Olympic Sporting? Why not?

World class Sporting shooters like Mark Winser should have a chance to compete on the Olympic stage

by Dennis Webb, former member of the British International Board, now the BICTSF

It seems ridiculous that Sporting clay shooting, one of the biggest sports in the world, should be excluded from the Olympic Games. When I was an international board member representing FITASC, I tried to lobby the ISSF.

I got three supportive but non-committal replies. The late David Parry said that it had been mentioned on a few occasions but never got anywhere. Only Vladimir Lisin told it to me like it was.

The only successful Sporting organisation with true international representation is FITASC. The president, Jean Paul Palinkas, is a mate of mine, and I thought this organisation could spearhead our claim for inclusion in the Olympics, but as the Fitasc Sporting discipline became more successful, it became clear that Jean would not hand over control of it to an organisation like the IOC.

If he did, shooters would not be able to enter World or European Championships on a first-come-first-served basis. He could not hand over a discipline to become a failed Olympic discipline like Olympic Skeet or Trap. You may balk at the description ‘failed’, but how many UK shooters shoot Olympic Skeet? Perhaps 50-odd. Is that the mark of a successful discipline?

I had to agree with Jean, which left me wondering how we could find and promote an acceptable discipline, and convince Trap and Skeet shooters to support our inclusion. How do we convince the IOC that we should be part of the Olympics?

I believe the answer is to separate Olympic shooting from athletics, just like the Winter Olympics. We could even stage it on alternate years. I have shot in some breath-taking mountain scenery – Andorra, Switzerland, Austria, Germany. Some of these countries are not suitable for athletics events, but shooting events could bring them into the game.

We have tracker cameras that can show shot-to-clay cuts, and allow non-shooters to follow the action, much like they do with golf. It could be stunning.

The conventional approach to this would be a long, drawn out process. The late BICTSF chairman Roger Peace once told me: “If you started now to try to get Sporting into the Olympics and it was agreed, it would still take 20 years to get into the starting blocks.”

He was absolutely right. There is no structure that can promote Sporting. I tried, and we got a Sporting sub-committee started in the CPSA. The chairman was a Trap shooter. The committee folded. That is how the system works.

But I believe there could be a short cut. Some years ago, Denise Eyre, a member of the FFBT, France’s equivalent of the CPSA, won the French National Championships. She had lived in France for 15 years, but they would not let her take the title, awarding it to a French woman instead. Denise took the federation to the European Court of Human Rights and won.

For our case to succeed we need to do something similar. Notices would be served on all the members of the IOC on the basis of discrimination or a breach of the Olympic Charter. Self-determination, non-discrimination and inclusion are still the cornerstones of the Olympic Movement.

Our continued exclusion is unjust, and it can be challenged, perhaps with crowd funding like Wild Justice have used to fight pest control general licences.

I calculate that to file a full challenge in the European Courts would cost around £200,000, although if it were handled properly, it might not have to go that far; drawing up a proper statement of the case may suffice.

I have no doubt there will be plenty of people who disagree with my plan, but surely we must all agree that Sporting clay shooting deserves a place in the Olympics, and the benefits to the sport around the world would be huge. Let’s work together and see if we can find a way to make it happen!

What do you think? Should Sporting fight for a place in the Olympics? Drop us a line at fieldsports@futurenet.com 

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