LANE ONE: Paris 2024 program approved, with four added sports, eight event changes and punishment for weightlifting

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There was no question that Monday’s announcement of the approved sports program for the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad in Paris for 2024 was going to leave some federations unhappy.

Let’s be clear that the International Weightlifting Federation is at the front of that line.

The International Olympic Committee Executive Board approved a program of 317 events among the 28 “permanent” Olympic sports and another 12 events for the added sports of Break Dancing (2), Skateboarding (4), Sport Climbing (4) and Skateboarding (2) for a grand total of 329.

That’s a little less than Tokyo’s total of 339, but Paris eliminated the Tokyo add-ons of Baseball and Softball and Karate.

The approved program of sports, events and athlete quotas for each also reduced the total number of athletes to 10,500 from the expected 11,092 for Tokyo (-592) and crowed that the program is perfectly balanced with 5,250 men and 5,250 women. The event balance isn’t perfect, but awfully close with 156 men’s events, 151 women’s events and 22 mixed events (up from 18 in Tokyo).

So, for the most part, the Paris program will look a lot like Tokyo (events and athletes), but there are differences. It’s a lot to look at, but let’s check the details:

Aquatics: MODEST LOSSES: 49 events (49 in Tokyo), 1,370 athletes (vs. 1,410 in Tokyo).

Swimming had its quota reduced from 928 to 896; Artistic Swimming was shaved from 104 to 96, with Diving and Water Polo staying the same. FINA asked for many more events and got none, so the 50 m events in Backstroke, Breaststroke and Butterfly stay out of the Games.

Archery: STATUS QUO: 5 events (same), 128 athletes (same).

Athletics: MODEST LOSSES: 48 events (same); 1,820 athletes (vs. 1,900).

Track & field lost 90 athletes from its quota total, but this will not impact the competition much. The 50 km walk for men (only) was eliminated in favor of another mixed-gender event of some type, which World Athletics said would be a mixed walking event of some kind. Cross Country was not approved as an addition, a major disappointment for the federation.

Badminton: STATUS QUO: 5 events (same); 172 athletes (same).

Basketball: STATUS QUO: 4 events (same); 352 athletes (same).

Boxing: LOSER: 13 events (same); 252 athletes (vs. 286)

This may not look terrible, but the IOC slapped the International Boxing Association (AIBA) again, changing the event line-up from eight men’s events and five women’s events to 7 + 6, with the same number of men and women (126). And there’s more: the IOC – not AIBA – will decide the weight classes by the end of 2021. Ouch.

Canoeing: STATUS QUO: 16 events (same), 318 athletes (vs. 328).

The International Canoe Federation asked for, and received, inclusion of Extreme Canoe Slalom, contested on a short course and during which the contestants roll over in their boats and get wet. It’s a novelty event, and the serious K-1 200 m Sprint was eliminated. The men’s K-1 1,000 m and women’s K-1 500 m remain. Sad.

Cycling: MODEST LOSSES: 22 events (same); 518 athletes (vs. 528).

The quota for BMX Freestyle was increased slightly, with small changes in the numbers for Mountain Bike. Track added one athlete. Road cycling was substantially re-arranged for gender equity; Tokyo will have 130 men and 67 women; for Paris, the total quotas for road cycling will be 90 men and 90 women, a major shift to gender equity, but also a loss of 17 athletes in cycling’s premiere events.

Equestrian: STATUS QUO: 6 events (same); 200 athletes (same).

Fencing: STATUS QUO: 12 events (same); 212 athletes (same).

Football: STATUS QUO: 2 events (same); 504 athletes (same).

Golf: STATUS QUO: 2 events (same); 120 athletes (same).

Gymnastics: STATUS QUO: 18 events (same), 324 athletes (vs. 318).

There was a small reduction of a couple of athletes for Artistic and Rhythmic.

Handball: STATUS QUO: 2 events (same); 336 athletes (same).

Hockey: STATUS QUO: 2 events (same); 384 athletes (same).

Judo: STATUS QUO: 15 events (same); 372 athletes (vs. 386).

The total quota across 15 events went down just 14 athletes and the competitions will be little affected.

Modern Pentathlon: STATUS QUO: 2 events (same); 72 athletes (same).

Even with the same program as for Tokyo, the UIPM was deeply disappointed not to have the Mixed Relay added, an event already part of its World Championships and designed specifically for Olympic inclusion.

