UIAA – International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation president Frits Vrijlandt lead a delegation to meet International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials to discuss a range of issues including the inclusion of ice climbing as a sport in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Vrijlandt was accompanied to the 15 September meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland by board member Thomas Kähr and UIAA Office Manager Sophie Gerard.
“We have been developed our competitive ice climbing program and expanded its global reach for years with the help of sponsors such as The North Face,” said Vrijlandt. “This meeting allowed us to discuss our formal application for inclusion as a sport in the Winter Olympics.”
“The popularity of competition ice climbing is at an all-time high,” said Vrijlandt. He added the showcasing of the sport in Sochi by UIAA athletes at the Olympic Park in Sochi during recently concluded Winter Olympics was a huge success and an eye-opener for Olympic officials who praised the UIAA and organisers for hosting the event.
There are three remaining contender cities to host the 2022 Winter Olympics where ice climbing could be a competition event for the first time. They are Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing, China and Oslo, Norway.
The UIAA delegation also presented the IOC with an overview of the 2014 ice climbing season which included the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup Tour held in Korea, Italy, France, Switzerland, Romania and Russia and the World Youth Ice Climbing Championships in Champagny-en-Vanoise, France.
Also on the agenda are discussions around a UIAA presence related to ice climbing at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games and the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang South Korea – similar to what took place at the Sochi games.
Vrijlandt said part of the meeting was devoted to an explanation of the wide variety of activities and programs undertaken by the UIAA which are anchored by the three pillars of “safety, sustainability and competition.”
These include but are not limited to the internationally recognized UIAA Safety Label used to certify equipment, training standard programs, Global Youth Summit events promoting international cooperation and love of climbing among youth, the work of experts in the UIAA Medical Commission and the UIAA Mountain Protection Award.
“The UIAA is unique in the way it is able to represent a broad range of issues related to climbing and mountaineering,” said Vrijlandt.