Will Darts Ever Be an Olympic Sport?

  • By: Sue
  • Date: October 10, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

The most heated debate in the darts world right now is “will darts ever be an Olympic sport?” It’s no secret that darts has come a long way. From its well-known venues in pubs or bars to its current massive adoption at prestigious tournaments and world championships, darts appears to be well on its way to becoming an Olympic sport sooner rather than later.

The official darts organizations have been pushing for darts to become an Olympic sport, and it appears that the Olympic Committee is considering making darts an Olympic sport in the 2024 games. The matter is still being debated, so while we wait, we’ll look at why there are no darts in the Olympics and why they should be, in preparation for the possibility of darts ever becoming an Olympic sport! Read on.

Why is There No Darts in the Olympics?

To answer why there is no darts in the Olympics, we need to go over a quick overview of the history of darts. Darts, as a sport or game, was conceptualized in the early 14th century.

It’s said that during the war, soldiers would play darts in their spare time, throwing sharp objects like metal fragments at wine cask lids. During the 1310s, the concept of darts was limited to military circles. Darts, however, did not make their way to European bars and pubs until the twentieth century.

For many years, darts grew in popularity as a “drinking game” until players began competing in tournaments and world championships for large cash prizes. Today, the World Darts Federation (WDF) organizes and regulates high-level championship tournaments around the world.

Since its inception in 1976, WDF has worked to establish darts as a legitimate sport in a number of countries, including England, the United States, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Belgium.

The WDF currently has 70 member countries and facilitates the WDF World Cup championships that have a universal points ranking system. WDF is also now a member of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), which is the umbrella organization for all sports, Olympic and non-Olympic. Despite all of the progress darts has made, with global tournaments and millions of viewers worldwide, darts is yet to be included in the Olympics.

Why Should Darts Be an Olympic Sport?

darts in pubs

The road to making darts an Olympic sport has been long and challenging. The International Olympic Committee (ICO) looks for certain criteria to recognize darts as an Olympic sport. Darts must first comply with the World Anti-Doping Code. There are also certification and political issues to address.

The most compelling case for making darts an Olympic sport is that it will encourage people of all ages, genders, and fitness levels to participate. Darts can be played by anyone. However, darts has a long history as a pub game. Making darts an Olympic sport may help to dispel this stereotype and increase public awareness of the game.

More players may sign up to train and compete on a global stage, provided regulators and darts federations maintain high standards.

On the flip side, some argue that making darts an Olympic sport may derail the image of the elite Olympian. Others argue that adding another sport to the Olympics will result in additional costs for the host countries. And, of course, there are those who still associate darts with a pub game.

Furthermore, a select few believe that professional dart players are motivated by large cash prizes at world championships, which may or may not translate to Olympic games.

For now, we can’t make any assumptions about whether receiving the Olympic title as the world’s best darter for the next four years will be incentive enough.

Is Darts a Qualifying Sport for the Olympics?

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s see if darts meets the requirements to be an Olympic sport. To qualify for the Olympics, a sport must have a governing international body recognized by the International Olympic Committee (ICO).

The World Darts Federation governs the sport of darts. However, there is some competition between the WDF and other governing organizations, such as the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).

Most professional dart players have signed up to play exclusively at PDC events. This raises the question of which organization will determine which players should play at the Olympics if darts were ever to be an Olympic sport.

The next step to go over is if darts meets the rules in the Olympic charter, such as anti-doping tests. At the moment, darts enforces drug testing but has some leeway where dart players can drink alcohol outside of tournaments.

From here onwards, the respective international sports federation needs to make an application to the IOC confirming the eligibility of darts for the Olympics. Whether the IOC accepts or denies the application depends on a host of other factors, including the men to women player ratio in individual countries, which at the moment is hard to quantify.

Will Darts Ever be an Olympic Sport?

It’s hard to say. Darts currently doesn’t meet all of the criteria needed to be an Olympic sport. The darts community will have to agree on which international federation to support. Darts will also have to work on its adoption in individual countries, specifically the male-to-female ratio, as well as uphold strict anti-doping rules in line with the Olympic charter.

In any case, we believe that you “never say never!” The Olympic Games are evolving. Darts is a sport that requires a significant amount of practice to master mental focus, accuracy, and precision.

The Professional Darts Corporation events attract thousands of spectators, as well as hundreds of thousands of viewers on televised tournaments. So, the ‘Olympic spotlight’ for making darts an Olympic sport is there. The hard work is done. What’s left is to dust off a few areas for darts to make it to either the 2024 Olympic games or any future Olympic games.



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