Time to divide the Summer Olympics

Published on February 21st, 2018

Albert Einstein said that if an idea at first is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. Given that premise, Simon Boyde may have an idea to consider. Here he reports from his base in Hong Kong:

Back in the day there was only one Olympics. It took all year and incorporated events now split between the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. But with the increased popularity of Winter Sports, a trial was run in France after the Paris Olympics in 1924 for a separate Winter Sports event. This became a full separate Olympiad in 1928.

The reason to split was done on practical grounds – you can’t ski in Paris in the Summer – but the Winter events – while run in a different place – were run in the same year. Moving the Winter events to a separate year (done since 1994) hugely increased the overall revenue take.

So an obvious thought is let’s split the Summer Olympics into the Wet and Dry Olympics, or Stadium and Outdoor Olympics… or some other combination. This cuts the cost of the Summer (dry) Olympics down and makes it possible for landlocked countries to bid for it.

To take a Wet Olympics (someone please come up with a better name!) the sports to move from the current Summer Olympics to the Wet Olympics would be:

• Canoe Slalom
• Canoe Sprint
• Diving
• Marathon Swimming
• Rowing
• Sailing
• Swimming
• Synchronized Swimming
• Water Polo

What unites a lot of these sports is, like Winter Sports, they have less of an international spread at the top level than many of the other Summer sports. They are perceived, when compared to other Summer Olympic sports, to have a smaller following on TV (apart from Swimming) and to be costly to run.

Removing all of these sports from the Summer Olympics – to make it the Dry Olympics – reduces the cost of that competition. Putting them into a package still creates sufficient TV viewing figures and allows event restricted sports – like Sailing, Rowing and Canoeing and I am sure many others – to be expanded, both in terms of participation and events.

This idea also makes it a competition that many smaller nations could be interested in running due to its smaller cost. Even Hong Kong could host a Wet Olympics – or Singapore, or Malta… maybe Bermuda? Think small places which have a lot of water!

In a four year cycle we have then have the five big international events:

Year 1 (2028) Land/Summer/Dry Olympics
Year 2 (2029) Water/Wet Olympics
Year 3 (2030) Football World Cup/Commonwealth Games
Year 4 (2031) Winter Olympics

I can’t really see a downside: historical evidence of the split of Winter sports from Summer sports says this is worth doing, and indeed additional sports can be added (Canoe Polo, Waboba, Dragon Boating, etc) to the mix to make it more attractive.

The Summer Olympic has outgrown itself, and rather than the IOC making draconian cuts to sustain it, they need to divide it and benefit further.

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