Liam Morgan

I was immediately struck by a somewhat revelatory line in a press release from the International Canoe Federation (ICF) last week regarding its proposed slate of events for Paris 2024.

In the release, which confirmed the already-known application for the inclusion of extreme canoe slalom at the Games, the ICF said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) "has indicated no new medal events will be added to the Paris 2024 programme".

A follow-up to the ICF yielded a slight elaboration on the above statement. "We have been told that if we want new medals, we have to take them from somewhere else," a spokesperson for the worldwide body told insidethegames.

To accommodate this demand, the ICF has proposed axing two canoe sprint events to make way for two extreme slalom competitions, despite the latter discipline involving no additional athletes as they would be taken from those competing in the traditional slalom discipline.

The ICF Athlete Committee has disagreed with the Executive Board recommendation, however, with chairman Tim Lodge confirming he would lobby the IOC to "consider the inclusion of extreme slalom and retain the 12 sprint events".

"The Committee will argue that adding two medals for extreme slalom will require no additional athletes, and will also avoid disruption and uncertainty for our canoe sprint athletes, who are currently facing the prospect of losing two medals for Paris," Lodge said.

Extreme canoe slalom has been proposed for inclusion at Paris 2024 ©ICF
Extreme canoe slalom has been proposed for inclusion at Paris 2024 ©ICF

While the IOC has consistently said it will not add events if they increase the number of athletes, telling Federations they cannot have any more medals - even if they stay within their existing quotas - represents a significant development.

If it has indeed relayed that criteria to other Federations - two messages to the IOC on the topic have gone unanswered at the time of writing - then additional event proposals will seemingly be rejected by the IOC Executive Board when it meets on Monday (December 7), unless they find space for them by removing those already on the programme.

It could mean cutting quotas from existing events will not be enough for their applications to be successful, including those much-derided mixed team competitions which add little to the excitement of the Games and have merely been used as instruments to manufacture enhanced gender equality.

Federations will also seemingly have the opportunity to trim their own bloated programmes by getting rid of their least successful events and possibly adding the hip, youth-orientated competitions favoured by the IOC and its President Thomas Bach.

Of course, it is feasible the IOC has only set this requirement to certain Federations and, to use a prominent phrase in the build-up to the last Summer Olympics in Rio, suggestions there may be a blanket ban on new medal events are wide of the mark.

The IOC loves to assess issues on a case-by-case basis, and perhaps that applies here.

For example, the likes of the ICF already have a significant presence on the programme - 16 canoeing events will be contested should the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics go ahead next year - and it is possible that will be factored into the IOC Executive Board's decision.

World Triathlon, which has proposed a new eliminator style event involving the usual race format at the Games, only has three medals at Tokyo 2020, so could have a better chance of success as its application would bring that number to just five.

The IOC Executive Board will confirm the Paris 2024 programme on Monday ©IOC
The IOC Executive Board will confirm the Paris 2024 programme on Monday ©IOC

Among the other notable applications are for the inclusion of beach handball, likely to be turned down because of a supposed increase of 128 athletes, a mixed team cross country athletics event, coastal rowing and parkour.

The IOC has been urged to reject the inclusion of parkour, being proposed by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), by the global governing body of the sport amid its protracted dispute with the FIG, which it has accused of "encroachment and misappropriation" of the discipline.

Parkour Earth, which wrote to the IOC Executive Board ahead of its Paris 2024 decision on Monday, can take solace from the fact the FIG's attempt to include parkour could fail as it would involve the additional athletes the IOC has warned it will not tolerate.

The IOC will surely be looking to ensure the number of events at Tokyo 2020 - 339 - is not surpassed when the French capital hosts the Games three years later.

Four additional sports - breakdancing, skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing - will feature at Paris 2024 following a proposal from organisers, developed with considerable influence from the IOC and which will be rubber-stamped by the Executive Board early next week.

When the sports were provisionally included at Paris 2024 by the Session last June, IOC doyen Richard Pound claimed the administration had been guilty of "overkill" in the process, which was unnecessarily lengthy.

The four were put forward by Paris 2024, approved by the Olympic Programme Commission and then the Executive Board before they arrived in front of the Session.

Pound's criticisms represent a feeling many of us in the media - and athletes - have about the way the IOC decides which sports and events feature at the Games.

The Olympic programme is a hugely complex jigsaw puzzle made more convoluted and difficult by the lack of clarity - and even secrecy - demonstrated throughout the process by the IOC and the Federations, who leave it to the last minute to decide their event slate.

There do not seem to be any clearly defined parameters used to determine the events that are accepted for Olympic inclusion, leaving Federations and their athletes in limbo until the programme is set in stone.

If there were, governing bodies would know exactly what they need to do to achieve a hallowed place at the Games.

A proposal from gymnastics to include parkour at Paris 2024 has been met with criticism ©Getty Images
A proposal from gymnastics to include parkour at Paris 2024 has been met with criticism ©Getty Images

While the IOC deserves some leeway with the Paris 2024 schedule, which will be confirmed without the usual analysis of events from the previous Games owing to the postponement of Tokyo 2020 to 2021, it needs to dispose of its confusing and contradictory messaging.

After all, it is telling the ICF it has to find room for new events by removing others while signalling it will consider additional competitions, provided they do not lead to the sport exceeding its quota ceiling.

The answers to many of the questions posed by Federations, athletes and officials alike will have been answered by Monday, but do not expect that to be the end of the ever-constant Olympic programme debate.

Who has proposed what for Paris 2024 inclusion at the time of writing:

Athletics - mixed team cross country, 50km race walk for women

Canoeing - extreme slalom

Cycling - BMX flatland, mixed team time trial

Gymnastics - parkour

Handball - beach handball

Modern pentathlon - mixed relay

Rowing - coastal rowing

Sailing - mixed kite, mixed two person dinghy, mixed two person keelboat offshore

Shooting - skeet mixed team

Table tennis - men's and women's doubles

Taekwondo - mixed team

Triathlon - eliminator-style individual race

Not proposing any additional events:

Archery, badminton, basketball, equestrian, football, hockey, judo, rugby, tennis and volleyball.

Other Federations have not replied to requests from insidethegames.