Sports of Future Olympic Games

The number of Olympic Games sports has grown from nine at the first Olympic Games in 1896, to 33 to be contested at the Rio Olympics in 2020, with more sports always keen to get onto this exclusive list. See the changes in the sports program over time.

Sports come in and out of vogue around the world over time, and in order to continue to be relevant to the world of sport, the Olympic Games needs to adapt with these changes.

There are always sports on the fringe of being selected into the Games, and those that only stay in due to being a traditional part of the Games. In recent years, Baseball and Softball were dropped from the program (and back for 2020), while golf and rugby union will returned to the program in 2016. Of course there is a limit to the number of sports and therefore athletes that can be included, and there are specific rules in place for including new sports.

Event Changes

Under the rules of the Olympic Charter, the IOC Executive Board are able to add new disciplines to existing sports without needing the approval of the full membership. Although many sports were looking at adding extra events to their program, in mid 2013 the Executive Board decided not to include any more events on the program for 2016. Sports which had applied to add new disciplines for Rio 2016 included basketball (3x3 event), cycling (a points race, BMX freestyle and mountain bike eliminator events), triathlon (mixed relay); and judo (team event).

For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, baseball and softball, karate, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing have been added. Some sports will be looking to add new sports events under an existing sport. The International Basketball Federation plan to apply for 3x3 basketball to be added to the program, and possibly other sports too.

2020 Sports and Beyond

New rules brought in by the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Agenda 2020 reform process allow each Organizing Committee "to make a proposal for the inclusion of one or more additional events on the programme for that edition of the Olympic Games", with the final decision resting with the IOC.

2013 Voting

In February 2013 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executives met to discuss the make-up of the Summer Games from 2020. At that time, wrestling was the sport cut from the list, even though modern pentathlon was reported to be most in danger.

There followed a selection process for sports bidding for inclusion in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games. Wrestling was brought back into the battle to appear in Tokyo in 2020, along with baseball and softball (joint bid), climbing, karate, roller sport, squash, wakeboard and wushu. It is also interesting to note a few other sports that were considered. Apparently 12 sports were initially considered and only the eight sports mentioned above were retained. Surfing, dancing, bowling and netball missed out.

In May 2013 the IOC cut karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu from this list, leaving Baseball-softball, squash and wrestling on the shortlist for inclusion on the 2020 Olympic program. The announcement of which of these three sports was selected at the 125th IOC Session in September 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina - the winner was wrestling. So ultimately no 'new' sport was added.

2015 Voting

In June 2015, twenty-six International Olympic Committee (IOC)-recognized Federations proposed events to be considered for inclusion at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: 'baseball and softball', karate, squash, bowling, snooker, sport climbing, surfing, wushu, roller sports, air sports, American football, bowls, bridge, chess, dancesport, floorball, flying disc, korfball, netball, orienteering, polo, racquetball, sumo, tug of war, underwater sports and water skiing. Only seven IOC-recognized sports did not apply: climbing and mountaineering, motorcycling, motor racing, cricket, basque pelota, lifesaving and powerboating. On June 22, this list was reduced to a shortlist of eight sports: baseball and softball, bowling, karate, roller skating, sport climbing, squash, surfing and wushu.

On September 28 2015, the shortlist was reduced to five sports - baseball and softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing and surfing (leaving out bowling, squash and wushu). On 2016, it was confirmed that these five sports would be added to the 2020 Olympics.

Atlanta Olympic PosterRelated Polls

We have several polls related to sports on the Olympic Games program:

2012 Bleacher Report

In 2012, the website Bleacher Report listed 10 sports they considered should be included in future Summer Olympics, including beach and indoor soccer. See the full list.

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