By David Gold

ChampionnatsdumondeescaladaeAugust 31 - The World Climbing Federation (IFSC) is preparing for next month's World Championships in Paris, a key evaluation of the merits of their bid for inclusion on the Olympic Games programme in 2020.

This year's event will see more than 500 athletes from 60 countries take part in qualifiers and the finals.

Three disciplines – bouldering, speed and lead – will be featured making the competition, with more than 15,000 spectators expected, one of the largest climbing events ever organised.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is sending a team of observers to the event, which will be held in the Palais de Bercy in Paris from September 12 to 16.

"We hope that the event will be as good as the 2008 European Championships in Bercy, and that it will help us tip the balance favourably towards [our inclusion in the] Olympics," said Pierre You, President of the French Federation of Mountain and Climbing Sports (FFME).

"The FFME is proud to celebrate the 2012 World Championships in Paris.

"Organising this international sporting event is a seminal moment for climbing in France.

"The Championships are already a success, given the number of athletes and countries that are signed up to take part.

"Let's make the most of Paris 2012 as we await the International Olympic Committee's verdict in 2013."

Climbing must battle for inclusion on the Olympic programme.

They will be fighting against strong bids from squash, karate and a proposed joint application from softball and baseball, which are set merge governing bodies to improve their own chances of winning the race for inclusion in the 2020 programme.

Climber August_31Three disciplines – bouldering, speed and lead - will be contested at the World Championships in Paris next month

Also bidding for 2020 are wushu, wakeboard and roller blading.

The IOC officially recognised climbing as sport in 2007, and climbing is also a member of the SportAccord Convention.

Organised climbing competitions began in the former Soviet Union shortly after the Second World War.

The first official difficulty contest ever, Sportroccia, was held in 1985 in Bardonecchia, an Olympic town not far from Torino in Italy.

The success of that event and the subsequent competition the following year sparked significant public and media interest, with the French town of Lyon then organising the first indoor event during the same year.

The sport has been growing internationally ever since, with 80 countries across five continents engaged in the sport.

A high point for climbing was its inclusion in the World Games in Duisburg seven years ago, a spot it retained at the next Games in Kaoshiung in 2009.

Observers from the IOC are attending a major championship at each of the bidding sports and will make their final decision regarding the sport to be included on the 2020 programme next year.

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