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Will Catalonia Kill Olympic Roller Sports?
FIRS, the IOC, and the Catalonian Federation
Guido Ferraiuolo of Argentina
made statements on many public message boards in October of 2004 stating
that if the Catalonian Roller Sports Federation is recognized by the
International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) will not allow any roller sport to admitted into the Olympic Games.
I am one of Guido's biggest supporters
and we are also good friends, but because this is such
a significant statement I really need to voice my opinion
in a very public way about what he said.
What I Think
Will the IOC Reject Roller Sports if Catalonia is Recognized?
In my opinion, the best way to address this issue is
not to quote the opinion of some anonymous, unnamed Olympic Committee member,
but instead to ask someone at the International Olympic Committee,
who has the authority to do so (for example President Rogge) to
publicly and very clearly state that no roller sport will
be admitted into the Olympic Games if FIRS recognizes Catalonia as
a separate federation with its own team. If Guido's statement is true,
it should not be difficult to convince IOC President Rogge, or someone
authorized to speak on his behalf, to make a public statement.
FIRS Has Close Ties With the Olympic Committee
Isidro Oliveras, the president of FIRS and many
other FIRS officers and committee members
have close ties with the International Olympic
Committee, including the president of the IOC.
I'm sure FIRS officers know better than anyone else what the
IOC's opinion is about FIRS recognizing Catalonia as a separate
federation with its own team.
Why I Do Not Believe FIRS Will Oppose the IOC
I simply do not believe FIRS would prevent roller sports from getting
into the Olympics just so Catalonia can have its own roller hockey team.
Here are the reasons I do not believe it:
REASON 1: PUBLIC OPINION - If the IOC told FIRS roller sports would not become
Olympic if they recognized Catalonia, and FIRS did it anyway, it would be a very
public action that the entire international roller sports community would
be aware of. Do you think FIRS does not know that? Of course they do!
I am very certain that FIRS representatives have had many discussions
with the IOC about Catalonia and I cannot believe FIRS is planning to
defy the IOC on this issue.
REASON 2: HARD COLD CASH - If any roller sport
becomes an official Olympic event, FIRS and all of the national
federations stand to gain a significant
increase in funding from the IOC. Even if someone does not believe FIRS is motivated
by public opinion, they would surely agree that any organization
would appreciate the large increase in income (plus the
public recognition and increase in stature) that goes along with becoming
an Olympic Sport.
What Should Happen Next?
I hope Guido will tell us who told him roller sports will not be
admitted into the Olympic Games if FIRS recognizes Catalonia as a separate
federation with its own team. Then I want to hear International
Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, or someone authorized
to speak on his behalf, confirm that person's statement.
That would reduce all of the speculation and public condemnation
to a simple fact that FIRS can use to make their decision about how to
handle the Catalonia issue.
Will Roller Sports Become Olympic?
This is not an easy question to answer.
What is Important to the IOC?
The IOC is talking very publicly about
removing minority specialist sports from the Olympics
in favor of guaranteed crowd pleasers and sports
popular with young people. The questionnaires they sent
to the five new sports being considered (golf, rugby, squash, karate and roller sports)
included questions such as how many television viewers they attract,
how much funding they get from big-name corporate sponsors,
and how many spectators typically attend their events. If the IOC
gives those factors a a great deal of weight, roller sports
will have a problem that is much bigger than whether or not
Catalonia is recognized by FIRS.
What About Skateboarding and Inline Stunt?
Here is a new idea that roller sports advocates rarely mention.
Has anyone considered that skateboarding
and inline trick skating could also be candidates for inclusion in
the Olympic games? Artistic, hockey, and speed are not the only
roller sports disciplines being seriously considered by the
International Olympic Committee...
Articles About Olympic Roller Sports
"Did Roller Skating Miss the Olympic Bus?"
I wrote this article about the possibility of inline skating
and other roller sports making it into the Olympics in
2001 after I returned home from visiting the Olympic Committee
Headquarters and IOC Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
"Game Over for Minor Olympic Events"
According this UK Guardian article by Denis Campbell,
golf and rugby are highly likely to make it into the Olympics,
karate will probably replace tae kwon do, squash is not likely
to replace the current racquet sports (tennis, badminton and
table tennis) and roller sports is seen as an outside bet.
What Do You Think?
Olympic Roller Sports Discussion
in the SkateLog forum at AskAboutSkating.com
and tell us what you think about the issues
raised in this article.
Olympic Roller Sports: Is it Possible?
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