Olympic Recognition an insurmountable obstacle! Ever since in the 1950's many attempts have been made in order for Billiards to possibly achieve the Olympic Recognition, but all of them to no avail. Two major obstacles were standing in the way; Billiards did not comply with the definition of Sports that was valid at this point in time, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) demanded for a possible recognition one organization in charge of all Billiards Sports. Clearly the understanding of what possibly should be considered a sport, or not, was a matter that was beyond reach for all of the people that wanted to see the status of Billiards Sports elevated, but eventually something could be done about the second obstacle? Bearing in mind that the three main disciplines of Billiards, Carom, Pool and Snooker, did share the origin of Billiards, but developed separate from each other ever since in the middle of the 19th century, also this task would prove not to be such an easy one. In order to make things worse, Pool was not even properly organized on a world level at the time. The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) was then founded in 1987, and with its inaugural World Championship in 1990, also the third and last very important integer finally existed.
 
Mr. André Gagnaux enters the stage! A few years earlier, in 1985, a certain André Gagnaux (SUI) became the new President of the Union Mondiale de Billard (UMB), the world governing body for Carom. One of his first actions as president of the UMB was to contact the IOC with the object of finding out what it would take for Billiards to achieve the long sought after and ultimate recognition. The IOC informed him, as they had already in the past, that only if and when all Billiards Sports would be united under one umbrella organization, would the IOC possibly consider Billiards for recognition. Whereas an amateur body for Snooker and English Billiards was in existence ever since back in 1971, Mr. Gagnaux, following the IOC answer, instead elected to contact the World Professional Billiards & Snooker Association (WPBSA) in order to possibly find a necessary partner. Perhaps his decision was guided by his knowledge about the WPBSA success in promoting Snooker, which in Great Britain only could be compared with huge sports such as Soccer, Tennis and Golf? Perhaps it was also a question of convenience, since both the UMB and the WPBSA were governed out of Europe? No matter what, Mr. Gagnaux failed in his attempt to impress on the WPBSA why it would be so important for them to possibly achieve the IOC recognition, and what a possible cooperation with the UMB could do in order to further their own goals.
 
An umbrella organization for all Billiards Sports becomes a reality! Following the successful organizing of the first ever WPA World 9-Ball Championships in 1990, Mr. Gagnaux again decided to contact the WPBSA though, and this time around he became more successful. In order to fulfill the condition set by the IOC, the three main disciplines of Carom, Pool and Snooker convened August 30, 1990, at a historic meeting in Bristol (GBR) with the WPBSA as the host. Never before had representatives of the three divisions been gathered around one table! As a result it was decided to form the World Confederation of Billiards Sports (WCBS), an umbrella organization encompassing all Billiards Sports, and a three-man committee consisting of Mr. Gagnaux for Carom, Jorgen Sandman for Pool and Mark Wildman for Snooker was appointed in order to work out a first constitution, to serve as a guideline for this new body to be formed. The following year and a half was spent on this work, which was somewhat complicated since the idea was to enable the various disciplines to work closely together, whilst maintaining their independence. The inaugural General Assembly of the WCBS was held in Yverdon-les-Bains (SUI) January 25, 1992. A board consisting of 9 delegates was elected with three representatives from each one of the founding members, the Union Mondiale de Billard, the World Pool-Billiard Association the World Snooker Federation (WSF). The first WCBS Board of Director's was comprised of the following gentlemen:
       
President André Gagnaux Switzerland Carom (UMB)
1st Vice-President Mark Wildman Great Britain Snooker (WSF)
2nd Vice-President Dave Young USA Pool (WPA)
General Secretary Wai Yeong Chin Malaysia Snooker (WSF)
Treasurer Jorgen Sandman Sweden Pool (WPA)
Sports Director Frouse Saheed Sri Lanka Snooker (WSF)
PR Manager Jean-Claude Dupont Belgium Carom (UMB)
PR Manager Klaus Dieter Mayer Germany Carom (UMB)
PR Manager Yung-Hui Tu Taiwan Pool (WPA)
 
