The IOC and its shift towards urban sport. RDP/ITG

The IOC has a premise: to reach a wider audience in order to prolong the life of Olympism in the face of today's digital dynamism. The focus is increasingly on urban sports, which are being included more and more frequently. Flying Disc leads the way, followed by TeqBall and Dodgeball.

Since Thomas Bach took over the presidency of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2013, he has been concerned about rekindling the waning interest of young people. That's why he launched Agenda 2020, a set of 40 reforms for the future of the Olympic Games.

In December 2014, Bach launched his Agenda 2020, outlining 40 proposed reforms for the Games. "In our world, which is changing faster than ever, yesterday's success means nothing for today," the President warned at the 127th IOC Session in Monaco. "If we don't drive these changes, others will. We want to be the leaders of change, not the object of change".

The idea was to adapt to the dynamics of the digital age. Young people are the future, and understanding them will ensure that there will be Olympic Games for a long time to come, seemed to be the German's motto. He then proposed an Olympic programme centred on events involving 10,500 athletes, with the emphasis on urban and popular sports.

Surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing, karate and baseball were five of the sports chosen to make their debut at Tokyo 2020, while baseball and softball returned to Japan after their last appearance in Beijing 2008. Rugby and golf did the same at Rio 2016, while breakdancing will be the only additional sport at Paris 2024. Climbing, skateboarding, surfing and the increasingly popular urban version of basketball, 3x3, will also return.

Many of the changes are experimental, trial and error, or perhaps a way of creating new relationships and seeing how new disciplines are included, which are highly revered by the younger audiences that will consume the Games over the next few decades.

Today, virtually any popular sport can dream of being part of the Olympic Games, even if it means adapting it a little, as will happen with American football in Los Angeles 2028 (it will be played in its "flag" or "touch" version, without contact, which will be an absolute novelty).

Los Angeles 2028 will add cricket, lacrosse, flag football (a form of American football), baseball-softball and squash for various reasons. Some because of their popularity in the host country (flag football), some because they are consumed by billions of people and generate millions in TV rights and sponsorship (cricket), and some because of their history (lacrosse, an indigenous sport that is considered to be the first sport in North America).

In short, the reasons can be many and varied, but they all have a common denominator: to reach more and more people, without losing long-standing followers in a dynamic world.

Robert 'Nob' Rauch, President of the WFDF, alongside the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach. WFDF
Robert 'Nob' Rauch, President of the WFDF, alongside the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach. WFDF

Today, many sports are emerging for the future. Flying Disc, in its ultimate version, is leading the way (its President recently met with the Brisbane 2032 Organising Committee to present his project).

Teqball is another that is gaining more and more followers, not only on television but also in urban practice (it can currently be seen in thousands of squares around the world). The sport has been included in several multi-sport events under the IOC umbrella, including the European Games, the African Beach Games and the Asian Beach Games.

Dodgeball is another sport with Olympic potential. Tom Hickson, president of the World Dodgeball Association (WDA), claims that more than 67.5 million people worldwide play dodgeball, and it is particularly popular in schools. "We pride ourselves on being the most accessible sport in the world. It's extremely inexpensive to play. As children we all practise throwing and catching and to some extent dodging. You can play the sport anywhere, whether it's in the park, on the street or in a leisure centre.

While the growth of teqball has been attributed to a top-down strategy that began by courting football's elite, dodgeball has more in common with ultimate in terms of the massiveness achieved among practitioners, from schools to open-air recreational venues, and the social benefits of mixed participation.

Flying Disc combines elements of American football, basketball and soccer, bringing dynamism, teamwork, strategy and tactics, as well as individual talent.

Robert 'Nob' Rauch, President of the WFDF, told Inside The Games in an exclusive interview late last year: "The goal is the Olympic Games". Not just that, and not just with wishes or words, as he travelled to Australia a few weeks ago to present the proposal.

Rauch closely follows the IOC's guidelines and is convinced that his sport is perfectly suited to the Olympic Games. From the spirit of the game, the healthy competition, the fraternity above all, to the absence of referees, since the participants are their own referees and in case of disagreement they return to the previous game.

Nob Rauch emphasises the importance of the ethical and competitive aspect of the sport: "We talk about the spirit of the game. If we go back to Baron de Coubertin, his idea was sportsmanship, respect, and the cessation of hostilities. We believe that our sport brings all of that to the table," says the American.

As for Teqball, whose idea was born in a garage by bending a ping-pong table to play football on it, it has gained more and more followers every day since its beginnings in Budapest. 

The action has been perfected to include spectacular aerial kicks, acrobatic volleys and a variety of tricks to get the ball back over the solid plexiglass net. 

As the name suggests, the game requires elite ball control techniques, which explains its popularity among footballers and fans around the world (it is estimated that more than a million people play it regularly on beaches and in parks around the world, and that nearly 10,000 players are currently semi-professional).

The IOC, since Bach's arrival in 2013, has been driven by youth appeal and trying to incorporate younger urban sports, and teqball fits in perfectly, so it would not be far-fetched to think about it for the 2032 or 2036 Games if it continues to grow. 

It takes time to become an Olympic sport, even for very attractive andpopular sports (cricket, American football, baseball, rugby, surfing, among others), which have not only taken years to get there, but in some cases have had ups and downs in their participation.

At the moment, Flying Disc has the advantage since its recognition by the IOC in 2015 (107 countries worldwide practise it, a figure that is by no means negligible), but the WDA of Dodgeball and the FITEQ of Teqball are trying to adapt to the requirements of the parent body of Olympism in order to close the gap to the realisation of everyone's dream of competing in the greatest multi-sport event in the history of mankind.