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Seven sports seek Olympic love

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Matt Slater | 21:07 UK time, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Between 1981 and 1986, Jahangir Khan won 555 competitive squash matches in a row. In terms of victories, this is the longest winning streak in sports history.

Khan, who is now 45, also won the World Open six times and the British Open a record 10 times. He is very probably squash's best ever player.

But he never won an Olympic medal. In fact, he never even played in a multi-sport event.

That's all changed now, though, and a Pakistani squash player as dominant as Khan could today dream of golds at the Asian, Commonwealth and South Asian Games, and maybe, just maybe, the Olympics too.

Squash is one of seven sports on a shortlist for inclusion in the 2016 Olympics.

There are two slots available and the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) executive board will pick two of them to go forward to a yes-no vote when the IOC's full electorate gather in Copenhagen in October.

Super Series squash final

Squash has been in this position before, as have four of the other six sports.

Khan was president of the World Squash Federation when his sport failed in 2005 to achieve the two-thirds majority it needed to gain admittance to London 2012.

Karate was also rejected in the final round of voting, while golf, roller sports and rugby sevens went out earlier.

But they, along with baseball and softball, the two sports that were removed from the Olympic schedule that week in Singapore, are back, lobbying furiously and pleading their cases.

And do you know what? I absolutely love it.

Which sports deserve to be in the Olympics is one of my favourite debates. It is right up there with the ideal composition of the Premier League (based on my own highly subjective views on a club's "size"), which animal I would least like to be bitten by and what is the point of the royal family.

For me, the vote on which sports to let in is more interesting than which city will host them.

I honestly don't have a preference between Chicago, Madrid, Rio and Tokyo - there's not a (insert your own Olympic dud here) amongst them and I think they'll all do a grand job - but I will be very disappointed if they pick the wrong "new sports".

IOC president Jacques Rogge

So let's take a closer look at each sport whilst remembering this not a beauty contest based on the relative merits of the seven candidates - no, this is about suitability for the Olympics, a very different argument.

First up, in alphabetical order, is baseball. The all-American game (which was invented elsewhere) joined live pigeon shooting, jeu de paume (nope, me neither) and tug of war on the Olympic scrapheap when it was voted out in 2005.

As recent results would suggest, the sport is far from being the US banker many would imagine, which is a good thing.

But it has never been a US banker at an Olympics anyway, which is a bad thing, as that is largely to do with the Games going head-to-head with Major League Baseball and finishing a distant second. The IOC doesn't like it if a sport doesn't drop everything to attend its parties.

Throw in the headache of having to build baseball diamonds in places that really don't want them and a litany of high-profile doping scandals and you're looking at a long-shot.

Golf hasn't been an Olympic sport for 105 years and I'm tempted to leave it at that. Don't get me wrong, I love golf, I just hate the idea of Olympic golf.

A key part of the campaign process has been a questionnaire the seven sports were asked to complete by February. This 80-question monster covered each sport's history, global reach, participation numbers, cost implications and so on.

But perhaps the most leading questions were to do with each sport's elite practitioners: namely where would they rate the Olympics in the pantheon of prizes available to them and will they turn up?

I'm not sure golf can fudge this one, which is a tad unfair considering football and tennis would struggle to answer this one too, but they're already in. Ho hum, you've got to love the crazy contradictions of the Olympics.

Karate is next and I'm going to put my hand up here and say I know very little about this sport except that it is another martial art. Do the Olympics need another martial art?

Having tried to follow the freestyle wrestling in Beijing, I think not. But if it gets as many votes in Copenhagen as it got in Singapore - a simple majority will be good enough this time - it will be in. So I might be in a minority here.

Roller sports is the one that really worries me, though. Apparently, the sports bosses are pushing the race disciplines, not the artistic (thank God) or hockey variations.

But how different is rollerblading fast to ice-skating fast (which is already an Olympic sport)?

And isn't this all just a desperate attempt to seem cool and down-with-the-kids? I would prefer to see Jacques Rogge disco-dancing than roller sports in the Olympics.

I'm sure there are plenty that feel the same way about rugby sevens - and the International Rugby Board must have been crossing its fingers when it assured Olympic bosses the sport was played to a good standard in more than 75 nations by men and 50 by women - but I like its chances for a few simple reasons.

First, it is a proven ratings and box-office winner at other multi-sports events, particularly the Commonwealths. Second, it solves the problem of what to do with the main stadium between the opening ceremony and the athletics. And third, it gives Olympic minnows like Fiji and Samoa a genuine shot at a medal.

But was London 2012 its best shot? And will the "Commonwealth" tag count against it with the IOC's American, Chinese and European powerbrokers? Maybe and perhaps.

Rugby Sevens

The penultimate choice is softball, the other bat-and-ball sport jettisoned in 2005, and while you could argue it was unlucky to be tarred with baseball's brush back then, you could also argue it shouldn't really have been there in the first place.

Brought in at America's behest for Atlanta '96, only 13 nations have competed in the four Olympic competitions to date, and just four of them have medalled.

It does, however, have two things in its favour. The first is that as a women's event it helps the IOC in its struggle to get a better male/female split at the Games. And the second is that the US actually lost to Japan in the final in Beijing.

Which leaves only Khan's sport, squash, and I'm going to declare my hand here, I think squash should be in.

Played around the world and on every continent, squash ticks boxes. The hardball v softball split between the US and the rest of the world has been resolved, the top players come from places as disparate as France and Malaysia, and the old complaints about it being impossible to follow or televise have been silenced by glass courts, high-speed cameras and giant replay screens.

And if that won't appeal to the IOC this might: squash will actually bring its venues with it - two portable glass courts that can be put up pretty much anywhere - and then leave them behind, free of charge, for the hosts to use as they see fit.

"It's a shame that I couldn't complete my career with an Olympic medal," Khan told me on Wednesday.

"I really wish I could have had a chance at that, because I think I would have had a pretty good shot at winning."

Me too, Jahangir, me too.


  • Comment number 1.

    The only sports that should be at the Olympics are where an Olympic Gold medal is the highest prize that anyone can win - Athletics, Cycling (track, not necessarily Road Racing as the Tour de france is arguably a bigger prize), Swimming, Rowing, Equestrianism, Weight Lifting, Archery, Judo (and therfore Karate and other martial arts) and so on.

    Sports that should NOT be at the Olympics are Football, Rugby (of any form) Tennis, Golf, Motor Racing, Cricket etc.

    So Squash should be in.

  • Comment number 2.

    The Olympics should be a opportunity for all those lesser known sports to get a chance, especially the non- (or semi-) professiosnal ones.
    The likes of football, tennis, golf, cricket, rugby all have their professional leagues, cups, world championships and major tournaments. They don't need to be in the Olympics, and the Olympics dosen't need them.
    I'm not sure about baseball and basketball. They are huge sports in north America and again don't really need the Olympics.
    If badminton is in, then squash should certainly be in.
    Given the current financial climate, and the fact that most countries can't afford to stage an Olympics, it's time to cut it right back to the sports that deserve to be there.

  • Comment number 3.

    Comment No. 1 has it about right, I think. Sports such as tennis and golf have hugely important championships which are recognised as such around the world - the olympics will never mean as much, in such sports, to the general public as do those existing events.
    Basketball has huge domestic championships in the USA but to the general public (non-specialist supporters) there is nothing of global significance, making basketball a good olympic sport - it is played worldwide as well. Baseball is still played at a good level in too few countries so does not have the same worldwide play argument in its favour, and softball has even less reason to be there.
    The Olympics are ideal for more obscure sports such as Modern pentathlon, which we would never otherwise see year in year out.
    I'd go for squash for 2016, as a decent fit with the olympics. What i would most like to watch would be Rugby 7s, but I'm not convinced that rugby should be there - so maybe I'll go for karate as my second pick.
    One more point which is slightly off-topic - I feel there are too many sports on show where the winner is dependent on the opinion of judges, rather than an absolute scoring system, and I would quite like to cut down on that number.

  • Comment number 4.

    I too am all for the inclusion of squash in the 2016 Olympics. It is a truly international sport in the widest sense of the word, the champions often coming from small, far-flung countries, not just the usual sporting giants.
    And, who knows, my neighbour (I am very neighbourly!) may pick up a Gold if World Champion Nicol David of Malaysia can stay on top till then.
    By the way, surely the legendary Australian squash champion Heather McKay, who lost just two matches between 1960 and 1984, must have posted a longer winning streak than Jahangir Khan?

