End of 2018 was another busy period for me and I could not focus on this blog. Now I have a bit more time to share some thoughts on recent developments in our sport.
One topic I wanted to catch up with is the Olympic Dream. This a fascinating area of IOF activity: heightened communication around the Olympic ambitions combined with apparently haphazard activities or lack of it, and no meaningful results to show whatsoever. A year ago I already I wrote about the talk vs action related to the Paris 2024 dream.
In this post I would like to recap the current status of the Olympic Dream that sometimes gives a feeling of a black hole for IOF resources. In a separate post I will try to analyse what could make the leaders of the IOF chase this fantasy instead of focusing the limited resources on more practical tasks.
When you look beyond pink cloud ambitions, scratch the surface, and look into the details, it becomes rather obvious that the chances of orienteering being included in the Olympic programme is zero. Not slim, not poor, not little. Simply zero.
Let’s start this review with the new strategy as presented by the Council to the General Assembly in October 2018. The General Assembly – as always – unanimously approved the Strategic Directions and the Activity Plan proposed. One can read the full text in the Congress Binder, but the essence is shown below:
I found particularly interesting the “so as to” wording above. According to all dictionaries it means “in order to” or “for the purpose of”. That is, increased attractiveness of orienteering shall serve the purpose of inclusion in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and not some l’art pour l’art (or rather sport pour le sport) love of orienteering.
The Council clearly set the Olympic Dream as the ultimate goal for orienteering from 2019 on.
To appreciate the difference, compare this with the previous, 2012 version of Strategic Directions, where the goal to position for inclusion in the Olympics was only one of the goals, not the ultimate one.
One can also see the difference in the changed approach looking at the Activity Plan for 2018-2020. Specific details of the Olympic Dream are spelled out amongst the focus areas in the same document:
Great ambitions! The intensification of the effort to throw more resources down the black hole of the Olympic Dream is emphasised by the goals of gaining inclusion in the programme of specific Olympic Games. There was nothing similar in the 2012 and 2014 activity plans. These specifics were first introduced in the 2016 plans.
The result was predictable:
- Inclusion in YOG games secured – key outcome by 2018 – FAIL
- Contact with Beijing 2022 organisers – target – NO RESULT
- Contact with Paris 2024 organisers – target – UNCLEAR (but unlikely, see below)
The outcome for the 2018-2020 Activity Plan regarding the Olympic Dream is just as predictable. Let’s look into the details below that can be easily summarised:
- The Olympic and Youth Olympic sport selection is secretive with no clear application process, and does not favour orienteering for various reasons;
- The Paralympic selection process is more transparent, but the IOF apparently did not even apply to be considered for inclusion in Paris 2024.