Could Billiards really be considered a sport? The applications for recognition by the IOC and membership with the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) were submitted later on in 1992. In October 1993 the WCBS for the first time was invited as observers to the GAISF Congress & General Assembly in Lahti (FIN). However, the WCBS application failed to make it into the agenda of the AGM, and therefore the two WCBS representatives at this meeting, André Gagnaux and Jorgen Sandman, were confined to listen and learn. When in October of 1994 the GAISF AGM took place in Monte Carlo (MON), the WCBS application was on the agenda. Confident that the GAISF assembly really could do nothing but the obvious and accept the WCBS as a provisional member, Gagnaux and Sandman was in for a surprise though! Led by the President for Judo, who questioned if Billiards really could be considered a sport, a long discussion got started with many speakers voicing their opinion on the matter, some in favor and others against. A proposal was formulated that the GAISF first needed to define what really constitutes a sport, and finally the GAISF President, Dr. Un-Young Kim, was left with no other alternative then to apologize for the inconvenience and table the question for another year. Bearing in mind that the IOC already a few years before this new set-back had adopted a Swiss definition of Sports that by a far margin would resolve that Billiards in fact must be considered a sport, only further suggested that this decision by the GAISF - by now a part of the Olympic Movement - truly had to be questioned.
 
WCBS finally accepted by the GAISF. Meanwhile also the IOC had responded to the application for recognition by stating that the WCBS still was to new as an umbrella body for Billiards Sports, and that therefore a possible IOC recognition could not be expected for another few years. The IOC also recommended the WCBS to apply for membership with the GAISF - "whilst this is not a prerequisite, the IOC would see favorably on a WCBS membership with the GAISF." In October of 1995 the GAISF Congress & General Assembly was held in Seoul, Korea, and since now André Gagnaux had taken ill and was hospitalized, the WCBS delegation was lead by Jorgen Sandman, who was accompanied by Nigel Oldfield (GBR) and Massimino Del Prete (ITA). This time around, equipped with the experience following the two failures from in 1993 and 1994, the WCBS had better prepared its case to be presented. Mainly this was done in form of a glossy brochure titled "Right on Cue", which was distributed among all of the delegates and that in a professional way informed the meeting about the WCBS and Billiards Sports. The WCBS also hosted a cocktail reception for the around 500 attending officials, and certainly this initiative was welcomed by them all. If it was the brochure or the cocktail reception, or possibly the new IOC definition of sports that did the job, we have no way of knowing, but at the 1995 AGM in Seoul the WCBS finally became a provisional member of the GAISF. Any new organization entering the GAISF must first go through the stage of being a provisional member for two years, and then eventually be accepted as a full member with voting rights.
 
WCBS gains IOC Recognition and participation in the World Games. Again, if this in turn was what opened the door towards the IOC recognition, or if the WCBS simply by now, after four years of existence, had proved itself as the one and only umbrella organization for Billiards Sports in the eyes of the IOC, we do not know, but all of a sudden the progress went hand-in-hand. In July 1996 the IOC decided to grant the WCBS a provisional recognition for two years, and in September of the same year the WCBS became a member of the Association of Recognized IOC International Sports Federations (ARISF). An application for membership with the International World Games Association (IWGA) was also filed shortly thereafter, and at the 1997 IWGA AGM it was decided that the WCBS would become a member of this association as of January 1, 1998. The IWGA organizes every four years the World Games, and even though the WCBS now would become a member, this in itself would not automatically warrant participation at the World Games. In 1998, as new members of the IWGA, the WCBS did submit its application for participation in the World Games and also did visit with the organizing committee of the 2001 Akita World Games (JPN). On February 5, 1998, the IOC granted the WCBS its Outright Recognition, and by that it was now once and for all clear that Billiards Sports is to be treated as one sport among others. Later on in the same year the GAISF accepted the WCBS as a full member and the IWGA decided to include Billiards Sports into the program of the 2001 Akita World Games.
 
