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Olympic sports

All About Olympic Sports

Olympic sports

 

Olympic sports are contested in the Summer Olympic Games and Winter Olympic Games. The 2016 Summer Olympics included 28 sports, with five additional sports due to be added to the 2020 Summer Olympics program; the 2014 Winter Olympics included seven sports. The number and types of events may change slightly from one Olympiad to another. Each Olympic sport is represented by an international governing body, namely an International Federation (IF).The International Olympic Committee (IOC) establishes a hierarchy of sports, disciplines, and events. According to this hierarchy, each Olympic sport can be subdivided into multiple disciplines, which are often mistaken as distinct sports. Examples include swimming and water polo, which are in fact disciplines of the sport of aquatics (represented by the International Swimming Federation), and figure skating and speed skating, which are both disciplines of the sport of ice skating (represented by the International Skating Union). In turn, disciplines are subdivided into events, for which Olympic medals are awarded. A sport or discipline is included in the Olympic program if the IOC determines it to be widely practiced around the world, that is, the popularity of a given sport or discipline is indicated by the number of countries that compete in it. The IOC's requirements also reflect participation in the Olympic Games – more stringent conditions are applied to men's sports/disciplines (as men are represented at the Games in higher numbers than women) and to summer sports/disciplines (as more nations compete in the Summer Olympics than in the Winter Olympics).

Previous Olympic Games included sports that are no longer included in the current program, such as polo and tug of war. Known as "discontinued sports", these have been removed due to either a lack of interest or the absence of an appropriate governing body for the sport. Some sports that were competed at the early Games and later dropped by the IOC, have managed to return to the Olympic program, for example Archery, which made a comeback in 1972, and tennis, which was reintroduced in 1988. The Olympics have often included one or more demonstration sports, normally to promote a local sport from the host country or to gauge interest in an entirely new sport. Some such sports, like baseball and curling, were added to the official Olympic program (in 1992 and 1998, respectively). Baseball was discontinued after the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, only to be revived again for the forthcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which will see the introduction of new disciplines within a number of existing Summer Olympics sports as well as several new sports, such as karate and skateboarding, making their Olympic debuts.

  

Olympic sports definitions

The term "sport" in Olympic terminology refers to all events sanctioned by an international sport federation, a definition that may differ from the common meaning of the word "sport". One sport, by Olympic definition, may comprise several disciplines, which would often be regarded as separate sports in common usage.

For example, aquatics is a summer Olympic sport that includes six disciplines: swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, water polo, open water swimming, and high diving (the last of which is a non-Olympic discipline), since all these disciplines are governed at international level by the International Swimming Federation. Skating is a winter Olympic sport represented by the International Skating Union, and includes four disciplines: figure skating, speed skating (on a traditional long track), short track speed skating, and synchronized skating (the latter is a non-Olympic discipline). The sport with the largest number of Olympic disciplines is skiing, with six: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, nordic combined, snowboarding, and freestyle skiing.

Other notable multi-discipline sports are gymnastics (artistic, rhythmic, and trampoline), cycling (road, track, mountain, and BMX), volleyball (indoors and beach), wrestling (freestyle and Greco-Roman), canoeing (flatwater and slalom), and bobsleigh (includes skeleton). The disciplines listed here are only those contested in the Olympics—gymnastics has two non-Olympic disciplines, while cycling and wrestling have three each.

The IOC definition of a "discipline" may differ from that used by an international federation. For example, the IOC considers artistic gymnastics a single discipline, but the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) classifies men's and women's artistic gymnastics as separate disciplines. Similarly, the IOC considers freestyle wrestling to be a single discipline, but United World Wrestling uses "freestyle wrestling" strictly for the men's version, classifying women's freestyle wrestling as the separate discipline of "female wrestling".

On some occasions, notably in the case of snowboarding, the IOC agreed to add a sport that previously had a separate international federation to the Olympics on condition that they dissolve their governing body and instead affiliate with an existing Olympic sport federation, therefore not increasing the number of Olympic sports.

An event, by IOC definition, is a competition that leads to the award of medals. Therefore, the sport of aquatics includes a total of 46 Olympic events, of which 32 are in the discipline of swimming, eight in diving, and two each in synchronized swimming, water polo, and open water swimming. The number of events per sport ranges from a minimum of two (until 2008, there were sports with only one event) to a maximum of 47 in athletics, which despite its large number of events and its diversity is not divided into disciplines except on an informal basis - the division between, for example, swimming and diving in aquatics is not replicated within athletics by divisions between track and field events, or stadium and road events.

Changes in Olympic sports

The list of Olympic sports has changed considerably during the course of Olympic history, and has gradually increased until the early 2000s, when the IOC decided to cap the number of sports in the Summer Olympics at 28.

