Flights of Fancy

Despite ballooning costs, sport-wise, the London Olympics will not be the biggest Games ever. 2012 is scheduled to feature just 26 sports, a sizable slump from the 35 currently on the IOC roster, and five less Sydney managed on 20% of the budget.

Baseball or softball will be axed, say London, and none of the five replacement options offered by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) are to be taken on.

With the list of IOC-approved sports growing, future Olympic hosts are having to draw the line: the number of sports staged is finite. With two Synchronised Swimming, 17 Shooting and six Equestrian events remaining on the slate, some suggest London could do even more to fight the flab.

The challenge for the IOC marketing team is to produce a Games that balances the Blue Riband (Athletics, Swimming, Gymnastics) with the unsung. Part of the Olympics’ appeal is turning your average football/cricket nut into two-week fan of Rhona Martin, Sean Kerly or Gail Emms. It is these side dishes that make the meal. Cut too much and you have a very plain feast.

ASOIF has suggested host cities be allowed to choose their sports. The IOC has yet to approve, but it may sanction an expansion of the guest-sports programme where host cities can add a sport of their choice. As this has traditionally been used as a sop to let the host win extra golds – Tokyo 1964: a three gold-sweep for Japan in the Judo – it does little to serve the Olympic ideal. But it should still be pursued.

If so, what can London add? I would suggest a sport that will cost next to nothing to stage, is inclusive (how was powerboating ever an Olympic sport?) and showcases a piece of local character?

It has to be darts.

Granted, Britain would be favourites, but it would be no shock if Holland, America or Australia took gold. And, with five years’ lead time, surely it wouldn’t take much for the British Olympic committee (and our best sports marketing agencies) to enthuse fellow Olympic members.

The costs are manageable: £27 will pay for a sleeve of Tripe B Ray Barneveld 22g Ghost Grips, £30 for a Winmau Pro Board. Have five sets of each delivered to every IOC member, bring back Bully to accompany Seb Coe on a promotional tour and we might just have a new grass-roots event on our hands. The beauty is anyone might make the Portugal, Thai or Mexican Olympic Dart team. ‘Be an Olympian’, easy.

Invite teams of three, 501, best of nine legs. Stage the group games in pubs and social clubs around London; move to Lakeside for the Quarter Finals onwards.

If it’s not there in Brazil in 2016, who cares? London might just have managed to stage a more humble Games. Better still, we might be treated to Phil ‘The Power’ throwing a bullseye to light the Olympic flame.

Despite ballooning costs, sport-wise, the London Olympics will not be the biggest Games ever. 2012 is scheduled to feature just 26 sports, a sizable slump from the 35 currently on the IOC roster, and five less Sydney managed on 20% of the budget.

Baseball or softball will be axed, say London, and none of the five replacement options offered by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) are to be taken on.

With the list of IOC-approved sports growing, future Olympic hosts are having to draw the line: the number of sports staged is finite. With two Synchronised Swimming, 17 Shooting and six Equestrian events remaining on the slate, some suggest London could do even more to fight the flab.

The challenge for the IOC marketing team is to produce a Games that balances the Blue Riband (Athletics, Swimming, Gymnastics) with the unsung. Part of the Olympics’ appeal is turning your average football/cricket nut into two-week fan of Rhona Martin, Sean Kerly or Gail Emms. It is these side dishes that make the meal. Cut too much and you have a very plain feast.

ASOIF has suggested host cities be allowed to choose their sports. The IOC has yet to approve, but it may sanction an expansion of the guest-sports programme where host cities can add a sport of their choice. As this has traditionally been used as a sop to let the host win extra golds – Tokyo 1964: a three gold-sweep for Japan in the Judo – it does little to serve the Olympic ideal. But it should still be pursued.

If so, what can London add? I would suggest a sport that will cost next to nothing to stage, is inclusive (how was powerboating ever an Olympic sport?) and showcases a piece of local character?

It has to be darts.

Granted, Britain would be favourites, but it would be no shock if Holland, America or Australia took gold. And, with five years’ lead time, surely it wouldn’t take much for the British Olympic committee (and our best sports marketing agencies) to enthuse fellow Olympic members.

The costs are manageable: £27 will pay for a sleeve of Tripe B Ray Barneveld 22g Ghost Grips, £30 for a Winmau Pro Board. Have five sets of each delivered to every IOC member, bring back Bully to accompany Seb Coe on a promotional tour and we might just have a new grass-roots event on our hands. The beauty is anyone might make the Portugal, Thai or Mexican Olympic Dart team. ‘Be an Olympian’, easy.

Invite teams of three, 501, best of nine legs. Stage the group games in pubs and social clubs around London; move to Lakeside for the Quarter Finals onwards.

If it’s not there in Brazil in 2016, who cares? London might just have managed to stage a more humble Games. Better still, we might be treated to Phil ‘The Power’ throwing a bullseye to light the Olympic flame.

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