By Julian Linden
BANGKOK (Reuters) - A brand new international multi-sports event, featuring games including American flag football, skateboarding and jet ski races, could be added to the global sports calendar from 2017.
Although the yet-to-be-named world beach games will not carry the Olympic tag, they will be run by SportAccord and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), which comprises more than 200 member states recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
The proposal still has to be approved by the ANOC general assembly, which is meeting in Bangkok this week, but cleared another major hurdle on Wednesday when the ANOC Executive Council voted to support the introduction of the Games.
"We are very keen about the beach games," ANOC president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah told a news conference.
"This will be the first event for us. We will put it to the general assembly to approve the beach games."
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) introduced the Asian Beach Games in 2008, which combines sports traditionally played on sand, such as beach volleyball, with water sports, and sports played near beaches, such as skateboarding.
The Games were introduced partly as a way to modernize major multi-sports events but also for countries that could not afford to host bigger international events like the Olympics.
Held every two years, they have grown rapidly in size and popularity with the fourth edition, taking place in Phuket, Thailand later this month, featuring more than 6,000 athletes from 45 countries.
South America introduced its first Beach Games in 2009 and Sheikh Ahmad said Africa and the Mediterranean were preparing for their first beach games.
"We believe 2017 will be a good year to host the first (world) beach games," Sheikh Ahmad said.
"The Asian Beach Games will be a good example because there's a lot of new sports.
"You will have beach track and field for the first time, modern pentathlon, changed from five to three (disciplines)... American beach football, and extra machine sports (jet ski, waterskiing)."
Sheikh Ahmad, who is also president of the OCA, said several cities had already indicated they wanted to host the games but no decisions would be made until the proposal had been put to the ANOC general assembly.
"It looks like the beach games will become more international, more acceptable and more economically (viable) because it's not a very big operating cost.
"We don’t want to release it, but at least I can assure the games will be a success, financially and technically, and the youth will have more enjoyable games."
(Editing by Ken Ferris)