IOC meeting to mull adding events to Winter Olympics

Updated: November 27, 2006, 1:35 PM ET
Associated Press

KUWAIT CITY -- The addition of new events for the Winter Olympics and a partial lifting of a freeze on payments to the International Amateur Boxing Association will be considered by the IOC this week.

Beijing's preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics and the soaring construction costs for the 2012 London Games also will be reviewed at the two-day meeting of the International Olympic Committee executive board beginning Tuesday.

Likely to be approved for inclusion at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is skicross, a freestyle event similar to snowboard cross, which debuted at the Turin Games 10 months ago and drew good crowds.

Skicross involves groups of skiers racing each other to the bottom of a course featuring jumps, rollers, banks and other manmade and natural terrain features. The competition is part of the International Ski Federation's World Cup freestyle circuit, which also includes the Olympic events of aerials and moguls.

Among other events up for consideration are women's ski jumping, a team event in Alpine skiing, individual curling and team luge. However, the prospects of any of those being approved appear slim.

Ski jumping is the only sport in the Winter Olympics in which women don't participate. While the IOC is eager to have gender equity in all sports, officials say women's jumping hasn't yet been fully established, noting that the first world championships in the event aren't scheduled until 2009.

Canada's women ski jumpers sent a letter to Vancouver organizers on Nov. 20, urging them to "embrace this opportunity to remove the final barrier to equal participation by women at the Vancouver Olympics."

The Kuwait meeting is the last chance for new events to secure a spot on the Vancouver sports program. The next opportunity will be for the 2014 Games.

The IOC also will review boxing to see whether it is making the reforms needed to regain its Olympic funding. The IOC froze around $1 million in payments to the International Amateur Boxing Association after the 2004 Athens Games, citing concerns over scoring and the selection of judges.

A possible step forward came last month when longtime AIBA president Anwar Chowdhry of Pakistan was defeated in a re-election bid by Taiwan's Ching-Kuo Wu at the association's congress in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Critics had accused the 84-year-old Chowdhry, who led the federation for 20 years, of corruption and mismanagement.

The IOC believes Wu still has a lot of work to do to get the federation in line. In the meantime, the IOC is considering releasing several hundred thousand dollars in development funds as a first gesture of support for the new leadership.

With the 2008 Games less than two years away, Beijing organizers will submit their test progress report to the IOC. While the venues are on schedule, officials are expected to give an indication of their plans for ticket pricing, including making tickets affordable to average Chinese citizens.

London organizers are not attending the Kuwait meeting, but Denis Oswald, the IOC executive who chairs the coordination commission for the 2012 Games, will address the board. He's likely to cover the issue of capital cost increases, which has been making big headlines in Britain the past two weeks.

The British government announced last week that the infrastructure and venue costs for the main Olympic complex had gone up by $1.7 billion to $6.25 billion, mainly due to higher steel prices and security concerns. Some suggest the total cost could reach more than $15.1 billion.

London organizers and the IOC insist, however, that many of the costs are not directly related to the Olympics, and are meant for the long-term regeneration of the rundown east London site where the main Olympic park is being built. The actual games operating budget is around $3.87 billion, and the IOC says it is satisfied with the pace of preparations.

The IOC board also will get an update on the continuing investigation into the seizure of alleged doping substances and equipment at the lodgings of the Austrian cross-country and biathlon teams during the Turin Games. The IOC has received some preliminary findings from Italian authorities, but not enough to take any action so far.

This is the last IOC board meeting of the year, and the first in Kuwait. From here, IOC president Jacques Rogge and the board will travel to Doha, Qatar, for the start of the Asian Games.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press