Peru withdraws hosting rights to SportAccord’s World Combat Games

SportAccord has suffered a fresh blow with the Peruvian Olympic Committee (COP) withdrawing its hosting rights to the 2017 World Combat Games in the wake of the fallout created by president Marius Vizer’s controversial comments about the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Lima was appointed to host the 2017 World Combat Games in March. The 2017 event was set to feature 16 different sports. More than 2,500 athletes were expected to take part in competitions that stretched across 33 disciplines and 135 categories. However, the Games, which are overseen by the umbrella body for Olympic and non-Olympic sports federations, have been hit by the reaction to Vizer’s recent attacks on the IOC, president Thomas Bach and the wider Olympic Movement.

A host of Olympic sports federations have since suspended their ties with SportAccord. These have included the International Boxing Association (AIBA), United World Wrestling (UWW), World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) and International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) – all of whom have also withdrawn their participation in the World Combat Games.

In a letter to Vizer reported by the Associated Press news agency, COP president Jose Quinones Gonzalez said that sponsors had also withdrawn their support for the 2017 Combat Games. He added that Peru sided with the IOC in the dispute with Vizer and SportAccord. In December, Lima was selected by the IOC to stage its 2017 meeting where the host of the 2024 summer Olympic Games will be chosen.

“The Peruvian Olympic Committee is an integral part of the Olympic Movement,” Gonzalez said. “Therefore it supports the International Olympic Committee and the reforms of Agenda 2020, which have been widely consulted and agreed with all members. For these reasons, we are sure to have your comprehension and gentle understanding of the current situation that, much to our regret, makes infeasible the realisation of the World Combat Games in our country.”

The COP’s decision comes less than a fortnight after SportAccord defiantly predicted the 2017 World Combat Games in Lima would be “the biggest edition yet” despite the damaging splits with some of the event’s flagship sports. The first-ever edition of the World Combat Games took place in the Chinese capital of Beijing in 2010, with Russia finishing as overall champion. 

The 2013 Games were staged in the city of St. Petersburg in Russia, where the host nation successfully defended its title. The featured sports in St. Petersburg 2013 were aikido, boxing, fencing, judo, jujitsu, karate, kendo, kickboxing, muaythai, sambo, savate, sumo, taekwondo, wrestling and wushu.

Peru’s withdrawal comes as the number of Olympic sport federations exiting SportAccord rose to 22 over the weekend. The International Basketball Federation’s (Fiba) stance was followed by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) yesterday (Monday). In a letter to Vizer, BWF president Poul-Erik Høyer said the SportAccord president’s more recent statements “clearly show that BWF is not aligned with the opinions and vision of SportAccord and you as the president of the organisation”.

In a further development, it was revealed on Monday that four non-Olympic sports federations had also suspended their ties to SportAccord. In a statement, the International Korfball Federation (IKF) said it had suspended its association with SportAccord, adding that the International Automobile Federation (FIA), World Karate Federation (WKF) and International Orienteering Federation (IOF) had also followed suit.

In a letter to Vizer, IKF president Jan Fransoo said: “The divide that has emerged as a consequence of your remarks harms the position of all international federations, including ours.”