When you think of the Olympics, you probably imagine Usain Bolt sprinting towards another world record or Yelena Isinbayeva pole vaulting over the crowd. These outdoor sports have somehow become synonymous with the Olympics, probably because we don’t get to see them every time we switch to any sports channel. However, indoor sports are continuing to build a huge audience since the first time they were introduced at the competition. Some very well-known, some not so popular, indoor sports are slowly taking the center stage at the biggest sporting event in the world. Actually, eight out of ten most exciting and popular sports to watch at the Games today are indoor sports! So, let’s get a bit more familiar with the history of the indoor sports at the Olympic Games.
The pioneers of indoor sports
Some more prominent indoor sports like swimming and basketball have been present on the Olympic scene for the last 50 or so years. As a matter of fact, modern Olympics as we know and love would not be recognizable without them at all! While it used to be held outside, swimming began introducing some of its indoor events somewhere during the mid-1900s, and basketball officially joined the list of Olympic indoor sports in 1936. These sports have a pretty non-controversial history when it comes to the Olympics and they were accepted by the public right away. But, there are sports that are much more interesting at least when it comes to their Olympic past.
Volleyball and its struggles
Indoor volleyball started as a demonstration sport in 1924 and it looked like it would be its first and only time being present at the Olympics. However, in time, the International Olympic Committee reconsidered its decision and allowed indoor volleyball to become a part of the Games for good. However, what’s interesting is that it took them exactly 44 years to included indoor volleyball into the family of Olympic sports—the longest period any sport had to wait between its first demonstration and receiving the official Olympic sport status. Today, indoor volleyball attracts a huge crowd that can witness epic battles between both men’s and ladies’ teams. The current champion in indoor volleyball for men is Brazil (with Italy and the US being silver and bronze) and for women, it’s China (followed by Serbia and the US).
Badminton as an Olympic sport
Another sport that had an interesting path before joining the Olympic family is badminton. This sport started as a demonstration sport in 1972 and was not picked up for the Olympic Games right away. But, the committee didn’t give up and decided to give it another shot. In 1988, badminton was again made a demonstration sport, but this time, it succeeded. In the 1992 Olympic Games, badminton had its first official competitions. It might not have a huge following from the western countries yet, but Asian countries love the sport and follow their national badminton teams with great passion! China dominates almost every year since Barcelona in 1992, but other countries are starting to see the appeal and catch up slowly. There’s a bright future ahead of this indoor Olympic sport despite its not-so-happy past.
Smooth sailing for handball and table tennis
While volleyball and badminton really struggled, some other sports like handball and table tennis had a much easier time with the IOC. Handball became an Olympic sport without ever being a demonstration sport and was admitted straight away in 1972. Table tennis, another amazing indoor sport, joined the club of Olympic sports in 1988 with immediate entry.
Indoor sports issues
One of the biggest issues indoor sports have to deal with is the heat. Since the Olympics happen in the summer when the heat is hard to bear, the host country has to provide well-designed venues for indoor sports that will keep the place pleasant for athletes and spectators. Luckily, with newer times comes new technology and more convenient ways to keep the venues cool even in hot countries like Australia. Western countries don’t have to worry about HVAC systems since there are experts in air conditioning installation in Sydney who can handle any commercial space and provide users with ultimate comfort, even while exercising. The heat of the competition might be scorching, but the venues are always cool!
Other indoor sports
Some ancient sports that were present in the Olympics during their entirety, like wrestling and boxing, are perfect sports to be held indoors. They are simple and require very little space and technology, so with the proper organization, they can be very pleasant and entertaining to watch in an indoor setting. Gymnastics is another very popular discipline that’s especially attractive to watch yet is held exclusively indoors.
All in all, the history of indoor Olympic sports has been interesting and fruitful. However, almost every new Olympic Games we add a new chapter to this history since new young sports are constantly being added to the family. With more Games to come, we can expect to witness the growth of the indoor Olympic sports and much more fun for a wide audience of fans.
Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement, DIY and interior design. In her free time she enjoys reading and preparing healthy meals for her family.