  • Comment number 5.

    SingaporeSub, you've got me thinking about that Heather McKay challenge to Jahangir Khan now but I can't find any reference to the actual number of games she won in a row. Plenty of stuff about how dominant she was and how she could turn her hand to other sports too, but nothing on the actual winning run. But it sounds like she was pretty much unbeaten for 16 years so she must at least be close to Khan's mark.

    There's some info on streaks (not that kind) here:

    Apart from that it sounds like the five of us (you, me, Jeanlepoisson, Pragueimp and Katerina) are all backing squash for one place, with Katerina like a bit of karate too.

    Anybody want to make a case for golf and roller sports???

  • Comment number 6.

    This is the second time I've commented on a blog, the first being in the late, great Bill Frindall's pet project, but this subject is always one that defies rationale and understanding. Of course rugby 7s should have been at 2012 and it is a disgrace that it is not. Of course squash should be at the Olympics, with it's stablemates badminton and table tennis. But, of course, the IOC will ignore all this and vote selfishly and for all the wrong reasons and bring back the pointlessly included softball and the nonsense of roller sports. Admittedly, Karate would also merit inclusion but then, why not cut the likes of synchronised swimming and rhythmic gymnastics, both which are judged to a large extent on artistic merit and therefore don't really fit into the Games at all? Also, for golf, as you say it simply has no place in the games. Like tennis.

    So, absolutely agreed, Matt, the two I would have gone for and I understand that you can't be quite as diatribic as an anonymous blogger!

  • Comment number 7.

    I disagree slightly with poster #1. I think rugby 7s would make the olympics it's prime event, in a way that the 15 man code never will as the world cup is obviously the big event. 7s is great to watch and would defintely add colour to an olympic games.

  • Comment number 8.

    Roller sports?!
    You mean like Rollerball!?

  • Comment number 9.

    For me, squash and Rugby 7s should be included. I have just been to the Dubai Rugby 7s World Cup and there were 2 members of the IOC present. If this didn't sway them I don't know what will. Firstly, I believe Rugby 7s should be treated as separate to the full form 15 a side game, mostly because the players in the 7s teams are rarely involved in the 15 man code and therefore, have a small chance of appearing in the pinnacle of the 15s game, the World Cup. The IRB have already said if 7s was to get into the Olympics the 7s World Cup would no longer be held so the Olympics would be the pinnacle. Secondly, at the WC in Dubai there were nearly 90,000 spectators over the 3 days, showing the draw this sport has. There were fans not only from in and around Dubai but all over the world including the Pacific Islands, Kenya, Brazil and China. The tournament was not dominated by the 'big' nations either: Wales beat New Zealand, Samoa beat England, Kenya beat South Africa and Argentina beat Fiji. Finally, there was a Mens and Womens tournament running side by side, with interest and support for both. 7s is a great spectator sport (400m apparently watched on TV) and is both exciting and compelling. Vote Rugby 7s IOC!!

  • Comment number 10.

    My Picks - Rugby 7s and Squash - they are both fast paced and exciting just what the Olympics need

  • Comment number 11.

    If we're looking at sports who have other priorities than the olympics, golf should not be included - 4 majors will always be more important. On that basis, tennis and football should be canned freeing up space for others.
    I have no idea what the ultimate accolade for a roller blader is but assuming the olympics would be more important then why not. It's no less mickey mouse than competition walking...

  • Comment number 12.

    Downhill Mountain exciting, spectator friendly sport that would appeal to the younger generation, as well as the speed freaks amongst us older guys.....GBR are already right at the top of this sport in mens and womens events

  • Comment number 13.

    Its got to be 7's surely

    Dynamic, engaging, "proven support" as Matt says and with the IRB actively courting the IOC and reaching out to fans across the world to back their bid for the sports inclusion in the games. Petitions are popping up on Facebook and Twitter, the rugby 7's community is being mobilised online around the world which has got to be a good thing digging around sites such as are pushing members to register their support, and i agree with Matt the lesser nations who in 7's are major players could be on the podium and thats what the Olympics is all about.

  • Comment number 14.

    Didn't rugby 7s get a chance at the Commenwealth Games?
    Was it a success?

  • Comment number 15.

    Squash should be a dead cert. I'd go for Rugby 7's along with it. Completely seperate to the 15's game and this would be seen as the top of the sport. Can't believe it won't be at London. Think bringing together a Great British 7's team would be great as well, and it should avoid anything like the stupid debate over the British Football Team as it's a different game.

  • Comment number 16.

    I am amazed so many people feel Rugby 7's should be in the games.
    The Olympics should be the ultimate prize in that particular sport and consist of the best athletes. Rugby 7's isn't even the ultimate FORM of the sport and is predominately played by young players or guys who aren't good enough for the full national sides.
    Correct me if i'm wrong but kids don't dream of playing rugby 7's for england....they want to play for england in world cups and six nations.
    Sevens is entertaining and fun but for it to be included in the olympics would be an absolute joke and anyone who thinks it should be in is an idiot!

  • Comment number 17.

    really good blog. i had no idea of the processes that led to a sport being adopted - so how does a ridiculous event (i'm thinking of the guys kneeling on a canoe with a single paddle here) come to be adopted? that one in particular is ridiculous - as is roller-sports. roll on the sevens!

  • Comment number 18.

    Rugby 7's should definitely be in, as should squash (though, as an outsider to the sport there does seem seomthing surreal about an audience watching two sportspeople battling it out inside a glass box).

    As a wildcard for the future (which I doubt mayn of you have heard of) - floorball. It's a bit like ice hockey without the ice, and is a very fast sportfull of drama which is ideal ofr television. It's massively popular in Scandanavia (as well as Czech Republic and Switzerland in mainland Europe), and is often quoted as the world's fastest growing sport. See . It's probably too small to be considered yet, but is one for the future.

  • Comment number 19.

    ... how different is rollerblading fast FROM [not 'to'] ice-skating fast ...
    if you please

  • Comment number 20.

    It incenses me that squash is not already an Olympic sport. It is a truly masterul game that can be enjoyed, and played by anyone. If tennis is an Olympic sport, where it already has massively high profile competitions for people to enjoy, then squash should be. It might help encourage more people to get involved with the sport.

  • Comment number 21.

    How surprising that their is no mention of 20/20 cricket which is taking England, West Indies, South Africa, the Sub-Continent pact and Australia all by storm?

    its short...cheerful...brings in massive crowds n great surprised it wasnt implemented into the 2012 olympics judging by its success over the last 5 years. Lords/Oval are perfect venues...and you`d have minnows playing as well and contributing...teams like Ireland, Hong Kong, Bermuda all take part in ICC matches regularly!

    Also a massive shout out to Jahangir Khan...hes a legend in his own right, if i remember correctly a few of his younger generation are now plying their trade for Great Britain. good luck to them!

  • Comment number 22.

    Squash and rugby sevens would be my choices.

  • Comment number 23.

    I would support Squash as it is time for it to become an olympic sport, also I thought Rollerblading was a hobby? Karate should be an olympic discipline as well

  • Comment number 24.

    I would rather see the Rugby 7s in than football. I just hope Uefa and Fifa stick to their guns and say they won't sign up to WADA's new code and hopefully then the IOC will kick football out of the Olympics. Its taking up a place that could go to a more-deserving sport that would see the Olympics as the pinnacle tournament to win. Football's never going to view the Olympics in that way the same as baseball won't so that should be out.

    I definitely think Squash should be in, anyone that's played it will tell you its 10 times more tiring than tennis or badminton is, its a ridiculously hard game but great fun to watch so get it in. As for golf they've got 4 Majors like tennis, why do they need another one? Get rid of tennis and keep golf out as well.

    As the other martial arts are in there it does seem strange karate isn't but personally I wouldn't vote for it because of the simple fact that its judges voting on who they think won a point. Think back to the problems with the tai kwondo (spelling?!?) in Beijing with the British girl and the ridiculous judging fiasco where she kicked the Chinese girl in the face but all the judges round the square must have all blinked at exactly that point! I know she got reinstated later but these sort of sports are so open to abuse, at least with sports like squash its easier to say this person won and the other lost.

    So out of the ones mentioned I'd definitely put Squash in and personally i'd like to see the Rugby 7s added but I wouldn't mind seeing the softball in there.

  • Comment number 25.

    There is no doubt in my mind that squash should be in 100% - Athleticism and drama is there for all to see, it is played all over the world by young and old and by both sexes. Plus the top pros put on an amazing show as I watched a webcast last night with 2 semis that were both amazing.

