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Why is Kabaddi not an Olympic sport?

The age old question has a clear answer which helps us understand the rules and regulations governing inclusion of sports at the Olympics

India vs Pakistan during the 2020 Kabaddi World Cup Finals

India vs Pakistan during the 2020 Kabaddi World Cup Finals (Source: AAP)


C.C. Chengappa

Updated: 9 Nov 2021 10:48 AM GMT

A few years ago, when the IOA and Tokyo Olympic organising committee announced there would be new sports added in Tokyo, there was much excitement. Skateboarding, rock climbing and a host of other sports were welcomed as a revolutionary method of ensuring non-mainstream sports get adequate recognition.

The age old question that Indians have often asked one another is why Kabaddi has never been included in the Olympics. Despite being a sport that dates back centuries, Kabaddi has not been recognised as a sport which meets certain criteria under the IOC rules of Olympic sport inclusion.

There are a few simple reasons behind why the IOA does not see any sport has worthy of getting a status of an Olympic sport. For a sport to qualify as recognisable and worthy of Olympic qualification, it must be:

i) played in 75 countries across 4 continents by men

ii)played in 40 countries across 3 continents by women

The sport should also be regarded as 'physical'. This basically means it must have some element of physical movement without any external influence of machines or motors. Pertinent examples are chess, car racing etc.

Another key aspect is the approval of the IOC session which deliberates upon the inclusion of a new sport based on a recommendation by the Olympic Executive Board committee. This recommendation, debate and subsequent passing thus allows a sport to be included in a future edition of an Olympic Games.

Even though Kabaddi has a World Cup and is played in the Asian Games, it does not have an international presence. As per the current LITS rankings, there are only 17 countries that have been given ranks based on points accumulated in tournaments. Furthermore, there are only 25 countries which have mens, womens or both teams registered under the International Kabaddi Federation out of a total 32 registered teams. This does not come close to the first mandated provision of the IOC rules for sports inclusion.

The future mode of recourse is to ensure that Kabaddi gets the fame and attention it deserves by expanding its presence around the world. While this will definitely be great for the sport, it will help enhance the case for making it an Olympic event in the coming years.

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