Session.