Bandy Is Eligible According To The Olympic Charter

The Olympic Charter is the law of the IOC and the Olympic Movement. Federation of International Bandy (FIB) is IOC recognized and included in the Olympic Charter. Bandy is eligible as a Sport (IF) for the Winter Games according to the Olympic Charter bylaw 1.4.2 to Rule 27. The IOC Session has approved FIB. The IOC Executive Board has the power to include bandy events. They could and should do it*. 

 

Recent Olympic Participation

Bandy was part of the cultural programme of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) at Lillehammer 2016, and will likely participate in the Lausanne 2020 YOG. Bandy will also participate in the Winter Universiade 2019 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

 

Unusually Strong Historic Antecedents 

History provides uncommonly strong antecedents explaining the contemporary state of the Sports programme. It is unusually rare that any organization preserves its basket (of products and services) over a century. None of the original companies in the Dow Jones index remain there today. Particularly it is strange in sports where merits and qualification is the very pillar of the foundation. Clubs that populated any top league in 1924, are commonly replaced with new clubs in 2018 based on qualifications.

Bandy has always been qualified. Bandy’s absence from the Games is mystic. There is no valid reason, but history can shed some light. Bandy has been circumvented in an unfair manner. It starts in 1905.

 

Scandinavian Olympics– The Nordic Games

The predecessor to the Olympic Winter Games (OWG) was the Nordic Games that took the stage between 1901 and 1926, once in Kristiania (Oslo), and the others in Stockholm. The journal “Revue Olympic” described the Nordic Games as the “Scandinavian Olympiads” (Edgeworth 29:36). The Nordic countries dominated Winter sports at the time. Bandy was part of the Nordic Games in all seven editions. Bandy was the original hockey sport on ice in Eurasia and Europe (Fosty, Fosty, and Jelley (66:76)).

The IOC, however, made plans to take over the Nordic Games, something that created a rivalry between Sweden and the IOC.

 

The IOC Wants The Nordic Games

The IOC looked at the Nordic Games from 1905. At IOC Session 1911 the IOC Secretary-General and Italian IOC Member Brunetta d’Usseau proposed to include the Nordic Games 1913 as an extension to the 5th Games of the Olympiad in Stockholm 1912. IOC founder Pierre de Coubertin and co-founder and close acquaintance Victor Balck from Sweden opposed fiercely. Coubertin was skeptical in general and Balck wanted to protect the Swedish multisport event The Nordic Games. They received support from Norway that for the same reason wanted to shield the Holmenkollen skiing events (Schantz: 3).

Norway later changed its mind and proposed for the IOC Session 1914 to include winter sports in Germany, Feldberg 1916 something that was approved by the 1914 Session. But still with opposition from Victor Balck, Sweden. World War 1 stopped the 1916 Games. The state of sports was put on hold during the Great War and was weak in the post-war years. It also involved a confusion of decisions and minutes from IOC meeting, according to historian Arndt Krüger (Kleppen: 86-89).

 

The Rivalry Between The IOC and Sweden

Possibly tired of Scandinavian opposition and their attempts to protect their own franchise, France proposed to the IOC Session 1921 to organize a winter sports week 1924 under the aegis of IOC. Extend the Games of the Olympiad in Paris the same year. Bandy was strong in Sweden, so bandy was excluded from the Chamonix Games.

The ice venue in Chamonix was large and designed for speed skating and the interior perfect for bandy. The solution was to assemble ice hockey boards to ringfence a small ice sheet for ice hockey and figure skating. This was also the case in the next editions of the Winter Games. 

 

Sweden Punished

The author Halvor Kleppen (De Kalde Lekene: 69) concludes that it was a huge mistake of Victor Balck and Sweden to turn down a winter Olympic programme in Sweden 1912-13. Kleppen argues that with this rebuff the power of the Olympic Winter Games came in the hands of continental Europeans without (at the time) the Nordic competence in organizing winter sports events. Kleppen concludes that Sweden gave up sitting in the driver seat developing the Sports programme (Author: a programme that would have included bandy). It became bandy’s curse.

