Ultimate's Olympic dreams have been dealt a major blow.
August 10, 2022 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 0 comments
After a decade-long push to be included as a part of the 2028 Summer Olympics program in Los Angeles, ultimate was quietly removed from consideration last month by the tournament organizing committee.
The Spanish newspaper Marca was first to report the nine sports — baseball and softball, break dancing, cricket, flag football, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, motorsport, and squash — that are still being considered. Each Olympic Games is now able to add a small number of additional sports to its program. Tokyo 2020 added baseball and softball, karate, sport climbing, skateboarding, and surfing; Paris 2024 is adding surfing, sport climbing, skateboarding, and break dancing.
Ultimate was one of many sports vying for a spot in the LA program, which is widely expected to include baseball and softball. Surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing have already been announced as inclusions. It is a blow to ultimate’s Olympic hopes that the sport did not even merit inclusion on the list of sports that were asked to make a final proposal to the LA28 organizing committee.
“[The World Flying Disc Federation] is surprised and disappointed to not have been included in the shortlist of potential additional sports invited to submit a proposal for inclusion in the 2028 Olympic Programme,” said WFDF President Robert “Nob” Rauch in a statement. “Flying Disc sports is actively practiced on a competitive level in 103 countries in the world and appeared to satisfy all of the objective criteria agreed between the IOC and LA28. These criteria included not adding cost and complexity to the games by utilizing full venue sharing on the beach or grass stadium, having total gender equality with our gender-balanced mixed format, having youth appeal, and ensuring that the top athletes were involved. There are few other sports that can boast an equivalent Californian DNA as frisbee and we felt our Ultimate 4s format requiring a total athletes’ quota of only 48 would fit well given the overall cap on the Games.”
Ultimate’s biggest organizations — WFDF and USA Ultimate — have been pushing for Olympic inclusion for years. WFDF earned International Olympic Committee recognition in 2015, one year after USAU got recognition from the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee. USAU hired long-time CEO Tom Crawford in large part because of his connections to the Olympic world, and in the past he has had contract extensions built in if ultimate were to be placed on the Olympic program.
The next summer Olympics after Los Angeles will be held in 2032 in Brisbane, Australia, 10 years from now. Australia does have a strong ultimate scene, but LA was widely seen as the most likely Games to offer ultimate its debut appearance. Absent further changes to the Olympic structure or a lifting of the current athlete cap, ultimate remains a long shot to get onto the Olympic program.