Not only have the Olympic sports changed over time, the rules for acceptance into the Olympic Games program has also changed over the years.
Previous Inclusion Regulations
For a sport to be included in the Olympic Games, the sport must first be recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) under the conditions that it has an International Federation (IF), and that this Federation has held a World Championship competition. The sport may then be included initially as a demonstration sport, and the sport's International Federation may make an application to the IOC for consideration as an Olympic Sport. This application process must take place a minimum of six years before a scheduled Olympic Games.
Current Inclusion Regulations
In July 2007, the International Olympic Committee adopted more flexible rules to add new sports to the Olympic Games program. These changes have given renewed hope to many sports that have been on the 'waiting list', such as Karate, Squash and Roller Sports. The new system consists of 25 core sports with three “floating” sports. There needs to be exceptional circumstances for a core sport to be dropped from the program, such as a drug scandal, corruption or a massive drop in popularity. This system will start from the Olympics from 2020. However, it is not all good news, as all sports would be up for review after each Olympics. New sports will be included or others dropped by a simple majority vote (compared to currently requirement of a 2/3’s majority vote).
Changes Over Time
There have been many new sports added to the program over the years. Here are a few recent examples:
- In Atlanta, only one new sport was added to the program - women's softball, however, there were three new disciplines introduced - women's soccer, mountain bike racing and beach volleyball.
- Baseball and Softball were dropped from the program after the 2008 Olympics.
- There were 28 sports on the program for the Beijing Games, which dropped to 26 for London when Baseball and Softball are removed from the program. With the inclusion of Rugby 7s and Golf, there will be 28 sports again in Rio.
- With the new inclusion system introduced in 2007, Baseball and Softball were campaigning to get back on the program for the 2016 Olympics along with the other five sports in the running: Karate, Squash, Roller Sports, Rugby 7s and Golf, with Rugby and Golf ultimately selected. There were also moves to include Skateboarding at the London Olympics, which could have occurred if they competed as a cycling discipline and not as a new sport.