UCI to press IOC to add cyclo-cross to Winter Olympics

Officials due to meet next week - but Olympic Charter's "snow and ice" requirement means little prospect of success

by Simon_MacMichael   January 8, 2014  

Cyclo-cross world champion Sven Nys at Koppenberg 2013 (CC licensed on Flickr by Alain Dutilleul)

The UCI will next week press the International Olympic Committee to change the rules for the Winter Olympics to allow the fast-growing discipline of cyclo-cross to feature in the Games. But with a fundamental change to the Olympic Charter needed, it seems unlikely we'll see the likes of current world champions Sven Nys and Marianne Vos going for Olympic gold in the discipline at Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018.

Peter van den Abeele, the UCI’s Off-Road Sport Manager, is to meet with International Olympic Committee (IOC) Sports Director Christophe Dubi to request a change in the wording of the rules governing which sports are included, reports Belgian newspaper Gazet Van Antwerpen.

According to the Olympic Charter, “only those sports which are practiced on snow or ice are considered as winter sports.”

The UCI wants to have that changed to remove the “snow and ice” reference and cover sports practised only in the winter months – something that would open the door to events such as cyclo-cross and cross-country running to feature.

Including cyclo-cross within the Winter Olympic programme would also give multiple cyclo-cross world champion, and reigning Olympic road race champion, Vos the opportunity of becoming one of a handful of athletes to have won medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

It’s an issue that now comes under the spotlight every four years as the Winter Olympics approach – the 2014 Games, in Sochi, Russia, take place next month.

Indeed, the year before the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, Cyclocross Magazine ran a rather too convincing April Fool story claiming that then UCI president Pat McQuaid and his counterpart at the IOC, Jacques Rogge, had agreed for cyclo-cross to be included as a demonstration sport at those Games - with the event being held on snow to comply with the Olympic Charter.

Back in the real world, however, the Gazet Van Antwerpen says that the UCI’s lobbying has only a small chance of succeeding as a result of that snow and ice requirement.

As cycling blogger Inner Ring points out in this comprehensive analysis, among the other barriers to cyclo-cross entering the Winter Olympics are that it tends to be dominated by a handful of countries.

While that’s true of other sports such as ski-jumping, he points out that it’s already included in the Games, and believs there is little prospect of the Olympic Charter being amended to include cyclo-cross.

12 user comments

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Cycle cross and cross country would definitely make the winter games more interesting for me.


rogdog's picture

posted by rogdog [5 posts]
8th January 2014 - 12:43

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I think it'd be brilliant to see CX in the winter games.

If the IOC won't drop the snow and ice thing, they could bring in cross-country fat biking instead?

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [646 posts]
8th January 2014 - 12:57

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I love cyclocross and I love bikes and all cycle sport. This is going nowhere though. I'm happy to be proven wrong, but when the IOC say "Sports which are practised on snow and ice are considered as winter sports", I'm pretty flipping sure that they don't mean "Sports which are practised in winter and can also take place on snow and ice are considered as winter sports". Football's a winter sport, for goodness, sake.

Like I say, I'd love to be proven wrong. This story is really about GvA getting excited about flirting with the UCI. With so many "other" winter sports still emerging (there was no slopestyle ski or board at the last Winter Olympics) and competing for the Olympic Timetable, it seems incredibly fanciful to see Cyclocross, or Cross Country Running (... yes - indeed - another well-attended grass-roots sport in the same boat) queue-jumping.

minnellium's picture

posted by minnellium [71 posts]
8th January 2014 - 14:46

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This would do so much to boost CX participation and have great knock on benefits for competitive cycling generally


posted by Sudor [165 posts]
8th January 2014 - 15:10

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I would love to see CX in the Olympics but even if they did change the charter I imagine it would be something like 2-3 games before it would actually enter. That is 8-12 more years!!!

I wonder what other sports would be eligible for inclusion if the charter was changed to include sports participated only in winter but not necessarily on snow or ice?

posted by jarredscycling [436 posts]
8th January 2014 - 15:30

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There a a couple of ways that CX could make it to the Olympics but I don't think changing the charter is one of them.

Firstly, it could be considered as a summer olympic sport. I know that we do it in the winter but as Gizmo points out this is also true of football and this features in the summer Olympics. Given the similarities to XC, especially to the average spectator, it would probably need to replace XC in summer games. It might be possible to persuade the IOC to do this on the basis that its a more 'purist and traditional' form of off-road cycling. The other option would be to develop an Olympic version of CX to offer greater differentiation from XC. I would think that more obstacles and extended running/carrying sections would do the trick.

Secondly, create a version of 'cross to meet the IOC winter standards, let's call it 'Snow Cross'. This version would run on a course made of snow (obviously) and could include deep powder sections to force running and perhaps other obstacles constructed from snow as well as traditional barriers.

posted by Matt eaton [0 posts]
8th January 2014 - 15:32

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Apparently the UCI were going to lose all their influence with the IOC if they didn't re-elect Pat McQuaid as President... well, that's what Pat said. Liar

posted by pwake [242 posts]
8th January 2014 - 19:49

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The IOC won't go for this as it opens the door to Bog Snorkeling.

Between the S and the LOW

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1057 posts]
8th January 2014 - 20:20

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The IOC have this right. The winter Olympics are for snow and ice sports.
Inventing another version just to play that game is pathetic really.
Some sports just do not fit anywhere. Why not leave it that way.

posted by mattsccm [221 posts]
8th January 2014 - 21:07

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The other sport that would follow i guess is cross country running,

Can't think of many other sports that are "winter" non snow outdoor sports.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [868 posts]
8th January 2014 - 21:40

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This would be effing awesome! Already love the winter games but this would be the icing on the delicious cake.

Also makes a great incentive for pure CX folks, there's a lot of lasses who concentrate on CX so for them to have a chance to do the games would be fantastic!

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [378 posts]
9th January 2014 - 10:17

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Surely what we really need is an 'Autumn Olympics'. Between snow and sun, you get mud... And as bikeboy76 said, the Bog Snorkeling would celebrate too.

Vin Cox

posted by Vin Cox [44 posts]
11th January 2014 - 18:23

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