IOC turns track events upside down

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved massive changes in the track cycling events for the London 2012 Games, eliminating the individual pursuit, points race and Madison from the programme.

The London Olympic Games will now feature five men's and five women's events, as proposed by the International Cycling Union (UCI) as part of a gender-equality plan, according to the Associated Press. The 2008 Beijing Games had seven men's events and three women's events.

"The changes reflect the IOC's desire to continually refresh the program, as well as its commitment to increase women's participation," the IOC said in a statement on the last day of its executive board meeting.

Under the new plan, there will be 84 women track cyclists in London, or 45 percent, as compared to 35 riders, or 19 percent, in Beijing 2008.

The new plan has events for both sexes in the individual sprint, team sprint, keirin, team pursuit and the omnium. The latter is a five-race event which includes a 3km individual pursuit, 200 metre sprint, 1km time trial, 15km points race and a 5km scratch race.

There has been massive protest against the changes, which affect among others, American Taylor Phinney and Briton Bradley Wiggins.

Briton Rebecca Romero, who is current Olympic champion in the women's individual pursuit, had announced her dissatisfaction with the plan before the announcement was made. “I'm all in favour of moving to achieve parity between men and women but there must be a better solution," she said. "This is a major culling. There's got to be something better."

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