Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Blog 26 - Duplicate Bridge can't be a sport - can it?

This seems to be one of the questions of the moment. Most of you probably would conclude in a flash that duplicate bridge is not a sport. However, according to the International Olympic Committee it absolutely IS a sport. I quote here directly from the World Bridge Federation’s web site:-

WBF: a 'Recognized Organization'

In June 1995, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) admitted the World Bridge Federation (WBF) as 'part of the Olympic Movement', awarding it the status of a 'Recognized Sport Organization'. This recognition was accorded under Rule 4 of the Olympic Charter".

The list of recognized sports also includes Chess and Boules! Again, taken from the current WBF website, no less than 44 countries' (e.g. Italy, The Netherlands, Russia, China and many others) own Olympic Committees have recognized their national bridge federation and used this to offer them grant money. For example, the Polish Bridge Federation receives their equivalent of many hundreds of thousands of Euros each year as a result of the recognition they are granted. (By the way, it was 37 countries the last time I looked)!

So, you may ask what difference it makes. A lot! If bridge was recognized by the British Olympic Committee we, as the national governing body for England, would have access to finance that is closed to us, money that would be invested straight back into the game at all levels to develop it for the future. Lottery money that is very hard to get at the moment would be easier for us – basically it would help a lot.

We know that the barriers are dropping in this country; the Charities Act 2006 gave Mind Sports the status it needs to apply for charitable status, for which we have started the process. We need to do as much as we can and so we have joined together with the English governing bodies for Chess, Go and Draughts to form the Mind Sports Council; that group will lobby everyone it can to try to obtain for our respective sports the same rights and privileges now available to others.

Finally, the first World Mind Sports Games are to be held in Beijing from October 3rd to October 18th, using the Olympic facilities. Take a look at the brochure. It is hoped that this will be a step towards eventual inclusion in a future Olympic Games.