| IOC president Jacques Rogge at a press conference in Mexico City Sunday. (Reuters)
Mexico City: International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge’s plan to have at least one new sport in the 2008 Beijing Olympics is in ruins.
His crushing defeat at the hands of the IOC rank and file on Friday when they postponed taking a decision on a recommendation to expel softball, baseball and modern pentathlon almost certainly means there will be no change for Beijing.
Rogge attempted to keep the door open by insisting that one or all of the three sports could still be expelled when a programme review is carried out after the 2004 Athens Games, but IOC executive board sources said any expulsion would only come into force for the 2012 games.
“It would be very unfair to throw out a sport three years before an Olympics. I cannot see the members accepting it,” said one board member.
Rogge insists that the IOC has the power to expel a sport anytime but legal experts say that it can only be done seven years before an Olympic Games.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) supports Rogge’s view but other legal experts feel the CAS ruling is suspect.
Friday’s congress vote to postpone the decision to expel the three sports for two years has left the sports in Olympic limbo and facing a potential crisis regarding sponsors.
“It is not the best decision we could have hoped for,” admitted modern pentathlon president Klaus Schormann.
Schormann said that without the millions of dollars it earns from being part of the Olympics, his sport would die.
“We are still there but I would have preferred if the members had taken the vote,” he added.
Don Porter, president of the International Softball Federation, said the suspension could scare off sponsors.
“The uncertainty does not help us convince them,” said Porter.
Rogge dismisses suggestions that it was unfair to the athletes, leaving them hanging in the air, not knowing if their sport would still be an Olympic sport in 2008.
The IOC president said there were hundreds of thousands of athletes who cannot get into the Games and that they too must be considered.
Rogge is determined that some sports are going to have to be expelled to make room for others, such as golf and rugby.
He said that if softball, baseball and modern pentathlon were excluded, the worldwide success and popularity of the games would not be affected.
“Don’t we have sports outside that deserve to be in' That is the fundamental question. We have to address that. That is our responsibility,” he stressed.
But Rogge clearly does not have the support of the rank and file.
The last time a sport was thrown out of the Olympic programme was polo, which last appeared in the 1936 Games.