What is the difference between a sport and a game? And what qualifies a sport to be an Olympic sport? Is it all just a question of semantics? Or perhaps money?
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (pictured), the president of FIDE, has been courting the Olympic movement for many years in an attempt to gain admittance for chess. Drug testing has even been introduced into chess in an attempt to comply with the necessary regulations for entry.
Yet despite Ilyumzhinov's best efforts the IOC recently announced that only two extra sports are to be considered for inclusion in the 2016 Olympics - golf and rugby sevens.
The announcement stated that these two sports scored highly on the key factors needed for inclusion, including:
- Transparency and Fairness
- Good Governance
Well, apart from good governance, chess arguably has all those things in abundance, so if we can sort out the organisational mess that bedevils chess then maybe it has a chance!
Many would say that chess is just a game, not a sport and should not be included for that reason alone. However, it is not easy to agree on definitions, and in any case the IOC officially recognizes chess as a sport.
However, with the Olympic programme already bloated, and even baseball failing to get re-admitted, what realistic chance has chess got? Is it just a hopeless pipe dream?
For those with time on their hands, the official report into the seven sports recently considered for entry (Baseball, Golf, Karate, Roller Skating, Rugby, Softball and Squash) is here (pdf doc).