Wushu fighting uphill battle

Updated: 2012-12-14 04:08

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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Chinese martial art faces strong competition to kick off in the Games

Don't start planning those Olympic wushu-watching parties just yet.

The sport is a long way from becoming an official event at the Games, said the head of the umbrella organization for Olympic and non-Olympic sports federations.

"That's a difficult question. They are very far (from getting in the Olympics) now," SportAccord president Hein Verbruggen said on Thursday on the sidelines of the World Mind Games in Beijing.

Despite its growing international popularity, the combat sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts faces stiff competition in the reserve pool.

SportAccord represents 92 sports federations, providing a huge well for the International Olympic Committee to draw from.

"The IOC basically has its own recognition system, but they base themselves to a large extent upon us. If we recognize a federation, it will be a major step to getting recognized by the IOC. It's getting much closer," said Verbruggen, a former IOC member and the chairman of the coordination commission for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Recognized by the IOC in 2002, the International Wushu Federation has been promoting the sport internationally by hosting events like the 2010 World Combat Games.

It was left in the cold for the 2016 Games, with golf and rugby sevens earning inclusion instead.

The window will open again in September at the IOC session in Argentina, where members will meet to elect the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics and consider adding new sports.

Even then, Verbruggen said wushu would face long odds.

"The first group is in the Olympics," he said. "The second is recognized (by the IOC) but not in the Games. And wushu is one of them, among another 32 or 33 sports who all want to get in there. The IOC will make a decision on whether they are going to add a new sport or not. I know wushu is one of the candidates. But it's very difficult."

Climbing, baseball, karate, roller sports, softball, squash and wakeboarding are also leading candidates for 2020.

Squash is the likely front-runner because it is widely played and has been in the Commonwealth Games since 1996.

Contact the writer at sunxiaochen@chinadaily.com.cn