If you enjoy watching Formula 1, NASCAR, or MotoGP as much as I do, you may be wondering why no motorsports have been included in the Olympic Sports schedule. Many people say that racing a car does not make you a sportsman (or lady) and that it is not a sport. Is this how you’ve always thought? Let’s have a look. Is automobile racing an Olympic sport or not? Is it possible that it may be considered for the Olympics?
The Olympic games do not feature motorsports. However, this was not always the case; the 1900 Summer Olympics in France included motorsports. The motorsports competitions ran concurrently with the World’s Fair. The International Olympic Committee has not stated whether or not these events qualify as “Olympic.”
I did some searching for additional information on motorsports and the Olympics and discovered that a lot has changed since the 1900 Paris Olympics. I learned that there does not appear to be a good likelihood that the Olympics will include motor racing sports very soon and that the industry’s last hope is the 1900 Olympics.
Motorsports In The 1900 Olympics in Paris, France
The Summer Olympics in 1900 lasted around 6 months and were held in conjunction with the World’s Fair (“Exposition Universelle”).
Motor racing in the 1900 Olympics (in Paris) operated in a totally different fashion than it does today. The carmaker and the driver are both under the limelight these days. Manufacturers were almost totally in the spotlight back then. Renault, Peugeot, Delahaye, Serpollet, Panhard-Levassor, and Huru were among the automobiles that competed in the races. Electric delivery vehicles were even raced in a separate class.
The identities of the drivers were not well known and were not widely publicized. The majority of the contestants were French, but there were a few other entries from other nations as well. The event was well-attended, and many categories of vehicles won gold, silver, and bronze awards. Despite the fact that most of the winners were French, Gilbert Brown managed to earn the single gold medal for the United States; he won the fire truck race.
If you’re interested in the results, all of the 1900 Olympic events are chronicled in Bill Mallon’s book “The 1900 Olympic Games: Results for All Competitors in All Events…” That year’s motor racing event categories were as follows:
- Two -seater vehicles: Under 400 kg & Over 400 kg.
- Six -seater vehicles: Over 400 kg.
- Seven -seater vehicles.
- Taxi: Electric & Petrol.
- Delivery vans: Electric & Petrol.
- Small trucks: Over 1,000 kg.
- Fire trucks
- Both small and large passenger vehicles.
Could a Motorsport Become an Olympic Sport? Is There Hope?
Sports must demonstrate their eligibility to compete in the Olympic Games. Sports that are included check a number of boxes (or meet stringent requirements). Nonetheless, the Olympic Games impose restrictions on the number of sports and competitors permitted in each Olympic event.
As it turns out, there is a provision in the rules and regulations that regulate how Olympic sports are selected. These restrictions, in fact, have been in effect since the early 1900s. Certain mechanical equipment-related sports, such as motor-boating, were included in the Olympics in 1908. Any of that changed when the International Olympic Committee ruled that all sports relying largely on mechanical propulsion could not be considered for participation in the Olympics.
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“Sports, disciplines or activities in which overall performance relies primarily on mechanical propulsion are unacceptable”
Rule 52.4.2 – Olympic Charter
According to motorsports.com, the IOC abolished this rule in 2007.
However, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), which organizes motor racing events and was founded in 1904, may have given motor racing enthusiasts false optimism in 2012. This was the year the federation became an International Sporting Federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee (which it still is). This implies that the FIA has a seat at the Olympic table, but it does not necessarily imply that motorsport has earned a place in the Games.
The FIA has also joined up as a member of the Olympic Charter, aligning itself with the Olympic anti-doping regulations in an effort to safeguard the motor racing industry’s athletes. Sports like motor racing strive to hold their athletes to a high standard (and safety). But that looks to be the quit of it.
Why Motor Racing is Not an Olympic Sport?
What’s the big deal? Why isn’t motor racing included in the Olympics? If you’re wondering why motor racing was not included in the previous Olympics, the answer is simple. In reality, when it came to F1, Jacques Rogge, then-president of the International Olympic Committee, expressed it best in 2012:
“Frankly, the concept we have is that video games are about competing for the athletes, not the equipment. Therefore, even as having quite a few respect, they may now no longer be blanketed with inside the Olympic program.”
Jacques Rogge – IOC president (2001 – 2013)
Since 2012, that stance (or point of view) appears to have stayed the same.
Olympics Sports that Depend Heavily on Equipment (or maybe Animals)
For many people, the quote above is rather perplexing. All types of equipment are employed in the athletic world, notably in sports that are featured in the Olympics. Why is motor racing, like other sports, exempt from requiring equipment or tools?
You might wonder which sports have tools and equipment. Take, for example, track bikes, which are ultra-aerodynamic and hence improve cyclist performance. Rackets are used in various sports, and some even include animals (horses, for example) in their competition. Is it true that animals are permitted to compete in the Olympics but vehicles are not? Both appear to be modes of transportation and “equipment” in a sport, at least on the surface.
Are Motor Drivers Athletes? – A Never-Ending Disagreement
Some may feel that the fundamental problem is that the authorities do not believe that race car drivers are athletes. They wouldn’t be the only ones who disagree; in fact, hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals argue that drivers aren’t athletes at all.
Some Olympic authorities may see racing drivers as non-athletes since they are believed to be nothing more than drivers who sit behind a steering wheel and handle a machine. It is thought that the machine’s durability, strength, and stamina are being evaluated rather than the driver’s; which, I grant, may be a valid point. However, after conducting my research, I feel that race drivers are athletes for a variety of reasons.
It’s difficult to miss a counter-argument to the claim that racing drivers aren’t athletes. Racing drivers must devote a significant amount of time to physical preparation. Because the job of a race driver is physically demanding, they must be fit and healthy (actually demanding).
The heat inside a race automobile, for example, may reach extraordinarily high temperatures. As a result, the combination of speed, perspiration, and G-force may lead a driver to lose around 3 kg in a single race. And if the driver lacks core strength, he will struggle to manage the car at high speeds when traveling through bends/corners with G-force exerted on him.
There is no doubting, in my humble view, that racing drivers are athletes, and that the vehicles they drive are part of their “equipment,” just like a tennis racquet or a cyclist’s bike.
However, the decision appears to be definitive – and while other types of motor racing do not require Olympic inclusion, it would be lovely to see our favorite teams compete in the Olympics and bring home the gold.
The Olympic Sports Dilemma for Motor Racing
While the motor racing sports would want to see themselves on an Olympic roster in the future, it does not appear that this will happen anytime soon. When you consider the success of sports like F1, MotoGP, NASCAR, and Indy, it is clear that the success and support for these sports are already massive. Do they even need to be represented at the Olympics? Perhaps the motorsport business could launch its own version of the Olympics.