The International Olympic Committee has recognized
the World Bridge Federation as
a sport organization and international federation
BRIDGE, a true sport of the mind, has being trying to gain its well deserved entry into the world of Olympism for some time now. Here is an account of the present status, how this was achieved and what remains to be done.
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.

Liaison with the IOC President

Pursuant to the above development, the WBF, in quest for elevation of its status as an IOC-recognized 'International Federation' (IF), established an effective liaison with the IOC and its President at the time, Juan Antonio Samaranch. Instrumental in this effort were the WBF President José Damiani, and WBF Vice President Mazhar Jafri, who worked in harmony with former IOC Vice President Marc Hodler.

After the election of the new IOC administration (July 2001), WBF coordination with the IOC continues at the highest level with the new President Jacques Rogge.

1st IOC Grand Prix for Bridge

Following a befitting presentation in December 1997, the IOC agreed to stage the 1st IOC Grand Prix for Bridge at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne in September 1998.

Speaking at the opening of the 1st IOC Grand Prix, President Samaranch declared that 'bridge is a sport and, as such, its place is here (in the Olympic Museum) like all other sports'.

WBF: an 'International Federation'

In June 1999, the International Olympic Committee decided, at its session in Seoul, to recognize the World Bridge Federation as an 'International Federation' (IF) under Rule 29 of the Olympic Charter. (Copy of Certificate in PDF format).

Rule 29 provides that 'in order to promote the Olympic Movement, the IOC may recognize as IFs international non-governmental organizations administering one or several sports at world level and encompassing organizations administering such sports at national level'.

Required Amendments

Further, Rule 29 also provides that 'as far as the role of IFs within the Olympic Movement is concerned, their statutes, practice and activities must be in conformity with the Olympic Charter'.

Accordingly, the IOC has requested confirmation that 'the WBF doping regulations are in conformity with the Olympic Movement Medical Code' and that 'the WBF adheres to the Court of Arbitration for Sports for the resolution of all form of dispute relating to the sport of bridge'.

In order to comply with these requirements, the WBF Constitution and Bylaws were suitably amended in August 2000.

The Olympic status of Bridge

So far, Bridge has reached the same level as Golf, Rugby, Squash, Karate etc. which, though recognized as sports, are not yet admitted into the Olympic Games. From this level, bridge may belong to some International Associations of sports and be part of the Olympic Congress. The WBF logo and flag are included in IOC publications and displays.

IOC Grand Prix for Bridge continues...

The IOC Grand Prix is a useful tool for keeping in close contact with the Olympic movement. For this reason, it has become a regular feature, held annually.

Following the first event, the 2nd IOC Grand Prix took place at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, in September 1999. The 3rd IOC Grand Prix followed in October-November 2000.

... and moves to Salt Lake City

The 4th IOC Grand Prix was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, site of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, in February 2002.  For a summary of all the IOC Grand Prix events, click here.

This allowed many members of the IOC to attend the event, and the presentation of the matches on Vugraph. At the same time, WBF Executives used the opportunity to explain why Bridge is a sport. The 4th IOC Grand Prix attracted the attention of the world press who had gathered in Salt Lake City for the Olympic Games.

The Final Step

Bridge has applied to join the Olympic Winter Games (rather than the Olympic Summer Games) for a variety of reasons:

It is already tied to winter sport resorts around the world, where bridge festivals and training courses are regularly held.

Bridge is played indoors. Therefore no additional infrastructure is needed, and matches are played in existing hotel rooms and convention facilities which are often unoccupied during the Games.

Bridge would be filling the usually vacant afternoon period between the snow sports (held in the morning) and ice sports (held in the evening).

Given the difference in size between the Summer and the Olympic Winter Games, these would be better balanced with the addition of bridge and chess in the Winter Games. Bridge and Chess are sports apt for competitors rather than spectators, just as most winter sports.

National Olympic Committees

Until bridge has been included in the program of the Olympic Games, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are not obliged to accept NBOs (National Contract Bridge Organizations) within their membership fold (Rule 32.2 of the Olympic Charter). Although, the recognition of the WBF as an International Federation may and should help the NBOs to be accepted by their respective NOCs, such acceptance is subject to the NOC's approval.

However, once bridge becomes part of the Olympic Games, NOC recognition of the respective NBO is mandatory (Rule 32.1 of the Olympic Charter).

Status of NBO Olympic recognition at national level.

Other Recognitions

Bridge seeks recognition from all sports organizations that are connected with the Olympic movement.

Because of its recognition by the IOC, bridge is a member of the Association of the IOC-Recognized International Sports Federations (ARISF).

At its meeting of 28 October 2000, held in Monaco, the Assembly of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) recognized bridge without any opposition. GAISF includes Olympic and non-Olympic sports.

On 18 November 2000, bridge was introduced to the 29th General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), convened in Warsaw, Poland. A 10-minute audio-visual presentation by WBF President José Damiani was well received by some 150 delegates of the 48 EOC member countries. At the end of the presentation, EOC President Jacques Rogge wished that bridge be welcomed by the European Olympic Committees. (Click here to see the presentation.)

To demonstrate what bridge is about, a competition was arranged in Warsaw, along the lines of the IOC Grand Prix. The EOC Bridge Tournament, was organized by the European Bridge League and the Polish Bridge Union, under the patronage of the EOC. It was visited by EOC President Jacques Rogge (now IOC President) and EOC Secretary Mario Pescante (now EOC President).

For photo documentary Click here.

Conclusion

Under the Olympic Charter, the criterion of belonging to the Olympic Movement is recognition by the IOC.

The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to the building of a peaceful and better world, by educating people through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

The WBF, now an integral part of the Olympic Movement, will continue to strive for the attainment of the above goal, thereby bringing the great sport of bridge at the same level with those sports already admitted in the Olympic Games.

 

 

Affiliated Sports Organizations

 

World Anti-Doping Association (WADA)

International Mind Sports Association

SportAccord

Association of IOC Recognized Sports Federations (ARISF)

International University Sports Federation (FISU)=