Kleppen’s hypothesis is very much confirmed. When Chamonix, 1924 winter sports week took place, bandy was left out. Swedes also filled the ranks of biathlon officials. Biathlon faced an uphill struggle in the next decades. It finally joined the pentathlon federation 1953. This gave the right IF affiliation to be allowed into the sports programme 1960. Retroactively the IOC Session 1926 designated the Chamonix 1924 event as the 1st Olympic Winter Games. 106 years after the Stockholm 1912 Olympics – bandy is still not on the programme.

 

Picture: IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell

 

Other Multisport Games

Bandy will participate in the FISU Winter Universiade 2019 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

Bandy took part in the labor movement’s 1st and only international winter sports Spartakiade in Oslo, 1928. The Red Sports International (RSI), the socialist counter to the IOC, organized the Spartakiads. The labor movement later split between western social democrats and eastern communists. Exacerbated by the Stalin purges, the western European and the Nordic labor movement abandoned the USSR led RSI. The international Spartakiads ceased. The winter Spartakiads continued as a domestic multisport event for the Soviet Union republics until 1990. There were 7 editions, 1962 – 1990, in which bandy participated in 6 editions.

The Soviet Union became IOC member as late as 1949. The Soviet Union covered the main part of the Sub Arctic Climate Zone. Bandy, as a heritage sport from this huge area, would strengthen the Games and better fulfill the Olympic Principles. No other winter sport can provide greater diversity (Principle 3 and 6). Facilitating peace (Principle 2) between Sweden and Norway or France and Germany became less relevant. The programme, however, did not adjust to the Principles. The USSR had to adopt western winter heritage sports.

There was no ice hockey in Russia before the late 1940s. The same situation as in the Nordics and Continental Europe 30 years earlier. Showing-off their strength, the Soviet Union used bandy players to win WCS ice hockey 1954 and Olympic Gold 1956. They dominated international ice hockey in the following decades. Also, bandy athletes from Finland and Sweden have won high-ranking ice hockey medals.

 

Bandy In The Oslo Winter Olympic 1952

 

A Bandy Player Saves The Winter Olympics

In the mid-1950s the powerful Norwegian IOC Member Olaf Christian Ditlev-Simonsen Jr. (IOC Member 1948-1966) saved the Winter Olympics from demise when powerful IOC Members threatened the OWG of cessation. Ditlev-Simonsen competed in bandy and sailing.

Up to the OWG Oslo, 1952 Ditlev-Simonsen accelerated bandy as a demonstration sport. The number of events had grown from 11 to 36, so it was clear that bandy was eligible compared to other sports. 66 years after the Oslo 1952 Olympics there are 109 events. Bandy is still not on the programme.

 

The Winter Olympics Ten Double in Size

As the number of Olympic events has grown (e.g. Cerso: 4) the questions as to why bandy is not on the OWG Sports programme increases accordingly. The number of OWG events has ten-doubled from 11 (1924) to 109 (2022). Why not 1 or 2 events for bandy?

The athletes’ quota has also ten-doubled. The quota has increased with 2640 athletes. Why not 100 or 200 bandy athletes? The number of (NOC) athletes’ delegations has increased from 16 nations in Chamonix 1924 (Cerso: 3) to 92 nations in Pyeongchang 2018.

The 92 participating nations conceal the truth that 12 nations have close to 90 % of historic medals, athletes and likely have an even larger share of infrastructure. About 40 % of the athletes’ quota of 2900 comes from nations without historic medals, with little infrastructure and without real ongoing activity. It is unfair to them, as they do not have any medal chance. Broken down on each Discipline and event there are significantly fewer than 12 nations. On average 5 nations systematically compete for the 3 medals.

More or less the same Sports (IFs) that gathered in Chamonix OWG 1924 are preserved on the Sports programme – 94 years later with multiple disciplines and events. The exceptions (e.g. biathlon joining the pentathlon federation (UIPMB) 1953) confirm the pattern that IF affiliation is a major explanatory factor of the current sports programme.

A majority of the IFs have their headquarters, or other offices, in Lausanne, Switzerland or proximity. The IFs cooperate through the Swiss-based and IOC recognized: Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF). The be outside the sports cluster in Switzerland weakens a Sports chances for programme participation.

The world changed, but not the Winter sports programme. The IF based programme contradicts the competitive regime in any other area of society, market or particular in sports. None of the original companies in the Dow Jones index remain there today. Clubs that populated any top league in 1924, are commonly replaced with new clubs in 2018 based on qualifications. If some club still retains the top position, it is surely is because of qualification.

