August 8, 2008

Petanque & the Olympics

This week a couple of callers asked me what I know/think about the chances for pétanque in the Olympics.

In 1985, in order to promote the cause of accreditation, a united confederation was formed by these four international federations: Sport Boules (Lyonnaise / Bocce), Lawn bowling, Raffa, and Petanque.

And indeed, that confederation,, with headquarters in Rome, is registered with the Association of the IOC Recognised International Sports Federations (ARISF).
If that was the best approach is subject to debate: although the 4 sports look very similar, was the intention to create a new hybrid sport? With steel balls or wooden balls, round or flat, grass, dirt or articial court, etc..? Or to convince the IOC to accept all 4 different disciplines? Which means 4 distinct setups. I don't know, but either way a complicated task. By the way, the CMSB website is quite incomplete and updated only sporadically.

Right now, in terms of international games associated with the IOC, petanque only appears in the biennial South East Asian Games (11 countries). Thailand hosted in 2007 , and 2009 will be in Laos. Although the number of disciplines was reduced for 2009, petanque will be maintained. Can it make its way from there into the Asian Games (45 countries)?

On the worldwide Olympic scale, there has been a tendency to reduce, rather than increase the list of sports, which now stands at 26 for London 2012, when baseball and softball will disappear. Also, the principle of demonstration sports, a traditional way of introducing a new sport "on the sidelines" was abolished after 1992.
So, in my humble opinion, the chances are slim.

That said, a good future opportunity may be the newly created Youth Olympic Games, first edition in Singapore 2010. IOC President Jacques Rogge announced these in 2007: watch the video (WMV file). By sheer coincidence - I guess - there's a statue of a lady ready to throw a (big) boule in the background!
Singapore will also stick to the 26 sports, but over time popular trends will be followed. And they will avoid sports that require a costly infrastructure. Knowing that - right now - SE Asia is the place where petanque is booming among youth, there is hope.

For example, look at this website of Angkasa, the co-operative movement in Malaysia, where we ship boules regularly. Thousands of kids participate in petanque workshops. That's a lot of future champions in the making!

Update 12:34am

Thanks to Kevin, our Brooklynite friend in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for alerting us, with the speed of light, that petanque will be part of the World Games there in July 2009.
The International World Games Association specifically promotes over 30 sports that are not part of the Olympic roster. Although their page about boules sports states that in Kaohsiung there will be 4 separate competitions: two for Lyonnaise, one for petanque, and one for Raffa - as was the case in Duisburg 2005 - according to Kevin it will just be petanque this time. We don't really mind, do we ;-) ?
We're lucky that he's on the spot to keep us all informed, also about the Asian Petanque Championship, November 2 to 7.


petanque kaohsuing taiwan said...

On July 16th to the 26th 2009 Kaohsiung Taiwan will host the world games.And petanque will be be played on July 20 to the 22nd,it's the first time petanque will played at the World Games. In November kaohsiung Taiwan will host The Asian petanque world championships

Anonymous said...

In fact in London 2012 it should be on! this year is Beijing there was a petanque demonstration there for when ever there is demonstration for a game the following Olympic games which will be held in London should indeed have petanque as an Olympic game exciting i know!!