Fok backs sevens for IOC nod

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 June, 2009, 12:00am

Rugby sevens has a good chance of being included in the 2016 Olympic Games, says Hong Kong sports supremo Timothy Fok Tsun-ting.

Fok, who has just returned from an International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board meeting in Switzerland, said there had been keen competition among the seven sports which have made their final cases for inclusion in the 2016 Games.

But he believed there was a consensus among members that rugby sevens had a good chance, while squash had good support from Asia.'IOC members' views were diverse but I think there is a consensus on rugby sevens,' Fok said. 'Squash is one of Hong Kong's strongholds and in fact Asian countries have also been doing well in the sport. There should be a sport in the Olympic Games that Asia has a chance [to win medals].

'It makes a big difference in terms of support, reputation and many other areas if an event can become an Olympic sport,' said the Hong Kong Olympic Committee president, who is also an IOC member. 'All the seven sports worked very hard to impress the members.

'Even softball, which has a small fan basis, is trying hard to get back into the Games, but as a women's only sport it will be very difficult.'

Golf, roller skating, karate, softball, baseball, rugby sevens and squash - are competing for two places. All seven made presentations in Lausanne last week and the IOC executive board will select two in August. They will join the Olympic programme if they can secure a 50 per cent majority at the IOC Congress in Copenhagen in October.

Meanwhile, Fok said he was confident Hong Kong would stage a quality East Asian Games in December despite the swine flu threat.

'We have the ability to handle the health situation,' said Fok. 'There is still five months to go before the Games and we have ample time to introduce necessary measures.'

He said there were many major games in the next six months and Hong Kong could learn from their experience of handling the influenza.