Secret ballot will be voted on Friday

SINGAPORE -- When the IOC decides this week whether to drop
any Olympic sports, not even the sports federations themselves will
know the exact vote counts.

Each of the 28 sports will be put to a secret ballot Friday. Any
sport failing to get a majority will be dropped for the 2012

For any sport dropped, the International Olympic Committee will
consider adding a new one from a waiting list of five contenders --
golf, rugby, karate, squash and roller sports.

The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations,
which represents all 28 sports, is lobbying for the existing
program to be upheld.

The IOC executive board, which opened a two-day meeting Sunday,
accepted a request by ASOIF to keep the vote totals secret. All
that will be disclosed is whether a sport is in or out.

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said ASOIF president Denis Oswald
made the request for secrecy "to avoid any rankings between
sports." The move also spares embarrassment for any sports that
barely make the cut.

"We want to avoid the results of the vote from being exploited
or having some sports considered 'more Olympic' than others,"
Oswald said last month.

Davies said the voting figures would be transmitted directly by
a notary from Singapore to IOC headquarters in Lausanne,
Switzerland. The numbers "will not be shared at all," she said.

No sport has been cut from the Summer Olympics since polo in
1936, and many IOC members believe there is no reason to make any
changes now.

Removal from the program would be devastating for smaller sports
which rely on the Olympics for prestige and revenue.

In 2002, IOC president Jacques Rogge proposed that baseball,
softball and modern pentathlon be removed and golf and rugby be
added, but IOC members resisted and no vote was taken.

Rogge has since instituted a review of the entire sports program
after each Olympics. He says the Olympics must maintain a maximum
of 28 sports, 301 medal events and 10,500 athletes. No sport will
be added unless one is dropped.

Last month, the IOC program commission issued a 265-page review
of the current 28 sports and five hopefuls. The report made no
recommendations, simply listing facts and figures across a range of
33 criteria.