    I have doubts about Rugby, one of the IOC principles is that both sexes must be equally shown but at the last women's rugby world cup in Canada, Australia's team were a self funding bunch of players and Wales and Ireland did not even enter. We were left with only 6 teams who could really only be described as being able to play which is not far away from the men's world cup with just a splattering of countries really competing.

    I really enjoyed the article and agree with the other sports. One thing to bear in mind is that some sports in the Olympics now would not really exist at all if they were voted out... but then that's another debate :)

    So my two votes go to squash as it got in last time and then got voted out again on a technicality - maybe this time it will happen.

  • Comment number 26.

    You know the Olympics used to be about amateur ideals. Now it is full of professionals and dumb inclusions like Solo synchronised swimming!!!!! Rhythmic Gymnastics!!!!! what on earth do they have to do with Olympic ideals. Running Jumping and Throwing that should be it. Get it back to basics, track and field events only or who knows where it will stop. Possibly Bog Snorkelling and Cow Tipping will be next for consideration.

  • Comment number 27.

    Rugby 7's and squash every time.

    To repond to townie717, yes I did dream of playing 7s not the 15 man code. Its played by VERY skilled players who have a different skill set to the 15 man game, not less. Thanks for the idiot comment that made me feel special.

  • Comment number 28.

    Agree Rugby 7's and squash appear the best sports to add.

    Which sports have been added for the 2012 games? Don't England as host get to choose any sports to be added as America did with baseball etc for the Atlanta games?

  • Comment number 29.

    Great blog. I recently watched the squash games staged in New York's Grand Central station, and it is true that the courts cannot be put up where ever you like really, and the camera work is so much better. In 2016 we'll probably all be watching in HD and I think it will attract a whole new audience as it's fast, exciting, and has players from all over the world.

    The point should always be made that an Olympic event should be the pinnacle of a sports calender, the ultimate prize. For golf, baseball, football, tennis, it is not considered a 'grand slam' event and I see no reason why a sport like tennis should be in at the expense of Squash.

  • Comment number 30.

    I meant 'can' be put up where you like!!

  • Comment number 31.

    It seems that the IOC make up some of the rules as they go along. At Atlanta baseball was introduced at the insistence of the Americans, at Seoul Taekwondo was introduced at the insistence of the Koreans. It would be great if, subject to the broad stipulations of having to be a sport with global reach, the host city could nominate one sport to include; it would help stimulate local interest. I guess for London that could have been rugby 7s or 20/20 cricket or even Jeu de Paume (which for the uninitiated is like tennis without a racket, using the palm of the hand and at which GB won silver and bronze in 1908)!! That would still allow squash its rightful place under the Olympic rings. I'm not sure I would choose any of the other six hopefuls.

  • Comment number 32.

    Great Blog, well worth the read....

    I want to know when Darts will get in the running for an olympic sport.... I'm sick of hearing the old "darts cannot possibly be called a sport" comments. The boom that darts has experienced over the last 5 years has been extraordinary and this shows with the many nations players that you see in the big tournaments nowadays....

    Plus, we would be guaranteed a gold with Phil "The Power" Taylor!

  • Comment number 33.

    If golf were to be added would it be match play, or medal? Still I can't see it eclipsing the majors or the World Match Play in desirability to players.

    Rugby 7s would be fantastic in the Games. Fast paced, short games, no need to spread the tournament out too long to allow for recovery between rounds. Agree with #9 that 7s is a different form of the game to 15s and should be treated as such.

    Squash's biggest problem (IMHO) is the lack of spectator appeal. I myself love playing, but watching is not very exciting - or perhaps I've just never watched decent enough players :-) Also you aren't going to get 20000 spectators watching the final like you would with the rugby. But it does tick the boxes in terms of being widely played, played by men and women, and the Games would be the pinnacle of the sport.

    Football has got to go - it's not the pinnacle and you don't even get the full national teams playing. I like the idea of 20/20 cricket replacing it, but probably not a wide enough appeal outside the greater Commonwealth. Tennis should also go, the top players rarely take it seriously and see it as yet another tournament in an already crowded calendar.

    Softball and Karate? Meh, no appeal to me personally, but I suspect there are loads of other people out there who will vehemently disagree with my choices :-)

    While I'm on my soapbox, why not cut some of the swimming events? What's the deal with somebody being able to win 8 events when there is little difference between the events. Can you imagine if that variety existed in althletics? The 100m running backwards, or hopping down the track! They should stick to one style, fastest over the distance wins. If you want to do it backwards, or using both arms at the same time instead of alternatively, so long as you get to the end first it doesn't matter.

    But to answer the orignal question, my votes go to Rugby 7s and Squash.

  • Comment number 34.

    Matt, just to fill you in on Jeu de Paume. This is the French and original name for what is now called Real Tennis, the original racket game that has spawned Tennis centuries later. Once the most prevelant game in Europe and Colonial countries, it fell into decline during the rennaissance and further during the World Wars. It is now only played in 4 countries (UK,USA,France,Australia) and so could not be considered and why it was rightly dropped in the first place.

    It does however have the oldest recorded World Championship and the game was being keenly contested before America had even been "discovered" let alone produced some of the sports played there today.

    I agree with previous comments about the Olympics being the pinnacle of someone's sporting career, and this just doesn't ring true with sports like tennis and football (where they don't even use full international sides anyway!) and which is why perhaps golf is not needed in the games as well.

  • Comment number 35.

    My user name gives it away, but Squash should be a no-brainer for the Olympics. It combines pretty much every Olympic ideal you could name. skill, excitement, fitness, strength, athleticism and it would be seen as a major attraction for the players. The crowds were fantastic and the squash was out of this world.

    I worked as a volunteer at Squash during the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and was lucky enough to see the Rugby 7s as well. It was superb, and I wasn't even a great Rugby fan.

    My vote would have to be for these 2.

    On Heather McKay, she had a brilliant record in women's squash but she was so good, she played a lot of open squash where she played against men, this could be what ruins her record. I'm not being sexist, it depends on how you want to judge it, one of the likeable things about squash back then was that enjoyment of the game was massively important, even for people as good as she was, so she went for the challenge not the easy option. Brilliant!

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree with the majority on here that Olympic Gold should be the pinnacle of success in any sport with Olympic status. I would go further and suggest it should be a major factor in drawing up a new list of Olympic sports.

    Athletics should always be the root of the Olympic tree, with swimming and Gymnastics representing the trunk, all other sports are the branches, twigs folage and flowers that have been added by the marketing people to make the whole media circus work finacially.

    The argument against sports being accepted on grounds of being spectator friendly is kicked into touch by 'sailing', the most spectator unfiendly sport I can imagine, although heavily sponsored I believe.

    On another issue if I may..
    As the original Blogger mentioned, with advances in TV technology, replays, super slow motion and the like, showing angles and details that the human eye would never have seen before, I wonder how long people will continue to pay a substantial amount of money to be searched and prodded by an overworked, short tempered security guard, then forced to queue for hours, just to sit in an uncomfortable seat peering down from a position so high that it allows great views of the little dots running round the track below you, or being deafened by the multitude of school kids, bused in to the sports hall because it didnt look good to the advertising people who had sold the sport to a toothpaste company.

    I cant help but to think the Olympics, as a publicly supported event is all but over.
    How much cheaper, easier and safer would the whole event be if essential people only were invited and the rest of us watched on pay per view.

  • Comment number 37.

    I cant help but to think the Olympics, as a publicly supported SPECTATOR event is all but over.
    How much cheaper, easier and safer would the whole event be if essential people only were invited and the rest of us watched on pay per view.


    Edit to previous post....

  • Comment number 38.

    The first comment has it exactly right for individual events: "The only sports that should be at the Olympics are where an Olympic Gold medal is the highest prize that anyone can win"

    I would add to that, that there is also no need for a team sport to be included when they are a big enough sport to have a successful world cup or championship already in place.

    Golf and tennis (and darts) therefore shouldn't be in, and neither should football, cricket, rugby or baseball, as they all have successful world championships of their own.

    Of the individual sports, squash clearly deserves to be there as much as table tennis or badminton.

    Of the team sports, I think softball is to baseball as rugby 7s is to rugby union. Its therefore hypocritical to argue in favour of one but not the other, as both have an equally good case.

    Softball is played in many, many more countries around the world than rugby 7s.

