Unicycle Olympics ?

There has been much talk of getting Unicycling into the Olympics but it seemed to me that no-one seemed to have a very clear idea of what would be required. So I decided to do some research.

Sports recognized by the IOC are all governed by an international federation (IF) which manages the sport at world level, sets the rules etc and which encompasses lower level national organisations. Sports fall into two categories "Programme" sports which have events in the Olympic games (Summer or Winter) and "Recognized" sports which can apply to have events added to the programme.

This is a table of all the recognised Olmpic sports federations with the number of affiliated national organisations shown for each.

Programme Sports (Summer) Programme Sports (Winter) 
Aquatics179Biathlon62
Archery133Bobsleigh57
Athletics210Curling37
Badminton148Ice Hockey63
Baseball112Luge48
Basketball212Skating73
Boxing190Skiing101
Canoe / kayak115  
Cycling159  
Equestrian130  
Fencing108  
Football204  
Gymnastics125  
Handball150  
Hockey118  
Judo187  
Modern Pentathlon94  
Rowing114  
Sailing121  
Shooting151  
Softball124  
Table Tennis188  
Taekwondo167  
Tennis191  
Triathlon87  
Volleyball218  
Weightlifting167  
Wrestling144  
Recognized Sports (Summer) Recognized Sports (Winter) 
Air sports95Bandy12
Automobile119  
Billiard Sports97  
Boules75  
Bowling126  
Bridge125  
Chess159  
DanceSport79  
Golf97  
Karate166  
Korfball37  
Life Saving131  
Motorcycle Racing88  
Mountaineering and Climbing92  
Netball41  
Orienteering61  
Pelote Basque25  
Polo75  
Racquetball90  
Roller Sports114  
Rugby94  
Squash116  
Surfing49  
Tug of War29  
Underwater Sports104  
Water Skiing80  
Wushu86  

As an IF, to become a recognized sport, you need two things. Your statutes, practice and activities must be in conformity with the Olympic Charter and you must apply the Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code and conduct effective out-of-competition tests in accordance with the established rules. To be recognized as a national organisation you would need to be affiliated to the relevant recognized IF, and recognition by your national Olympic committee would follow automatically.

To achieve this status Unicycling would have two options. The IUF could apply to be an IF in itself, or it could try to become a subsection of the UCI which is the recognized IF for cycling. To quote its constitution, the purposes of the UCI are:

Under those terms it would seem that they already do manage Unicycling!!! But before you rush to sign up for Athens, unicycling is not a recognized discipline and there are no mentions of us in any of their rules.

There are a number of pros and cons of trying to become recognized as a cycling discipline rather than as an independant IF

Pro

Con

As independants we would have control over our own sport but we would need to set up and run our own dope testing system

So anyway, you've got yourself an IF and become recognized, what next? How do you get in the programme? "Only sports widely practised by men in at least seventy-five countries and on four continents, and by women in at least forty countries and on three continents, may be included in the programme of the Games of the Olympiad" (The rules for winter games are less severe but the sport must take place on Ice or Snow). The decision for inclusion must be made at least seven years before the first games at which the sport is to be included and no change in status is allowed during the delay . As a discipline of cycling the rules would be exactly the same; the discipline has to be widely practised in that many countries and the time limit is the same.

As you can see from the list of recognised sports which are not in the programme, satisfying the rules, while necessary, is not sufficient. You also need to convince the IOC that the sport merits inclusion.

On this front the report of the programme commission for the Beijing Olympics makes interesting reading. To pick out some points

It also interesting to look at the list of sports/disciplines which it recommends should be removed from the programme

It is also recommended that some disciplines reduce their numbers of events

A lot of the recognized sports submitted applications to be included and all of these were rejected except Golf (with certain provisos) and Rugby sevens

Conclusions

Hmmm. I can't say I've ever been a major supporter of the idea of Unicycling in the Olympics but if you are then you've got some work ahead. If you wanted to compete in 2012 we've got two years to expand to "wide participation" in 75 countries and "Global public and media interest" and we have to be bigger and more attractive than one of the existing sports

I'm not saying that its bad as a (very) long term aim but I don't think its realistic to let it drive our decision making at this point.