A Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 will be ‘very good for cycling’, the UCI President Pat McQuaid has said.
Speaking following the announcement, he said: “Hosting the Games in Japan will be a great boost for the globalisation of cycling, in particular all across Asia.
“Japan has a strong history of cycling, in particular track cycling and the keirin which originated in Japan and is one of the most spectacular Olympic Track disciplines.
“The facilities Tokyo is putting forward for all of the cycling disciplines are excellent, with the road race starting and finishing in the city centre of Tokyo.”
The culmination of a two-year global campaign, Tokyo was voted Host City by IOC members meeting in Buenos Aires, beating off Istanbul in the second round of voting. Madrid was eliminated in the first round of votes.
Keirin racing originated in Japan in the late 1940s and has featured in the Olympic Games since Sydney in 2000.
McQuaid’s praise of the keirin event comes after a BBC investigation in 2008, suggesting that its incorporation in the programme may have been assisted by the prospect of the Japanese Keirin Association making payments to the UCI, a claim that world cycling’s governing body has denied.
McQuaid was speaking from Buenos Aires as the IOC met to make key decisions about the composition of the 2020 Olympic programme and, in the coming days, to vote to elect the next IOC President, who will replace Jacques Rogge.
McQuaid, who has an election of his own to worry about now, said that he was not involved in the UCI decision not to refer his reliance on Morocco and Thailand for nominations for his upcoming UCI Presidency campaign to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The Guardian reported that he said: “"I wasn't part of the decision. It was the executive committee.
Asked whether the sports governing body was ignoring the desires of its members, he responded: "There are 175 federations and some have written to me saying they don't want to go to arbitration."
The IOC also voted to retain cycling as one of the Olympic programme’s 25 core sports.
In a UCI statement, McQuaid said that this showed the IOC had complete confidence in cycling and its contribution to the Olympic Games.
Mr McQuaid said: “Each and every national cycling federation around the world depends on cycling’s position as a ‘core sport’ in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in order to receive funding from their respective governments. Preserving cycling’s position as a core Olympic sport is therefore critical to the development of our sport worldwide.
“There have been some calls in recent years for cycling to be dropped from the Olympic programme. I have always stood up strongly for cycling in the face of such proposals.”
Commenting on the reinstatement of wrestling to the Olympics, after it was dropped four months ago, McQuaid said that wrestling was almost dropped shows that no sport can ever afford to be complacent.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.