New sports, same concerns for Olympic family
The Olympic rings may be symbols of peace and harmony, but underneath them in Copenhagen over the last few days, there's been a hoopla of discord.
Some members are still clearly very unhappy at the way the inclusion of the two new sports for 2016 has been handled. In the end, rugby romped home with 81 votes for, 8 against, and golf avoided the bunkers and the long rough that some had foreseen, with 63-27 in favour.
The numbers don't tell the whole story, however. Before the voting, highly critical interventions from senior International Olympic Committee figures showed president Jacques Rogge will have plenty to do during his new four-year term of office.
Richard Pound, a former vice-president, bemoaned the process for selecting the sports, claiming the executive board had misunderstood the mandate from the membership, in presenting them with a done deal, not a real choice.
New Zealand rugby player Jonah Lomu (left) helped front up rugby's bid team
I sense there will be strong resistance to any future attempt to make congress nothing more than a rubber-stamping body for the games programme. Members want their say and their votes to count, just as they do for the host cities. They could have delivered the ultimate bloody nose and rejected one or other of golf and sevens but chose not to.
After all, there's no argument as to their commercial value to the IOC, ahead of say squash or karate, two sports disappointed to miss out, but not put to a full vote. The arguments will rage about golf's suitability in particular.
It's already being compared to Olympic tennis where the top names, with a few notable exceptions, don't make competing a priority, and where the value of Olympic gold ranks below a major title.
Tiger Woods sent a video from the Presidents Cup, asserting his belief that he, "couldn't think of a better sport to be part of the Olympic games." It might have been more convincing had he sent himself. Padraig Harrington, booted, suited, and a little nervous, did come over well in arguing it would mean a lot for an Irishman to be on the podium, and Michelle Wie presented the fresh, ethnically diverse face of the game.
The more I saw of the rugby sevens presentation, the more I felt they'd be pushing against an open door. The sport has everything going for it, not least the ease with which it naturally fits into the often under-used main stadium during the first week of Olympic competition, before track and field begins.
It will be a big crowd puller, and offers the genuine prospect of medals for the Pacific island nations. It would have gone down a storm in London, but the IOC's tortuous process for adding and removing sports prevented that. The organisation might have a swanky new website, but it's still not as light on its feet as it should be.
As Rogge contemplates another four years, I wonder if he's had a chance to put a call in to the White House yet, or NBC television, GE, CocaCola, McDonalds and Visa? Chicago's bid being shown the door at the first opportunity last week is sure to have put further strain on relations between the IOC and its US partners, who frankly, are the organisation's economic powerhouse.
Was that a slight gulp I detected before the president read the results of the first round of voting? I think so. An honourable defeat for Chicago against Rio in the final round would have been a much easier sell. Dumping out the home town of the US president, and now Nobel prize winner not long after Air Force One had left Danish airspace? Ouch! Of course, it was entirely the member's prerogative to do so...but they're not the ones who have to pick up the phone...