By Gary Anderson

November 26 - From left to right: Christophe De Kepper IOC director general, Riccardo Fraccari ARISF secretary general, Thomas Bach IOC President,  Raffaele Chiulli ARISF President and Christophe Dubi IOC sport director after the meeting at the EOC in Rome © ARISFInternational Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and Dr Raffaele Chiulli, head of the IOC Recognized International Sports Federations (ARISF), have agreed to set up a Liaison Committee to help improve relations and cooperation between the two organisations.

Chiulli, who congratulated Bach on his appointment as the new President of the IOC, stressed the importance of the role the ARISF has in helping its member International Federations (IFs) to be included in the Olympic programme and in finding ways to add new sports.

Chiulli was joined by ARISF secretary general Riccardo Fraccari while IOC director general Christophe De Kepper and IOC sport director Christophe Dubi accompanied Bach, in the first face-to-face meeting between the two Presidents since the German replaced Jacques Rogge as head of the Olympic Movement in September.

The ARISF is made up of 33 IFs representing various sports that are not currently included on the Olympic programme.

The ARISF delegation informed the IOC that a consultation process between all of its members, examining how the IOC can be of more relevance to them, will soon be concluded, after which both organisations have said that they will implement all necessary actions for improvement.

"ARISF would like to promote and support the IOC Recognized IF's and coordinate their common interests and goals and ARISF shall be one of the key partners of the IOC," said Chiulli after the meeting.

One of the chief areas for debate amongst ARISF members will likely be the bidding process for Tokyo 2020 Olympic inclusion which saw seven sports under the ARISF umbrella put themselves forward.

Baseball and softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu had all expressed a desire in joining the Olympic programme for 2020.

That shortlist was whittled down in the months leading up to the IOC's decision with squash and a joint baseball and softball vying for a place.

But they then had to face wrestling, recommended for exclusion from the Olympics after Rio 2016 by the IOC's ruling Executive Board in February.

At the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September, IOC members voted to keep wrestling as part of the Olympic programme following a high-profile campaign to save itself. 

Wrestling supporters cheer with delight in Buenos Aires following the IOC's decision to retain it for Tokyo 2020 © AFP / Getty ImagesWrestling supporters cheer with delight in Buenos Aires following the IOC's decision to retain it for Tokyo 2020 ©AFP/Getty Images

The decision to retain wrestling left those bidding for squash and baseball and softball angry and confused at such a sudden reversal, particularly considering the large amounts of money spent by both the World Squash Federation (WSF) and the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WSBC) on campaigns to generate support and publicity for their bidding campaigns.

The IBAF and the International Softball Federation (ISF) merged to form the WSBC in an effort to improve both sports chances of returning to the Olympic programme following the IOC's decision to drop both after Beijing 2008, in a move that ultimately proved fruitless.

Baseball officially became an Olympic sport at the 1992 Games in Barcelona while softball made its debut at Atlanta 1996.

The appearance of Fraccari, co-President of the WSBC, at the meeting in Rome may have some significance considering the comments made by Bach last week who suggested baseball and softball may yet win a reprieve and be included on the programme for Tokyo 2020.

Bach admitted to being open to more flexibility in the Olympic programme when speaking in Japan last week, and suggested that discussions would be taking place regarding the Tokyo 2020 programme at an IOC Executive Board meeting in December.