 

The Key Question Becomes:

Do these federations have all the relevant disciplines and events that best fulfill Olympic objectives?

The answer is no. Bandy will strengthen the Games.

 

Lack Of Valid Grounds

It is intriguing that bandy, as one of the few major winter sports, never came into the OWG.

There were vague ideas and impressions and attempts to rationalize the current state. But it is hard to find any research based on valid and reliable data that aim to prove that it was not. None found are focused on the mandated criteria or fundamental Principles for the Games. None emphasis on good governance and fair play in the competition among sports to be part of the Games.

 

Affiliation to International Federation

The answer to all the question marks is that IF affiliation is the main explanation for program participation.

 

Responsibility Governance of Power

The IOC owned Olympic Winter Games is without a doubt a dominating actor in winter sports. The cumulated taxpayer investments in the Olympic Winter Games sum up to USD hundreds of billions. Its funded by the public and the public expect fair play. IF affiliation is no fair play criteria.

The Olympic sports programme moreover affects national, regional and local budgets and policies. 206 National Olympic Committees (NOC) are governed by the Olympic Charter. The Charter demand majority votes in NOCs to representatives from programme Sports (IFs). Programme sports looks after their own interest. Their recommendations on policy and infrastructure will align with the NOC voting majority. In this way, non-programme sports are put in disadvantage.

The huge advantage of Olympic programme participation cannot be overestimated. Correspondingly the huge disadvantage of exclusion cannot be underestimated. Bandy athletes have for a century been put at a major disadvantage.

The IOC has been given huge powers. This position demands responsibility.

 

The Bandy Puzzle

History provides unusually strong antecedents explaining the contemporary Sports programme. But this is, after all remarkably odd in sports. Sports are based on meritocracy where the best able win based on qualification. Stakeholders of sports expect meticulous meritocracy. This spurred the analysis Benchmarking Winter Sports. It concludes that bandy would have been part of the programme in a regime of meritocracy.

 

Accountability

Agenda 2020 concluded unmistakably that The IOC should be held to account with their fundamental Olympic Principles. The keywords were mentioned no less than 206 times. Accountability encompasses fair play in the selection of sports for the programme. Sponsors and stakeholders of the Olympic Movement must be confident that there are fair play and good governance.

 

Agenda 2020

The Agenda reform had to remove the previous term “core sport” from the bylaw 1.4.1 to Rule 27. This bylaw list the federations with Disciplines and events currently on the programme. The word “core” was inconsistent with fair play. Fair play in the competition among sports to qualify for programme participation. Also, the dissimilar rules of the 1973 Olympic Charter have been removed. Moreover, dissimilar rules are inconsistent, and illegal, with antitrust law. Nevertheless, the current sports programme is based on these obsolete old rules. It needs to be rectified. The easiest decision to mitigate the error is to include bandy.

The IOC is a dominant actor in winter sports. The IFs cooperate (e.g. AIOWF) and unsurprisingly protect their interests. They do it with state money that has funded the Games. In any other market, this would not have passed the supervisory control of antitrust authorities.

*It’s unclear why the IOC Session still approves new Sports (IF) when IOC Recognized Sports already are approved. There is no legal text in the OC that distinguish the two bylaws, nor should it be. The IOC Session approval essentially is just a move from bylaw 1.4.2 to 1.4.1. If this is necessary the 134th IOC Session should in June 2019 move FIB to bylaw 1.4.1.

The IOC Session is the supreme body and naturally seeks to keep its power. The rationale could be a division of power with the IOC Executive Board. However, the risk is that the approval procedure serves as another disguised barrier to entry.

(Reading the small footnote text, in the addendum to working group 4, in Agenda 2020 main document) contradicts the overall message. It mentions a preference for IFs currently on the programme. The text contradicts fair play and good governance. It contradicts close to every other message given in the Agenda 2020 reform. It must be dismissed as an error. Any such policy should have been reflected in the Olympic Charter. And be highlighted in the front pages).

 

Conclusion

Historically the IOC has had a very liberal policy for federations currently with events on the sports programme. And enforcing a very different and conservative policy for Sports not on the programme. As a dominant actor, the sports programme decides what sports that shall survive. This must end. Hopefully, all candidates in the future are treated equally.

