Is Pickleball An Olympic Sport? (The debate is on…)

Pickleball is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports. Why is it NOT in the Olympics?

No, pickleball is not an olympic sport. But the sport of pickleball has been one of the world’s fastest-growing sports over the past few years, gaining momentum among enthusiasts of all ages. And many players hope that it get added soon.

It seems that in recent years, everywhere you turn there is another superstar taking up the sport or singing its praises on social media.

Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, offering an accessible and entertaining sport for players and spectators alike.

However, unlike many other sports, people of all ages can be competitive against each other which adds a different element to the competition.

With its skyrocketing popularity, many are now wondering: is it time for pickleball to be included in the Olympic Games?

Is pickleball an olympic sport? What do you think?

How Does A Sport Qualify For the Olympics?

According to the International Olympic Committee, only sports which comply with the Olympic Charter, the World Anti-Doping Code and the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competition are eligible to be in the programme.

A Bit of Background

According to USA Pickleball, Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell invented pickleball back in 1965 as a way that their families can play together.

In other words, people of all ages can play competitively together since winning depended on skill instead of strength.

Adoption of the sport started slowly and in there were only about 10,000 members of the US Pickleball Association (USAPA) in 2015.

Fast forward to 2023, there are over 36 million players in North America and growing. It is also on the threshold of international popularity, now being played in over 63 countries around the world.

Today, pickleball has become a professional sport, with tennis players, football, players, and other top athletes taking up the sport and bringing it into the mainstream.

The Case for Pickleball as an Official Olympic Sport

Inclusivity and accessibility

One of the most compelling arguments for pickleball’s inclusion in the Olympics is its accessibility to a wide range of athletes.

The sport can be enjoyed by people of all ages, skill levels, and abilities, making it an attractive option for those who may not have had the opportunity to participate in other Olympic sports.

International Growth

Although pickleball originated in the United States, it has expanded rapidly across the globe.

The International Pickleball Federation (formerly the International Federation of Pickleball) was established to expand pickleball around the globe and to maintain rules and standards. 

Countries like Canada, Spain, China the United Kingdom, and India have embraced the sport, with national championships and tournaments becoming more commonplace.

This international growth demonstrates that pickleball has the potential to become a truly global sport, fitting for the Olympic global stage.

Expanding the Olympic Audience

Adding pickleball to the Olympic program would not only engage pickleball players and existing fans but also introduce the sport to new audiences worldwide.

The Olympics are an excellent platform for showcasing lesser-known sports and would expand the reach and visibility of the Games to new first time viewers.

Fitting into The Olympic Movement

Any sport hoping for consideration to be part of the Olympics needs to enhance the popularity of the Games while managing the cost and complexity of the sport.

Well, the first part is easy. The growing popularity of pickleball can only help the Games.

The second part should also be easy since the pickleball court is the same size as a badminton court.

The only differences are the net height, along with the pickleball paddle and balls used. 

They can even use tennis courts with slight modifications since pickleball can be played using indoor, or outdoor facilities.

It almost sounds like the stars are aligning to bring pickleball to the world stage!

The Concerns About Pickleball’s Olympic Game Inclusion

Limited history and tradition

One of the primary concerns about adding pickleball to the Olympics is that even though could be the fastest growing sport, it has a relatively short history.

The sport was invented in 1965, making it much younger than many other Olympic sports.

Critics argue that the inclusion of a relatively new sport might dilute the significance of the Olympic tradition.

Overcrowded Olympic program

Another concern is the already crowded Olympic lineup.

With the addition of new sports in recent years, such as skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing, some argue that the Olympics should focus on refining the existing program rather than adding new sports at an international level.

This could hinder pickleball from making an Olympic debut.

Insufficient International Competitive Infrastructure

While pickleball’s popularity is growing rapidly, the sport’s competitive infrastructure still lags behind that of more established Olympic sports.

Developing a comprehensive and consistent international ranking system, an anti-doping code, and standard rules and regulations of the sport in all countries would be necessary before considering Olympic inclusion.

So, will Pickleball become the Next Olympic Sport?

Pickleball has come a long way from its humble beginnings, to become a popular sport in different countries around the world.

The question of whether pickleball should be an Olympic sport is a complex one.

On one hand, its accessibility, inclusivity, and growing international popularity make it an attractive option for the Olympic program.

On the other hand, concerns about pickleball’s relatively short history, the already crowded Olympic program, and the need for a more robust competitive infrastructure cannot be ignored.

Ultimately, it is up to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to weigh these factors and decide whether pickleball is ready for the Olympic spotlight.

Governing pickleball bodies such as the USA Pickleball Association, and the International Pickleball Federation need to help the sport meet the Olympic requirements over the coming years.

However, with the pickleball’s meteoric rise in popularity and undeniable appeal, can be good news for it to become an Olympic event.

It seems only a matter of time before pickleball makes a serious bid for Olympic inclusion in the near future.

FAQ – Is Pickleball an Olympic Sport?

No, pickleball is not an olympic sport.

But the sport of pickleball has been one of the world’s fastest-growing sports over the past few years, gaining momentum among enthusiasts of all ages.

And many players hope that it get added soon.

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