What qualifies as an Olympic sport?
To qualify as an Olympic sport, an activity must, in the first instance, be recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) insofar as it is administered by an international organisation, which is not governmental in the political sense. Recognition does not, in itself, guarantee qualification as an Olympic sport; chess, for example, is recognised by the IOC, but does not qualify by virtue of being wholly a ‘mind sport’.
Once recognised, an activity may qualify as a sport, a discipline within a sport or an event with a discipline. Either way, the governing body of the activity must submit a petition for scrutiny by the IOC. As stated in the Olympic Charter, eligibility criteria include being widely pursued in 75 countries on four continents, for men, and in 40 countries on three continents, for women. Any activity must also increase the ‘value and appeal’ of the Olympic Games. Further any activity that cannot adopt and implement the World Anti-Doping Code cannot qualify as an Olympic sport.
The Olympic Charter also states that the programme of events should be reviewed after each edition of the Games. Activities such as motor racing, which requires mechanical propulsion, cannot qualify as Olympic sports, but plenty of other ‘mainstream’ sports, including cricket, have come and gone down the years.