If table tennis is an Olympic sport, why isn’t racquetball?
The list of sports at the 2012 London Summer Games have some people scratching their heads as to whether or not they are gold-medal worthy.
“I think the sports need to be updated a bit,” said Kim Luciani, who could be seen at the MacBain Community Centre in Niagara Falls along with her husband, Denis, playing racquetball. “Some of those sports have been in there too long.”
Events such as water polo, equestrian, and shooting have been featured at the Summer Games for more than a century and some sports enthusiasts said they believe it’s time to make room for some other events.
It’s not as easy as it sounds to have your sport be added to the Olympics.
First it must be represented by an international governing body and in turn recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
The decision whether or not to include an event in future Games is then voted on, but the IOC has put a limit on the number of sports (28), events (300) and athletes (10,000).
This year’s Olympics feature 26 sports with the discontinuation of baseball and softball, but the number jumps back up to 28 for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the IOC approving the addition of rugby and the reinstatement of golf — the first time since 1904.
“It’s good to see it back in the Olympics. I don’t know if it will hold as much precedence as a major tournament would, but it’s good for the sport,” said Darrell Thompson, a member of the Canadian Professional Golfers’ Association and an associate professional at Legends on the Niagara.
He said he believes the golf event at the next Summer Olympics will have a larger audience base than some of the other sports currently featured.
“Archery and aquatics have been around for centuries, so it’s good to spice things up to keep people interested,” Thompson said.
Stephanie Marrello said she’d like to see her sport, lifesaving — similar to a lifeguard skill competition — featured not only as a demonstration sport like it was in Paris in 1900, but as a full event.
Marrello, who used to be a lifesaving coach in Alberta before moving to Niagara to take a job at the YMCA as a program co-ordinator, said her sport faces the same challenge triathlon did before being included in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
“The popularity of the sport needs to grow,” she said.
For a sport or discipline to be considered for inclusion, it must be widely practised in at least 75 countries spread over four continents.
“It will be something to see in the future,” she said. “A lot of people doing the sport are ex-swimmers from national levels with all kinds of aquatic backgrounds … The key for us right now is promotion.”
Sports recognized by the IOC
• Dance sport
• Roller Sports
• Sport climbing
• Tug of war
What local sport would you add to the Olympics?