Rowing: WINNER: 14 events (same), 502 athletes (vs. 526).

True the quota was reduced by 24 athletes across 14 events, but the Lightweight Double Sculls was maintained for men and women. The IOC has, in the past, asked to remove this category, but it’s in the program for one more Games at least and that’s a win for World Rowing.

Rugby: STATUS QUO: 2 events (same); 288 athletes (same).

Sailing: INCOMPLETE: 10 events (same); 330 athletes (vs. 350).

The Sailing program got shook up for 2024. For Tokyo, there will be one mixed-gender events, the multi-hull Nacra 17 class. For Paris there will be four: Nacra 17, two-person Dinghy (470 class), Kiteboarding and an event to be determined. The men’s and women’s individual 470 classes were eliminated, the Finn Class for men was eliminated and the proposed mixed-crew offshore event – think ocean racing – needs more discussion “in order to properly assess the key considerations around the cost, safety and security of the athletes.” This event is controversial within the sailing community – how many nations can afford such a boat? – and is to be settled by 31 May 2021. Look for a noisy discussion on this one; it’s a major play for added attention by the federation.

Shooting: STATUS QUO: 15 events (same); 340 athletes (vs. 360).

Small reduction in the overall quota will hardly be felt on the shooting line. The Mixed Trap event was replaced by Mixed Skeet.

Table Tennis: STATUS QUO: 5 events (same); 172 athletes (same).

Taekwondo: STATUS QUO: 8 events (same); 128 athletes (same).

Tennis: STATUS QUO: 5 events (same); 172 athletes (same).

Triathlon: STATUS QUO: 3 events (same); 110 athletes (same).

Volleyball: STATUS QUO: 4 events (same); 384 athletes (same).

Weightlifting: LOSER: 10 events (vs. 14); 120 athletes (vs. 196).

The IWF got hammered for its continuing doping and governance troubles, with its quota reduced to 120 after being 260 for Rio! Moreover, the 14 classes for Tokyo are to be reduced to 10 for Paris, with the IWF to finalize the weights by the end of 2021. The IOC statement also included the dreaded: “It also reiterated that the place of weightlifting on the programme of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 continues to be subject to ongoing review by the IOC.”

Wrestling: STATUS QUO: 18 events (same); 288 athletes (same).

In the added sports:

Breaking: WINNER: 2 events; 32 athletes.

Amazing that this will become an Olympic sport in 2024 without having appeared in almost any continental Games and really only seen at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018. Even the World Dancesport Federation may not believe its luck.

Skateboarding: WINNER: 4 events (same), 88 athletes (vs. 80).

A few more athletes, ahead of an expected third Games in a row in Los Angeles in 2028.

Sport Climbing: WINNER: 4 events (vs. 2); 68 athletes (vs. 40).

Many climbers complained that while Bouldering and Lead made sense as a combined event, Speed is totally different. The IOC agreed and the three-part combined event for Tokyo will be Bouldering and Lead for Paris, with Speed now separate.

Surfing: WINNER: 2 events (same); 44 athletes (vs. 40).

This sport is slated to be held in Tahiti, although there is some pushback on the island. A few more athletes were added and most observers will be shocked if it is not on the LA ‘28 program.

The biggest losers were Baseball/Softball (2 events and 234 athletes in Tokyo) and Karate (8 events and 80 athletes), which are not on the Paris program. Baseball and Softball are locks for Los Angeles, but Karate appears to be a one-and-done in Tokyo. The reduction from 339 events for Tokyo to 329 for Paris is strictly due to the removal of these sports. The IOC statement added:

“Although the IFs had requested a total of 41 additional events, the IOC EB decided not to increase the number of events across any of the 28 sports in the initial programme, ensuring a fair and objective approach in applying this principle to its review of the event programme.”

The four added events in Breaking – still hard to believe – and Sport Climbing were offset by the four fewer weight classes in weightlifting. So, the 28 “permanent” sports in the Games will have 317 events, with 12 for the added sports, still a significant increase over the 306 events in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The IOC did not yield to the pleadings of some federations who asked for many added events – FINA was the leader in this area – but there was bitter disappointment for those athletes whose events were substituted for those with more television potential, like the Canoeing sprinters.

And, while the Games did not grow – and the reduction in athletes will be accompanied by fewer officials as well – there is little doubt that the size of the Olympic program is still enormous, now 49% larger than the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, the last edition whose total costs were fully covered by its revenues.

Rich Perelman

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