Seven new events, but athlete quota cuts as well, for Beijing 2022 Olympics
Olympics - 19 Jul 2018
By Callum Murray in Lausanne
Seven new events will be added to the programme of the Beijing 2022 winter Olympic Games, ensuring a better gender balance while staying beneath the cap specified in the Olympic Charter of 2,900 athletes (there were 2,933 athletes at this year’s games in PyeongChang).
Under the plan, the overall number of athletes has been reduced by 41 to 2,892, while there will be more female athletes and women’s events than at any other winter Olympics, with female quota positions increasing from 41 per cent to 45.44 per cent.
At a press conference at the end of the first day of a three-day International Olympic Committee executive board meeting here in Lausanne last night, Kit McConnell, the IOC’s sports director, said: “PyeongChang was the most consumed winter Olympics ever, with a focus on innovation and the youth aspect. But there is a desire to respect the framework for winter games in the charter, especially the maximum number of athletes. We want to move towards a more gender-balanced and in future gender-equal programme.”
Similarly, the executive board also decided yesterday that the number of athletes taking part in the Paris 2024 (summer) Olympics will be strictly capped at the figure of 10,500 recommended in the Olympic Charter, meaning that the number of new sports added to the programme at the behest of the organising committee is certain to be reduced from the five that were added for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (see separate story).
In Beijing, the seven new events to be added are as follows:
• Bobsleigh: women’s monobob
• Skating: mixed team relay, short track speed skating.
• Ski jumping: mixed team event
• Freestyle skiing: freestyle big air, men
• Freestyle skiing: freestyle big air, women
• Ski aerials: mixed team event
• Snowboarding: snowboard cross mixed team event
As these are new events, not new sports, the approval of the executive board alone, and not the full IOC Session, is required to add them to the programme.
McConnell said: “The addition of these new events for Beijing 2022 reflects our continued commitment to make the Olympic Games programmes more youthful and gender balanced. I am very pleased to see the increase of female athletes, especially in such exciting, ground-breaking events. At the same time, we are sending a message that the size of the Olympic Winter Games is being directly addressed.”
“By staying below 2,900 [athletes], we’re sending a strong message about controlling the size of the winter Olympics. There is a reduction of 41 athletes, with reductions in four sports and additions in two, ice hockey and curling.”
One of the sports that faces a reduction in the number of athletes competing is biathlon. Asked if the international federation was being punished over allegations that Russian doping cases were covered up by the International Biathlon Union’s former leadership in return for bribes, McConnell replied: “No, it’s not a punishment. We considered not just Beijing 2022, but the balance over the last few games. Biathlon has had new events and more athletes [at recent games].”
Anders Besseberg, the IBU’s former president, stepped down in April amid a prosecutors' probe in Austria and Norway into allegations of doping, fraud and corruption involving Russian athletes and officials in the sport.
The Norwegian had been the IBU’s sole president since its formation in 1993. Nicole Resch, the IBU’s secretary general, was also provisionally suspended by the IBU’s executive board.
Elections for a new president will take place during the IBU congress in Porec, Croatia between 5 and 9 September.
• All four of the African cities bidding to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2022 - Dakar in Senegal, Tunis in Tunisia, Abuja in Nigeria and Gaberone in Botswana - have been given the “green light” to proceed to the next stage of the process, despite earlier concerns over Israeli athletes having been denied visas to take part in a taekwondo competition in Tunisia, McConnell said.
The IOC plans to decide on a shortlist before signing a host city contract with one of the candidates in October.
Explaining the decision to allow the Tunis bid to proceed, McConnell said: “We’ve had strong confirmation they will make sure there is no impediment to anyone competing in the games. They’re still in the race. We received a formal letter at the end of June.”
In May, Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director, said that the IOC was “not evaluating Tunisia’s proposal until the conditions for acceptance of all athletes are met.” The proviso came after an Israeli delegation to the World Taekwondo Junior Championships was denied visas by Tunisian authorities, which claimed that the delegation’s forms were not submitted on time, a claim denied by Israeli authorities.
In February, IOC members backed an executive board recommendation to pursue an Africa-only bid for the 2022 edition of the Youth Olympic Games.