IOC ponder firework ban and adding women`s ski jumping

Acapulco: It may be more nip and tuck than a complete facelift but the Olympics could have a new look in the future if a series of proposals are approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The popular and ever-more spectacular firework displays that have become one of the traditional highlights of the opening and closing ceremonies could be on their way out because of concerns about their environmental impact.

Female athletes could finally be allowed to compete in ski jumping, the only event on the Olympic programme that remains strictly men only, bringing an end to the long battle for gender equity on Olympic sporting fields.

That decision could be made as early as Monday when the IOC`s executive board discusses the programme for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on the second day of a meeting in Acapulco following an earlier National Olympic Committee gathering.

It was at the first meeting that the proposal to ban fireworks and replace them with laser shows was put forward by the Sri Lankan National Olympic Committee president Hemasiri Fernando because of concerns that the explosives shower the ground and waterways below with polluting toxins.

"We all have the responsibility to protect this earth and the fireworks have a tremendous effect on the environment," Fernando said.

Fireworks have been part of Olympic ceremonies for decades but the IOC has shown a willingness to change with the times.

The traditional release of white doves at ceremonies was abandoned after the 1988 Seoul Olympics when they flew too close to the cauldron and were roasted alive.

The organisers of the next summer Olympics, in London in 2012, have not yet decided whether they will include fireworks in their ceremonies and the IOC President Jacques Rogge said the issue would be referred to the IOC`s Sport and Environment Committee for further examination.

"I`m not saying it`s going to happen but we are going to study it in a very serious way," Rogge said.

The executive board heard update reports from organisers of the London and the 2016 Rio Olympics on Monday and said they were satisfied everything was going according to plan despite budget cuts for London and the ditching a plan to surround the main stadium with an eye-catching fabric wrap.

"I`m sure the stadium will look great in London without it," said Gilbert Felli, the IOC`s executive director of the Olympic Games.

Sochi will provide a report on their activities on Monday when the board will also consider adding new events in Alpine skiing, figure skating, snowboarding, biathlon and luge.

Supporters of women`s ski jumping had been optimistic the event would be added to this year`s Winter Olympics in Vancouver after women`s boxing was approved for London.

The IOC rejected their inclusion, however, but said they would reconsider for Sochi.

Bureau Report

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