User:U3017146/Rock climbing in the summer Olympic Games, aiming too high?

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Interview 1: Conducted with Emma Horan, Australian sport climbing representative and current national champion. Interview 2: Conducted with Gordon Kelly, owner of the Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing Centres. He has spoken quite soflty and as a result viewer may need to listen carefully or turn up the volume.

Rock climbing is a sport which boasts participants worldwide, exhibits national and internationally sanctioned competitions, is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and as yet is not one of the sports included in the current summer Olympic Games schedule. On a local scale the sport of rock climbing has dramatically risen in popularity in the last decade with the introduction of the Canberra Rock Squad and the development of the second Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing Centre located in Hume. The creation of Sport Climbing Australia in 2005 was a milestone development for the sport of competition rock climbing nationally. Sport climbing Australia is the ‘peak body for the sport of competition climbing in Australia’ (Sport Climbing Australia, 2007). On an international scale rock climbing has evolved rapidly into not only a competitive sanctioned sport but also a business. More recently in 2007 the UIAA agreed to pass the governance of sport climbing to an independent body thus allowing the creation of the International Federation of Sport Climbing, IFSC (UIAA, 2007). This move cemented rock climbing as a business worldwide and allows a bright future for the development and expansion of the sport worldwide. In the rock climbing community there is the age old debate over traditional rock climbing versus the bolting of cliffs and the question ‘is climbing plastic at an indoor facility really rock climbing?’ These debates have been discussed for decades with no clear consensus, although convincing arguments have been delivered for either side. In December 2007 the International Olympic Committee granted ‘provisional recognition’ to the IFSC making it part of the Olympic Movement and officially classifying sport climbing as a ‘sport’ (International Federation of Sport Climbing, 2011). In February 2010 the IOC granted ‘definitive recognition’ to the IFSC welcoming the sport climbing into the Olympic organisation [(International Federation of Sport Climbing, 2011). These steps are bringing sport climbing even closer to becoming included in the summer Olympic Games programme.

Introduction[edit]

The sporting industry is a powerful and expansive industry in which the Olympic Games play a significant role in the aspirations of many athletes. Rock climbing is a sport which boasts participants worldwide, exhibits national and internationally sanctioned competitions, is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and as yet is not one of the sports included in the current summer Olympic Games schedule. This paper will examine the evolution of rock climbing as a sport on a local, national and international scale with use of specific examples to illustrate. Rock climbing as a business in Australia has rapidly increased in the last decade, from the development of new facilities to state competition teams and the establishment of Sport Climbing Australia, the governing body of sport rock climbing in Australia. The politics of classifying rock climbing as a sport are complex and its roots run deep into history concerning debates over traditional rock climbing, the bolting of cliffs and disputes as to whether indoor rock climbing can really be classified as rock climbing . The inclusion of rock climbing as a sport on the summer Olympic Games programme will be addressed specifically focusing on the current milestones that have been achieved in this endeavour so far.

Rock climbing as a business[edit]

Local scale - Canberra, ACT[edit]

On a local scale the sport of rock climbing has dramatically risen in popularity in the last decade with the introduction of the Canberra Rock Squad and the development of the second Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing Centre located in Hume. The Canberra Rock Squad is the elite level athletes training at Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing Centre in Mitchell and competing regularly on a national scale (Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing, 2011). The athletes of the Canberra Rock Squad initially began competing in the New South Wales bouldering series in 2001 and have progressed to additional national competitions in all disciplines of seed climbing, Lead and bouldering. The Canberra Rock Squad sent its first competitor to the World Youth Championships in 2004 in Edinburgh, Scotland and has had competitors in the championship each year with the exception of 2007.

National scale - Australia[edit]

Rock climbing as a business in Australia has rapidly increased in the last 10 years, from the establishment of new facilities to state and international competition teams as well as the establishment of Sport Climbing Australia. The creation of Sport Climbing Australia in 2005 was a milestone development for the sport of competition rock climbing. Sport climbing Australia is the ‘peak body for the sport of competition climbing in Australia’ (Sport Climbing Australia, 2007). As a business Sport Climbing Australia has developed many fundamental documents including a constitution, strategic plan and code of ethics. Various policies regarding national and international rankings, competition selection and membership structure have also been developed by the organisation. More recently a significant milestone was reached for sport climbing in Australia, Sydney indoor Climbing Gym at St Peters, sister gym of the new world-class Villawood site, hosting the World Youth Championships in 2008 with the president of the International Federation of Sport Climbing labelling the competition the best he had attended (Sport Climbing Australia, 2007).

International scale[edit]

On an international scale rock climbing has evolved rapidly into not only a competitive sanctioned sport but also a business. It was internationally in France that the first organised rock climbing competitions began in the 1940’s (International Federation of Sport Climbing, 2011). The first indoor rock climbing centres emerged in the early 1980’s and the first indoor event occurred in 1986 in Lyon, France, paving the way for a new era of competition climbing (Zimmerman, 2008; International Federation of Sport Climbing, 2011). In 1997 the International Council for Competition Climbing, ICC, was developed within the UIAA, the International Mountaineering and Climbing Association. More recently in 2007 the UIAA agreed to pass the governance of sport climbing to an independent body thus allowing the creation of the International Federation of Sport Climbing, IFSC (UIAA, 2007). This move cemented rock climbing as a business worldwide and allows a bright future for the development and expansion of the sport. The IFSC states that ‘more than 45 countries regularly participate in the official calendar, that includes not only World, Youth, Continental Championships, World Cups, Continental circuits, but also many other high profile International competitions’ (International Federation of Sport Climbing, 2011). In 2009 the UIAA held 1.3 million paying members worldwide thus strengthening the notion of rock climbing as a business and proving that rock climbing is a sport that is growing in popularity in all countries around the world (UIAA, 2007).

