The Niche Sports That Want to be in the Olympics of the Future

By Gary Cutlack on at

The people in charge of organising the Olympics in various executive lounges around the world have finalised the complete list of sports that'll be part of the 2020 Tokyo event, and those sports left out are now furiously petitioning for the right for their members to pick up a free trip to the next Olympics in eight years' time.

The IOC recently approved the inclusion of baseball, karate, skateboarding, climbing and surfing in the next Olympiad in 2020, and other sports that want IN to the Olympic orgy of 2024 and beyond include:

Twenty20 Cricket
Cricket fans think the short form game would be an ideal choice, and seeing as golf made it in this year -- and we might be in with a chance of scraping a bronze too -- it's probably a good idea. The International Olympic Committee is thought to have encouraged the ICC to apply to have it in the Olympics, with only scheduling issues with the existing World T20 event holding up an official application.

Yes, the World Bridge Federation would like bridge to be in the Olympics. If nothing else, if would up the age demographic and give old people a reason to stay alive for another four years.  The WBF is aiming low and selling itself as being cheap to incorporate, explaining: "Bridge is played indoors. Therefore no additional infrastructure is needed, and matches are played in existing hotel rooms and convention facilities," hence it would like to be part of the Olympics. Even only the winter ones.

This is a thing. The floorball lobbyists are well happy that climbing and karate are now in, as the inclusion of these rather niche events gives them hope. But not yet.

This is in a similar position to bridge. It's deemed a mind sport and its governing body is not ratified as an official sports federation, so lots of tedious paperwork -- and perhaps a new physical element requiring players to race each other around a track -- might need to be added to get it in.

You'd think this would be an easy in, but no. It's not a popular sport at amateur level even in its home country and the lack of a women's scene would make it very un-PC in 2020. So although the International Sumo Federation is recognised by the IOC and seems to be pushing for its inclusion, sumo is not going to make it for the sport's home Olympiad.

10-pin bowling
Snuck in as a demonstration sport at the Seoul Games in 1988, but never made it back. It has all the governing body paperwork sorted and everything.

Has been trying to get itself included since the 1990s, but the format -- people running about semi-cluelessly while hidden in the woods -- really doesn't suit the international stage.

Tug of war
Yes, there's an officially recognised Tug of War International Federation, so that's good. Plus it was in the modern Olympics until 1920, so that's good too. You'd think it'd be ideal for a resurrection. It applied to be part of 2020, but missed out.

The rest
American football, flying disc, netball, polo, racquetball, roller sports, squash, waterski and wakeboard events also applied to be allowed to go to 2020, but were left hanging. Maybe next time, chaps.

Image credit: Tug of war from Shutterstock