By Nick Butler
“Unifying all stakeholders” for the benefit of skateboarding has been declared as an aim by SportAccord ahead of a major conference seeking to help the sport’s campaign for Olympic inclusion at Tokyo 2020.
It follows a meeting at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne between representatives from the International Roller Skating Federation (FIRS), the International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) and the World Skateboarding Federation (WSF).
While the FIRS is the umbrella organisation for both roller disciplines and skateboarding within SportAccord, there is opposition from some skateboarding groups at being amalgamated with another sport.
Such a collaboration has negatively impacted the snowboarding community since the discipline joined the International Ski Federation in the 1990s, it is claimed.
But a further split exists between the ISF, the body led by Gary Ream which organised the exhibition event at last August’s Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, and the WSF, led by Tim McFerran, organisers of the Global Skateboarding Summit.
Other groups oppose any Olympic participation altogether.
The Summit, scheduled for May 22 to 24 at the Conrad Hotel in Istanbul, is being billed as the first meeting of all the global stakeholders in the sport and is seeking the “establishment of the structure for one world governing body for the sport”.
Olympic inclusion is a key theme throughout the three-day programme, with round-table discussion topics including “Skateboarding and the Olympics how it will work” and “Olympics new opportunities and how to take advantage”.
Skateboarding is one of several sports seeking a place on the programme in Tokyo 2020 following the increased flexibility promised in the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reform process.
Baseball and softball remains the favourite to be chosen when the IOC make a decision at its Session in Rio de Janeiro next year but karate, squash, snooker and surfing are also lobbying hard.
But, unlike most of these others, skateboarding is not currently even an IOC-recognised sport and is unlikely to become one until the divisions between the various governing bodies are resolved.
“A meeting with representatives of FIRS, the ISF and WSF took place in Lausanne to discuss the ongoing development of the sport and its relationship with the Olympic Movement,” an IOC spokesperson told insidethegames.
“The meeting followed up on constructive discussions throughout the course of 2014 and the inclusion of both roller sport[s] and skateboarding in the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games Sports Lab.
“All parties reflected on the positive nature of the discussions and look forward to further dialogue.”
SportAccord, the umbrella organisation for International Federations is also working to unite these groups, and the body’s general director Vlad Marinescu will be a keynote speaker during the Summit.
Marinescu confirmed that FIRS is “the official and full member of SportAccord for roller sports and includes the discipline of skateboarding as well” but the sport’s organisations are “fragmented”.
“SportAccords intention is to unite and unify all stakeholders for the benefit of the sport,” he added to insidethegames.
More information on the inaugural Global Skateboarding Summit can be found here.
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