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01 Jul 2019

Indoor, urban, even on the beach: World Archery targets bigger role at Olympics

By Jonathan Rest

World Archery will take inspiration from Paris 2024’s addition of sports to the Olympic Games programme as it seeks to add the compound discipline to the games line-up, most likely in time for Los Angeles 2028, a senior executive at the federation has told Sportcal.

Archery has been ever-present at the Olympics since 1972, and it will have five medal events for the first time in Tokyo next year, when a mixed team event will feature alongside the traditional men’s and women’s individual and team competitions.

Its entire Olympics history has been based on the recurve discipline, but the sport’s governing body is looking to ramp up a campaign to additionally bring in compound bows, more commonly used in target practice and hunting.

Compound archery (pictured) made its European Games debut in Minsk, Belarus last week, and will appear for the first time at a Pan American Games in Lima, Peru later this month (its first multi-games exposure came at the 2014 Asian Games).

In an exclusive interview with Sportcal at the federation’s Lausanne headquarters, World Archery secretary general Tom Dielen said: “We have recurve and compound as our two major types of competitions. Compound, we want to get at some stage in the Olympics. Is it 2024, I don’t think so. Is it 2028, maybe?

“But with which event I don’t know. It could be indoor, or an urban version of what we are doing with field archery in the World Games.”

Dielen said he was impressed with the vision of the Paris 2024 organising committee to create an urban environment around its summer Olympics.

The city recently proposed – and these were accepted by the International Olympic Committee members last week – breaking, or breakdancing, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing as additional sports for 2024.

Tony Estanguet, president of Paris 2024, said the quartet will make the Olympics "more urban" and "more artistic," adding: "They reflect perfectly Paris 2024’s identity."

It is a message that has resonated with World Archery.

Dielen said: “We will work to see what fits best in the games strategy, because that is what’s it all about now. If you look at the presentations of Paris, there was a lot of discussion about why breaking was in as their choice. It fits completely with the strategy of what they are trying to accomplish.

“If we want to have another event in Paris or in LA, it has to fit in the strategy. That strategy will determine if it is indoor, outdoor, an urban setting, on the beach, or whatever.”

Indoor archery has been one of the federation’s growth areas, following the decision ahead of the 2018-19 season to rebrand the Indoor Archery World Cup as the Indoor Archery World Series.

The inaugural season involved events in Nimes, Luxembourg, Macau and Rome, with a leg and grand finale in Las Vegas. They will stay in place for 2019-20, when Sydney joins the list, with an event in Egypt planned for 2020-21.

Dielen said: “It will be a major step forward to get to all five continents in 2020, when Egypt comes on board.

“In general, we were quite happy with the first season of the World Series. Now we want to see how we can help our organisers in making it more visible in terms of media coverage. We would like to find a title sponsor for it too."

Dielen claimed the hunt for a title sponsor is not been pursued aggressively in what is an early stage in the competition's life cycle, saying: “We are discussing with potential sponsors as one of the available packages. But it is not something we are actively looking specifically for. When we have discussions with companies or when we are talking to our current sponsors to renew, it is part of that discussion.”

World Archery’s existing top-tier official sponsors are Longines, Hyundai, Sportoto and Errea.

The World Series is now the pinnacle of the indoor calendar, after World Archery took the decision at its annual congress early last month to do away with the Indoor World Championship.

The federation said at the time it was struggling to find hosts for the competition, which has been suffering from a lack of entrants. USA staged the last edition in 2018.

Pushed further, Dielen explained: “We see a clear footprint now for the World Series, and the World Championships made no sports sense anymore. When we introduced it, there was no Outdoor World Cup, so basically we had some Grands Prix events in Europe but there was nothing for teams to prepare for the major Outdoor World Championships and Olympic Games every other year, so people went to the Indoor World Championships to prepare for the outdoor season.

“They were able to sell that to their national Olympic committees and governments and so on, but now there are competitions outdoors all year you cannot use that same argument anymore. There was no funding from the relevant agencies for the Indoor World Championships and that meant you had to compete against our Indoor World Series and some top USA-based indoor events with prize money. So an athlete has to choose between going for a medal at a championship or compete at an event where they can earn a certain of amount of money. It was not a choice."