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...

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.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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