The dream of one man came true in less than 7 years! From the humble beginnings in January of 1992 to all the acceptance and recognition by the end of 1998, the accomplishment of the WCBS must be deemed very impressive. André Gagnaux, who very much must be credited for initiating that the WCBS at all was founded and also duly became its first President, had been carrying this vision already many years ahead of the historic first meeting in Bristol. He was not the tallest and also very seldom the loudest, but he certainly was a person that first and foremost would concentrate his efforts on possible solutions rather than just identifying problems, and also someone that would not take no for an answer. When he took ill in the second half of 1995 he, as much as his illness would allow, continued to pay attention to all of what was going on with the WCBS in its attempts to gain recognition. Unfortunately he never did recover and in February of 1996 he passed away. Bearing in mind the acceptance by the GAISF just a few months earlier though, Mr. Gagnaux was able to feel the satisfaction of knowing that his dream was now in progress. The work and the foresight of André Gagnaux will always be remembered and cherished by the WCBS, and through him the statement that "one man and one dream is all it takes" will always have a particular significance for Billiards Sports! Almost on the day two years following his demise, the IOC Outright Recognition was granted to the WCBS.
 
Meeting with the IOC President. 1998 was going to become an important year for the WCBS and Billiards Sports not only because of the IOC recognition, but also due to the participation in two major events - the first ever World Youth Games in Moscow (RUS) and the Bangkok Asian Games (THA). During a visit in Moscow 1997 by the successor to Mr. Gagnaux as President for the WCBS, Jorgen Sandman, he met with the President of the Russian Olympic Committee, Mr. Vitaly Smirnov. Whereas Jorgen had been invited by the Federation of Billiards Sports of Russia mainly in order to lobby for having the traditional Russian discipline of Pyramid included into the WCBS family, they also staged this meeting since Mr. Smirnov is a devoted Pyramid player. Having heard about the World Youth Games to take place in Moscow the year after, Jorgen proposed to Mr. Smirnov that Billiards Sports should be allowed as a demonstration sport. Mr. Smirnov immediately felt that this was a great idea and made the promise to organize with proper facility and a visit by the IOC dignitaries during the competition. The WCBS rapidly organized with equipment being brought to Moscow and also selected a large number of kids to participate, demonstrating Carom, Pool, Pyramid and Snooker. In order to better promote Billiards Sports also a number of professionals were invited to perform during this event, and among them Mike Massey (USA), the perhaps greatest Trick-Shot performer of all times! Mr. Smirnov kept his promise and the President of the IOC, H.E. Juan Antonio Samaranch, did arrive not only to have a look at what the WCBS had to offer, but also to play some himself and also spending a good hour meeting with a WCBS delegation led by Jorgen Sandman. At the press conference that followed the IOC President stated that "the IOC is anxious to include Billiards Sports in the Olympic Games as quickly as possible, but the WCBS will have to decide which discipline it would like to include."
 
10 medals at the Asian Games! In December of 1998 Billiards Sports was then included in the Asian Games for the first time ever. The Asian Games is what the importance is concerned perhaps second only to the Olympic Games, bearing in mind the amount of nations involved and the amount of athletes participating. Like the Olympic Games the Asian Games takes place only every 4 years and in 1998 the games were hosted in Bangkok - the capitol of Thailand. In the years just ahead of the 1998 Asian Games a few Thai Snooker players had become quite successful on the professional circuit of the WPBSA, and especially one - James Wattana. No doubt it was this success that led the Thai Olympic Committee to support the inclusion of Billiards Sports, and if added to this that quite a few Asian countries have celebrated a number of World Championship titles also in Carom and Pool, the support for this idea was to be found also elsewhere. Not less than 10 medals were awarded to Billiards Sports and the participation was a success in many ways - not only for the WCBS! The participation at the 2002 Asian Games in Pusan (KOR) was later on in a bit of jeopardy, mostly due to financial concerns that the Host City had, but in the end again Billiards Sports competed for 10 medals, and most likely the same will be the case in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha (QAT).
 
