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 November 27, 2002 | 1040 IST

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IOC in warning shot to all sports

Adrian Warner

International Olympic Committee (IOC) leaders fired a warning shot in the dark at all Olympic sports on Tuesday, telling them that their place in the Summer Games would be reviewed on a regular basis.

On the eve of an IOC Session where the Olympic future of modern pentathlon, softball and baseball is under threat, the IOC's ruling executive board decided that the programme of the Games would be put under the microscope every four years -- immediately after each Games.

Speaking at a news conference when journalists were twice plunged into complete darkness as the lights failed, IOC director general Francois Carrard said: "We need a regular revision of the programme. After each edition of the Games, the programme should be reviewed."

IOC president Jacques Rogge has pledged to scale down the Games after decades of expansionism under his predecessor Juan Antonio Samaranch.

But an IOC report published in August which questioned the future of the three sports at the 2008 Beijing Games has caused huge controversy before it is put before the decision-making Session later in the week.

The Session will vote on Friday whether to scrap modern pentathlon, which was first introduced into the Games in 1912, as well as softball and baseball -- the first time that the IOC could throw a sport out of the Games since 1936.

The IOC Olympic programme report said baseball and softball were very popular in certain countries but that was not reflected throughout entire regions or continents.

With modern pentathlon, it argued there was a lack of global participation by nations and athletes because the sport is expensive to practise.

The IOC is considering putting golf and rugby union sevens into the Olympics programme but only if the Session cuts the number of sports from the present 28. Rogge is worried that the Games are becoming too big and expensive for cities to handle.


Carrard said the executive board had decided not to give its opinion to IOC members about the report before the vote on the sports, suggesting that even the body's ruling cabinet is also divided on the issue.

No changes in the programme are planned for the next Summer Games in Athens in 2004.

But the report for 2008 contains some of the most radical changes to the Olympics, including also scratching disciplines such as racewalking and equestrian eventing.

The possibility has already led to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) proposing changes to the three-day eventing in Athens. The federation was given the go-ahead on Tuesday to change its eventing competition to the short format used at World Cup events.

This would mean there would be only one of the usual four phases in the cross country -- the obstacle course -- with no steeplechase, roads and tracks required.

The change would reduce the amount of land required for the event by 50 per cent.

"The FEI fully understands the motivation of the IOC to limit and reduce the cost and size of the Olympic Games," the FEI said in a letter to the IOC.

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