LONDON (Reuters) - The 2014 Sochi winter Olympics will have six new events, including women’s ski jumping which had long campaigned for inclusion, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Wednesday.
Women’s ski jumping, team events for figure skating and luge, ski halfpipe for men and women and biathlon mixed relay were included for the Olympics at Russia’s Black Sea resort as the IOC refreshes its programme to remain attractive.
Men’s and women’s ski and snowboard slopestyles and an Alpine team parallel competition will be monitored longer before a decision on their inclusion is taken in May or June, the IOC’s sports director Christophe Dubi told reporters.
He said the decision on which sports made the cut was based on what they were bringing to the Olympics as the IOC seeks to boost universality, youth appeal and gender equity.
“Figure skating for example is an incredible sport. It is extremely popular among various cultures and age groups. (The figure skating team event) is an incredible proposition. It is something that will add huge value to the Olympic programme.”
For the remaining events proposed but not included this time, Dubi said safety considerations or concerns they could crowd the slopes, as with the Alpine event, meant they wanted to look at them a little longer before making a decision by June.
Women ski jumpers, who were not included in last year’s Vancouver Games and had unsuccessfully sued organisers over what they said was gender discrimination, said they were delighted to finally win a spot on the Olympic programme.
“I am thrilled the IOC decided to add our sport,” said 2009 ski jumping world champion Lindsey Van.
“Women’s ski jumping has been growing for the past 10 years but inclusion in the Olympics is what our sport needed to take the next step,” the American added.
The only remaining winter Olympic event that does not have both male and female representation is Nordic combined.
“Obviously for nordic combined there is not yet the universality and the numbers to consider it an Olympic sport,” IOC chief Jacques Rogge said.
“You need the numbers ... you need more competition, you need more international participation and hopefully I would say the example of women’s ski jumping will serve as a catalyst for that sport, too.”
Editing by Ed Osmond