  • Comment number 39.

    Just a quick note on the comparisons between badminton and squash. Badminton is a much more popular sport across the world in terms of spectators, players etc and just because badminton is in the Olympics it doesn't mean squash should be just because they are both racket sports. I do think squash should be in the Olympics though.

  • Comment number 40.


    there are 7s tournaments all over the world, and I would argue played more than softball. For example tournaments are going on this year in India, Brazil, Uruguay, Kenya, Hawaii, Thailand, China, Sweden and Denmark... all countries people possibly wouldn't associate with rugby let alone 7s. TV audiences are also much bigger than softball (I've never seen softball on TV!), as are crowd attendances. Personally, think softball and baseball should be no where near the Olympics.

  • Comment number 41.

    Baseball is probably out- The US Major League Baseball will never agree to stop their season for two weeks, and thus you'll never get the best players (this is why MLB created the World Baseball Classic which just concluded).

    Softball has a chance- it was only voted out by one vote, and it is a women's sport. The fact that the world is catching up to the US helps as well.

    Golf will not make it- I don't see Tiger Woods wanting an Olympic medal as much as he would breaking the Majors win record.

    Karate probably won't make it, because there are a lot of other wrestling/martial arts sports already in.

    Squash has a chance- it's very TV friendly now, and it does have a good following- but not really in the US, which hurts.

    Roller Sports probably doesn't make it in- I don't think it has enough support.

    Rugby 7's is the wildcard here- it has a lot of supporters, is fast paced, and is TV friendly- but is there support outside the powerhouses?

    Of the 7 sports, I think the three with the best chances of getting in are Squash, Softball, and Rugby 7's, in that order.

    Here's another thing- what sports make it in might be a harbinger of who will win the 2016 vote- if baseball and softball somehow both get in, I'd think that makes it a lock for Chicago 2016. Karate might be a good sign for Tokyo, and Rugby 7's might help Madrid to a point.

  • Comment number 42.

    For me it's got to be sevens and squash. That Squash isn't already an olympic sport is crazy, nothing else needs to be added to other people's comments. Sevens should be added purely for the enjoyment factor, fantastic sport to see live and wouldn't take ages to get done with - groups stages and finals all done within three days. Used to live in Hong Kong and my favourite ever sporting event is the Hong Kong Sevens, amazing weekeend of action. You can also see how keen the IRB are to get it by the fact that they're willing to drop the World Cup Sevens for the Olympic Sevens, making it the pinnacle of the sports achievements.
    I do feel sorry for karate getting a a former taekwondo practioner and son of an international ref I'm all for martial arts getting a chance, and think karate deserves its. In an ideal world we'd get rid of one of the less deserving sports - agreeing with the calls for synchro swimming to be dropped here - and have it enter as a third sport in 2016.
    Finally I've got to big up Ultimate Frisbee (or Ultimate to give it its proper title, Frisbee being a registered trademark) for inclusion at some point in the future. The sport is one of the fastest growing in the world, especially amoung younger people, and combines - at the top level at least - exceptional athleticism with a real degree of technical difficulty. Think of it as a combination of American football and Rugby offensively and closest to Basketball defensively. Players need to be technically proficient in a number of different throws, have well honed catching skills (not as easy it sounds when you have to be able to catch a fast moving disc with variable pitch in often windy conditions whilst being marked), be well co-ordinated in attacking and defensive strategies and very able athletes what with the amount of running involved. Its a sport anyone can get started in - at the beginner stage everyone is on a very level playing field which makes a nice change from most sports you find - but real work is needed to excel in. Plus the sport is built for highlight reels, with any number of diving scores and blocks, crazy throws and seemingly impossible grabs in any one match. The only thing holding it back is perversely one of the sports big strengths - it is almost entirely with referees or officials. Players call their own fouls, which the offender can choose to accept or contest. If the foul is contested, their is sometimes a quick discussion (no more than 30 seconds) and then play continues, generally with a handshake or pat on the back. It is this 'spirit of the game' that makes the sport so refreshing - cheating or diving is almost unheard of, arguments are few and far between and while the sport can be played hard, it is always fair, even at international levels; players are just honest about their mistakes. However, while this would fit the Olympic ethos to a tee in my mind, I have been told that the Olympics and other comined sporting events take a dim view to sports without an umpire/referee. It would be great to see it there at some point in the future i feel - not least because the UK has one of, if not the, best teams in Europe!

  • Comment number 43.

    Oh and ultimate would be cheap to put on too, you just need any large patch of grass, some cones and marker tape/spray, a scoreboard, timer and a decent disc - none of the pound shop tat mind you. Perfect sport for the credit crunch!

  • Comment number 44.


    I'm as big a fan of rugby as the next man, and I agree that 7s should be in the Olympic program, but I'm afraid saying "I would argue played more than softball" is simply factually incorrect. There are 130 affiliated nations in the ISF, only 95 in the IRB. Thats a big difference, and results in a great deal more softball than rugby 7s being played around the world.

    Do you think the fact that you've never seen softball on the TV might be because you live in the UK? I've seen it on the TV plenty when I've been to other countries, so that is incorrect also.

    Judging by your final sentence, its clear that your views are solely based on your own personal dislike for baseball and softball, rather than an unbiased look at the data. Fortunately, the Olympic Committee is a little more open minded (we would hope).

  • Comment number 45.

    "Which sports have been added for the 2012 games? Don't England as host get to choose any sports to be added as America did with baseball etc for the Atlanta games?"

    England gets to chose nowt since it isn't hosting the games, Britain, on the other hand rather copped out on the 7's front saying that it wanted it included, but not pushing for it really hard. All the US & S Korea did for their respective sports was threaten to kick up an unholy fuss if their nominations weren't chosen. If the BOC had really lobbied for 7's (or squash or tiddlywinks for that matter) then it would have been included, but the reasoning seemed to go why get all hot and bothered about a sport New Zealand & Fiji will dominate. A shame really as I think a Lions 7 would have been great (see Wales & Scotland winning Cup & Plate recently, Tait leading England to the final at the Commonwealths).

    Personally I'd love to see 7's included and it absolutely would be considered the pinnacle of the sport. I think you would see players opting for the 7's squad in a an Olympic year in preference to a place the national team, you now also see players being 7's team stalwarts without ever being considered for a 15's squad, so different are the skills required.

    The argument that 7's is softball to Rugby's baseball so doesn't warrant inclusion is ridiculous; by that standard the 200m is just running a bit further that the 100m so get rid of one.

    I don't know if a vote is being held here bit mine would be for 7's & squash, although I'd happily hoof out bmx racing to include karate.

  • Comment number 46.

    Squash, definitely.

    Then it's one from softball (less commercialised than baseball, addresses the gender issue, no major annual contest), roller sports (attracts young audience to the Games, good opportunity to show off host city), rugby sevens (high speed, uses main stadium in 'swimming week', appeal in small countries) and karate (no particular reason I understand for it to be missing while other martial arts aren't).

    Of those, roller sports seems wildly unlikely, and I think I'm leaning karate on grounds of logic. I'd throw out tennis and football for sevens and softball any day though.

  • Comment number 47.

    Oh, and the shoutout for Ultimate is a very good one. I was fortunate enough to be part of the commentary team for the 2007 European Ultimate Championships - there was a real strength in depth in the competition, and the athleticism on display was undeniable. It may be relevant that the Americans tend to dominate, but there's plenty of competition below from the Brits, Japanese, Canadians, Australians, Swedes and Finns.

  • Comment number 48.

    A lot of people have mentioned spectator appeal, but one of the major attractions of the Olympics is watching the sports you would never normally watch. How many millions watch rowing that would never watch normally, or sailing, or shooting, or table tennis or even athletics and cycling.

    It doesn't matter that a sport like Squash doesn't maintain a healthy following, at an Olympics, like badminton, it would attract many viewers for the novelty of watching it.

    Football should go, what a waste of time, the clubs try to prevent players playing, it is meaningless in comparison to the World Cup, and other federation competitions etc. Tennis should also go as again it is not even on a par with the Masters tournaments let alone Grand Slam events.

    Squash is a must and it's been a crime that it's never featured. It is incredibly popular all round the world, and easily accessible to all walks of life.

    Rugby 7's is worth a shout as it's another sport that is great for schools and youngsters to play, and makes great tv with games being so short.

  • Comment number 49.

    As 48 says, I prefer the events that i wouldn't normally watch. Modern Pentathlon - believe it or not - is one of my favourites along with BMX cycling. I'd like to see sports mentioned that would improve the standard and showcase them to a wider audience.

