IOC meeting to mull adding events to Winter Olympics

KUWAIT CITY -- The addition of new events for the Winter
Olympics and a partial lifting of a freeze on payments to the
International Amateur Boxing Association will be considered by the
IOC this week.

Beijing's preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics and the
soaring construction costs for the 2012 London Games also will be
reviewed at the two-day meeting of the International Olympic
Committee executive board beginning Tuesday.

Likely to be approved for inclusion at the 2010 Winter Olympics
in Vancouver is skicross, a freestyle event similar to snowboard
cross, which debuted at the Turin Games 10 months ago and drew good

Skicross involves groups of skiers racing each other to the
bottom of a course featuring jumps, rollers, banks and other
manmade and natural terrain features. The competition is part of
the International Ski Federation's World Cup freestyle circuit,
which also includes the Olympic events of aerials and moguls.

Among other events up for consideration are women's ski jumping,
a team event in Alpine skiing, individual curling and team luge.
However, the prospects of any of those being approved appear slim.

Ski jumping is the only sport in the Winter Olympics in which
women don't participate. While the IOC is eager to have gender
equity in all sports, officials say women's jumping hasn't yet been
fully established, noting that the first world championships in the
event aren't scheduled until 2009.

Canada's women ski jumpers sent a letter to Vancouver organizers
on Nov. 20, urging them to "embrace this opportunity to remove the
final barrier to equal participation by women at the Vancouver

The Kuwait meeting is the last chance for new events to secure a
spot on the Vancouver sports program. The next opportunity will be
for the 2014 Games.

The IOC also will review boxing to see whether it is making the
reforms needed to regain its Olympic funding. The IOC froze around
$1 million in payments to the International Amateur Boxing
Association after the 2004 Athens Games, citing concerns over
scoring and the selection of judges.

A possible step forward came last month when longtime AIBA
president Anwar Chowdhry of Pakistan was defeated in a re-election
bid by Taiwan's Ching-Kuo Wu at the association's congress in Santo
Domingo, Dominican Republic. Critics had accused the 84-year-old
Chowdhry, who led the federation for 20 years, of corruption and

The IOC believes Wu still has a lot of work to do to get the
federation in line. In the meantime, the IOC is considering
releasing several hundred thousand dollars in development funds as
a first gesture of support for the new leadership.

With the 2008 Games less than two years away, Beijing organizers
will submit their test progress report to the IOC. While the venues
are on schedule, officials are expected to give an indication of
their plans for ticket pricing, including making tickets affordable
to average Chinese citizens.

London organizers are not attending the Kuwait meeting, but
Denis Oswald, the IOC executive who chairs the coordination
commission for the 2012 Games, will address the board. He's likely
to cover the issue of capital cost increases, which has been making
big headlines in Britain the past two weeks.

The British government announced last week that the
infrastructure and venue costs for the main Olympic complex had
gone up by $1.7 billion to $6.25 billion, mainly due to higher
steel prices and security concerns. Some suggest the total cost
could reach more than $15.1 billion.

London organizers and the IOC insist, however, that many of the
costs are not directly related to the Olympics, and are meant for
the long-term regeneration of the rundown east London site where
the main Olympic park is being built. The actual games operating
budget is around $3.87 billion, and the IOC says it is satisfied
with the pace of preparations.

The IOC board also will get an update on the continuing
investigation into the seizure of alleged doping substances and
equipment at the lodgings of the Austrian cross-country and
biathlon teams during the Turin Games. The IOC has received some
preliminary findings from Italian authorities, but not enough to
take any action so far.

This is the last IOC board meeting of the year, and the first in
Kuwait. From here, IOC president Jacques Rogge and the board will
travel to Doha, Qatar, for the start of the Asian Games.