Whilst we have only just finished tuning in to the most recent Summer Olympics, thoughts are already heading towards Paris 2024 for the next edition. It’s never too early to do that, especially as there’s a shortened interval of three years between the Games this time.
At the Tokyo Games there were a host of new sports added to the programme, with surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing amongst the additions. Baseball and karate have since been removed following the Games in the Far East. But looking ahead to the next Games, breakdancing or ‘breaking’ as it will be known, is the latest new competition for gold medal chasers to compete in. With this ever-changing dynamic of sports, it begs the question, what other events may we see come into the Olympic arena in the not too distant future?
This is something which is really gathering pace as a potential newcomer to the Games in the future. Although eSports have actually been introduced to the Olympics, as they were demonstrated in the lead up to Tokyo, the IOC backed, Olympic Virtual Series, saw players competing on Zwift, the stationary bike race simulator. And while others took part in a virtual regatta, there was significant support from one of motor racings governing bodies, the FIA too. The FIA welcomed the inclusion of the racing game, Gran Turismo to the Olympic Virtual Series. With over 400 million people now watching eSports events around the world each year, its popularity is such that it cannot be ignored for much longer.
Whilst this isn’t a sport in the physical or even conventional sense when it comes to Olympic competition, it’s no different to eSports. So maybe it’s an option to be considered along with the virtual sports competition? Much like eSports there are well established tournaments that attract large numbers of viewers, players engage in knockout style competition, much like the Olympic sports do. As of now, the World Series of Poker remains the biggest poker competition in the world, and it serves as a good model both for how Olympic competition could work and for how popular it could become.
Ten Pin Bowling
Bowling has previously been very close to being included as a sport at the Olympics on two separate occasions. The first was back in 1936, when a tournament was held almost alongside the Olympics. The second occasion was over 50 years later at the Seoul Games in 1988, when it was actually demonstrated at the Olympics. Aside from those bowling has actually been short listed for voting for inclusion into the Games. However, in those votes it missed out for the 2020 Games and Paris 2024. But as the constant link is there, it could be said that it’s only a matter of time before it does become a sport in the Games.
In Japan, baseball and karate entered the Olympics as sports that are very popular in the host country. So could it be that American football comes into the Games for Los Angeles 2028? Whilst it is more popular in the US than anywhere else in the world, it is in fact played right across the globe. There are around 40 countries which have national leagues, although none are as huge as the NFL. It’s particularly popular in Germany where they have the German Football League, and in China it’s believed to be played by over 30,000 people. American football has also featured as a demonstration sport back in the early 20th century, and interestingly a host of NFL players have featured in the Olympics in other sports. Maybe it’s time that their chosen sport, rather than one they took on as an extra curricular activity, could be one we soon see at the Games.
It will be interesting to see which sports are actually added to the list for Los Angeles 2028 and beyond. But with the introduction of ‘breaking’ in 2024 as an Olympic sport, it points to a very different and changeable outlook for the historic competition in the short and long term.