Wushu wooing IOC for 2020 Olympics bid
Will Knight
15:24 AEST Fri Dec 28 2012

The pure commercial potential of wushu puts the Chinese martial arts in serious contention for 2020 Olympic Games inclusion, according to the sole Australian on the sport's bid committee.

Wushu is one of eight sports pitching for inclusion in the Olympic program alongside squash, karate, roller sport, climbing, wakeboarding, and the joint bid from baseball and softball.

Despite being the national sport of China's 1.34 billion people and having roots more than 4,000 years old, wushu is a mystery to most Australians.

But partly due to terminology.

Wushu was originally known popularly by the Cantonese term kung fu, which was made famous by martial arts legend Bruce Lee in a series of Hollywood-produced films - including The Way of the Dragon - in the early 1970s.

In Mandarin, the term wushu literally translates as "wu" meaning military and "shu" meaning art.

Wushu has since been distinguished as an aesthetic performance and competitive sport - which resembles rhythmic gymnastics - while kung fu remains the traditional fighting practice.

Routines are performed solo, paired or in groups, either bare-handed or armed with traditional Chinese weaponry.

Male and female competitors are judged and given points according to the speed, difficulty and presentation of their stances, kicks, punches, balances and jumps.

While it will take time to educate Australians about the intricacies of the sport, Wushu Australia honorary president Walt Missingham believes the IOC won't be able to deny the pull of the dollar when it comes to considering the sport's Olympic inclusion.

"The Olympic movement is driven very much by television audience," said Missingham, who produced the documentary The Intercepting Fist about Bruce Lee's life.

"Wushu would bring multiple hundreds of millions of people in China and the greater Asia region into TV.

"And with that it brings in new sponsors, it opens up avenues for companies to do business in China.

"And you can't ignore China's political and economic clout on the global stage and the Olympic Games is very light on in terms of Asian sports."

When pressed on whether the commercial aspect was a motivating factor for the IOC, wushu's Olympic bid committee member Missingham was matter of fact.

"Do we deal with the reality or the public perception?" he said.

"If there's anyone out there that truly doesn't think the Olympic Games is highly motivated by the commercial imperative, I'm sorry, but they're on the wrong planet.

"It's a multi-billion-dollar exercise.

"In fact, without money, the Olympics simply cannot function.

"In tandem with that, you've got to take on board the reach of wushu not just into China and greater Asia, but into the African nations too where wushu is very popular.

"So you have two significant continents that are desiring that wushu be included.

"Those reasons weigh very heavily in favour of wushu getting the guernsey for the 2020 Olympics."

Australia won its first medal at the world junior wushu championships in Macau in September in the men's Duilian (dual) event when Joshua Lim and Reuben Woon claimed bronze.

At the world wushu championships in Turkey in 2011, 63 countries were represented by 226 male and 98 female athletes, with China, Iran and Russia proving the strongest nations.

Australia sent 10 athletes, with the best result Elizabeth Lim's ninth in the women's Nangun category using a long weapon.

A maximum of 28 sports will be permitted at the Olympics and this will be reached at Rio in 2016 with the inclusion of golf and rugby sevens.

Therefore at least one sport will need to be axed to make room for any of the eight bidding sports.

The IOC will make a final decision on which sports will be included in the 2020 Games program next September in Buenos Aires.

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