IOC adds 7 medal events to 2022 Beijing Winter Games program
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Planning for its next three Olympic Games on Wednesday, the IOC added seven medal events to the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, published a 2020 Tokyo Olympics schedule with no agreement on when to race swimming finals, and set a timetable to add new sports to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The next Winter Olympics will now include: women's monobob, Big Air freestyle skiing for men and women, plus mixed team events in short track speed skating, ski jumping, ski aerials and snowboardcross.
The addition of gold medals to a 109-event program was combined with a reduction in how many athletes will compete.
In an attempt to cut organizing costs, amid recent failures of potential bidders in Europe for the 2026 Winter Games, there should be no additional venues required and 41 fewer athletes in Beijing than the 2,933 competitors at the Pyeongchang Olympics last February.
IOC sports director Kit McConnell said changes for Beijing were "really sending a strong message about controlling the size of the Olympic Winter Games."
Sports losing athletes from their Olympic quota include 41 in skiing disciplines, 26 from skating, and 20 fewer in biathlon.
Women's ice hockey will grow by two teams to become a 10-nation lineup instead, adding 46 athletes.
McConnell said an improved gender balance will see 45.4 percent female athletes in Beijing, rising from 41.1 percent in Pyeongchang.
A women's Nordic combined event — mixing cross-country skiing and ski jumping — will not join the Olympic program because the overall quality of competition and variety of countries taking part was not "at a level appropriate to being included," the IOC official said.
Two years and one week before the Tokyo Olympics open, the IOC published a detailed schedule Wednesday of when competitions will take place.
It lacked any breakdown of events at the Olympic Aquatics Centre, which hosts swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming.
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, in a time zone one hour different to Tokyo, swimming finals and semifinals were raced in morning sessions so they could be broadcast live in the United States late evening. US broadcaster NBC is the single biggest contributor to Olympic revenues.
However, swimming is also a core attraction for the host nation's viewers with Japan winning seven medals, including two gold, at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
McConnell said a swimming sessions schedule should be finalized inside two months, with the IOC, Tokyo organizers and swimming governing body FINA seeking a balance to ensure "each of the key time zones have some of their key sports live."
Paris organizers have an uncertain wait to discover if new sports they propose next year for inclusion on the 2024 program will be approved.
The IOC plans to make interim decisions on the Paris preferences at an October 2019 meeting in Milan, then review again after seeing how other sports perform at the Tokyo Olympics.