Of these five, several will be making their first-ever appearance, namely squash and , while others have had a long gap between inclusion – lacrosse in 1904 and 1908, cricket in 1900 and baseball/softball coming back in after a gap since the Tokyo 2021 games.
Until 1992, the IOC allowed sports to be added to the Olympic Games by the local organising committee as “demonstration events”. Under this arrangement, the 1956 Melbourne games included baseball and Australian Rules football. Over the years, a large number of other host cities trialled a variety of sports, but only a few stayed in the games.
Nowadays, the serves as a major IOC policy document about how the games should operate. A recent change sees the local organising committee recommending what sports should be added to their particular games.
Faced with an IOC guideline to cap the summer games at approximately 10,500 athletes and to stay within a 19-day schedule, means there are limitations to new sports being added. Besides the guaranteed inclusion in the summer olympics (although these core sports can be altered by the IOC), what are the criteria used for any new additions?
Inspiring the next generation: The inclusion of new sports in the Olympics is a strategic move to attract younger athletes who may not be involved in traditional Olympic sports.
Innovation and adaptation: Many of the recently added sports represent new and innovative approaches to competition and showcase the ability of the games to adapt to the changing times.
Diversity: The inclusion of different sports is a way of embracing cultural diversity and promoting global reach to regions that may not have traditionally been strongly represented at the Olympics. For example, it is expected that by adding cricket, the sub-continent, with its huge population base including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, will develop an enhanced interest in the olympics.
Popularity and integrity: How popular is the sport worldwide? Is it played in a number of countries and does it have a significant number of participants? Is the respective world sporting federation “squeaky clean” and does it have strong and effective leadership? Most importantly, is it devoid of sport integrity issues (such as significant doping and governance faults)?
Screen dream: Is the sport going to be exciting to watch for television viewers? Since broadcasting rights is the major source of revenue for the games, the IOC wants to cater to the broadcasters’ and audience’s preferences.
Corporate cash: New sports in the olympics tend to attract corporate interest and sponsorship from new sources. This helps to secure the financial stability of the games and aligns with the IOC’s wish to diversify its revenue streams.
Leaving a legacy: Since facility legacy has become an extremely important criterion, will any newly built facilities be useful post-games? There is a very strong push to eliminate costly facilities that later become “” – a strong criticism of the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Gender equality: There has been a concerted effort by the IOC to ensure a 50-50 gender ratio. The recent addition of mixed “co-ed” events seen in many winter sports has the potential to expand into several summer sports (for example, mixed relays in swimming or athletics).
Host nation’s preferences: In the new process of selecting sports, the IOC has given a lot of flexibility to the local organising committee to evaluate and make recommendations.
So given all of this, what sports might we expect to be added for the Brisbane 2032 games? Here are some early thoughts.
Cricket: It is being introduced in 2028 and should remain in the games in 2032 due to its popularity in the host nation and strong support from the sub-continent.
Lacrosse: This is a sport in which Australia is again expected to do well. As it will be played in a modified six-person format (similar to rugby 7s) and using a shot clock, nations traditionally not strong in the current version of this sport – with its bigger field and larger number of players – may begin to take an interest and support its inclusion.
Sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding: All of these had their debut in Tokyo 2021 and will likely remain in the program. Surfing, in particular, will be popular in beach-crazed LA, and should be a no-brainer for sunny Queensland.
Baseball/softball: These should be back in the 2028 games after a short hiatus. As Australia is normally quite competitive in these sports and a medal contender, they are a strong chance be included.
The “maybe” list
Flag football: It will no doubt be assessed after its LA 2028 debut. The fact that the NFL in the US is actively supporting this initiative enhances its chances of remaining in the program.
Breakdancing: This popular, youth-friendly sport making its debut in the Paris games, was somewhat for LA in 2028. This does not preclude its addition to the 2032 games, especially if it proves to be a hit in 2024.
Netball: There will be a strong push to have it included by the Brisbane organising committee, but its limited worldwide profile will work against it.
E-sports: Competitive video gaming has experienced explosive growth worldwide in recent years. Although it offers a unique blend of skill, strategy, and technology is it deemed worthy of an Olympic guernsey as it lacks athletic prowess? However, the IOC is monitoring it very closely and a new standalone E-sports games, which could possibly lead to it making an appearance in the mainstream games.
Surf lifesaving: These would be a perfect beach activity for these games and a sport in which Australia would be a medal favourite. But a limited worldwide profile harms its chances.
Pickleball: It is one of the world’s fastest growing sports and quickly gaining a following in Australia. As it is played on tennis courts it is not a big cost factor for the host city. But it may take a few more years of growth and lobbying to get into the games.
Motorsports, karate and kickboxing: All three put in a bid for the LA games and were not successful. They are not likely to be included in the Brisbane games, as they appear to have limited widespread support among the large IOC membership.
AFL: This is a real long shot, as too few countries play this sport and the host nation would dominate.
Four years from now, the IOC must decide on the sports for the 2032 Brisbane games. New sports breathe fresh life into the Olympic movement, ensuring its relevance and appeal.
With lobbying by many sports to capture a spot on the program, much can happen between now and then. The Brisbane 2032 Olympic Organising Committee must attempt to strike a balance between its recommendations to the IOC for final approval, while at the same time trying to put an “Aussie slant” on the sporting program.