Should the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Include Motorsports?
It’s fair to say that the Olympic games are pretty wide-ranging. They cover everything from the classic athletics sports like running, jumping, swimming and cycling, to the more niche taekwondo, canoeing and fencing.
One thing the 28 sports and 41 disciplines don’t include, however, is motorsports. Despite it being hugely popular in a number of countries worldwide, the sport has not been added to the games. So should, and indeed could, motorsports be included in the 2020 Olympics?
We shouldn’t be too harsh on the Olympics – the primary reason Motorsports hasn’t been included is because it hasn’t made a bid. To apply for inclusion, sport leaders have to present their case to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board. For 2016, seven sports applied – golf, rugby union, karate, squash, roller sports, baseball and softball. Golf and rugby (sevens) were added.
Would Motorsports stand a chance? It is possible. The problem is that the IOC has capped the maximum number of sports at 28. It means another sport would have to be dropped to open up a gap for Motorsports – or the cap would have to be lifted. Cycling has taken 4 slots – that’s just plain greedy!
Adding Motorsports would generate a lot of interest in the Olympics. The annual viewership of Formula 1 Grand Prix is estimated to be over 400 million worldwide, with the World Rally Championships thought to attract a similar number of viewers over the 13 rounds.
A developing relationship
Along with other promising signs of a relationship between the Olympics and motorsports, Jacques Rogge visited the British Grand Prix back in 2012, as IOC president. Unfortunately, his comments on the matter were less of a cause for hope: “Frankly speaking, the concept we are having is the games are about the competition for the athletes, not for equipment. Therefore, while having a lot of respect, they will not be included into the Olympic programme.”
One particularly encouraging point, though, is the amendment to the Olympic Charter. Its rules originally asserted that “events in which performance depends essentially on mechanical propulsion are not acceptable”. In 2007, this was removed.
Despite the Charter being altered, however, there is still a widely held belief that the Olympics should be about the ability of the human rather than in anything else. But what about the equestrian events? Horses have been a part of every Olympic Games since 1912. They vary in size, ability and age, but it’s still the rider that gets the medal.
Given that seven sports applied to fill the two available spaces in 2016, motorsport would definitely have some competition. With no machinery involved in the likes of baseball and karate, other sports would be less of a controversial addition. So whilst motorsports’ involvement would be a big boost for the sport itself as well as the Olympics, it’s probably not going to happen any time soon.
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