The WCBS fails inclusion into the Olympic Games with a narrow margin. It would appear that one reason to celebrate was followed by another during the years 1995-1998, and perhaps it would be easy to think that following the IOC recognition now the purpose and the work of the WCBS would be fulfilled? Instead it would be more appropriate to state that following all success now finally the WCBS had been given all the necessary tools it would need in order to possibly develop Billiards Sports even further. So for instance the IOC recognition made the WCBS eligible to apply for inclusion into the Olympic Program, and in fact the first WCBS application - for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games - was submitted in May of 1997, almost a year before the IOC outright recognition! The Olympic charter stipulates though, that an application must be filed 7 years ahead of the particular games in which a new sport would like to appear, and also before the final selection of host city for those games will be made, and the WCBS had already achieved a provisional recognition. Among 15 other sports that all of them had applied for inclusion, the Greek Olympic Committee decided to scrutinize five, among them Billiards Sports. Finally they selected two sports out of the five, with Billiards Sports ending up as their third choice, and proposed to the IOC the inclusion of the two. In December 2000, the IOC decided that no further sports are to be introduced in the 2004 Olympic Games, mainly due to the fact that by then it was known that the preparations for the Athens Games was far behind schedule and the IOC wanted the Host City to concentrate all its efforts on catching up rather than having even more sports added.
 
Second application also denied and new IOC policy presented. In May of 2001 the WCBS did submit its second application for participation in the Olympic Games, and this time for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The new application was not altered with regards to proposed formats or the actual scheduling, but was rather simply updated with regards to the statistics that would project a proper picture on what the WCBS and Billiards Sports would represent. In August of 2002, earlier than ever before, the IOC announced that a decision had been taken not to add any new sports for the 2008 Beijing Games. Whereas it for sure is positive not to have to lobby a cause for years only to then lose, the IOC message was of course a negative one. However, the IOC led by its new President, Dr. Jacques Rogge (BEL), also did advertise a new strategy with regards to the Olympic Games. From now and onwards all sports already on the program, as well as all sports aspiring to be included, will be scrutinized by the IOC and measured with the same tools, This will in the future enable a situation in which certain sports that are not really adding any significant value to the Olympic Movement can be replaced by other and, perhaps, more modern sports that in turn will better promote the Olympic values. The IOC also advertised its new policy that the Summer Olympic Games would be governed by the 28 / 300 / 10.500 rule, i.e. a maximum of 28 sports, 300 events and 10.500 athletes would be accepted at each Olympic Games. Knowing that there were 28 sports, more than 300 events, and more than 10.500 athletes in Barcelona, Atlanta and in Sydney, this offers no real comfort to the 28 sports that are eager to somehow enter the Olympic Program.
 
The World Games offers comfort. For as long as the WCBS and Billiards Sports will not be able to enter the Olympic Games, we will instead have to rejoice in the fact that our participation in the World Games seems to be fairly certain. The IWGA decision to include Billiards Sports in the 2001 Akita World Games was received with great pleasure, and it would be fair to state that we did the most out of the four medals that we were granted for the event:
Carom 16 Men, Single elimination format, 3-Cushion
Pool 16 Men and 16 Women, Single elimination formats, 9-Ball
Snooker 16 Men, Single elimination format, Snooker
 
The participation of Billiards Sports in the 2001 Akita world Games became a great success, and only shortly after the conclusion of the event, the IWGA announced that again for the 2005 Duisburg World Games the WCBS would be invited to participate with four medal events. The historic World Games Champions representing Billiards Sports were Daniel Sanchez (ESP) - Men 3-Cushion, Jeanette Lee (USA) - Women 9-Ball, Ching-Shun Yang (TPE) - Men 9-Ball and Björn Hanaveer (BEL) - Men Snooker. Unlike so many other sports from past World Games, Billiards Sports was successful in attracting a crowd for its competitions, and in fact the arena was almost sold-out for each and every round of the four medal events. The only negative aspect of the WCBS participation came in form of a sudden heart attack that one of the players did suffer. Whereas the rescuing effort and the treatment that he did receive was fantastic, and he did recover, it turned out that he was not properly insured. The bill of close to 50.000 dollars instead was covered by voluntary donations from all his colleagues, some federations including the WCBS, and through Akita citizens. Based upon this incident no athlete or official will be accredited to future World Games unless they will be able to show proof of proper insurance.
 
