Friday, July 8, 2005
Espinos: Secret vote 'was bad for us'
SINGAPORE -- For 22 minutes, Jahangir Khan and Antonio Espinos were elated. Squash and karate seemed certain additions to the 2012 Olympic Games.
You have to ask, what is the benefit of this and what is the damage? Huge social damage around the world is the answer. ”
— World Karate Federation chief Antonio Espinos
There were two vacancies on the London 2012 program after baseball and softball were voted out. Squash and karate had been nominated -- above rugby, roller sports and golf -- as the replacements.
But in an Olympic-size twist, IOC members on Friday handed down a no vote to any new sports after 10 rounds of voting.
First, all existing 28 Olympic sports were put to a simple "in or out" vote, and only baseball and softball failed to win a majority of support to remain on the program.
Then, in two further series of secret ballots -- one of four rounds and one of three -- squash and karate were nominated by members as potential replacements.
Two-thirds approval was required for the sports to be added to the program. Neither reached a majority.
IOC president Jacques Rogge suggested a simple show of hands for the last stage of voting but ceded to demands for more secret ballots.
That, according to World Karate Federation chief Espinos, was costly.
"If that vote could have been by a show of hands, of course it would have been a formality," he said. "But some IOC members wanted to make it a secret vote -- that was bad for us.
"You have to ask, what is the benefit of this and what is the damage?" Espinos added. "Huge social damage around the world is the answer."
Baseball and softball and the five "recognized sports" on the waiting list will get another chance in four years to put their cases for inclusion to the IOC when it meets to determine the 2016 program.
For Espinos, that's far too long to wait.
"For our athletes, it's an insult to talk about 11 years from now," he said. "The whole career of the karate athlete is eight to 10 years. I can't go back and tell my athletes to keep going until 2016 -- all because of five minutes of what happened here today."
Squash great Khan, head of the sport's international federation, was a little more circumspect.
"As a player, one never gives up. We'll try again for 2016. We'll get in one day," he said. "Obviously, I'd have liked to see my game there. But we'll never give up."
IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies rejected the perception that the outcome of voting was predetermined.
"They decided none of those five sports should have a place in 2012, but they clearly voted for change," she said. "They clearly voted for quality over quantity and for having a review.
"This review process is open. It's open today and it's open for the future," she added.
There'll be only 26 sports at the 2012 Olympics, meaning extra disciplines could be added within existing sports.
The IOC has set upper limits of 28 sports, 301 events and 10,500 athletes.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he'd lobby to add two extra women's soccer teams, to increase the percentage of female athletes and increase that 2012 tournament to 12 teams.