Brian Cookson: Could track cycling move to Winter Olympics?

UCI president is also calling for the introduction of cyclo-cross to the Winter Games and a reshuffle of badminton, judo

by Elliot Johnston   March 25, 2014  

Dani King leads GB women's Team Pursuit at London 2012 (copyright www.britishcycling.org.uk)

Track cycling’s place in the Olympic Games should be reviewed according to UCI president Brian Cookson, who suggests it be moved to the Winter Olympics.

We reported in January that the president of world cycling's governing body had called for Cyclocross to be introduced to the Winter Olympics ahead of the recent Sochi 2014 Games.

He has reiterated this view in an interview with the BBC, and also says that track cycling, plus other sports that traditionally take place indoors during northern hemisphere winters, should also have a place at the Winter Olympics.

Cookson said: "If you have a problem with summer Olympics where the whole thing is perceived as over-heated with too many facilities, too many sports, too many competitors and so on, why not look at moving some of the other sports indoors that traditionally take place in the northern hemisphere winter?

Following the Winter Olympics in February we ran a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that ice cycling and bike curling should be introduced to the Olympics.

Cookson questions the Olympic Charter's requirement that “only those sports which are practiced on snow or ice are considered as winter sports.” 

He asked: "Let's think about the Winter Olympics, why does it have to be snow and ice?" 

"Why not look at combat sports like judo, or other indoor sports like badminton? You could even say what about putting track cycling in the Winter Olympics?"

"If we moved track cycling to the Winter Olympics and that allowed us to have more track cycling events and more medals, that could be a pretty good outcome."

His contribution comes as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) undertakes a review of the Olympic programme, which its president Thomas Bach says should be completed later this year.

Britain’s return of four medals from their Winter Olympic exploits in Russia this year equals the country's best achievement at the Games, which came in the first edition in Chamonix in 1924. 

But that pales in comparison to the 12 medals, of which eight were gold, that Team GB won from cycling events alone at London’s Olympic Games in 2012. Seven of those gold medals, plus one silver and one bronze medal, came in the velodrome.

So if that success is sustained, then perhaps - in terms of spreading our success more evenly across the Winter and Summer Games  - a move for track cycling to the Winter Olympics could be a good thing for British sport?

One objection to Cookson's suggestion could be that a velodrome is not a facility immediately associated with a winter sports resort.

But Sochi, like previous host city Vancouver four years earlier, lies at sea level and hosted the indoor events there, with sports such as ski-ing taking place further afield. Turin, host city in 2006, is hardly an Alpine village either.

But if track cycling were to be included at the Winter Olympics, there could be implications for the UCI's own flagship track event, the UCI Track Cycling World Championships, which roughly coincide with the Games every four years.

Presumably they would have to be moved forward in the calendar each time the events clashed, or skipped altogether in an Olympic year?

 

9 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

It would feel odd to watch badminton at the winter Olympics

posted by jarredscycling [453 posts]
25th March 2014 - 20:09

20 Likes

Is it April 1st?

No way will this happen. Winter Olympic sports must be played on snow or ice.

Simply taking place during the Northern Hemisphere 'winter period' does not cut the mustard.

How about Football, that is a 'winter' sport. Or rugby. Or Cricket that is played in the winter, but mainly in the Southern Hemisphere. The list of 'winter' sports is endless.

What the UCI should be campaigning for, (but unlikely to get) is an expanded track program with the individual pursuit, points race, and Kilo TT reinstated.

posted by seanbolton [140 posts]
25th March 2014 - 22:11

17 Likes

Idiot.

posted by mattsccm [271 posts]
25th March 2014 - 22:40

18 Likes

As I said this morning, he's lost it and my respect.

Winter Olympics....for WINTER sports....what happens in winter? I snows, its cold, there is ice....Yes. cyclists might go indoors, but that does not make it a winter sport.

NOW, if he wanted cyclocross in the winters, I'm in for that.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8935 posts]
26th March 2014 - 0:20

27 Likes

Is it time for mandatory drug testing of officials?

posted by levermonkey [378 posts]
26th March 2014 - 6:15

10 Likes

Dear Brian,

Thanks for asking. No they could not.

Kind regards,

Michael

posted by brackley88 [76 posts]
26th March 2014 - 9:01

15 Likes

Pretty much any indoor event could be moved to winter, but it really would be missing the point. The Winter Olympics are essentially for sports that can only be held during the winter. If it became more popular, I could see variations on fat-bike racing being included, but that would clearly be an addition rather than any saving.

dafyddp's picture

posted by dafyddp [163 posts]
26th March 2014 - 12:37

6 Likes

Did he misread the memo that said CX!?

Bonkers. This would be horrendous!

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

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
26th March 2014 - 13:03

5 Likes

It would be a complete reimagining of the Olympic system, but that doesn't mean it would be a bad thing. The Olympics as a whole would be much more evenly distributed between the Summer and Winter Olympics; rather than simply 'The Olympics' and, 'That Other One with the Curling'.

As it is, I AM quite fond of the current set up; the Olympics being a huge celebration of sport in general, and the Winter Olympics as a kind of specialised 'themed' event that requires a particular type of country (i.e. cold). I like the significance that comes with the 4 year cycle, and I like the way the countries play upon their brief moments in the sporting spotlight to really create something culturally inspiring. I might just give little importance to the Winter Olympics because GB doesn't excel there though. There would certainly be some advantages in greater distribution.

From a cycling perspective, it would free up athletes to be able to focus on track AND road, which has been quite a big issue lately. I think the two year alternation between the two sports seems quite elegant.

It's also interesting to see Cook musing on such grand shifts in the sporting world, even if they are just musings. He seems very open to ideas, which I feel is a good thing in an organisation that has grown progressively more stagnant in leadership and direction; the current UCI Bike Restrictions being a good example.

It's an easy target for the curmudgeonly old fools of the internet hold a cheap opinion on (i.e. buhh dats stupid Silly), but at least someone is thinking about sport with a fresh mind. Which - after the last few years - is desperately what cycling needs. The narrow-minded can seek out self-validation if they wish, but for the rest, it can at least provide food for thought.

posted by Quince [151 posts]
26th March 2014 - 15:27

22 Likes