    If i had any sport in the world to pick it would be 9 ball pool! None of the ones on the list really appeal to me...

  • Comment number 50.

    Couldn't agree more - good blog that - and it's squash and 7's for me too. It's unfair to use the "not the pinnacle of their sport" argument against 7's - the 15 man game and its world cup obviously have an enormous comercial presence but 7's gets nothing like the exposure, nor does it receive the same interest from fans. Players like Ben Gollings who have been plugging away for England for donkey's years without ever really threatening to break into the national 15 side, or in many cases even their club 15, deserve the recognition that the Olympics would give them.

    play squash. love squash. plus i think the spectator aspect is always helped by the bickering that goes on around the t. every time it isn't at the olympics i get just that little bit angrier.

  • Comment number 51.

    Speaking as an ex-karate teacher, I think having it in the Olympics would be worst thing for it. TaeKwonDo stole all the tricks in terms of marketing to a mass audience (flashy high kicks), so karate will either be removed after a few Olympics, because even competitors get bored watching modern sports bouts comprising of lots of hopping around and flashes too fast to pick up on, or Joe public won't be able to distinguish between it and TaeKwonDo. As one teacher once told me, they already have two incomprehensible sports with people in white pyjamas, why do they need three?

    And while all this is going on, it will continue to funnel money towards sports karate as a sanitised sport for kids, and away from clubs that practice it as a martial art with no medals at stake.

    Saying that, now is the time to go for it. That TaeKwonDo idiot kicking the ref in the face gives them an advantage this time round :)

  • Comment number 52.

    I have to say I'm against 7's for the reasons stated above. Yes it is a different form of the game but ultimately the vast majority of people play and watch the 15 a side version. It is a stripped down version of the real thing - the equivalent of 5 a side football just with a greater fuss made of it. There's sadly no way round that but it is a wonderful sport to watch.

    It has to be squash's time with the game going far more global than ever before.

  • Comment number 53.

    Problem for the UK with rugby sevens is that we'd have to field a GB team. Surely this would cause problems (similar to football GB team) between the respective unions involved. Plus reduces 3 competitive teams to one.

    Still a good choice for me though, but after squash! As without the Olympics, rugby sevens would still be a popular sport, where as the inclusion of squash in the Olympics would help to develope the sport.

  • Comment number 54.

    #53 - Rugby seems quite happy to play a combined GB team (the Lions) and sees it as prestigious, personally I can't see why football can't do the same! But you're right (almost) in that it will reduce 4 competitive teams down to 1.

  • Comment number 55.

    53...Problem for the UK with rugby sevens is that we'd have to field a GB team. Surely this would cause problems (similar to football GB team) between the respective unions involved.

    There would be no problems in this regard as the individual status of the home nations is guaranteed by the IRB, who incidentally want more nations, not less. There is also a regularly formed & accepted British team.

    The reason that Scottish, Welsh & N. Irish FAs want nothing to do with the Olympics is that the individual status of the home nations is, far from being guaranteed by FIFA, under active threat. Two attempts have been made to remove out automatic VP that the Home Nations receive within FIFA council. Various nations & confederations don't see why Scotland plays international football & not Catalonia. The logic is compelling and only tradition is on the Home Nation's side. FIFA wants fewer members, particularly fewer European nations and the Home Nations would be a very convenient target.

  • Comment number 56.

    You have go to be kidding me. Isn't squash just another racquet game. Tennis, pingpon, the one with the birdie are all racquet game. So squash is in put Roller Sports is out because ice speed skating is in. They are as different as soccer(football to the Brits) and American Football. Inline Roller speed skating is done on every continent and has world champions from Europe, North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. I don't believe anyone has won from Africa yet.

    This is a sport of pure athletic ability and sports skill, done by both men and women. Skaters have transition from our sport to both Ice Speed Skating (Chad Hedrick, Olympic Gold)and cycling (Theresa Cliff, World Class woman cyclist). A sport that has evolved over the ages to new technologies and can be done anywhere. No venue need folks, uses the same roads as cycling and running for the Olympic events. Roller Sports should definitely get its chance since it is truly an Athletic event that the World enjoys. Brits need to go across the chanel and see it first hand in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Spain.

  • Comment number 57.


    No, 3 competitive teams. Ireland would still play with Ulster born players given the option of playing for Britain or Ireland (as happens with all Olympic sports currently).

  • Comment number 58.

    It's a travesty that sports like handball can be in but squash, rugby sevens and golf are out. Some Olympic sports are barely noticeable outside the games themselves.

  • Comment number 59.

    Mr TimF

    Why is it a travesty to have handball?

    It is a very popular sport in mainland Europe (just like basketball) and certainly has a bigger following there than rugby and cricket. It is also played in Sth America, Africa and Asia and is an established Olympic Sport.

    Some posters have to be reminded that the Olympics cater for a worldwide audience and not just a British one.

  • Comment number 60.

    Evening all! Thanks for joining the debate with such lusty enthusiasm. And it's nice to see that spiralling off in different directions isn't something that only happens to me when I get started on this topic.

    Here are some quick responses/thoughts:

    Megaspur (12) - like where you're coming from with DH mountain-biking. I had the pleasure to meet our reigning world champs at a very fancy launch for something a couple of years ago. It seems we are almost unstoppable when it comes to pointing your bike down a mountain track. In my 'dream' Olympics, we lose the road time-trial, add four women's events on the track to make that fair and add a couple more MTB events.

    townie717 (16) - I have some sympathy for your comment about sevens not being the ultimate form of its sport but only some. Sevens is pretty much a different, though closely related, sport these days - the specialists are full-time on the sevens circuit and don't even bother with 15s. I also wonder if you've considered the implications for boxing of your comment about the Olympics being only for each sport's very best. Oh yes, "amateur" boxing is another of those IOC conundrums UNLESS you view it, as many pro trainers/promoters do, as a different sport.

    chewy102 (18) - Floorball? I'll check it out. But it already sounds like the kind of game we might have invented at school in our lunch hour.

    CaptainInvisible (19) - good sport, mea culpa. And to think I was obsessing about the "Does the Olympics need.." v "Do the Olympics need..." grammatical challenge. I was also tutting to myself about hearing a "centred around" on the Today programme this morning.

    chakdey01 (21) - Twenty20 hasn't got a chance until 2020 at the earliest and to be honest it's going to need another four years at least to build its case. I love it but there are plenty of big, big hurdles for it to get over before the IOC will look it: more countries need to play it, women's game has to grow, it needs to work in other multi-sports events first and that's not even addressing issues like building grounds in places like Chicago, Madrid, Rio or Tokyo.

    adeybats (25) - You make some good points. Men's rugby, particularly sevens, IS breaking new ground around the world and must be already as "global" at the elite level as a fair few existing Olympic sports (let's be honest, quite a few of the ones we're good at aren't exactly played by youngsters from Alaska to Zanzibar), but women's rugby needs more time/money/effort/help. I also know exactly what you mean about certain sports existing only because they are Olympic sports....modern pentathlon is the obvious one but weightlifting and wrestling can't be far behind.

    milsonio (32) - Darts? Erm. Dunno. I want to reject the sport out of hand (I'm not a fan) but then archery (posh darts) is in. Shooting (darts with gunpowder) is in. Do enough countries dart? Not sure.

    Pothunter19 (33) - The golf chaps have actually done quite a lot of work on this and appear to be quite serious about their campaign. They're proposing a men's and women's medal, with fields of about 60 or so. I think it would based on the world rankings but countries would be limited to a max of two golfers. But why am I explaining this? We all agree, don't we, that is just another WGC type tournament and they're not as valued as any of the four majors. If Monty won the 2016 Olympic golf tournament people would still remember him for not winning a major.

    RoverOxford (31) and mattronnie (34) - Thanks for the jeu de paume update. Trust us to let the IOC discard a sport we're good at.

    mambohammer (36) - That's it a bit apocalyptic, isn't it? Watching sport live has still got to beat watching it on the gogglebox, hasn't it? OK, you're right, the sofa is definitely the place to be to watch the sailing, but I'm not ready to plumb myself in in front of the idiot lantern just yet.

    joblesswonder (39) - Interesting comment re: badminton v squash. You may well be right about badders being bigger than squash in player numbers (being popular in some very populous Asian countries will do that for you) and I suppose that would imply it's more popular with spectators too, but don't you think that might be connected to badminton being an Olympic sport??? Would badminton be so popular in China, for example, if there were no Olympic medals to be won and therefore no Olympic heroes to inspire youngsters??? You watch the same thing happen to squash if/when it gets in.

