Earlier today, at an Executive Meeting in London, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on inclusion of 6 events into the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The IOC President, Jacques Rogge, made this decision after the respective world championships of the 6 events that are now to be included.
With women's ski jumping, ski halfpipe, mixed relay biathlon, team relay luge, and team figure skating now on the schedule for the Sochi Games, we beg to wonder, can floorball make a short list for inclusion at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil? It was made an official Olympic sport earlier today, an upgrade from the provisional status it was given in December, 2008.
Now, if anyone has been following developments for the Rio de Janeiro Games, they would know that rugby sevens and golf are to be included in these games now that baseball and softball were removed from the Olympic programme. Of course, they were chosen from a short list of just 7 sports for inclusion, which did not include floorball.
Although there is still 5 more years until the 2016 Games, the question is whether or not an Executive Board Meeting of the IOC in the next 2 years may potentially add floorball to the Olympic programme. It may be a long shot, but the potential for this does exist.
It is my firm belief that the sport of floorball has 3 options in order to gain inclusion to the Olympic Games, whether by 2016, 2020, or 2024. The first is to have the International Floorball Federation (IFF) re-organize its priorities and focus more solely on gaining Olympic inclusion. This would mean building stronger ties with their national organizations and appointing representatives from those organizations to a position with the IFF. This way, the IFF can develop an Olympic Committee, which shall have the sole responsibility of strengthening the bonds between both national organizations and their respective national Olympic committees, and between the IOC and the IFF.
The second option that the sport has is to petition the IOC to become a demonstration sport for the 2016 Games. The infrastructure to support this is available in the forms of Rio's HSBC Arena or Ginásio do Maracanãzinho. Both provide enough room to place a floorball court, and two venues mean that a floorball tournament can be played with matches simaultaneously. Of course, scheduling would be an issue with so many other events being played at these two venues, but the possibility of this exists, even if floorball needs to be played at the Paralympic Games. Although no demonstration sports have been played since 1992, the IFF can most definitely attempt to have this occur.
The final option is perhaps the most likely to occur, in addition with the first option. This option would have the IFF follow in the footsteps of Bandy's international governing body, which unsuccessfully petitioned to be a candidate for inclusion at the 2014 Sochi Games. In response, they decided to schedule their respective 2014 World Championships in Sochi at the same time as the Olympic Games. The IFF could do this as well for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, but it would mean having to once again re-organize the world championship format.
These three options can definitely be a reality, but the first thing that needs to occur is the growth of floorball in Brazil. It's been slowly blossoming, and although it has been difficult to get on the map, floorball is growing in Brazil. This is evidenced by their inclusion as part of the 2012 Men's World Floorball Championship Qualifying, where they hope to play alongside either Canada or the United States as one of the representatives of the America's at the next Worlds.
Of course, there are other options the IFF can explore, such as the inclusion into the Youth Olympic Games by 2014, but the more exposure, the better. A spring into motion by the IFF could merit an Olympic Cup, and make the sport mainstream worldwide.
So for now, let's hope the IFF can step it up even further and implement an idea that has the sport reach a new level and get inclusion at the Olympics (sooner hopefully than later.) The sport has made a positive impression already with its inclusion in other events such as the Special Olympics, so let's all do our part to share the sport and take part in the world's largest event.