Sport Olympics not just important for players - FFA and sport can get boost

03:35  24 january  2020
03:35  24 january  2020 Source:   watoday.com.au

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Of course, sports remain sports whether or not the IOC recognises them. Cricket, after all, is not included in the Olympics and neither is squash. Cricket has a long history and tradition that doesn’t need Olympic recognition. eSports is young, its players are young and its audience is young.

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Mark Milligan holding a football ball: Mark Milligan (left) representing Australia at the 2008 Olympics.© AP Mark Milligan (left) representing Australia at the 2008 Olympics.

Australian soccer could do with some decent news on the international front.

The Socceroos hardly set the world alight in the 2018 World Cup, garnering just one point and failing to qualify from the group stage for the third time in a row.

And they failed to set things to rights six months later in the 2019 Asian Cup, the defending champions bowing out in the quarter-finals to the hosts, the United Arab Emirates.

The Matildas underachieved in the 2019 Women's World Cup in France, losing in a penalty shoot-out against Norway in the round of 16 in a competition in which they were fancied to be right in the shake-up.

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Those who played or practiced a sport professionally were considered to have an unfair advantage The fact that professional sports people were long excluded from the Olympic Games has resulted in a The team was made up of some of the most famous ever players to play in the NBA including

Viewers get the opportunity to watch the best athletes compete against each other and cheer for The experience of just being an Olympian and being part of the Olympics and its hype is just Finally, the Olympic Games are so prestigious also because there is a competition between a few cities in

So the Olyroos could give the whole game a bit of a fillip if Graham Arnold's team can beat Uzbekistan in the third-place play-off in the Asian Football Confederation under-23 championships in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Victory in that game in Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium would earn Australia the third and final spot held by Asia in the Olympic football tournament in Tokyo in 2020.

Now the Olympics is by no means the biggest football tournament in the world: it is restricted to under-23s with a handful of older players.

But its Olympic status does give it plenty of symbolic significance - as the Matildas, who have qualified for several previous tournaments and are strongly fancied to do so again when they play their qualifying competition in China next month - can attest.

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It would certainly be a feather in the cap of the players should they be able to get there as part of the first Australian team to do so since the Beijing Games of 2008.

But more than individual glory is at stake.

Football Federation Australia, under its new chief executive James Johnson, badly needs a boost in the commercial sphere and Olympic qualifying could be the thing to give the game's image a boost when it comes to dealing with sponsors and financial backers.

Most of the sport's key sponsors have not renewed contracts in the recent months: supermarket giant Aldi, bank NAB - after 15 years - and Caltex, the petrol company that had been the Socceroos naming rights sponsor, have all parted company, leaving a huge hole in the FFA's piggy bank.

That means Johnson needs something tangible to sell.

A place at the Olympics would not be sufficient on its own - the Olyroos would be among the outsiders for a medal if they did make it - but it would certainly add value to the proposition. Especially if the much stronger (in relative terms compared to their prospective opponents in the women's game ) Matildas were also to make it to Tokyo where they would have a much stronger prospect of medalling.

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Older athletes can qualify for these Summer Olympic sports if they're willing to put in the work. Just be aware that rowing is hard and often requires early mornings. Team sports are hard to get a foothold in later in life, largely because the best athletes in the world have been playing since they

“Many sports want to get Olympic recognition because it is a way for public demonstration to the world, and a surge of interest often follows,” says Irwin Kishner, who focuses on sports law at Herrick, Feinstein LLP and has The new sports can boost TV ratings and attract more sponsors.

Johnson acknowledges how important qualification can be in a corporate sense.

''It's a huge tournament and it would bring some excitement to national-team football. And in terms of building the game's image it (Olympic qualification) absolutely does.''

Chris Nikou, the FFA chairman, agrees. Not only could it help put the game back in view of sponsors, but it would also resonate with government, a source of funding for important projects, and showcase how truly international soccer is.

''We really do need to need to keep reinforcing how important this sport is from a global perspective. It's a conduit to Asia, Europe and elsewhere, both economically and diplomatically.''

For Arnold, who is also coaching the senior national team, Olympic qualification takes on a huge future significance from a player-development perspective.

He  believes that exposure to the Olympics is crucial to the development of senior Socceroos.

It's why he decided to take control of the Olympic team as well as the Socceroos when he succeeded Bert van Marwijk in the post-Ange Postecgolou era as he wanted to take responsibility for the nation's most talented players as they passed through their representative levels.

''I’ll give you one stat that will show you how important this level of preparation or this level of international football is. Eighty-seven per cent of Socceroos went through an Olympic campaign,'' he explained shortly after taking over.

''Without an Olympics campaign or without this generation getting 15-20 [youth] international games under their belt, they won’t play Socceroos. That’s how important the development is for this age group, to play."

"Every other country has under 17s, 18s, 19s, 20s, 22s and 23s national teams. We only have 17s, we have 20s and we have 23s.''

Evans set to skip Tokyo Olympics .
Dan Evans is set to reject the chance to represent Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics. © Getty Britain's Dan Evans is set to reject the chance to play at this summer's Tokyo Olympics The British No 1 is currently at a career-high ranking of 32 in the world, which would comfortably be good enough to earn him a place in the Japanese capital, but he is not willing to disrupt his schedule. The Olympic tennis event does not carry ranking points or prize money and overlaps with the start of the US hard-court season building up to the US Open.

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