A domestic dispute created new worries. The year 2003 was going to become a stormy one following a domestic dispute within the WCBS. In September of 2002 the WPBSA advertised to the IBSF that it was not any longer interested in a cooperation with the IBSF, and automatically it also withdrew from the WCBS. For whatever reason the IBSF failed to share this information with the WCBS board, and it was only due to rumors that the WCBS finally got wind of the situation. Having failed to impress on the IBSF the importance of discussing this new situation, a board meeting was held in Bottrop in March of 2003. The IBSF representatives, although properly invited, failed to show up for this meeting. This did not prevent the WCBS from forming a decision to declare the Snooker component of the WCBS for temporarily vacant though, since it could be established that the WSF really had not ever existed as anything more than a cooperation between the WPBSA and the IBSF, and that following the WPBSA withdrawal would also not ever be founded. The IBSF, not especially appreciative of this decision, did turn to the IOC Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne on May 30, 2003. The CAS delivered its final award on January 20, 2004, and the WCBS won this case on all counts. Since then the WPBSA has returned to the WCBS, now as a direct member and in its own good right, whereas the IBSF still obviously has not yet decided if somehow they can possibly find another court for its complaint, or if they should perhaps follow suit and also accept a direct membership with the WCBS, as they have been offered.
 
Other Multiple-Sport-Events of interest to the WCBS. Besides what has already been mentioned Billiards Sports has been included in the South East Asian Games ever since 1987, and will be so again in 2005 when the SEA Games will be organized in the Philippines. In 1997 the WCBS, mainly through the efforts of the WPBSA, did approach the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) in an attempt to be included in the Commonwealth Games. Whereas the WCBS became accepted as a member of the CGF, Billiards Sports failed to make it into the 2002 Commonwealth Games held in Manchester (GBR). The next Commonwealth Games will be held in Melbourne in 2006, and again Billiards Sports will not be included. Attempts are now being prepared for inclusion into the Pan-American Games, the All African Games as well as the Mediterranean Games. Simply put, the WCBS will intensify its strive to have Billiards Sports to become a medal event in as many of the established multiple-sports events of format as possible, both on a regional and a world level. There is little doubt that this more than anything else will contribute towards making Billiards sports also more attractive to the Olympic Games, which remains the ultimate goal of the WCBS.
 
The 2005 Duisburg World Games. As already mentioned the WCBS and Billiards Sports will participate in the 2005 Duisburg World Games, and as of right now all the preparations are ongoing. Some athletes are already qualified for the four medal events to be competed in, and other qualification events are still to take place. Like in Akita there will be a 3-cushion event with 16 Men, a 9-Ball event for 16 Men and one for 16 Women, as well as a Snooker-event for 16 Men. The 2005 World Games are centered in and around Duisburg (GER), and will take place during the time 14th - 24th of July. The Billiards Sports events will take place in Bottrop, around 20 minutes away from Duisburg by car, and in the second half of the World Games, July 20-24. All the various athletes qualified for the World Games will be presented on the WCBS website and so will also all information of importance, such as how, when and where tickets can be obtained, accreditation procedures for athletes and officials, and so. The WCBS will also use the participation in the World Games as the forum for its next General Assembly. Not only will this provide all the 150 and some federations in the world to come to Bottrop, but it will also provide all officials involved in Billiards Sports to enjoy the participation and the very special World Games atmosphere first hand. It can also already be revealed that both Mike Massey and Tom "Dr. Cue" Rossman have both accepted to perform their beloved shows on a daily basis, at the so-called World Games Plaza in Duisburg as well as at the Saalbau in Bottrop - the official arena for Billiards Sports. The World Games has in the past very been then platform upon which sports such as Taekwondo, Trampoline and Triathlon have been elevated into the Olympic Games!
 
