On the 28th September 2015, as part of the additional games program, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee shortlisted sport climbing along with four other sports for possible inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games. In August 2016, the 130 members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote to decide which of the five sports will be included.
This is a great opportunity for sport climbing and in association with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), the Climb2020 campaign aims to raise greater awareness of the sport and unite climbing communities across the UK in support of this Olympic proposal. Over the coming months, the Climb2020 website will serve as both a hub where all the latest information will be published and a place where you can share your thoughts and register your support.
The campaign was launched in February 2016 and has already attracted attention not just from the UK but from climbing communities around the world. The BMC, UKClimbing and the GB climbing team are all behind the campaign which hopes to secure 5,000 signatures of support through their website by August and with 850 in the first week things are looking promising.
Although it has grown significantly in recent years, sport climbing in the UK is still generally recognised by many as a minority or specialist recreation. Because of this, its public profile is fairly low and it attracts very little sporting coverage through our general sporting media. Despite being an exciting and engaging spectator sport, it seldom or never makes main stream sporting TV and is only reported in specialist sports magazines and journals. As a result it attracts very little in the way of financial support or sponsorship.
Although there are likely to be only around four days of competitions included in the 2020 Olympic games, they will be televised and in a way that the sport has never seen before. In 2008, it is estimated that 4.4 billion viewers worldwide watched the Beijing games on television and 3.6 billion for the 2012 Olympics in London (Source: www.statista.com). By bringing the sport into the homes of so many, not only is there an opportunity to showcase and educate people of the virtues and benefits of sport climbing but it will surely bring the much needed funding that climbing associations and organisations so badly need.
With increased publicity comes more public interest. This invariably converts to more people visiting climbing walls and with more people engaged in the sport the more individuals there are striving to become successful athletes. By reflecting on the success of the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Sir Chris Hoy and their effects on the UK cycling scene, we can see how the British connect with their sporting heroes and the effects of this on the sport in general.
Early indications suggest that the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) plans to bring the entire sport to the Olympic games and proposes to include a single medal event that combines the three disciplines of lead, bouldering and speed. Although unconfirmed, it is believed that qualification will take in a mix of both male and female athletes from the World Championships, the five Continental Championships, the World Youth Championships and some of the top seeded athletes in the world ranking of the year. Strict IOC guidelines dictate a stringent code of conduct and as a result the IFSC have chosen to not to publish the exact proposal details until the IOC decision in August. However, the Climb2020 campaign is following events daily so when information does become available it will be published at www.climb2020.co.uk
Getting the attention of the 130 members of the International Olympic Committee is no small task. However, the Climb2020 campaign is reaching right across the globe and with your support it will be found by those who look for it. By registering, you will be joining the Climb2020 community, which through a united and single voice will demonstrate to the IOC that climbing is perfectly positioned to become an Olympic sport. So, visit www.climb2020 and register your support and like and share our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/climb2020.