Olympics: One sport set to be cast into Olympic limbo

One sports federation will not be happy on Tuesday as the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee is set to vote in Lausanne to have a sport removed from the 2020 Summer Games.

The Executive Board will then vote at a later date on what sport should replace it at those Games with squash - which lost out to golf and rugby sevens for the 2016 edition - and karate among the frontrunners to do so.

Such decisions do not sit easily with some of the IOC members outside the EB who believe that such matters should be debated and decided upon by all of them.

They will, however, have the chance to vote their approval or not of the sport being voted off the 28 sports roster and its replacement at the IOC Congress in Buenos Aires in early September.

"I don't think it is a very good idea to have such a vote in Buenos Aires," an IOC member not on the EB told AFP.

"There is enough to be decided on there in the shape of the host city of the 2020 Games and the successor to Jacques Rogge as president.

"It is many members feelings that the sport should have been decided upon next year."

Those sports thought to be most at risk are badminton, taekwondo and modern pentathlon.

Badminton's image took a massive blow at last year's Olympics with the scandal that saw eight women's doubles players from South Korea, Indonesia and China disqualified for trying to lose matches.

The Badminton World Federation subsequently took steps to avoid a repeat.

The BWF said that in the future, following the group stage, all pairs finishing second in their groups would be placed into a second draw to determine who they face in the knockout phase.

But pairs topping their group stage would have fixed positions equivalent to seeded placings in the knockout stage.

"These should ensure such a regrettable spectacle is never witnessed in badminton again," the BWF said back in November.

Badminton also has the heavyweight support of IOC vice-president Craig Reedie and its removal would upset the Chinese.

Taekwondo has been in a precarious position for a while, although it was seen to have had a successful London Games, not least because of the gold medal won by exuberant 19-year-old Welsh star Jade Jones.

Jones's win also helped to shed the sport's image of being solely the preserve of Asian athletes - it has seen some fierce lobbying by the Koreans to preserve its status - as she told AFP last October.

"I never stop hearing about taekwondo now," she said of the sport that first entered the Olympics in 2000.

"Everyone knows about it. Before I used to be asked 'what is it?' The two medals we won at the Games have really raised awareness of the sport in the country.

"I know a lot of people have started taking up the sport and it is attracting a wider range of people which can only be good for competition."

Modern pentathlon would seem to be the most at risk.

"It is very expensive to put on and is slightly anachronistic, and doesn't look terrific on television," one IOC critic of it told AFP.

However, it gained widespread praise for its showing at the London Games and with Juan Antonio Samaranch Junior - long-time vice-president of the sport's governing body - sitting on the EB they will at least have a powerful voice arguing in their favour.

pi/cw

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