PyeongChang 2018 is great but could be even better with the addition of one of the most popular winter sports of all
From biathlon to bobsleigh and snowboarding to figure skating, the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang is capturing the imagination of the public. There is one thing missing that would enhance the event massively, though. Cross-country running.
It is now 10 years since Haile Gebrselassie, Paul Tergat and Kenenisa Bekele wrote a joint letter to the IOC stating the case for cross-country running to be in the Winter Games.
It kick-started a campaign which AW has supported ever since, but efforts to return the sport to the Olympics (it was last held in the 1924 Summer Games) have spluttered along with seemingly little progress very recently.
On one hand it seems a no-brainer. Running off-road is a universal and popular pursuit and would bring a new audience to the Winter Olympics, not to mention the interest and participation of African nations.
Such is the strength of the idea, when AW invited people on social media a few years ago to write an argument ‘for’ or ‘against’ the proposal, we struggled to find anybody to write the case ‘against’.
Seb Coe and his IAAF colleagues recently made fresh noises to get the sport into the Olympics. Coe has targeted the Summer Games in Paris 2024, but no one will complain whether it’s the Summer or Winter Games.
Encouragingly, cross country is making its debut in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in October this year. Next year’s IAAF World Championships in Aarhus also promises to be a breath of fresh air for the sport with runners racing spectacularly across the roof of a museum in the Danish town, while there are plans to incorporate children’s races into the championships too.
If these events in Buenos Aires and Aarhus succeed, it should impress the IOC and, who knows, maybe we will see cross-country running return to the Games some time soon.