The Olympics seemed a lot simpler when Montreal hosted the summer games in 1976. Yes, there were some bizarre sports that seemed better suited to ancient Greece (hammer throw anyone?). But at least these bizarre sports were ones we knew well from previous games – and we were very familiar with most of the other stuff (like cycling, rowing, swimming, and running).
Times have changed
While many sports have been added and dropped from the modern Olympic games over the years, some new additions for 2020 certainly catch the eye – namely sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding.
All of these sports have been added to the exclusion of a sport – played by 20 million people worldwide – that has been working to be recognized as an Olympic sport for decades: squash.
The most recent pitch by the World Squash Federation was for squash to be included in the 2024 games in Tokyo – and it was confident that it had met all the criteria. But in February, the International Olympic Committee chose another sport to be added instead of squash: breakdancing.
You can read about the reaction of the squash community here. In short, they were stunned. Millions play the game, television coverage has increased, and it’s recognized as one of the most demanding sports to play.
But Olympic organizers have stated that their agenda is more youth-focused and more urban, which is why skateboarding and breakdancing are in and squash is out.
On the one hand, I get it. Squash has an elitist history (there was a squash court on the Titanic, available to first class passengers) and it’s mostly played in expensive clubs. Breakdancing and skateboarding are available to all, for next to nothing in cost. And they are fun to watch too.
On the other hand, if the Olympics continues to include even more elitist sports like equestrian, it seems unfair to exclude an individual sport that has a storied history, gender balance, and active youth programs worldwide.
I look forward to watching the skateboarding and breakdancing competitions in coming Olympic games. Don’t get me wrong. But I’ll shed a tear for a sport I think deserves a place on the podium as well.
Now, if we could just get rid of that hammer throw…
Thanks for reading!
Ian M. Hull
The Beijing Olympic Games come to a close this weekend and the international sports community turns their attention to the 2010 Vancouver Games and the 2012 London Games.
The Olympics inspire a multitude of feelings and generate a healthy amount of debate. One thing for certain is that a tremendous amount of preparation is required by the hosting city and the effort of a variety of people are required to pull it all together.
An interesting article posted on timesonline looks at the impact of the Olympic Games on the legal profession. The article boldly declares that lawyers are as much a part of the sporting community as athletes. It goes on to describe how the Olympics generate a boom in legal work as a result of preventing ambush marketing and unauthorized broadcasts as well as both defending and prosecuting anti-doping cases.
For those interested in learning more about international sports law, a great international law blog Opinio Juris featured some excellent expert commentators during the Beijing Games. A compelling post discussed the growing prominence of athletes representing countries that they are not citizens of. The author contrasts a competitor’s identity vs. a national identity and explains the requirements under the Olympics Charter for an athlete to compete for a nation.
Congratulations to all the athletes and let’s get ready for 2010!
Enjoy your weekend,
Today, if I have my count right, is day eleven of the Olympics. For certain, the Olympics stimulate debate on a spectrum of important social, political, economic and, of course, athletic issues of our time. I do not intend to touch upon those debates. Over the past ten days of the Olympics, however, incredible stories of the athletes have arisen, and will no doubt continue to arise. Some, like Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals, involve incredible success, almost beyond one’s imagination, while others involve success on a more personal level or, as the saying goes, the agony of defeat. These stories, from whatever viewpoint, are quite remarkable and have no doubt involved the setting of objectives, planning and dedication and commitment to the goal.
While perhaps obvious, it continues to strike me as to the extent that these athletes live in the moment or for the day. So much rises and falls for them with one or in some cases several performances. What onlookers of the Olympics take away from the Olympics is no doubt personal but perhaps the notion of setting objectives, striving to obtain them while living for the day is the most universal.
What do these stories actually have to do with Estates? From a legal standpoint, nothing. However, perhaps the above notion may focus us to consider our own legacy and the steps that have been taken, or should be taken now, to ensure that those that benefit from that legacy are the intended ones.