    Rafael-Lafael (51) - Thanks for the karate insight, much appreciated. I've heard similar rumblings about the mangling of martial art principles in relation to taekwondo and it just makes me wonder why the IOC is so keen to push such contrived and compromised sports, particularly when they are so hard to follow for the uninitiated and even some of the judges.

    edm4skate (56) - Hurrah! Somebody has spoken for roller sports. Well done. I'm still not convinced, though.

    Right, that's more than enough. But if anybody wants some more, shall we try to pick a Team GB sevens team for an imaginary 2012 tournament????

  • Comment number 61.

    I do think sports should be in the Olympics if they are the main pinnacle of of somebody's career rather than just another even which in tennis/golf it would be.

    I like the suggestions of Squash and Rugby.

  • Comment number 62.

    Matt, Can you please explain why roller sports worry you? Speed skating is great to watch, combining running distances (from sprints up to marathon distances) and cycling's speed, bright coloured kit and occasional crashes. Winners are first across the line so there's no subjective judgement. It is similar to ice speed skating but with more variety in terms of race distances.

  • Comment number 63.

    Hi tigerathleticfan, no problem at all.

    The prospect of roller sports being included in the Olympic Games worry me for lots of reasons. But these are the main ones:

    - I'm a reasonably well-travelled, life-long sports nut who has worked as a sports journalist, off and on, for 13 years but I have never seen any "roller sports" apart from the roller hockey game on the roof of Dante and Randal's convenience store in Clerks. I have also never met anybody who has played a "roller sport". Now I am not for one minute suggesting that my knowledge, direct or otherwise, of a sport is the basis on which the IOC should decide its programme, but I am saying that my complete ignorance of "roller sports" suggests they are not played anywhere near widely enough to warrant inclusion in the Olympic Games. Dishing out Olympic medals in relatively uncompetitive sports cheapens the value of medals given in other far more competitive sports. There are already huge disparities in the relative values of Olympic medals, why compound this by voting in another underdeveloped but vaguely faddish sport?

    - I said in the piece that I feared roller skating was similar to speed skating on ice (which is already an Olympic sport) and you have confirmed this: as did edm4skate when he made the rather bizarre statement that saying comparing roller skating and ice skating was like comparing football/soccer and American football only to then admit that Chad Hedrick had been a champion in both.

    - A potential for crashes and garish fashions is not, on its own, grounds for Olympic status. Neither is it particularly unusual/unique. I'm also not sure how replicating the race distances you'd find on the athletics track is an argument for a sport's inclusion in the Olympics. Would skateboarding or unicycling be worthy of the Olympics if they had race distances from sprints to the marathon?

    - I've said here and above that I know almost nothing about roller sports, so I have no idea what the sport's international federation is suggesting in terms of athlete numbers, but the fact that you mention there are lots of different distances makes me, well, worry. And does speed skating require a special track? Can you use a velodrome?

    - But most importantly the idea that roller sports could be added to the 2016 Games worries me because it would mean another more deserving sport has missed out. And right now I would would rank 'roller sports' seventh out of seven here on grounds of global reach, participation numbers, history and entertainment value. It just doesn't strike me as a sport that is hammering on the IOC's door demanding entrance. And unlike squash, for example, you're never going to hear anybody say, "Wow, I thought roller skating was already an Olympic sport."

  • Comment number 64.

    Mr. Slater:
    Thank you for your explanation on your complete lack of knowledge of any sports other than those that are played in England or the Commonwealth. I have been an athlete and coach for 40 + years and have no idea what squash is. So I guess it isn't a household game in the States. I believe it maybe Racquetball in the US but not really sure. I wish they IOC and FIRS(the International Federation of Roller Skating) had never used that term. Unfortunately for Inline Speed Skating, we are governed by an organization that has multiple disciplines so i.e Roller Sports. The IOC is only looking at Inline Speed Skating becuase it is one of the most popular sports in Europe, South America, North America, Australia and Asia.
    It has great spectator participation with thousands of viewers at many of the European races. It also can be done in a multiple of venues from a small bank track which there are hunderds in Europe or on any city streets like cycling.

    The problem is that Englan has no organization of the sport eventhough it has been a sport there for years. Your lack of knowledge is due to your countries inability to advance the popularity in your own back yard. So before you dismiss us to #7 you better look around at your neighbors who would be more than willing to include this great competitive sport in the Olympics. By the way at an average marathon race in the US or Europe there are 1000 to 1500 competitors.

    Speed skating is the national sport of Argentina, Columbia and I believe Spain. In Italy it is one of it's three major sports, so you better do some research before you make your dismissals.

    Also no one is commenting from your country because they have the same misconcepcion as you do. But thank you for the opportunity to educate those who are misinformed.

  • Comment number 65.

    Loving the passion, edm4skate; splitting my sides at some of your claims, though.

    I don't think "roller sports" are worth a place in the Olympics so I know nothing about sports played outside England/Commonwealth? You're wrong but this isn't about me so I'll move on.

    What this debate boils down to is a sport's suitabilty for the world's most prestigious multi-sport event. Slots in that event are at a premium, so only the most deserving get in. It's the IOC's party so they get to decide what factors the sports are measured on.

    I'm not disputing that in-line skating is a popular means of transport/form of physical recreation in large parts of the developed world. We see plenty of it in England too.

    What I am disputing is that in-line speed skating is an organised/competitive sport sufficiently developed, played and watched to warrant Olympic status. And certainly not when there are genuine world sports like squash, karate, golf, baseball and so on, also pushing their claims for an Olympic place.

    Your claim that speed skating is the "national sport of Argentina, Colombia and Spain" is utter nonsense. You might not have heard of squash, but you've heard of soccer, right? Suggesting in-line skating is anywhere near soccer in those countries is like me saying squash is almost as popular as baseball in the States. You've heard of cycling and tennis, haven't you? You probably haven't spent much time outside of N America (see, we can both make sweeping assumptions about each other) so you're not to know that rugby, for example, is massive in Argentina, while golf is huge in Spain and growing fast in Colombia, where baseball and softball are pretty big sports too.

    As for your claims about marathon skating races in the US or Europe (but not "England") attracting 1,000 to 1,500 competitors and thousands of spectators, so what? Normal marathon races and triathlons attracts tens of thousands of competitors, and hundreds of thousands of spectators. What does that prove? Thousands of elite golfers attempt to qualify for golf's biggest tournaments and their efforts are watched by massive worldwide audiences. The famous Hong Kong Sevens this weekend, which culminated in Fiji beating South Africa in a thrilling final, was watched by sell-out crowds of 40,000 fans a day and watched by millions around the world. Squash is played by 20 million people in 175 countries. Baseball has just staged an international tournament that managed to pull off the double act of confirming its popularity/vibrancy beyond America and being a huge financial success. These are the kinds of things the IOC notices.....not inflated claims of a sport's popularity in Argentina, Colombia and Spain.

    As for misconceptions about your sport being limited to my country, I notice that Sports Illustrated also ranked rollers sports as seventh out of seven in an article last month. But then SI is obsessed with Commonwealth sports, isn't it?

  • Comment number 66.

    "Speed skating is the national sport of Argentina, Columbia and I believe Spain."

    That seems unlikely, even given the vagaries of determining 'national sports'.

    In fact you seem to have listed one of the few countries that does have an unambiguous national sport (Columbia) enshrined in law. And it isn't 'roller sports'.

  • Comment number 67.

    Wow quite a bit of passion here. I've had a go at all but one of the sports up for inclusion (no karate though I did judo for a while)

    Got to say I love watching Rugby 7s I think it would be a great sport for the Olympics. It's fast, exciting doesn't require too much knowledge for someone who doesn't know much about rugby to get the idea of what is going on so anyone can sit down and be entertained. I think that is one of the things the IOC is looking for to get a new breed of viewer to the Olympics.

    Why would the IOC want to attract new viewers? Because the average age of people wathcing the Olympics is going up and therefore the numbers of viewers are dwindling. What it all comes down to is TV rights. If people will watch it then TV companies will be able to generate advertising revenue when they broadcast it. That means they will be willing to pay the organisers lots of cash for the TV rights. So they need to include sports that will bring more viewers.

