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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

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?


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