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Sport Inclusion at the Olympics

In July 2007, the International Olympic Committee adopted more flexible rules to add new Olympic sports. This has given renewed hope to many sports that have been on the waiting list for many years, such rugby, golf, karate, squash and roller sports. In 2009, Rugby and Golf were selected to make a comeback to the Olympic program for Rio in 2016. In 2013, wrestling was dropped from the core sports list, opening up a place for another sport to be included in the program, but later that year was surprisingly voted back on the list. See all the changes to Olympic Sports.

New System

Olympic GolfA new system was introduced, which consisted of 25 core sports with three “floating” sports. This new system was set to start from the Olympics from 2020. The cap of 28 sport was then lifted to a more flexibile model. 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 requiring a 2/3’s majority).

Dropping 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. There were 28 different sports on the program for the Beijing Games, which was reduced to 26 for London when baseball and softball were dropped from the program. In 2013, wrestling was dropped from the sports list (but reinstated later).

New Sports

There are always new and ex-Olympic sports vying for a place on the Olympic program. Recently, the popular choices have included baseball and softball (joint bid), climbing, karate, roller sport, squash, wakeboard and wushuSurfing, dancing, bowling and netball have also been considered. See our article about future Olympic sports for more details.


The Tokyo 2020 committee listed the following criteria for new sports: added value; youth appeal; attractiveness for TV, media and the general public; gender equality; minimum impact on the number of events and/or quotas, infrastructure and operational costs and complexity.

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Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

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