    Squash will not bring that. Despite the high speed cameras and the glass courts it's harder to follow a squash ball on the TV than an ice hockey puck.

    Golf has another problem. Most of the best players come from a small number of countries, a huge number from the USA. They would be able to enter maybe 4 players per country. Which would make for a very dull competition. Who would want to watch that when you can watch all the best players at the majors?

    Karate is too hard to understand or too similar to TKD for new viewers to switch on and watch. How good are the figures for TKD and judo? Just going to be watered down futher with another similar

    Baseball ans Softball were kicked out for a reason. Not much participation/too much dominance from too few countries and major league baseball did not release it's best players to the Olympics. It seems here is little interest outside the US, Canada, Cuba and Japan and it's about as exciting to watch as chess.

    That leaves roller speed skating. Since not many on here know much about it, I'll dwell a little longer on it. It's fast (almost cycle speed), it's simple to understand even if you know nothing about it. It's all about being the first over the line. No subjective judging. I doubt it would attract audiences from the name alone but the clothing could get a lot of people watching in much the same way as people watch beach volleyball - who cares about the sport it's the fit bodies.

    Participationwise, it's a sport that has been going since the last 19th century and is currently practiced in 70+ countries with around 50 nations sending teams to it's world championships every year.

    It's something that is accessible to a wide number of people as the facilities to do it are free (parks, cycle tracks, roads) You just need a pair of skates and a bit of help to get started. It's a fantastic form of aerobic exercise, very low impact on the joints (unless you fall over a lot) unlike running which destroys bodies. With half the world population trying to lose weight this is a fun way of tackling the obesity epidemic so politically it could be good. It's a green form of transport too, though it requires a higher skill level than cycling.

    Speed skating has nothing to compare with the scale of the Olympics so inclusion would be a huge thing for the sport and they have a lot more to gain from Olympic inclusion in the short term. IOC has very little to lose by including it as it costs very little to put on unless they build a proper speed skating track. You could easily include one inside a Velodrome as they are now standardised at 200m long and 6m wide which would fit perfectly inside a 250m velodrome track.

    I suspect the main reason speed skating won't get in is for the same reasons that people of hear having been mentioning it. It is not well known. Olympic status could change all that but I doubt this post will change many minds that it is suitable.

    I still think Rugby has the best shot a squash running a distant second but I wouldn't count out roller speed skating so easily. The others have some work to do to convince me they should be included but then I don't get to vote.

    Just as a matter of interest which of the sports has a direct paralympic equivalent? I've seen a team of blind speed skaters competing in an open event. You get wheelchair rugby in the paralympics now. I've seen golfers with all sorts of physical anomalies, how are squash, karate and the base/softball?

  • Comment number 68.

    If I had to pick between the 7 nominated I would personally say squash.

    However, I would just like to point out the Olympic Movement, which is bascially the IOC's mission statement.

    "... the goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."

    Further to this there are 8 essential missions of the Olympic Movement -

    -Choice of the host city
    -Organisation of the Games
    -Promotion of Women in Sport
    -Protection of Athletes
    -Development through Sport
    -Promotion of Sustanable Development
    -Respect of the Olympic Truce
    -Promotion of Culture and Olympic Education

    An already well established sport like squash surely doesn't NEED the Olympic Games as a trampoline onto the world map for development or increased female participation etc. Whereas a sport like NETBALL, which is already in the Commonwealth Games and a sport which has the most female participants at least in the UK, needs the backing of the IOC to catapult it into the WORLD of sport. Its support and participation at the Commonwealth Games is phenomenal, if only it was publicised and given a chance in other countries, then it could open up a whole new world to women of many ages. The Olympic Games would be the perfect opportunity. Does its success in Australia, England, Jamaica and New Zealand suggest it's potential elsewhere is incredible? Yes. Such a well rounded and fast paced sport, highly competitive, excellent drugs policy, and many dedicated people volunteering to achieve success.

    If one of the missions of the Olympic Games is female participation, why is there no mainly female established sport already in the Olympics? Yes, most of the sports have females particpating in them, however their competitions and matches are very much over shadowed by the male participation. Tennis yes, but we are talking more Federer and Nadal rather than Safina and Sharapova; Cycling yes, but again more Hoy than Romero; Basketball yes, but Pau Gasol and Luol Deng rather than Courtney Paris. The list goes on.

    I think it's time the IOC didn't make the SAFEST decision...

    There is plenty of support for netball to be in the Olympic Games. please see the facebook group and

  • Comment number 69.

    The olympics is/was supposed to be for amateur sportsmen & women. It is slowly but surely becoming this less and less, to allow professional golfers / footballers to be admitted into the olympics would not be in the spirit the games was concieved for. I know top athletes now have "trust funds" etc and now command large fees etc, but there are other sports: softball/squash/karate that do not command the huge fees for entering & large prize-monies for winning that golf / football and many other sport recieve - so let`s try to keep the olympics as it was meant to be - for the "amateur sportsmen / woman".

  • Comment number 70.

    Like others have said Golf has it own "Major" Championships and any sport that has such things (Such as Tennis, Football etc) should not be included in the Olympics.

    My own sport of Tenpin Bowling has been going longer than virtually any other sport (can be traced to the ancient Egyptians) and more people play it than any other sport,certainly in the US and probably around the world.

    As far as I am aware over the last few years the roster of nations who have competed in the AMF World cup have been more than any other sport which shows that it is also one that is open to the MANY as apposed to the likes of Golf, Tennis, Sailing etc which is open to the very FEW.

    So no Golf should not be in the Olympics. If Tenpin bowling, a sport which requires both physical and mental skill, can be played by anyone and has more people playing it than virtually any other sport, can't get in, then Golf should NEVER be allowed in the Olympics.

  • Comment number 71.

    32 of 33 team handball medals have been won by European countries. In 2008 the top 7 places were won by European teams. The groups are filled with European teams. How is this a world sport?

    BASEBALL is the top team sport throughout the Caribbean and Central America. These areas are definitely underrepresented at the Olympics. Baseball is a top sport in Japan and Korea, and popular in Mexico and Venezuela. Expand the groups to enable teams from countries like Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic to gain a spot in the Olympics.

    When athletes from the Caribbean are breaking world records in sprinting, it is hard to believe that the Olympics would exclude the region's top team sport athletes.

  • Comment number 72.

    You know what Matt, golf should be in the Olympics - but not in its traditional form. What does that mean? Take golf clubs and balls, and combine them with the Olympic Ideal - faster, stronger, higher etc. So rather than playing 18 holes, Olympic golf should be about who can hit the ball the furthest, or who can pitch the ball closest. They already have a world championship for long-driving: that's the way to go.

  • Comment number 73.

    They should be taking sports out of the Olympics not adding more. Although I love my sport, except football which is totally pointless, I believe that only quantitative sports (higher, faster, longer ect.) belong in the Olympics. This would take us back to the original concept, man/women against man/woman against the elements. I would wager that the ancients did not have judges and points for style. Team, spin off and trendy sports should not be given a place, even my beloved rugby, golf and cricket,they have their own world events

  • Comment number 74.

    Squash is one of the most ridiculous sports and should not be included into the Olympic Games. Its rules are too complicated and inconsistent (two scoring systems); its action is hard to follow for viewers(you have no idea where is ball is); its facilitate prevent casual participation in this sport; its global appeal is limited at best(Only a few Commonwealth countries are playing widely). And the most absurd thing is, the player spend more energy and attention in avoiding interference or obstrution of the other player, rather than actually hitting the ball.

  • Comment number 75.

    I'd be interested to know why the thought of Olympic Golf is such a turn off to so many people. After all there is no real need for it to be a professional event.

    I think that having it setup in a similar fashion to the boxing with only amateur participants allowed would raise the profile of the young statrs of the future whilst also giving them an inroads into various other events.

    If it was setup as a matchplay format similar to the Football world cup with various group stages followed by a knock-out or even a strokeplay event where the top 16 or so qualify for a knockout matchplay phase could be great viewing.

    And if the R&A and the USGA are truly behind golf on the Olympic stage then how about exemptions into the Open and US Open for the medalists providing they do not turn pro between the time of the Olympics and the next scheduled championship.

    I think that could work exceptionally well.

    To make the case even more compelling every major city with a bid in for the Olympics has a world class course already in use meaning that there are no infrastructure costs for the hosting of such an event. And in the current economic climate that has to make sense.

