(WFI) IOC president Thomas Bach and winter sports federations have taken major steps to prevent FIFA’s Qatar World Cup impacting the 2022 Olympics.
In separate meetings over the weekend – an Olympic Summit convened by Bach in Lausanne and an International Ski Federation council meeting in Oberhofen – decisions were made to protect the Olympics.
The IOC meeting at its headquarters in Lausanne drew 16 high-profile leaders from the Olympic Movement, including FIFA president Sepp Blatter. It was the second Olympic Movement Coordination Meeting designed to tackle issues and concerns among key stakeholders.
In an apparent attempt to establish and protect major events on the international sporting calendar, participants agreed with the proposal “that any new initiative has to respect the uniqueness of the Olympic Games. It means that neither the Olympic Program nor Games revenues should be adversely affected in any way”, said an IOC release.
To this end, a consultative working group will be established composed of Olympic Movement stakeholders, which will compile a comprehensive sporting calendar of current events. “This working group will also discuss the priority of current and future sports events within the global calendar,” the statement added.
In what is the first significant development under Bach’s leadership, the decision is a signal to FIFA that the IOC will not accept the Qatar 2022 World Cup moving to January or February.
IOC vice president Craig Reedie tells World Football INSIDER that the issues at the Olympic Summit, which also included the fight against doping, match-fixing and illegal betting along with autonomy and good governance, were discussed in a very friendly and co-operative manner “with unanimity for the decisions” listed in the IOC press release.
Soon after succeeding Jacques Rogge as IOC chief, Bach had indicated he would not intervene in the controversial debate around the switching of the 2022 FIFA showpiece to winter. He said the 77-year-old Swiss had assured him that the Qatar competition would not clash with the Winter Games.
Since then FIFA has embarked on a year-long consultation with World Cup stakeholders to seek alternative dates for Qatar 2022 to avoid the searing heat of the Gulf state’s summer.
This Olympic Summit decision is the most significant input so far in the consultation process being handled by Sheikh Salman, a FIFA Executive Committee member and head of the Asian Football Confederation.
Meanwhile, in Oberhofen on Sunday the FIS Council urged the other winter sports federation to oppose any plan by FIFA to move Qatar 2022 to winter amid concerns it would threaten the popularity and revenues for their own events.
“FIS will submit a proposal to the other six International Winter Sports Federations to sign a resolution against organising the FIFA World Cup during the winter sports season in 2022,” the ski federation said in a statement.
Last month, FIS president Gian Franco Kasper said he was worried that a winter World Cup in 2022 could weaken interest in winter sports leading up to that year’s Olympics.
“It would be only fair within sports federations to respect each other,” Kasper, a Swiss IOC member, was quoted in an AP report.
“If they do it in November, even December, we wouldn’t like it but it’s something we can live with,” said Kasper. “In January, I tell you very honestly, this is our main season, not only for skiing, for all winter sports.”
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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