Why is Racquetball Not an Olympics Sport [Yet]?

Why is Racquetball Not an Olympics Sport [Yet]?

No, racquetball is not an Olympics sport. And that is unfortunate at many levels, which is what we discuss here. What’s stopping racquetball from getting to becoming an Olympics sport and where do things stand currently.

All sports lovers look forward to the summer Olympic games (and the winter Olympics) where they can watch the most talented athletes partaking in competitive, world-class and exceptional sport.

For those people who have been watching the Olympics for decades, you will know immediately which are the most popular sports. All kinds of athletics, track and field, gymnastics, swimming, equestrian, boxing, hockey and weight-lifting reign supreme, although more recently, football, basketball, volley ball, golf, rugby sevens and tennis have been included.

* You can see a list of all the Olympic summer sports at the bottom of this article.

Why is racquetball not on the Olympics sports list?

Getting a sport into the Olympic games is not an easy feat.

There are 90 members in the International Olympic Committee, made up of various committees.

The IOC receive proposals via the Olympic Programme Commission for new sports and each proposal is evaluated very carefully before a decision is made. There have been proposals to include racquetball in the Olympics and while the sport has ‘almost’ made it into the Olympics, it has not yet met the requirements.

How is a sport evaluated for the Olympics?

  • The history of the sport is taken into account.
  • National federations and participation in world or European championships are considered.
  • Will the sport add value to the Olympics?
  • How popular is the sport?
  • Will the sport bring sponsorship, media attention and spectators?
  • Will the best athletes choose to participate in the Olympics?
  • Does the sport generate income.
  • What does it cost to stage the sport at the Olympics.

These are not the only considerations but they are a big part of the decision making. If the sport is popular around the world, has had and will increase television exposure, and if it will generate excitement, sponsorship and a good audience, the sport is very likely to be considered.

There are many Olympic purists who have always loved the athletics, swimming, gymnastics and martial arts, but have raised their eyes at sports like football, hockey or tennis being included.

These sports bring in a massive amount of viewers. Sure there are tons of football, hockey and tennis tournaments that are watched around the globe, but somehow, the Olympics are special.

If these sports can be included, why not racquetball.

Doesn’t racquetball have all of these things?

Racquetball has huge appeal, but truthfully, this is mostly only in the United States.

While various forms of racquetball are played worldwide, and there is an International Racquetball Federation, Racquetball is still most popular in America only. It is televised in the US but it is not that easy to find live Racquetball matches in Asia, Australia, Europe or Africa.

To qualify for the Olympics, a sport must have an international following.

Racquetball is certainly growing in stature and popularity, but not quite enough for the Olympics. It is a sport that is played in the USA and Canada too, by people of all ages and all genders, but it has somehow never reached the same popularity as has tennis.

Neither, by the way, has squash.

Saying that, the IOC will consider participation of a sport if the Olympics are held in the country where the sport is hugely popular. So if the summer Olympics are held in the USA, racquetball may well get the nod. And if the racquetball champions are well known around the world, then the sport has a bigger chance of being accepted into the Olympics.

Youth is an important factor too

The International Olympics Committee are aware of including sports that have a large appeal to the youth. Millions of people worldwide watch the Olympics on television. They are the largest staged sporting event with an enormous viewership.

The more, younger viewers there are, the better.

It means money!

This is why at the winter Olympics we see skateboarding and extreme snow sports that are also new. There is a huge audience.

Does racquetball appeal to the youth? We know that is should, and it certainly does in American and a few other countries, but not enough to qualify for the Olympics.

Also you may ask why handball and badminton are included at the Olympics as these sports don’t have the same amount of attraction as say, track and field, or gymnastics. Well, clearly their federations put forward very positive arguments as to why they should be featured, and if they can be featured, so too could racquetball.

Sports can be removed from the Olympics

Games or sports have included and then – removed. Sometimes the appeal of the sport was just not enough to warrant the cost of staging the sport, Olympic style.

If racquetball is going to be included at the Olympics, the sport and the players really need to show that they are going to stay. This means the appeal needs to be enormous.

This is not to put pressure in any way on racquetball players. Those who are professional are under enough pressure as it is and we know they themselves would love to play competitively at the Olympic Games.

It is up to the various Federations to work hard at getting them accepted and increasing their profile and it is up to the same Federations to ensure they do not get removed.

What can be done to make Racquetball an Olympic sport?

This is up to the various Racquetball Federations or associations.

The more the sport is played and promoted, the better chance it has of being included. The difficulty with racquetball is that it is pretty similar (well, not really, but in the eyes of the public) to tennis, and tennis is already an Olympic sport.

There is no chance of racquetball being included in the 2020 summer Olympics; these are taking place in Tokyo, Japan, and there is not a lot of racquetball played in Japan.

The 2024 Olympics will be in Paris, France, and we don’t think racquetball is big enough in France for the French to take up this cause.

2028 is Los Angeles and you know what that means – a big MAYBE.

2028 may seem like a very long way away, and it is, but in sporting terms and Olympics planning, it’s actually quite close. We have no doubt that the International Racquetball Association are doing all they can to highlight the sport of racquetball and are going to try their best to get racquetball included.

No Racquetball in the 2020 Olympics

The next summer Olympic Games are in Tokyo, Japan. The official dates, including the opening and closing ceremonies, are 24 July 2020 to 09 August 2020.

You can get a list of the venues, and of course all the sporting events, and tickets have been on sale for a while.

We are sorry to say there is no racquetball!

The next winter Olympic Games are in 2022. They’re in Beijing, China, and the dates are 4 to 22 February, inclusive. You won’t see racquetball here, as it is not a winter sport! (well, in the USA racquetball is played year round which is a huge part of its appeal, but that is only in the USA)

What is the best way to watch the Olympics?

Unless you are one of the lucky ones who can afford to get tickets and to travel to the Olympics, your best bet is to watch the Olympics on television.

We know people who do not leave their sofas or their television sets for the full two weeks.

There are usually several dedicated television channels so you can watch various sports simultaneously, or tape some sports and watch them later. There are always reruns and highlights too.

If you want to watch racquetball, don’t travel to Tokyo, but look online for the International Racquetball Association list of tournaments and travel to watch some of those games.

Again, in the USA and in Canada, and in some European countries, you may well find racquetball televised.

You can also watch online, live, on various Youtube channels. We acknowledge that Youtube is not quite the Olympics, but it is a pretty special event either way!

Sports included at the 2020 Japan summer Olympics

Here is a list of the sports that are going to be included at the 2020 summer Olympics:

  • Aquatics
  • Archery
  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Canoeing
  • Cycling
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Handball
  • Hockey
  • Judo
  • Karate
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Skateboarding
  • Sport Climbing
  • Surfing
  • Table Tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

If racquetball wants to be included at the summer Olympics, it is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication.

In the meantime, racquetball is an exciting and wonderful ball game, fast and strategic, and certainly, popular in America and Canada. So if you want to watch great racquetball, look for it in these countries.

Watch online, watch on television or go to some of the tournaments. For now, that is!

Stan Boone

I am the editor of Racket Sports World. I love my tennis, pickleball and most of the other racket sports played around the world and started this blog as my way to help other racquet sports fans even as I learn, explore and improve by connecting with them. Tweet at https://twitter.com/StanBooneTennis.

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