Past & Present WCBS Board of Directors. The following persons have served on the WCBS Board of Directors one or more terms ever since the inauguration in 1992:
         
Anderson Ian
Barki Farouk
Chin Wai Yeong

Del Prete Massimino
Ducoff Stephen D.
Dupont Jean-Claude


Ferguson Jason
Gagnaux André
Graus Jean


Marques Henrique
Mayer Klaus Dieter
Oldfield Nigel
Pulsirivong Sindhu

Rittmann Wolfgang


Saheed Frouse
Sandman Jorgen



Shimel Don
Stauch Shari
Tu Yung-Hui
Wildman Mark
Young Dave
Yüksel Faruk
AUS
EGY
MAL

ITA
USA
BEL


GBR
SUI
NED


POR
GER
GBR
THA

GER


SRI
SWE



USA
USA
TPE
GBR
USA
TUR

Pool
Carom
Snooker

Carom
Pool
Carom


Snooker
Carom
Carom


Carom
Carom
Snooker
Snooker

Carom


Snooker
Pool



Pool
Pool
Pool
Snooker
Pool
Carom
Board Member
Treasurer
General Secretary
Board Member
PR Manager
Board Member
PR Manager
Vice-President
General Secretary
Sports Director
President
Treasurer
General Secretary
President
Board Member
PR Manager
Sports Director
President
Vice-President
Vice-President
Board Member
Sports Director
Sports Director
Treasurer
President
Treasurer
President
Vice-President
Board Member
PR Manager
Vice-President
Vice-President
Treasurer

2001 -
2004 -
1992 - 1998, 2000 - 2003
1998 - 2000
1996 - 1998
2002 -
1992 - 1996
2002 -
2003 -
2000 - 2002
1992 - 1996
1996 - 1998
1998 - 2000
2000 - 2002
1996 - 1998
1992 - 1996
1996 - 2000
1998 - 2000
2000 - 2003
1996 - 2002
2002 -
2003 -
1992 - 1994
1992 - 1996
1996 - 1998
1998 - 2002
2002 -
1996 - 1998
1998 - 2001
1992 - 2002
1992 - 1996
1992 - 1996
2002 - 2004

Ever since the inauguration in 1992 the WCBS has been fortunate enough to enjoy the support of a number of companies and organizations, once or on a number of times. The support has been provided in form of financial contributions, in the organizing and hosting of events, and also in form of providing necessary equipment for WCBS events. The WCBS is very grateful for the support that it has received and still does, and we feel that it would be appropriate to give these companies/organizations due recognition by presenting a list of their efforts so far:
Asian Pocket Billiard Union


Biljardexperten AB
Billiard Congress of America

Brunswick Billiards




Chevillotte Billiards
Dynamic Billard Organisation
European Billiard Congress
Gorina S.A.

Loontjens Biljart
Lou Sardo Products
Saluc S.A.

Wiraka PTE Ltd.

1993 IOC Meeting
1995 GAISF AGM
2001 World Games
1998 World Youth Games
1997 World Billiard Congress
2004 World Billiard Congress
1992 Barcelona Olympic Games
1995 GAISF AGM
1996 Centennial Olympic Games
2001 World Games
2005 World Games
2001 World Games
2005 World Games

2001 World Games
2005 World Games
2005 World Games
2001 World Games
2001 World Games
2005 World Games
2001 World Games

Lausanne (SUI)
Seoul (KOR)
Akita (JPN)
Moscow (RUS)
Las Vegas (USA)
Las Vegas (USA)
Barcelona (ESP)
Seoul (KOR)
Atlanta (USA)
Akita (JPN)
Duisburg (GER)
Akita (JPN)
Duisburg (GER)
W. Yorkshire (GBR)
Akita (JPN)
Duisburg (GER)
Duisburg (GER)
Akita (JPN)
Akita (JPN)
Duisburg (GER)
Akita (JPN)