The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) has some exciting goals for the sport!
The first step in the process of pickleball being included in the Olympic Games is recognition as a sport from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC requires that the activity have administration by an international nongovernmental organization that oversees at least one sport. Once a sport is recognized, it then moves to International Sports Federation (IF) status. At that point, the international organization administering the sport must enforce the Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code, including conducting effective out-of-competition tests on the sport’s competitors while maintaining rules set forth by the Olympic Charter.
A sport may gain IOC recognition but not become a competing event at the Olympic Games. Bowling and chess are recognized sports, but they do not compete at the Games. To become a part of the Games, the sport’s IF must apply for admittance by filing a petition establishing its criteria of eligibility to the IOC. The IOC may then admit an activity into the Olympic program in one of three different ways: as a sport; as a discipline, which is a branch of a sport; or as an event, which is a competition within a discipline. For instance, triathlon was admitted as a sport, debuting at the 2000 Games in Sydney. Women’s wrestling was a new discipline in the sport of wrestling at the Athens Games, and women’s pole vaulting debuted in Sydney as a track-and-field event. Rules for admittance vary slightly between a new sport, a discipline, and an event, but the intent is the same.
Once an IF has presented its petition, many rules and regulations control whether the sport will become part of the Olympic Games. The Olympic Charter indicates that in order to be accepted, a sport must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents and by women in no fewer than 40 countries and on three continents. The sport must also increase the ‘‘value and appeal’’ of the Olympic Games and retain and reflect its modern traditions. There are numerous other rules, including bans on purely ‘‘mind sports’’ and sports dependent on mechanical propulsion. These rules have kept chess, automobile racing, and other recognized sports out of the Olympic Games.
Pickleball doesn’t meet the above criteria yet, but some people are predicting 2028.