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IOC Says All New Sports Must Include Women
By Stephen Wilson
Associated Press
Monday, February 2, 1998; 6:33 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan — Is the world ready for women's sumo wrestling?

If any new sports are added to future Olympics, they must include women's events, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch said today.

"The Olympic movement is determined to make its contribution so that the 21st century marks the beginning of a new era for women in world sport,'' Samaranch said in opening the International Olympic Committee session on the eve of the Nagano Games.

On Sunday, the IOC approved women's modern pentathlon for the 2000 Sydney Games. Women's weightlifting and women's water polo already are planned for Sydney.

"The IOC has decided that any new sport wishing to be included in the Olympic program must comprise women's events,'' Samaranch said in a speech.

The IOC gave provisional recognition last week to the federations representing sumo wrestling and bodybuilding.

Samaranch's announcement today raised the intriguing prospect of women sumo wrestlers and women bodybuilders competing in future Olympics — although granting recognition to a sports federation does not necessarily guarantee that an event will be added to the games.

Wrestling and boxing, two male-only sports already in the summer games, are pushing to include women's events.

Sydney officials said the move boosts the total proportion of female athletes to 42 percent, an increase of 5 percent over the previous record at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

More than two dozen sports have applied for recognition as Olympic sports, including ballroom dancing, golf, bowling, surfing, squash, rugby and water skiing.

Samaranch noted there will be 52 percent more women athletes competing in Nagano than in Lillehammer four years ago.

Bobsledding, ski jumping and Nordic combined are the only Winter Olympic sports without women.

Samaranch reiterated the IOC's call for Olympic bodies to fill 10 percent of their decision-making positions with women by 2000, and 20 percent by 2005.

"Much remains to be done,'' he said. "But I'm sure we are going to win this battle.''

On other topics, Samaranch accused many national and international sports bodies of doing nothing to combat the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"There are many sports organizations which have taken no measures to combat this scourge,'' he said, without identifying any of them.

"For us, the fight against doping continues, in order to protect the health of the athletes, uphold medical and sports ethics, and afford an equal opportunity to all.''

Samaranch said the world was experiencing a "golden age of sport'' due in large part to the success of the Olympics. But he said the IOC must not be complacent.

"The Olympic Games are unique and must remain so,'' he said. "We must examine ways and means of protecting the Olympic Games, and if, possible, of enhancing their prestige so that they will remain the world's greatest event and the grandest festival in contemporary society.''

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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