WATERSKIING OPPORTUNITY FOR OLYMPIC GAMES – a case to be heard !
It is 52 years since Waterskiing first applied for entry to the Olympic Games. That is a long journey ! Over 30 million Waterskiers,50,000 Athletes and their supporters in 88 Countries know that the IOC decision must be made before the Sydney Games for Waterskiing’s Athens 2004 Olympics bid. The big question rests in the hands of the IOC – and their decision is the focus of this 52 year exercise of patience, persistence and good sportsmanship.
Here are the facts.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee received bids from 16 new sports for inclusion in the 2004 Games. While they have a right to chose new sports, they chose only one – Waterskiing. This makes it much easier for the IOC who are under pressure to control entries. This HOC decision was fully supported by the Greek Government. Following the recent General Elections in Greece, the new Government has also granted it’s full support. Greece wants Waterskiing in the 2004 Games. Other countries in the past have all exercised their right to add their choice of sport – and Greece wishes to exercise it’s right in the same manner. Their case is of course a special one in view of their unique Olympic roots.
We all know that Greece originated the ancient Games. The arrival of one new athletic, television friendly, 21st century sport, creates a great mixture of the old with the new for this centre of civilisation.
The cost of including Waterskiing in the Games for the organisers is also minimal. In fact, the provision of a high quality Waterski site can be achieved with virtually no cost to the IOC. The IWSF have already completed detailed investigations and are confident that this is not a problem. This resolves another facilities challenge for the IOC.
The President of the International Waterski Federation, Andres Botero, attended the historic Olympic Torch lighting ceremony last week in the Olympia Stadium which dates back to 776BC. The torch will arrive in Sydney on September 16thfor the start of the Games. Andres Botero will also attend this week’s ANOC Conference in Rio de Janiero in Brazil with representatives of over 200 National Olympic Committees. At their 1999 Conference, the delegates were treated to a full demonstration of Waterskiing in Seville, Spain and this was also attended by the IOC.
The President of the IOC, HE Juan Samaranch was critical recently of the slow progress being made towards staging the Athens Games by the ATHOC. Bureaucracy, broadcasting, accommodation, construction, transport, etc., – were all of concern. Immediately, Mme Giana Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was appointed to chair ATHOC. She has been given the total support of the IOC Coordinating Commission. This crisis has now passed and Commission Chairman, Jacques Rogge, has granted the organisers a 100 day reorganisation period to get the programme back on track. Greek spirits are rising again. This interlude distracted attention away from Greece’s decision to propose Waterskiing for the Games – and now the issue must be resolved.
The International Waterski Federation totally agrees with the IOC that we must continue to modernise the Olympic Games. The introduction of something truly different – Waterskiing – will certainly achieve this objective. Thanks to our existing superb Olympia Waterski site, facilities are not a problem. The cost to the organisers is minimal. The Hellenic Olympic Committee, supported by the Greek Government chose Waterskiing under existing rules – as have other countries in the past. The wishes of such an ancient host are based on their history, ambitions for their own Olympic dream and the consensus of it’s people. The time has come for the patient 52 year journey of Waterskiing towards the Olympic Games to be justly rewarded. Over 30 million Waterskiers now expect to focus on Athens in September 2004 and see their Athletes on the podium in Olympia.
Desmond Burke-Kennedy, IWSF Media Officer