Why ISGS 2020

At times, it is necessary to lay down the brush, to take at least one step back and to look at the whole picture from a distance. Maybe I have been too close to the canvas for too long.


How did Indoor Skydiving 2020 | First Global Summit come about? While in Zephyrhills, USA, to receive my Path of Excellence Award in November 2018, I discussed indoor skydiving’s Paris 2024 campaign with Gillian Rayner, the IPC President, and a number of former IPC officials. Having been involved in the campaigning of another sport for the past ten years, I assessed the chances of indoor skydiving making it onto the Olympic program anytime soon as remote, extremely remote even. I subsequently put my thoughts into writing structured into past, present and future and sent them to Gillian in early January 2019.


The Past


IOC President Thomas Bach with his Agenda 2020 – the “strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement” – seemed to put even more emphasis on the IOC’s efforts to make future Games relevant for youth than did his predecessor. Rogge had masterminded the creation of Youth Olympic Games (YOG) and converted their second edition into an attractive platform to showcase – and to evaluate – new sports with specific appeal to Generation Z. Bach took it from there with unprecedented swiftness and a novel approach to the process of bringing change to all things Olympic.


The 127th IOC Session in Monaco unanimously approved the altogether 40 recommendations contained in Agenda 2020 in early December 2014. Among them one that redefined restrictions regarding the composition of the program based on events (up to a maximum of 310) rather than, and as done in previous editions since Sydney 2000, on the number of sports (maximum 28). Another called for the Olympic Games Organizing Committee (OCOG) to propose one or more events for inclusion into their edition of the games.


Implementation of these two recommendations got underway immediately, inducing the Tokyo organizers to constitute an Additional Event Program Panel within the committee and to open up an application process for the 2020 Games on 8 May 2015.

Exactly one month later, on 8 June, 26 of the 35 Recognized International Federations had submitted a formal bid based on a questionnaire. FAI was one of the federations, it put paragliding forward as the air sport candidate.


The outcome we all know. The host city’s panel shortlisted eight of the 26 sports (baseball/softball, bowling, karate, roller sport, sport climbing, squash, surfing and wushu), inviting them to present their bid in Tokyo and finally proposing five to the IOC: baseball/softball, karate, roller sport, sport climbing, surfing.


Between them, the five comprised 18 events. That they were all approved and ratified by the IOC Executive Board and the 129th Session, respectively, surprised at least some experts, as it brought the total number of events for Tokyo 2020 to 339, much beyond the Agenda-suggested limit of 310. Next year's Summer Games will thus feature 33 sports and 339 different events. 3x3 Basketball Men and Women were the last two events added in June 2018 (following the proposal by FIBA).


Part II follows tomorrow.


Roland Hilfiker, ISGS Organizer and Moderator




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