New Sports Struggle to Enter Winter Olympic Games

Ice climbing is another sport seeking Winter Olympic inclusion.Ice climbing is another sport seeking Winter Olympic inclusion.

It will be harder for new sports to be included on the Winter Olympic Games program in the future because the ones currently there are continually innovating with new disciplines.

International Olympic Committee sports director Kit McConnell claimed innovation at the Winter Games has already been ensured by the addition of new events within existing sports on the program, Insidethegames reported.

McConnell also highlighted a supposed gap between “popularity, participation and global audiences” in the seven sports currently on the Winter Olympic program with all the others currently lobbying to be added.

“When you look at the innovations we had in Vancouver and Sochi (2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games), the winter program was already moving ahead, with not just new sports but new events in existing sports,” McConnell said.

“The profile in winter sports is very different from summer. For Tokyo (2020 Olympic Games) we went from 28 to 33 sports and there are others pushing hard for inclusion, but in winter sport it’s not just about adding an eighth or ninth sport, it’s about new events within the existing seven sports.

Three international federations representing non-Olympic winter disciplines are currently fully recognized by the IOC.

They are the International Ski Mountaineering Federation, International Bandy Federation and International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, which represent ice climbing.

Ski mountaineering involves climbing mountains either on skis or carrying them.

It can take place using either free-heel telemark skis or skis bearing more in common with those used in Alpine skiing, where the heel is free for ascents, but is fixed during descent.

Ice climbing featured as a demonstration event at Sochi 2014 and is doing so again at Pyeongchang.

  Eyes on China Winter Event

Beijing 2022 has long been targeted as a target date for full inclusion.

Bandy, a team sport broadly similar to ice hockey in which skaters use sticks to direct a ball into the opposing team’s goal, had also been optimistic about inclusion at Beijing 2022. 

Four new events are featuring on the Pyeongchang 2018 program: big air in snowboarding and freestyle skiing, mass start in speed skating and mixed doubles in curling.

Other events, such as ski and snowboard cross, have also made successful Winter Olympic debuts in recent editions.

Short-track speed skating was the last new sport on the Winter Olympic program when introduced at Albertville 1992, although curling returned at Nagano 1998 after a 74-year absence from its only other appearance in Chamonix in 1924.

Baseball and softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing have all been added to the Tokyo 2020 program.

A separate process will take place to choose additional sports at Paris 2024 and all subsequent editions.

There appears no chance of disciplines in summer sports - such as cross country running or cyclo-cross - being seriously considered for the Winter Olympics at this time.


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