The politics of rock climbing as a sport[edit]

Traditional Rock Climbing

In the rock climbing community there is the age old debate over traditional rock climbing versus the bolting of cliffs and the question ‘is climbing plastic at an indoor facility really rock climbing?’ These debates have been discussed for decades with no clear consensus, although convincing arguments have been delivered for either side.

Traditional rock climbing versus bolting cliffs[edit]

The preference over traditional rock climbing or bolted cliffs for sport climbing is a personal decision and is surrounded by years of heated political debate in the rock climbing communities worldwide.

‘there are bolts alongside perfectly adequate traditional belay cracks, bolts and chains at the top of climbs where robust trees exist and ladders of bolts that both enable the climbing of blank walls and the protection of featureless or unprotectable climbs ‘ (Climbing Australia, 2011)

Traditional rock climbing (pictured), or more commonly known in the climbing world as Trad, typically involves the placement of equipment including nuts and hexes into weaknesses in the rock such as cracks (Schuster et al, 2001). The equipment used in traditional climbing is used as a means of protection rather than to aid a person in climbing higher. Traditional rock climbing allows the climber to choose their own route, however, there is heavy emphasis on the safety aspect namely the integrity of the equipment being used as well as safe gear placements (Reid, 2011). Many traditional rock climbers discern that traditional rock climbing is a ‘much richer form of rock climbing’ as it requires extensive amounts of forethought in placing equipment whilst attempting a route (rock climbing.com, 2011).

Bolt used in bolting cliffs for sport climbing

The bolting of cliffs provides fixed protection for sport climbers on an outdoor cliff (pictured). Some climbers believe that bolting a cliff makes it more accessible to the general public as well as those too inexperienced and who lack the necessary equipment to undertake rock climbing in the traditional form (Climbing Australia, 2011). According to Schuster et al (2001) ‘bolts are an advancement in technology that allowed climbers to place gear where gear could not be placed in the past’. This advancement in technology has allowed the development of many new rock climbing areas with an abundance of routes that would not be able to be climbed the traditional way. The bolting of cliffs has now become a norm in the climbing community and can be labelled as somewhat of a modern take on the traditional ideology of rock climbing.

Is climbing plastic really rock climbing?[edit]

Whether it’s climbing routes or bouldering indoor rock climbing has taken on an identity of its own. Indoor rock climbing involves the construction of artificial walls and the placement of colour-coded artificial hand and foot holds to develop climbing routes (Climbing Australia, 2011). The political debate over the authentically of indoor rock climbing is an age old debate since the development of the first indoor rock climbing gyms in the late 1980’s (Zimmerman, 2008). Many traditional rock climbers discern that indoor rock climbing is not true rock climbing as you can clearly see the route and the size/shape of the holds (rockclimbing.com, 2011). These climbers view indoor rock climbing as an easy option that does not meet the rough terrain and serenity of traditional outdoor rock climbing (rockclimbing.com, 2011). On the other hand indoor rock climbing poses less risks to the climber and is ideal for those individuals starting out in the sport (ABC of rock climbing, 2011). Indoor rock climbing allows the climber to lead, top-rope and boulder much like the outdoors but with the added protection of large mats and in general less weathered equipment. Indoor gym provide the shelter to the climber to be able to train year-round with no threat from the weather conditions and in a controlled environment (ABC of rock climbing, 2011).

Rock climbing as a sport on the summer Olympic Games schedule[edit]

The development of the IFSC in 2007 created an international body for the government of sport climbing worldwide. This was a major milestone in the recognition of rock climbing in its endeavours to be classified as a sport. In December 2007 the International Olympic Committee granted ‘provisional recognition’ to the IFSC making it part of the Olympic Movement and officially classifying sport climbing as a ‘sport’ (International Federation of Sport Climbing, 2011).For a sport to make it onto the Olympic Programme the IOC has made the following statement:

‘A sport first has to be recognised: it must be administered by an International Federation which ensures that the sport's activities follow the Olympic Charter. If it is widely practised around the world and meets a number of criteria established by the IOC session, a recognised sport may be added to the Olympic programme on the recommendation of the IOC's Olympic Programme Commission’ - (International Olympic Committee, 2009).

It is clear that sport climbing is well on its way to becoming part of the Olympic Movement satisfying two main criteria in the IOC’s statement above; the international governing body of the sport is the IFSC and it is a sport which is practised worldwide with the inclusion of developing countries as members of the IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing, 2011). In February 2010 the IOC granted ‘definitive recognition’ to the IFSC welcoming the sport climbing into the Olympic organisation (International Federation of Sport Climbing, 2011). These steps are bringing sport climbing even closer to becoming included in the summer Olympic Games programme. Sport climbing is now one of the 8 sports along with wushu, karate, roller sports, softball, baseball, squash, wakeboarding that have been shortlisted to be included in the 2020 summer Olympic games programme (Rockclimbing.com, 2011). The final decision is to be announced by the IOC in Buenos Aires in 2013 (Rockclimbing.com, 2011).

Conclusion[edit]

This paper has examined the business and politics in the sport of rock climbing and the prospective inclusion of the sport into the summer Olympic Games programme. Rock climbing has been discussed as a business from a local scale through to a national and international level and its evolution and growth as a sport highlighted. The political debates over traditional rock climbing versus the bolting of cliffs have also been discussed as has the age old question ‘is climbing plastic really rock climbing?’ To conclude this paper explored the milestones that have been achieved so far in the inclusion of rock climbing as a sport in the summer Olympic Games programme with it now being shortlisted as an option in the 2020 Olympic Games. It is evident that the business and politics of the sport of rock climbing run deep into history and the sport has grown and developed onto many various forms with worldwide participation strong in every aspect.

References[edit]