Koenig makes another pitch for the Olympics – News, Notes & Quotes – Brief Article
WHAT KIND OF EFFECT would the addition of bowling to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing have on the sport?
“I think it would be possible for bowling to have a high profile if we can get into the Olympics,” says Adrianne Bride of Winnipeg, Manitoba, who just completed two terms as the president of Canadian Tenpin Federation. “Like any sport, once you’re in the Olympics it attracts so many more people who would like to try it.”
Although bowling never has been an official sport in the Olympics, it has been a companion event to the Summer Games at least three different times. The late Joe Norris, who is in the ABC Hall of Fame, competed in an international exhibition before the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
If Jerry Koenig–president of bowling’s international governing body, the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs–has his way, the world’s bowlers might sun have the opportunity to try winning an Olympic medal. He is leading a worldwide charge to make bowling an official Olympic sport for the 2008 Summer Games.
“We have our work cut out for us over the coming weeks, but I’m optimistic we can achieve our goal to be in the Summer Games,” says Koenig, who also serves as executive director of USA Bowling.
Koenig met with Jacques Rogge, International Olympic Committee president, in April at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Rogge told Koenig that the program for the Summer Games in 2004 at Athens would not be altered. The IOC head also informed Koenig that he had formed a commission to review all sports in the Summer Games and to consider the 14 sports not in the Games that want to be included.
“Here’s the catch,” Koenig says. “Dr. Rogge told me no sport will added unless one or more is removed. It takes a two-thirds vote of the approximately 128 IOC members to remove a sport. I expect that process to be finished at a special session of all IOC members on November 28 and 29 in Mexico City. That’s when I expect some decisions from the standpoint of bowling.
“We in the international bowling community have a short window of opportunity to present our sport in the best light possible to the IOC administrators and members who vote. There is a prevailing mood at the new IOC leadership level that the program is as large as it should be right now. But there is no other impediment to adding new sports that meet basic criteria, such as popularity, worldwide audience interest, marketing potential, gender equality and objectivity, as is clearly the case for bowling.”
Koenig listed four advantages in bowling’s bid for Olympic status:
1. Fans. “We have more than 100 million people in the world who bowl. Just imagine what kind of audience that is for the Olympic Games.”
2. Revenue. “Bowling is a $10 billion annual industry. Think of what that would mean to the selling of the Games.”
3. Gender Equity. “By our estimates, 46% of all bowlers in the world are women. That’s pretty close to gender equality.”
4. Objectivity. “We have an objective scoring system. You knock ’em down, count ’em up, and you know who won.”
Koenig also is urging all bowlers to express their opinions as to why the sport should be in the Olympics in 2008 directly to the IOC via the organization’s Web site: www.olympic.org.
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