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Olympic Qualifier Series in Shanghai a benchmark for future, says IOC chief Bach

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Shanghai (China), May 18 (IANS) The Olympic Qualifier Series (OQS) in Shanghai is definitely a benchmark for future Olympic Qualifiers, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said here on Saturday. Bach made the remarks after the cycling BMX freestyle women's park final, as he witnessed Chinese cyclists Sun Sibei, Sun Jiaqi and Deng Yawen sweeping the podium in front of a packed home crowd.

"It's a fantastic start for this Olympic Qualifier Series and I can only thank and congratulate China and Shanghai for such a wonderful performance," Bach said. "A great result and congratulate the Chinese Olympic Committee for having a clean sweep."

"Definitely, that's a benchmark and I guess that our Hungarian friends will be a little bit nervous after what they see here with such a perfect organization, with such a beautiful venue and with such an excited crowd," Bach joked.

Running from May 16 to 19, 464 athletes, evenly divided between men and women, are competing in BMX freestyle cycling, breaking, skateboarding, and sport climbing at the newly-renovated Huangpu Riverside venue, reports Xinhua.

Along with the second leg in Budapest, Hungary from June 20 to 23, the inaugural OQS is the last chance for athletes to vie for over 150 quota places for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

"[The four sports] are different on one side, but they are also representing the Olympic values in a modern way. And this is why we took them on the program," Bach introduced. "You can see here in these young and modern sports, a real community of being together. And this is what the Olympic values and the Olympic spirit is about - having this tough competition but also being friends and respecting each other."

Starting from introducing baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, climbing, and surfing to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the IOC has been constantly innovating with younger, more urban, and more gender-equal sports, while breakdancing and ski mountaineering will also be included in the upcoming Paris Olympics and Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics, respectively.

"That is offering the younger generation their sports in the Olympic program. We have these new and younger sports on the program and these new young sports have a worldwide stage which otherwise they would not have," Bach said of some of the sports that originated from the streets.

"What we saw in the last Olympic Games and what we are seeing here today, is how good these two communities, the more traditional Olympic community and athletes, and these new sports and athletes are getting together, enriching each other," he added.

--IANS

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