Pickleball Olympics

Pickleball Olympics

There are tons of sports in the Summer Olympics, including some you might have never heard of! After all, the Olympics are the culmination of all the most popular sports from every continent around the world. 

One of the most commonly asked questions is whether pickleball is included in the Olympic lineup like other racquet sports. While the short answer is no, it is an interesting topic to dissect, so let’s take a look at an overview of pickleball and its future in the Olympic games. 

What is Pickleball?

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of table tennis, badminton, and tennis. It is played on a court the same size as a badminton court with a low net, solid paddles made of wood or composites, and a perforated plastic ball that’s similar to a wiffle ball. Pickleball is the invention of three dads who were looking for a way to bust boredom during the Pacific Northwest summer with their families. 

Pickleball has its own well-established rules that are governed by the International Federation of Pickleball which was founded by the USA Pickleball Association in order to support the development and growth of the sport. It is now one of the fastest-growing sports, even on an international level. 

Is Pickleball in the Olympics

Is Pickleball in the Olympics

Pickleball is not a sport in the Olympics. Though it has gained popularity and there is currently a push towards the Olympics that is being made by several organizations, it has not yet even been given a demonstration slot at the Olympics. There are a few reasons why which we will get to in a bit, but first, when could we expect pickleball to make it to the Olympics? 

When Will Pickleball be in the Olympics

When Will Pickleball be in the Olympics
Photo Credit: www.pickleballportal.com

Well, unfortunately, it will be several years before Pickleball will be an Olympic sport since they are only held every four years, but let’s take a look into the most recent and upcoming Olympic games to see the progress. 

Pickleball Olympics 2021 

There were several new sports introduced at the 2021 Olympics; however, Pickleball was not one of them. The list of the five new sports that were added to the program included sport climbing, karate, skateboarding, surfing, and baseball/softball. 

Pickleball Olympics 2024

The demonstration sports have been announced for the upcoming Olympics in 2024 taking place in Paris, though Pickleball did not make the cut. In addition to including sport climbing, skateboarding, and surfing again, the 2024 Olympics will also add breaking to its Olympic program. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed the integration of these new sports for the summer games in 2024.

Pickleball Olympics 2028

So if we are out of luck for the next four years, what about eight years in 2028? It is in fact likely that pickleball will make its Olympic debut at the 2028 Olympics as a demonstration sport. Many officials and groups are pushing to have pickleball added to the 2028 lineup in Los Angeles. However, it has not been officially added to the agenda or approved. This is because the sport as a whole hasn’t met the requirements of the Olympic games.

Why Isn’t Pickleball in the Olympics

Why Isn't Pickleball in the Olympics

Pickleball is not in the Olympics because of the process in which sports get added to the Olympics. There are five main requirements that pickleball must meet in order to be approved by the IOC as an event. 

First, it must be regulated by an international non-governmental organization – that currently, pickleball meets due to the International Federation of Pickleball. Being regulated by an international organization is important so all countries follow the same rules, not just the rules of other countries. 

Secondly, the sport must follow the Olympic Movement Anti Doping Code. The anti-doping code means that athletes have to be able to participate in the sport without performance-enhancing drugs. Of course, pickleball players can meet this requirement as well. 

The third, fourth, and fifth requirements are where pickleball is having some difficulty. The rest of the requirements include having a certain level of international popularity, adequate facilities, and popularity around the world enough to gain viewer interest.  

So what is considered international popularity? Well, the sport must be played in 75 countries across four continents by men and in 40 countries across three continents by women. These are the minimums and they are different between gender because women cannot play sports in many countries around the world. Since the sport is only widely popular in North America it currently does not have enough interest around the world. 

Pickleball is also missing the element of adequate facilities since it would be difficult and an extra cost for a host country to provide the necessary pickleball court. Of course, it is a sport that could only be added to the Summer Olympics as well because the Winter Olympics filled with snow would have extra difficulties to host racket sports. 

Therefore, even though the game has gained wide popularity in the last decade, for these reasons, Pickleball is not currently playing in the Olympics. 

Senior Olympics Pickleball

Senior Olympics Pickleball

Though Pickleball is not an official Olympic sport, it is an official sport in the Senior Olympics and has been since 2012. In 2011, it was an exhibition sport and was added to the roster the very next year. 

The senior Olympics are held regionally each year and nationally every two years for those over the age of 50. The events are divided by age group and are rotated every five years. 

Pickleball is one of the sports that will be at the 2022 National Senior Games hosted in Fort Lauderdale from May 10th- May 23rd.  

Wait For The Day Pickleball is at the Olympics

A few sports are added to the roster every Olympic cycle and other racket sports are already in the permanent lineup; however, we have yet to see a pickleball event debut. However, with its current growth it is likely that within the next couple of decades we will see pickleball played in the Olympics, so if it is your favorite sport, keep your eyes peeled!

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