 

The Future

History is still the past. What matters is the future. Whether Agenda 2020 and New Norms will be enforced and thereby improve the sports programme. It will be improved with bandy. Bandy will strengthen the Games.

There is no other choice.  A pragmatic policy, as well as a policy aligned with the Olympic Principles, will include bandy.

 

 

Post Scriptum:

 

The Television Myth

The prime explanatory factor for programme participation is IF affiliation. The IOC has not used any television argument against bandy. The backdrop of this myth is the speed and the small ball. The idea occurred 70 years ago. The story is:

In the early 1950s, the Norwegian national broadcaster exhibited bandy. The bandy expertizes themselves claimed that bandy was too fast to capture on television. And the rapid ball too small. The statement reoccurs regularly. It is true that a bandy at the time probably needed more cameras and resources compared to large-ball sports like football.

In 1993, The national Norwegian broadcaster NRK transmitted the WCS men with great success. The old argument was dead.

The producers said that in future the HD standard will come. Until then they wanted a bit larger bandyball at 66 mm diameter. The diameter size of the ball was increased to 63 mm, but not to 66 mm.

Today HD is standard and 4K TV is the emerging standard. There are machine learning algorithms upgrading 4K to 8K. A decade ahead 8K might be the standard. The technological development advantage the speedy bandy play.

Although the claim is dead, there were several flaws in the logic. This did not explain why bandy was not included in the Games.

Most importantly. Bandy was popular on television. The claim was and is contradicted by the evidence.

There are several other flaws to the former view:

1st. Self-confident TV producers would have loved the challenge of a speedy sport. Their professional self-esteem would have assumed and solved any challenge.

2nd. The choice of programme sport 1924 was not based on future media technology. It was based on IF affiliation. Biathlon was included 1960 based on its IF affiliation. The biathlon sport transformed to media-friendly later in the 1990s. The IOC had no crystal ball 1924. They could not foresee the media revolution in television technology.

3rd. There was no television in Chamonix 1924 (or the next 8 editions), not even radio. Television had its breakthrough locally in some of the US states in the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley. The international breakthrough came in 1964 in the Tokyo Summer Games. In the Winter Games, it came at Innsbruck 1964 and Grenoble 1968, but tv revenue was timid. As late as Salt Lake City 1980 broadcasting revenues were USD 0,5 million per event. Broadcasting revenues do not explain the sports programme.

4th. Ball sports get the most valuable television rights. Out of the 12 most valuable rights, measured in annual sales, ball sports have 10. The Olympic Summer Games is # 8 and the Winter Games # 11. Many of the most popular ball sports have a ball size about the same as the bandyball. The same applies to ice hockey that also has a small diameter puck. In sports, the television industry put the most development resources and technology to ball-sports. These innovations could seamlessly be migrated to bandy.

5th. Few winter sports appeared good on the old black and white television pictures and the following early flickery color television pictures. Curling was a sport that worked well on this technology. Why was then curling kept out and not included again before 1998?

6th. The broadcasters did not pay any significant amount for the OWG rights. Still, today broadcasting rights do not pay a significant share of the total expenses of the OWG (on average 20 %). Until 1984 the TV rights income was very small. The growth in revenues started in the 1980s from a very small denominator. From the low base level, the annual growth rates were a bit above nominal GDP growth. But they did not reach very high growth as popularly portrayed. The power of compounded growth rates (even in single digits) over 30 years inevitably triples the nominal TV income. But expressed as annual growth rates were as mentioned close to GDP growth.

7th. Most of the sports have since 1924 gone to great lengths to adjust its format to television. This confirms that the choice of these sports 1924 was not based on their original TV friendliness.

8th. Federations in the Games are allowed to introduce significant changes of events, often close to entire new events. These events are untested in the Games, but still, are admitted. This confirms that IF affiliation is the decisive factor, and not data over popularity or television.

9th. Ball-sports are by far the most popular television sports. They have not adjusted very much to the tv. Television had to send e.g. football as it is. The format of the sport shall serve the sport and its athletes. Any sport that goes in too far lengths to adjust for TV reveal an underlying weakness. It might risk a recoil as it distances itself from its origin.

10th. IOC has never used this argument against bandy.