Why isn’t roller skating in the Olympics?
Participating in the Olympic Games is a dream come true for most sportsmen and women. You aren’t alone if you long to be in the Olympics as a roller skater.
At least every roller skater feels the same way, especially when they see other sports like skateboarding in the Olympic games.
There are tons of benefits from participating in the Olympic games for roller skaters. They include; interacting with athletes from all over the world, more popularity for the sport, and winning medals is highly motivating.
So sad; this is wishful thinking at the moment since roller skating isn’t in the Olympic games. Why isn’t roller skating in the Olympics? Here’s the thing!
Roller skating isn’t in the Olympics since the Olympic games governing body, International Olympic Committee (IOC), has rejected it. Every sport must meet specific criteria before IOC admits it into the Olympics. Unfortunately, IOC doesn’t find roller skating worthy of being in the Olympic games.
That’s only the scratch on the surface. I cover details in the rest of this guide, and you don’t want to miss out. So, let’s get to it!
More Reading>> Rollerblading Vs. Roller skating | the Definitive Comparison
Here’s a backdrop for why Roller skating isn’t in the Olympics
So, I reached out to James Jost, president of the American Rink Hockey Organization (ARHA). He was the chairman of the USARS Rink Hockey Committee from 1990 to 2021 before leaving the organization to form ARHA.
Here’s what he had to say;
“The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the controlling body of sports for the USA.
The USOPC recognizes USA Roller Sports (USARS) as the NGB (National Governing Body) for roller Skating.
In 1992 the FIRS was controlled by USARS and at that time the people in charge were told by the IOC to have a presentation prepared for the IOC to review after the 1992 games for rink roller hockey to be included in the Olympic Games.
USARS was also told that the IOC was ONLY considering rink roller hockey for inclusion and that the other disciplines would be rolled in after that.
Juan Antonio Samaranch was president of the IOC at that time and was a goalie in his younger days playing Rink Roller Hockey.
He assured USARS that if they made a proper presentation, he would guarantee rink hockey’s inclusion.
USARS decided to ignore the IOC and their presentation started with Artistic skating (3 pages) then Speed skating (2 pages) and at the very back Rink Roller Hockey (1 page).
At that time only 60 countries were needed for inclusion and Rink Roller Hockey had 65 countries playing.
Since that time the IOC has not only increased the number of countries but has also included that the sport must include men and women to be considered.
Long story short roller skating was denied and has not been seriously considered since. The USARS has done little to push the USOPC to move roller skating forward with the IOC.
The FIRS has become World Skate which hosts the World Roller Games every two years. This year (2022) WRG will be held in Argentina from late October into November.
The USA now has two main organizations representing roller skating in the USA, American Roller Sports (ARS), and USA Roller Sports (USARS).
These two organizations sanction championship roller skating events in all disciplines, Artistic, Derby, Figures, Inline Hockey, Rink Hockey, and Rhythm Skating.”
Below are other reasons Roller Skating isn’t in the Olympics!
1. Rejection by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the final say on who’s admitted into the Olympics and who doesn’t.
The committee comprises 99 member states, and most of the officials are former athletes. The committee is run by an executive board that proposes sports be included in the Olympics.
The proposal is followed by voting to decide if the proposed sports make it to the Olympics or not. After recognition, the proposed sports move to the International Sports Federation (IF) status.
The international organization managing the sport is then tasked with enforcing the Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code.
Nothing happens until a sport’s international Sports Federation (IF) satisfies the qualification criteria. So, it’s no surprise for a sport to get IOC recognition and fail to be in the Olympics.
If the sport is recognized by IOC and accepted into the Olympics, it can be admitted as a;
- Discipline—a branch of a sport
- Event—a competition within a discipline
The sport’s IF should meet the following five factors to be considered in the Olympic program;
- The value the sport adds to the Olympics.
- How long the sport has been actively in existence.
- Popularity in the host country.
- Cost of advertising the event.
Roller skating was first in the Barcelona Summer Olympics in 1992, though as a demonstration sport. In 2009, roller skating was among the sports included in the 2016 Olympics, but this plan flopped.
The same thing happened in 2013 when roller skating was among eight sports to be included in the 2020 Olympic games.
In 2015, the International Federation of Roller Sports (FIRS) proposed roller skating be added among the 2020 sports to be admitted into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This one also never saw the light of day!
Sadly, in 2016, skateboarding was accepted into the program for the 2020 Olympics as the only roller sport. Roller skating was nowhere to be seen.
The IOC hasn’t been a favorite of roller skating for whatever reasons. Hopefully, this will change in the coming years.
2. Roller Skating has No Significant Worldwide Popularity
According to the Olympic Charter, men should practice a sport in at least 75 countries and on four continents and at least 40 countries and three continents by women to be accepted.
If these were the only criteria, roller skating and rollerblading sports would make it to the Olympics seamlessly since they’re common in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia.
The primary challenge is that roller skating has declined in popularity since the 1990s, especially in the US. So, it’s okay to conclude the sport has no significant worldwide popularity.
Below is a quick rundown of what caused roller skating and rollerblading to decline in popularity;
- People feared roller skating because it can be a dangerous sport if one doesn’t take caution.
- Inadequate influencers support. For example, X-Games withdrew support for roller skating.
- Gender and age bias. People started to perceive roller skating as a feminine and children’s hobby. This led to too many men opting out or not developing their skills further.
- Competition from skateboarding. When the above challenges set in, many roller skaters dropped roller skating for skateboarding.
3. Roller Skating Relatively Costly to Add Competitive Roller Skating into the Olympics
One of the considerations of admitting a sport into the Olympics is the overall cost. Roller skating is a pretty expensive sport and requires huge capital to have it in the Olympics.
The following must be added to the events to consider roller skating in the Olympics.
- 100m roller skating
- 200m roller skating
- 400m roller skating
- 800m roller skating
- 1500m roller skating
- 5000m roller skating
- 10000m roller skating
- Marathon roller skating
- Long jump roller skating
- Hurdling roller skating
- Roller derby
To add salt to the injury, there should be separate facilities for women and men. This explains why the IOC has always given roller skating a hard pass every time it’s proposed to be included in the Olympics.
4. Roller Skating is Primarily Perceived as a Recreational Activity
Roller skating isn’t perceived as a severe sport by most people, explaining why it’s not as popular as other sports.
Most people treat it as a recreational and hobby activity rather than a competitive sport. It’s so niched down and has limited participants worldwide.
The media has contributed to sideling roller skating since they rarely broadcast roller skating championships. An extra effort from the media can help change peoples’ perceptions.
On a positive note, roller skating has risen in popularity since the covid-19 pandemic. It’s a lot more popular today than it was five years ago.
Perhaps, this should change peoples’ perception about treating roller skating as a competitive sport rather than a hobby.
Why isn’t roller skating in the Olympics? Wrapping Up
Should roller skating be in the Olympics? Absolutely yes. Related sports like ice skating and snowboarding are already in the Olympics.
Denying roller skating into the program is most likely a witch hunt, or the International Federation of Roller Sports (FIRS) is sleeping on its job.
Why isn’t roller skating in the Olympics? Roller skating isn’t in the Olympics because the International Olympic Committee has always considered other sports in the program. Probably, the FIRS needs to put in more effort to have IOC admit roller skating into the program.
That’s it. I hope you found this guide helpful!