Growing Diversity in Sports – The Addition of New Sports in Olympic Games

Thu 25th Jan 2024

Times are changing and the Olympics are adapting. In recent years, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has embraced change, implementing new sports to promote gender equality and attract younger audiences.

Olympic Games are not just about competition—it’s a reflection of society’s changing dynamics. From the ancient running event to the cutting-edge sports of today, the Olympics have constantly adapted, mirroring our diverse interests and cultures. But what does this mean for athletes and the workforce? Let's explore how this evolution aligns with add-victor's ethos of embracing diversity and creating pathways to success for athletes in various career landscapes.


Evolution of Olympic Sports – Adapting to Change


The Tokyo Games marked a pivotal moment, harnessing the IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020 (adopted in 2014 in Monaco), a vision crafted through collaborative efforts to adapt to our rapidly changing world.

What sports did the Olympics start with? What are the permanent sports now?

The journey began in in 776 BC with a single running event, gradually expanding to 22 events by 277 AD. Fast-forwarding to 1896, the modern Olympics emerged in Athens with nine sports. Amidst this, a core five: Athletics, Cycling, Fencing, Gymnastics, and Swimming which were permanently established. Other sports made new appearances, like curling, while some, such as Tug of War, were axed. Occasionally, discontinued sports like Tennis and Baseball resurfaced.

Since 1912, the IOC has introduced demonstration sports, often showcasing local and innovative sports from the host country, which kickstarted with Icelandic Wrestling in Sweden (Stockholm 1912). These sports did not award Olympic medals or count towards the country scores. Interestingly, some popular demonstrations transitioned into permanent Olympic sports, adding an element of unpredictability to subsequent Games. However due to time, budget and administration limitations, demonstration sports were suspended in 1992 meaning any new sport would have to be added officially often at the expense of other events.

What’s the process to add a new sport?

In the ever-evolving landscape of the Olympics, the growing number of events for both the Summer and Winter Games led to a rigid system aiming to cap the variety of sports showcased. However, this approach often meant sacrificing older sports to make room for newer additions, which didn’t always sit well with fans and athletes alike.

Recognising the need for change, the IOC introduced a more flexible framework with the Olympic Agenda 2020. This innovative approach preserves tradition while welcoming fresh and exciting sports, ensuring a vibrant mix for future Games.

New Sporting Horizons - What Sports Have Been Added?

Tokyo 2020 welcomed four sports to make their Olympic debut: karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing. New disciplines within existing sports were also introduced, such as the men’s and women’s three-on-three basketball and BMX freestyle in cycling. Additionally, mixed-gender team events in swimming and track and field added an exciting dynamic to the Games.

Paris 2024 will continue holding events in climbing, skateboarding, and surfing whilst introducing ‘breaking’, a competitive form of break dancing. Breaking was pioneered by Black and Puerto Rican youth who formed crews who competed in dance battles on the streets. The athletes, known as "B-Boys" or "B-Girls," earned their title from the expressive dance moves they showcased during instrumental breaks in songs. The dance form has already proved massively popular with crowds in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games held in Buenos Aires. These sports are accessible and draw from vibrant communities that thrive on social media. Their inclusion in the Olympic Games holds the power to spark inspiration in millions of children to embrace sports.

Looking ahead to the Los Angeles Games 2028, branded as the LA28, the inclusion of cricket, squash, flag football, and lacrosse signifies a broader, more diverse landscape for Olympic sports. Squash has been lobbied for decades to make the Games as well as lacrosse which last appeared over a century ago. After some contention, cricket has also won its battle to be added to the programme. It has been played only once before at the Olympics in 1900, consisting of a single match between England and France. LA28 will see both men and women compete in a T20 format which is predicted to increase the Olympic broadcast rights in India from £15.6m to £150m. Cricket is also highly likely to be kept for the 2032 Games in Brisbane, Australia. Lastly, flag football, the five-on-five non-contact variant of American football, is expected to bring foster increased global interest in their sport. Part of LA28’s vision was to maximise our existing sports infrastructure to ensure a sustainable long-term legacy” and to display a “fresh blend of sport and entertainment to help refresh the Olympic brand worldwide which is evidenced in the retention of Tokyo’s skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing combined with the introduction of new and internationally popular sports.


add-victor: Empowering Athletes for Diverse Futures


The sustained inclusion of new accessible and popular sports , the diversification of traditional disciplines, such as BMX freestyle within cycling, and addition of mixed-gender events, have widened the plethora of opportunities for athletes across the globe and brought spotlights to talented but underrepresented communities. By incorporating popular sports on social media and considering international viewership like cricket, the Olympics further inspire young audiences to become athletes themselves.

Through add-victor, we’ve witnessed extraordinary journeys. Matching the best sporting DNA with exciting career opportunities in a range of sectors within the corporate world, we have worked with numerous Olympians and Paralympians. From Tim Prendergast, who went from Paralympic glory to being a highly respected Leadership & Development Manager, to Nicole Rajicova, double Olympic ice skater who leveraged her athletic discipline to join a top US investment bank before carving out a career within Private Equity, our platform has propelled numerous athletes* towards fulfilling careers. These success stories illustrate the seamless blend of sportsmanship and professional excellence.

*Including: Sholto Carnegie, Peer Borsky, Tim Prendergast, Lawrence Clarke, Nicole Rajicova, Kirk Shimmins, David Florence, Maarten Hurkmans, David Wetherill, Charlotte Dobson, Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne, Hattie Taylor, Katherine Douglas, Julian Schneider, Steve Rowbothan, Dr Rob Williams, Shauna Mullin, Sophie Christiansen, Simon Mantell, Laura Bartlett, Asleigh Ball, Anne Panter, Emily Maguire, Andrew Pink, Carmen Lim, Paul Bennett, James Bailey, Alan Campbell, James Tindall, Marc Bateman, Tom James.

As the Olympic landscape expands, embracing unconventional sports and diverse talents, add-victor embraces this evolution, broadening the horizons of athletes we support, and offering pathways across industries. Our platform remains committed to nurturing this diversity, with over 80 sports and 82 countries represented.

Looking ahead to the Paris Games in 2024, the excitement builds as speculation abounds about future inclusions. What sports could grace the stage next? How might these additions reshape the professional landscape for athletes? The anticipation builds, promising new avenues and career prospects.

add-victor is already excited to continue supporting more athletes during and after their sporting careers, providing them with the tools and opportunities to thrive in diverse professional landscapes.