Tennis mixed doubles, cycling events added
London: Tennis mixed doubles and new track cycling disciplines for men and women have been added to the London 2012 Olympics events schedule, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Thursday.
The IOC said the changes were triggered by the need to refresh the events programme and increase the number of female athletes in the Games.
In cycling, men and women will have the same five events, namely the sprint, team sprint, keirin, the new multi-event omnium and team pursuit.
The omnium is a multi-discipline event made up of five separate races. A 200-metre flying start time trial, a 5-km scratch race, a 3-km individual pursuit, a 15-km points race and a 1-km time trial.
Supporters of the omnium say it rewards the best all-round track cyclist and provides good entertainment for fans and TV.
But the exclusion of the popular individual pursuit has angered some cyclists and fans of the popular event.
"We have followed the advice of the UCI (International Cycling Federation). They are adamant the new programme is an improvement for cycling," IOC President Jacques Rogge told reporters.
"There is a shift from endurance events (like individual pursuit) to sprint events. It is the advice of UCI that the new format would appeal to a younger audience," Rogge said.
In tennis, the mixed doubles has been introduced without increasing the number of overall competitors "to provide another opportunity for men and women to compete together on the same field of play."
Tennis, which featured mixed doubles until the 1924 Games, returned to the Olympics in 1988 without the mixed doubles discipline.
The mixed doubles competition format will include 16 teams in an elimination event.
"The ITF is very happy and grateful that the IOC Executive Board has decided to add mixed doubles to the programme for the Olympic Tennis Event for London 2012 and beyond," International Tennis Federation President Francesco Ricci Bitti said in a statement.
"We believe that this addition will make Olympic Tennis a truly unique event."
Rogge also said finalising the details for the move of rhythmic gymnastics and badminton to the Wembley arena would be completed "in a month or two."
London 2012 organisers switched the venues for these sports to keep costs down and have both events at Wembley during the longest and deepest economic downturn in decades, despite protests from the sports` ruling bodies.
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