  • Comment number 76.

    completely agree with jeanlepoisson; the /Olympics should be the pinnacle of achievement in the sports concerned and any where it clearly isn't should be removed/not added. This means removing all then ones that jeanlepoisson has mentioned (there are probably others) and clearly not adding golf etc etc. It's nice to find someone who has the same opinion; just confirms to me that I'm right!!!

  • Comment number 77.

    I completely disagree with Londonjonnyo about golf in Olympics. Golf should be in the Olympics only if the best players in the world guaranteed to compete in the Games. I have no interest to see some amateur teenagers playing like in a summer training camp. Football should be the only exception, since FIFA World Cup has achieve such tremendous, unrival prestige in international football.

  • Comment number 78.

    durabi... There is no reason any player would be an teenager. Example. Gary Wolstenholme was an amateur and leading competitor in many events for a number of years. He additionally qualified for the US Open last year. There was an older amateur in the Masters this year.

    And the spirit of the Olympics is generally one which is supposed to encourage amateur sportsman. Not professionals.

    And to be honest I don't think football should be included. It's a thuggish game played by the dregs of the sporting world. There are very few people in the football world that anyone would hold up as a role model as far as I can tell. And the history of confrontation between fans and players (as well as the rampant cheating within the professional game) should be an instant exclusion.

  • Comment number 79.

    Additionally... Another reason why golf should be included.

    looking at Slater8 and his post he states the following:

    "... the goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."

    So with golf we have the Tiger Woods Foundation. An organisation which educates kids in inner city areas about golf and through that attempts to encourage education, community responsibility and other solid foundations for life.

    The Faldo Series which drives development of young people in the golfing world across the UK and Europe.

    There are others. And each works perfectly with that IOC Mission Statement.

  • Comment number 80.

    For me there is a simple formula for picking which events are Olympic.
    If winning the gold medal is not the pinnicle of achievment in your chosen sport then your not participating in an olympic sport.
    This would mean getting rid of Football(soccer?) and Tennis to name a couple.

  • Comment number 81.

    Medalled? How long has medal been averb. If you're going to call yourself a journalist and write in English, at least learn the language properly.

  • Comment number 82.

    When you play the pedant's card, dg, it is usually a good idea to make sure you get your own spelling and punctuation absolutely spot-on. Thanks for taking the time to register and comment, though.

  • Comment number 83.

    Sorry to say but how many countries actually play sports like Baseball or Softball? The only reason they were in the Olympics in the first place was because of USA, lets be honest.

    With all due respect I believe the shortlist should be Rugby 7's which is actually played in a lot of countries and many countries can actually be competitive at it, is exciting to watch and does not have the complex rules of the 15's game.

    I would've thought we would even be advocating for 20/20 cricket rather than Baseball(only USA and to a lesser degree Japan, South Korea and Puerto Rico play Baseball). The other one should either be Squash with Golf being a third option.I'm open to be challenged.

  • Comment number 84.

    Why is it called Baseball World Series anyway, can someone enlighten me?I thought the game was only played between US franchises

  • Comment number 85.

    in Response to townie 77, comment 16. 15's rugby Union and 13's rugby league tend to get the most players playing them, also it is the preffered code for the well developed rugby nations. However, it is the national sport of Fiji, not 15's. which is shadowed all around the south pacific region. these nations prefer 7's. i think you havent looked at this from a multinational stand point.

    rugby 7's has virtually the same laws as the 15's game however the style of play and actual physical set up of the teams is completely different. Not Fatties ;) the international recognition is almost non existent and it would be great to see it gaining the recognition it deserves. it is certainly a more skillful, faster, more enjoyable sprt to watch than even the 15's game or for that matter league rugby. and for me would be a jewel in the olympic calendar.

  • Comment number 86.

    Rugby 7's should definitely be in there. The 7's version is the most open version of the sport. Anyone could win. Fiji could tank New Zealand by 5 tries to nil and Japan or Somoa could run riot and be in the final together. The 7's rugby is very open and would allow a lot of smaller smaller countries to compete on a world stage therefore bettering all branches of the sport within the country (both 7's and 15-a-side). Not to mention there are huge tackles and blistering runs a-plenty in 7-a-side rugby. A fast paced, hard hitting action sport is just what the Olympics needs!

    I would also support squash, I have moved around the world and no matter where I went, people would always play squash, fast paced, exciting and a real test of endurance and skill.

  • Comment number 87.

    I'd vote for squash and rugby 7s if I was on the committee. Exiting games, played by known players. But that might be influenced by my Englishness. Both are played by people of both sexes around the world. Both could pull in big audiences.

    On consideration, Rollerblading could make a decent back up choice. It might be fun to see them doing a slalom course. It promises artistry and spills. Any country with some concrete and some bollards has rollerbladers strutting their stuff.

    Karate could be a decent Olympic sport, but as you say Matt, preferably at the expense of another martial art. Many of the martial arts seem to end up looking more like a pushing and slapping session rather than a Bruce Lee movie though.

    Softball has lots of plus points, but I'm happy to tar it with the same brush as baseball. Baseball I would rule out instantly as not having the players available, or the international appeal.

    And golf? Golf would be a distant seventh choice. It feels too 'wandering' to be an olympic sport

  • Comment number 88.

    #83 and #84.

    Once again just because a sport gets virtually zero coverage in Britain does not mean it doesn't exist worldwide.

    How many countries play baseball or softball? Well, more than play rugby for a start. Softball has just under 130 countries in the ISAF. Baseball has 112 nations in the IBAF. Rugby has 96 full members in the IRB. I wish people would take the blinkers off when it comes to looking at these sports. The IOC look at it from a world perspective, not one from a British point of view.

    Now I'm not advocating baseball and softball as Olympic sports as I think baseball is hurt that it clashes with the MLB season and has so far refused to send its best players. I'm also not a fan of adding more teams sports as the IOC insist on keeping a limit on 10,500 athletes for the entire Games. That's probably why baseball are proposing to scale it back to 8 teams. Softball has a better chance as the IOC are advocating more women.

    Cuba have won 3 of the 5 Olympic baseball tournaments and two silver medals so I'm sure they'd be surprised to hear that only USA play it and to a lesser extent Japan, Sth Korea and Puerto Rico. Japan after all are the two-time World Baseball Classic champs and Korea the Olympic Champs. Venezuela and the Dominican Rep with its MLB superstars like Albert Pujols and Johan Santana will also be stunned. MLB rosters are loaded with Hispanics from Central and South America. Surely the IOC would love to get these countries more involved. Holland and Italy also have professional leagues while Australia have some pretty good talent breaking through into MLB rosters.

    As for why they call it the World Series? No idea. Why does UEFA call it the Champions League when most of the teams in the group stages are not actully champions of their respective leagues. England, Spain and Italy send 16 teams into the Champions League. Only 3 of them can actually call themselves champions.

    Squash gets my vote. No to golf and remove football and tennis too.

  • Comment number 89.

    Rugby 7s should definitely be shortlisted. There are numerous reasons, why this is true firstly the sport will attract large crowds that otherwise wouldn’t be there and will fill the very expensive stadiums that are often under used. Of this crowd a large percentage will be young. The TV audience will be greater as proved at the IRB world cub this year. There will be a greater chance for smaller nations to win gold medals and it is played to a very high standard by both genders! GET IT IN THERE!

    See how you can help by logging on to

  • Comment number 90.

    I always thought that the Olympics was for AMATEUR sports yet PRI sports (and their participants), like Football & Tennis get in while decent AMATEUR sports like Squash are consistently omitted.

    Ridiculous, Squash at least should be in there already!

  • Comment number 91.

    Sports like Golf, Tennis, Football etc should NOT be in the Olympics. They already have their own major championships and thus the Olympics is not the "Pinnacle" of their sport which it should be.

    The only sports that should be in the olympics are ones that have some kind of ancient history and those that are not are in the limelight. For me personally I would like to see Tenpin bowling in the Olympics.

    Tenpin Bowling was first played (in its earliest incarnation) by the ancient Egyptians and is in the top couple of most participated sports in the world. Its world championships also boasts more different competing nations than most (if not all) other sports. It requires both physical and mental skill and is an ideal candidate for inclusion.

    However call me cynical but when it comes to the IOC it seems that money and fashion tend to dictate a lot of things and I for one am not holding my breath that bowling will ever be included.

    Squash like bowling deserves its inclusion but whether it is allowed in or not is another matter. All I do know is that if they allow golf it will be a very, very sad day for both itself and the Olympics as it will be diluting both in my opinion.


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