LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- You know it as ballroom dancing. The International Dance-Sport Federation says it ought to be an Olympic event and put on a fancy show Monday night -- replete with men in tuxedos and women in heels and gauzy dresses -- to lobby key International Olympic Committee officials.
It was the hope of federation President Rudolf Baumann, who spoke in a ballroom at the posh Palace Hotel before the cotillion commenced under a glorious chandelier, that the demonstration would convince the IOC to allow "dance sport" to "take its place proudly as a medal sport."
Probably not. Not now. And not any time soon.
"The program," IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch said before watching from the front row as nine couples whipped through the waltz, samba, tango, cha-cha, foxtrot, two-step, quick step and jive, "is full.
"I think in Athens," scheduled site of the 2004 Summer Games, "it will be the same program as in Sydney. Without changes," Samaranch said.
The dance issue highlights a key issue that senior IOC leadership concedes must be confronted in the next few years--what they call "gigantism," meaning Games that already are enormous and threatening to get bigger.
In 1984, at the Los Angeles Summer Games, there were 221 events in 21 medal sports. In Barcelona in 1992, the numbers were 257 and 25. In Sydney, 300 and 28.
In the meantime, there were 16,314 observers from the media on hand in Barcelona in 1992, according to IOC figures. In 1996 at Atlanta, that figure shot up to 19,182. In Sydney, it was even higher -- 19,590.
Influential Belgian delegate Jacques Rogge, a leading contender to succeed Samaranch in next year's IOC presidential race, has said on several occasions in recent months that the numbers must go down.
Proponents stressed Monday that ballroom dancing has all the attributes of ice dancing -- which, they note, is on the program of the Winter Games. They also said the ballroom version promotes gender equality, is TV-friendly and has seen "no evidence" of doping.
Opponents asked: If ballroom dancing, what next? Chess?
"It has a long way to go," said one senior Olympic official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "For a new sport, it's very difficult."
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