April 30 - Snooker today set its goal of one day becoming an Olympic sport after a meeting saw a new joint strategy agreed between its governing bodies.
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) and the International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF) have agreed to work closely with the World Confederation of Billiard Sports (WCBS), the governing body for cue sports affiliated to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
At the meeting in Sheffield it was agreed that the WPBSA and the IBSF would work jointly on the international development of the sport, through multi-sport events such as the World Games and Asian Games.
Snooker is already guaranteed to be part of the World Games in Cali, Colombia, in July, with 16 players from a minimum of 12 countries to play for gold, silver and bronze medals.
Snooker has been part of the Asian Games programme since Bangkok in 1998.
At the last Games in Guangzhou in 2010 the men's singles was won by Hong Kong's Marco Fu with China's Chen Siming taking the women's gold, while China won the men and women's team events.
The new strategy launched today is intended to generate increased interest in the sport and help unlock funding around the world to develop the sport through National Governing Bodies.
Working jointly with the WCBS, which is based in Brussels and has 148 affiliated national federations, will allow the World Snooker Tour to be recognised as a world sport in the eyes of the IOC, they claimed.
"Snooker has progressed massively in recent years and this new agreement will open doors for us in new key markets to expand our sport," said WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson.
"I would like to thank to members of the WCBS for their support and faith in the WPBSA as we strengthen our presence as one of the world's major sports."
Snooker, generally regarded as having been invented in India by British Army officers, is popular in many of the English-speaking and Commonwealth countries, and increasingly China.
The current World Championships are being held in Sheffield, where China's Ding Junhui has reached the quarter-finals.
"I believe that one day snooker will be an Olympic sport," said Ferguson.
"Many sports receive substantial funding from the IOC to assist growth and increase participation.
"I''m very excited about what the future holds for snooker and the potential to pave a new way ahead."
The earliest snooker can appear in the Olympics is in 2024 as the current process to choose a sport for 2020 is approaching its climax, with baseball-softball, karate, roller sports sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu all campaigning for inclusion, although wrestling may retain its place having been recommended for exclusion from the core programme after Rio 2016.
But there is optimism that snooker can be successful.
"We are delighted to be working hand in hand with the WPBSA and this has given snooker at both professional and amateur levels the opportunity to strive for greater things," said Jim Leacy, President of the IBSF.
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