Could motorsport ever be an Olympic sport?
As the Beijing Games heat up, the motorsport world enjoys it’s mid-season break, with riders and drivers lounging around Monte Carlo or partying in Ibiza. But could they one day represent their respective nations in the Olympic Games?
There were serious discussions before the 1992 Barcelona Games about the inclusion of motorsport, the Circuit de Catalunya having just opened not far from the Games precinct.
But nothing has come of it.
The IOC is against any form of motorised competition. The excesses of motorsport, the rampant commercialism and the large role the competitiveness of the machinery plays all seems to contradict what the Olympics stand for.
Also nationalism is the critical element in Olympic sports, as opposed to motorsport where competitors race for glory for their teams and manufacturers.
But the A1 Grand Prix series, the self-proclaimed World Cup of motorsport, pits countries against one another, drivers racing for the pride of their nation, and all with the same equipment.
It would be the perfect platform for an Olympic motorsport event: the stars of open wheel formulas – be it from Formula 1 or Indy Cars – racing for their countries.
By racing in identical machines, the competitiveness of the equipment is negated. The pit crews would consist entirely of people from each nation. Qualifying races could narrow the field to a final race, with winner taking gold.
And what about other categories in addition to the open wheelers?
Motorbike racing represents a different discipline from open wheelers.
Imagine Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi representing their nations on the same motorbikes: perhaps a touring car discipline and a rally event.
It sounds great, but it is a long way off.
At a time when the global community faces serious questions over the environment, the IOC would be seriously questioned if they were to add a fuel guzzling sport.
The motorised equipment factor also looms as a critical factor.
Critics claim an athlete’s success should not be so reliant on machinery; that a competitor should not be robbed of gold by a mechanical failure.
But such things happen in cycling, for example. A flat tyre in the road race is just part of the sport, like mechanical dramas in motorsport.
There is also the well-held argument that drivers and riders are not athletes to be held in the class as cyclists or runners, for instance.
But this view is naïve.
It takes skill, precision, bravery and strength to carry a racing car around a track faster than the rest. Isn’t this represented in the Olympic motto – Faster, Higher, Stronger?
The IOC plays a delicate balancing act when deciding which sports to include in the Games.
Motorsport may be one step too far for them at this stage. But it’s worth considering.
Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.
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