Olympic Quest Gets Boost from Japan Bowling Congress

by Bob Johnson 0

Bowling’s quest to become an Olympic Games sport has received what could be a big boost from the Japan Bowling Congress.

World Bowling just released a letter sent to member federations by President Kevin Dornberger, who explained the revised inclusion processes being implemented by the International Olympic Committee and how they could impact bowling’s chances for inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Here is the unedited text of Dornberger’s letter to bowling’s tenpin federations:

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WorldBowlingYou may be aware that the IOC has recently taken steps that should increase the opportunities for bowling, and other sports like it, to become a sport in the Olympic Games. The IOC Session, held in Monaco in December, 2014, unanimously approved all of the proposed provisions of Agenda 2020, a wide-ranging document that will substantially change the way the IOC conducts business. One of the provisions of Agenda 2020 provides that, while future Olympic Games will remain capped from a total athlete number of around 10500, in the future there will be no limit on the number of sports that can be included; that number is currently 27. The theory is that some disciplines or events of sports currently included in the Games will be removed, and new sports added to take their place. The details of the process by which this may happen will be developed sometime this year by the IOC. As you know, we have been working on a plan of improvements to our sport and structure that are designed to improve our opportunities for future Olympic inclusion, so this development comes at an important time. We will share with you further developments in this process as they are announced.

As part of the Agenda 2020 announcement there were hints that future Olympic Games hosts would have the opportunity to request the additional inclusion, on a one-time basis, of a limited number of sports for their Games only. Further clarity has been added by the IOC within the last few weeks. It appears that the Tokyo Organizing Committee (TOC) of the 2020 Olympic Games has been given the opportunity to request that the IOC include a small number of additional sports in the 2020 Tokyo Games. It now appears that the TOC will request to IOC that additional sports be added. The sports requested by TOC will be made public by August, 2015, and through a review process that has not yet been published, the IOC will recommend inclusion, or otherwise, to its Session in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016.

Upon the initiative of the Japan Bowling Congress (JBC), meetings were scheduled in January 2015 in Tokyo involving World Bowling, JBC, the Japan Olympic Committee and the Tokyo Organizing Committee. I met with the Japanese Olympic Committee and discussed the merits of bowling being in the 2020 Olympics with Mr. Takeda, IOC member and President of the JOC. I also met with Mr. Mori, President of the TOC. The JBC scheduled a press conference regarding our interest in being included in Tokyo 2020. More than 60 media members attended, including TV crews from the five major Japan television broadcasting companies. The media had many questions and comments and it was clear that they are familiar with bowling. Clips from the press conference were shown on all major stations the next day.

The bottom line is, we have made our pitch to the JOC and TOC for bowling’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games. The determination of which sports will be requested is solely left to the host country; the number that Japan may request is unknown, but all the public information available indicates that it is “small." We will share with you further developments in this process as well. In the event that bowling is one of the requested sports from the TOC to the IOC, we will need the assistance of all of you, our members, to be involved in an action plan developed by World Bowling that would be designed to move us from recommended to approved over the period of August 2015 to August 2016. I cannot adequately express my thanks to the JBC, which expended enormous energy and initiative throughout this process, they have been remarkable. Thank you President Takebe and the entire Board and staff of JBC.

In closing, I can assure you that World Bowling will continue in its efforts to constantly make improvements to our sport, so that our sport prospers, and might be recognized for inclusion into future Olympic Games.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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