Marco Maria Scolaris - President, International Federation of Sport Climbing Share PDF Print E-mail
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scolaris1Marco founded the Federazione Arrampicata Sportiva Italiana (FASI) in 1988, becoming a member federation of the National Olympic Committee in 1990.

In 1988, Marco also became an International Judge and then an International Judges’ trainer in 1989. He has further experience as an International Council for Climbing (ICC) Delegate in more than 40 International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) events.

Marco became CICE President and held the role 1996-1997. He also co-founded (with Pascal Mouche) the ICC before becoming the ICC Secretary General 1997-2001 and then ICC President 2001-2006.

Marco founded the IFSC in 2007 and was elected as President in the same year. He was then re-elected in 2009. He is a keen climber himself and was a pioneer of bouldering in Italy in his younger days.

Sport Climbing is on the shortlist to be added to the 2020 Olympic Games. The IOC decide on 7 September in Buenos Aires.

By Steve Moorhouse

What are your main roles as President of IFSC?

I was re-elected in 2009 after originally being elected in 2007 when we created the IFSC. As the President I am the legal representative of the organisation. I represent the IFSC in all the important occasions, especially in front of the IOC. It is a lot of public relations and other practical things. I also try to help all the departments, from the rules commission to anti-doping, in order to give support. Our human resources are limited, so I and the board give support to all the different departments.

When you arrived as President, what were the biggest challenges you faced and have you overcome them?

Before 2007 we were a part of another organisation so all of a sudden we found ourselves free, but also 100% responsible for what we were doing. At that moment the sport was growing and the first task was to get IOC recognition. This happened in 2007. Back then our ambition was to get into the Olympic Games but we could not imagine that we would be running for this already. So we tried to establish strong foundations for the sport, work in the interest of the athletes and try to improve the quality of our events, especially the World Championships and the World Cup. We tried to increase our presence in the events we were in like the World Games. At the same time we tried to increase the visibility of our sport in the Olympic world as well as the media, which is always one of our weaknesses. It is very difficult for minor sports to get that visibility in the world media.

Sport Climbing is one of the sports trying to get into the 2020 Games. What strategies have you undertaken to boost your bid?

Firstly we try to give value to our sport and to present our sport to all the stakeholders. We have some limitations in doing so because there is a code of conduct that we received form the IOC. For example we cannot directly approach IOC members and tell them stories or invite them to our events. We are also trying to improve our visibility on the web. We are webcasting all of our events on the internet and we are improving the quality of the World Championship. We invested a lot in this last year and the event in Paris was sold out and the competition was very good.

We are trying to promote our sport as something completely new for the Games, something that would complete the Olympic Games. Climbing is one of the basic human movements, like walking, jumping, swimming and so on. This basic human movement is missing from the Games; it is not represented by a sport in the Olympic Games. So if we win the bid then the Games will be complete, whilst other sports are a replica or a development of something that already exists, with all due respect to the other sports bidding.

Are you confident that you have met the IOC’s criteria and how do you rate your chances of getting included?

We meet most of the criteria set out by the IOC. Clearly this is a new sport, not only because the IFSC started only a few years ago but so did the major competitions. Of course we would need more media coverage, but when you are chosen you have seven years to work on this. So we will have seven years to improve the weaknesses of the sport before the 2020 Olympics. We are bringing some fresh air and something that is completely new, a sport that is completely clean and interacts with the youth. Since we are a new sport we are also flexible. When something goes wrong it is relatively easy to go to our members and international federations and say ‘look, we need to change something here because this doesn’t work.’ Then it can be done in a couple of months, whilst other organisations that have been around for a century can take longer. That is why I think it would be interesting to work with the IOC to propose a new model of sport.

What was your reaction to wrestling being cut from the Games? Do you think the exclusion of wrestling helps or hinders your chances?

This is very hard to talk about because nobody could forecast the exclusion of wrestling. It was a very big surprise but it is difficult because there are so many political connections that we cannot manage and at the same time we do not want to manage. If climbing is chosen it is because it is a new sport like I have previously said, but also because the sport is good and can bring some fresh air, something new in the Olympics, not because we have many friends!

Some people see the axing of wrestling as a way to make the Games more youth-orientated. Do you agree with this and is Sport Climbing popular with young people?

I cannot and honestly do not want to compare ourselves with other sports. In Italy, wrestling is popular because it brings medals in each and every Olympic Games. But honestly, I do not know many young people who are practising wrestling. What I do not like about this race, the shortlist, is that sometimes you get the impression that the shortlist puts the efforts of one sport against the efforts of another sport, and this is not the case. All the sports deserve respect and I think all the sports on the list deserve a place in the Olympic Games. Unfortunately the space is limited and I would not want to be in the shoes of the IOC, to make this selection. When you cut a sport you almost kill it, especially if it is a minor sport. It is something that makes me sad.

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