Is pickleball in the Olympics? That’s a question we’ve asked a lot lately. And the answer is, sadly, no – pickleball is not currently in the Olympics. But there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be!
There is no doubt that pickleball requires agility, coordination, and athletic skill. It also falls within the category of racquet sports like tennis, badminton, and table tennis. All of these have been long-standing Olympic events, that’s why there is reason to be hopeful.
In this post, we’ll take a look at whether or not pickleball could be in the Olympic program someday.
Will Pickleball be an Olympic Sport?
Many rumors are flying around about the possibility of making pickleball an Olympic sport. We need to calm our excitement and expectations, as exciting as that may be.
Despite all the buzz around the possibility of pickleball making it into the Olympics, it’s important to remember that the International Olympic Committee has strict criteria for what counts as a “sport” and can be included in the games.
Pickleball would likely need to establish a solid international following and the competitive scene to stand out among these sports.
So while it may be fun to dream about watching pickleball at the next summer games. For now, we should focus on enjoying and promoting the sport at the community level.
Why Isn’t Pickleball in the Olympics?
While it’s possible in the future, becoming an Olympic sport is no easy feat. The International Olympic Committee must first recognize a sport and vote on all participating countries.
As pickleball continues gaining popularity, many fans have wondered why it isn’t currently an Olympic sport. Becoming a part of the Olympic games involves being recognized by the IOC; thus far, pickleball has not reached that level.
It is also crucial for a sport to have worldwide participation if it wants to be in the summer Olympics. Pickleball’s popularity in the US is undoubtedly gaining steam thanks to organizations like USA Pickleball. There is some international popularity as well. From all the data I found it looks like the game is gaining ground in Canada, Europe, Japan, and 20 other countries.
Pickleball’s rising in popularity is quickly gaining recognition as a competitive sport. This gives us hope for its potential Olympic inclusion in the future. And if it does become an Olympic sport, it would join a diverse list of sports ranging from more traditional ones like soccer and swimming to more unique events like synchronized swimming and sport climbing (that just got in the last Olympics).
Here are the criteria we need to make pickleball an Olympic sport.
How does the IOC decide which sports to include?
It’s not just the IOC making the decisions. The host city can also impact which sports are chosen for particular games.
However, specific criteria must be met for a sport to be considered for inclusion. The International Federation manages and ensures that Olympic standards are met, including having enough participating nations and top-level competitors.
Olympic Committee must first recognize the sport; once identified, the sport moves to the International Sports Federation. (Note that the sport must have an international non-governmental organization. Luckily we have one; here’s the USA pickleball website. https://usapickleball.org/)
At this point, pickleball would have to implement Olympic Anti-Doping Code.
The next step would be applying for admittance to the games while listing all the necessary criteria. Here is a list of factors they consider.
Men must widely practice a sport in at least 75 countries and on four continents. and women in no fewer than 40 countries and on three continents.
How Often are New Olympic Sports added?
It depends; recently, they have been adding and taking away sports every four years.
The Olympic charter rules constantly evolve, and new sports are frequently added to the Olympics. The Olympic Charter states that Olympic Participation should be determined by “sporting, technical and scheduling criteria.” A sport must have broad international participation, a solid technical basis for judging and awarding medals.”
However, it doesn’t happen every year; new sports are usually introduced in 4 years. Over the past few decades, events like skateboarding, snowboarding, and climbing have been added to the program.
What Olympic Sports Were Introduced In 2020?
The Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 marked a few sports entered into the games. Among them were skateboarding, sport climbing, karate, surfing, and baseball/softball.
While Olympic organizers may consider adding new sports every four years. However, they must follow specific guidelines set by the Olympic Charter. For example, the sport must be widely practiced internationally and fit in with the Olympic program. Additionally, Olympic organizers must ensure the proper facilities are available to play. This means the host country would need to have pickleball courts, or they would need to be built.
Need help finding a court near you? Read our full post.
Ultimately, it’s a process that takes several years before new sports are finally allowed to join the Olympic lineup. Seeing these diverse and modern sports join in on the Olympic festivities is exciting! Who knows, we could see pickleball making its Olympic debut in 2028!
Pickleball is in the Senior Olympics
Did you know pickleball is a sport in the Senior Olympics? The Senior games were invented by Warren Blaney back in 1969. And in 2001 pickleball made its debut at the National Senior Games in Arizona. While it only played regionally in the US it’s still pretty cool. Participants must be over 50 and qualify in the top four of their sport. The rules vary by sport, but there are some minimum performance standards. Check out the rules on the national senior games website.
When Will pickleball debut at the Olympics?
That’s anyone’s guess; as we laid out in the post, many factors need to be addressed. Luckily we have a growing Olympic movement and widespread popularity throughout the world. I’m hoping we make some progress over the next few years. One day we will be watching pickleball games played on TV as an Olympic sport.
So what can you do to help get pickleball into the Olympics?
Let your local Olympic committee know that you want pickleball included in future games. Please spread the word about this sport’s greatness, and encourage your friends and family to try it. We could see pickleball in the Olympics sooner than we think with enough support!