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Wushu Seeks to Become
Olympic Sport

Inspired by Beijing's success in bidding for the 2008 Olympics, Wushu, China's traditional sport, has filed its official application to be added to the Olympic program.

Li Zhijian, President of the International Wushu Federation (IWF), sent a letter recently to Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), expressing the sport's wish to be included in the Olympic Games, the IWF Secretariat told Xinhua on Friday.

"On behalf of the IWF and all the Wushu players, I apply for the sport to be included in the Olympic program, said Li in the letter.

Li said that in the past century people with various cultural background in the world have taken fancy to the sport, which has strong flavor of time-honored Chinese culture.

"If Wushu can join other Olympic sports in the 2008 Olympics, it will contribute to the variety of the world culture and help spread the Olympic Movement, said Li.

The sport has made its first step on the road to joining the Olympics program as the IWF earned the temporary recognition of the IOC in 1999.

By November, 2001, the IWF has expanded to a world body with 86 member associations in all the five continents, meeting the IOC 's requirement that a candidate sport should be popular enough to be practiced in a minimum of 75 countries of at least four continents.

"The IWF has been consistent in its efforts to develop the sport so that it could be added to the Olympic program, "said Li.

Though outside the door of the Olympic Games, Wushu has been a medal sport in the Asian Games since 1990 and held six world championships in China, Malaysia, the United States, Italy, Armenia and Hong Kong, China, since 1991.

One hindrance for IWF's efforts is that the IOC is trying to control the size of the Games, which has grown to 28 sports and about 300 disciplines, while many other sports are knocking on the door of the Olympics.

Gilbert Felli, sports director of the IOC, ever said that it will be difficult for new sports to be admitted to the Olympics but the "door is not completely closed". The IOC will make final decision on the sports program of the 2008 Olympic Games at its session in November.

(People's Daily December 29, 2001)

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