The only summer sports that have never been absent from the Olympic program are athletics, aquatics (the discipline of swimming has been in every Olympics), cycling, fencing, and gymnastics (the discipline of artistic gymnastics has been in every Olympics).

The only winter sports that were included in all Winter Olympic Games are skiing (only nordic skiing), skating (figure skating and speed skating), and ice hockey. Figure skating and ice hockey were also included in the Summer Olympics before the Winter Olympics were introduced in 1924.

For most of the 20th century, demonstration sports were included in many Olympic Games, usually to promote a non-Olympic sport popular in the host country, or to gauge interest and support for the sport. The competitions and ceremonies in these sports were identical to official Olympic sports, except that the medals were not counted in the official record. Some demonstration sports, like baseball and curling, were later added to the official Olympic program. This changed when the International Olympic Committee decided in 1989 to eliminate demonstration sports from Olympics Games after 1992. An exception was made in 2008, when the Beijing Organizing Committee received permission to organize a wushu tournament.

A sport or discipline may be included in the Olympic program if the IOC determines that it is widely practiced around the world, that is, the number of countries and continents that regularly compete in a given sport is the indicator of the sport's prevalence. The requirements for winter sports are considerably lower than for summer sports since many fewer nations compete in winter sports. The IOC also has lower requirements for inclusion of sports and disciplines for women for the same reason. Women are still barred from several disciplines; but on the other hand, there are women-only disciplines, such as rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming.

Sports that depend primarily on mechanical propulsion, such as motor sports, may not be considered for recognition as Olympic sports, though there were power-boating events in the early days of the Olympics before this rule was enacted by the IOC.[ Part of the story of the founding of aviation sports' international governing body, the FAI, originated from an IOC meeting in Brussels, Belgium on June 10, 1905.

These criteria are only a threshold for consideration as Olympic sport. In order to be admitted to the Olympic program, the IOC Session has to approve its inclusion. There are many sports that easily make the required numbers but are not recognized as Olympic sports, mainly because the IOC has decided to put a limit on the number of sports, as well as events and athletes, in the Summer Olympics in order not to increase them from the 28 sports, 300 events, and 10,000 athletes of the 2000 Summer Olympics.

No such limits exist in the Winter Olympics and the number of events and athletes continue to increase, but no sport has been added since 1998. The latest winter sport added to the Winter Olympics was curling in 1998.

Previous Olympic Games included sports which are no longer present on the current program, like polo and tug of war. In the early days of the modern Olympics, the organizers were able to decide which sports or disciplines were included on the program, until the IOC took control of the program in 1924. As a result, a number of sports were on the Olympic program for relatively brief periods before 1924. These sports, known as discontinued sports, were removed because of lack of interest or absence of an appropriate governing body, or because they became fully professional at the time that the Olympic Games were strictly for amateurs, as in the case of tennis. Several discontinued sports, such as archery and tennis, were later readmitted to the Olympic program (in 1972 and 1984, respectively). Curling, which was an official sport in 1924 and then discontinued, was reinstated as Olympic sport in 1998.

The Olympic Charter decrees that Olympic sports for each edition of the Olympic Games should be decided at an IOC Session no later than seven years prior to the Games.

Changes since 2000

The only sports that have been dropped from the Olympics since 1936 are baseball and softball, which were both voted out by the IOC Session in Singapore on July 11, 2005, a decision that was reaffirmed on February 9, 2006, and reversed on August 3, 2016. These sports were last included in 2008, although officially they remain recognized in the Olympic Charter as a single sport, since both are now governed internationally by the World Baseball Softball Confederation. Therefore, the number of sports in the 2012 Summer Olympics was dropped from 28 to 26.

Following the addition of women's boxing in 2012, and women's ski jumping in 2014, there are only Greco-Roman wrestling and nordic combined, respectively, that are only for men in those games.

Two previously discontinued sports, golf and rugby, returned for the 2016 Summer Olympics. On August 13, 2009, the IOC Executive Board proposed that golf and rugby sevens be added to the Olympic program for the 2016 Games. On 9 October 2009, during the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen, the IOC voted to admit both sports as official Olympic sports and to include them in the 2016 Summer Olympics.[18] The IOC voted 81–8 in favor of including rugby sevens and 63–27 in favor of reinstating golf, thus bringing the number of sports back to 28.

In February 2013, the IOC considered dropping a sport from the 2020 Summer Olympics to make way for a new sport. Modern pentathlon and taekwondo were thought to be vulnerable, but instead the IOC recommended dismissing wrestling. On September 8, 2013, the IOC added wrestling to the 2020 and 2024 Summer Games.

On August 3, 2016, the IOC voted to add baseball/softball, karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

 

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