Wakeboarding, squash and Wushu... it's the weird and wonderful battle for a place at the 2020 Olympics

As eight sports make bids to IOC to join the Games, Robin Scott-Elliot analyses their prospects

Motor boating, croquet, cricket and polo have all been there and had the T-shirt torn off them. Golf and rugby have it back after a lengthy absence. Tomorrow on Vasilievsky Island in St Petersburg representatives from eclectic, and frankly surprising, sports bid to gain entry to one of the most coveted clubs in the game.

Each will pitch to the International Olympic Committee's executive, who will whittle their number down to three – the shortlist to become an Olympic sport from 2020. For the seven wannabes and wrestling, forced to reapply for its place in the greatest show on earth, it is crucial for their well-being. Gaining a place among the 27 that currently have a home in the Olympics has become a passport to a more lucrative future but the sports have to meet a list of 39 criteria, divided into eight categories, to earn approval: general, governance, history and tradition, universality, popularity, athletes, development and finance. Once the IOC has chosen its shortlist the 205 member nations will settle the matter with a vote in Buenos Aires in September. These are the sports competing:

Baseball/softball

Case for: The two have linked arms beneath one governance umbrella to satisfy the IOC. They claim a global participation of 65m, all watched by more than a billion fans. Big numbers impress the IOC. "Baseball and softball can become the next great global game," said Don Porter, co-president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation.

Case against: Baseball was thrown out of the Games after 2008 in part because none of the leading Major League Baseball players took part. Bud Selig, MLB's commissioner, has already stated a mid-season break is a no-goer – which means MLB players remain unlikely to take part.

Well I never: The bid is supported by Antonio Castro, son of Fidel and a doctor to Cuba's Olympic team, who flew the flag for the sport in London last week.

Chances: ** (out of 5)

Karate

Case for: "The K is on the way" goes the bid slogan and not for the first time. Karate came close to being voted in in 2005 and 2009 and the IOC likes commitment to the cause. A fast and furious sport, participants can kick and punch, it makes for good viewing. Well established in Europe and the Far East.

Case against: With judo and taekwondo already sitting snugly within the Olympic programme, the IOC will take some convincing that a third martial art should be added.

Well I never: At the IOC session in 2005 karate received more than half the votes but not the two-thirds majority required.

Chances: **

Rollersports

Case for: Cycling without bikes, or speed skating without ice. Proponents play on the speed, thrills and spills – as with speed skating it is a hair-raisingly unpredictable sport, one slip and an entire field can be floored. It also claims to appeal to young people, a big tick in the IOC's criteria box.Has five distances, from 300m to 15km.

Case against: In effect cycling without bikes, or speed skating without ice – and both are already in the Olympics.

Well I never: Big in Belgium – the wonderfully named Bart Swings is a multiple world champion and at 22 is young enough to still have his skates on come 2020.

Chances: *

Climbing

Case for: Something completely different, and something that will appeal to a younger audience – both notions could turn IOC heads. Will be a multi-discipline event combining speed climbing, lead climbing and bouldering on man-made walls in what is in effect a climbing triathlon.

Case against: A newcomer – the sport's federation has only been in existence for five years. Extreme sports may not find wide favour among IOC members, while it may also lack the universality and participation numbers.

Well I never: The sport will make their pitch for Olympic recognition on the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mt Everest

Chances: *

Squash

Case for: A strong campaign and they have been here before, coming close four years ago. Simplicity is key, it's a straightforward racquet sport with a global reach – the bid makes a play of having staged world championships in five continents – and its proposed format is 32 men and 32 women play a straightforward knockout. The scoring system has been simplified and games will be played in glass-walled courts to improve TV coverage.

Case against: The previous bid was scuppered by IOC concerns that it did not televise well, which remains a potential issue as does the appetite for another racquet sport.

Well I never: Jahangir Khan, the game's greatest player, won 555 consecutive matches in the 1980s – all helped by a diet that included a strict two glasses of milk a day.

Chances: ***

 

Wakeboarding

Case for: This is, according to the bid, a "youth focused lifestyle discipline". In practice it is cable wakeboarding – competitors are connected to an overhead cable that tugs them around a lake. Participants use the cable to flip out of the water and perform tricks which are judged. It is snowboarding on water. It would bring something completely new and possibly a new audience with it.

Case against: Possibly too far out there for the IOC's tastes and does not have a global reach to match that of its competitors.

Well I never: Britain has one of the current stars, Kirsteen Mitchell, a former zoology student, who has won world and European titles.

Chances: *

Wushu

Case for: Wushu – or kung fu as it is better known here – is supported by the Chinese and that carries clout within IOC circles. It puts a big tick in the history and tradition box – its governing body claim it has been around for 5,000 years. The bid is based around the taolu discipline, which includes ceremonial use of weapons such as spears, cudgels and swords. Competitors perform routines for which they are judged.

Case against: As with karate the presence of two other martial arts already in the Games will not help its cause. Its lack of global status as a competitive sport may also limit its appeal.

Well I never: Beijing staged a parallel wushu tournament at the 2008 Games with competitors allowed to stay in the Olympic village

Chances: **

Wrestling

Case for: It has been part of the Games since 1904 and was stunned to be cut in February. The governing body, Fila, responded rapidly by ousting its president and suggesting a raft of changes – including (male) wrestlers fighting topless – in an attempt to answer the IOC's criticisms and broaden the sport's appeal. The US, Iran and Russia – the sport's powerhouses – have formed an improbable alliance to reclaim its place.

Case against: It would be an abrupt U-turn by the IOC to give a sport the boot in February only to vote for its return four months later.

Well I never: The longest bout in Olympic history came in 1912 when Max Klein and Alppo Asikainen fought for 11 hours. Klein won the semi-final but was too exhausted to fight in the final.

Chances: ****

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum