Why is Acrobatics not an Olympic Sport?

Acrobatics (Acro) is not currently an Olympic sport because it is not one of the events included in the program of the Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) periodically reviews and updates the program of events, and new sports can be added or existing sports can be dropped.

Currently, the gymnastics disciplines competed at the Olympics are Artistic Gymnastics, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Trampoline Gymnastics. Even within each of these disciplines, there are a number of events with medals awarded for each. For example, Women’s Artistic gymnastics comprises All-Around and individual competitions on the Floor, Vault, Asymmetric Bars and Balance Beam.

How does the IOC pick new sports for the Olympics?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) selects new sports for the Olympics through a proposal and review process. Interested sports organizations can submit a proposal to the IOC to have their sport added to the Olympic program. The IOC then evaluates the proposal based on criteria such as the sport’s global popularity, universality, and the number of countries with a high level of participation in the sport. If the sport meets the criteria, it will be considered for inclusion in the Olympic program. The final decision on new sports is made by the IOC during its Session, which is held every two years.

Why does this affect Acro becoming an Olympic sport?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC)has certain factors to take into account when deciding which events are included in an upcoming Olympiad.

  • The balance between male and female participants
  • Logistics of scheduling all events within a given time frame
  • The quota of events within a specific sport

The existing inclusion of the previously mentioned gymnastics events makes it very difficult for any further gymnastics events to be added.

What is acrobatic gymnastics?

Acrobatic gymnastics is a competitive sport in which acrobatics, dance, and tumbling are performed in combination with elements of gymnastics, performed by usually by pairs or trios of gymnasts. It requires strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination.

Acrobatic routines involve different types of balances as a group or pair. Gymnasts are referred to as bases or tops and use each other to perform a balance with skill and precision.

For example, a top could hold a handstand whilst balancing on the base’s head or shoulders. This makes Acrobatic Gymnastics distinctly different to all of the other disciplines. Routines are performed to music and judges will score based on the difficulty levels of skills and the execution of the performance.

Will acrobatics be at Paris 2024?

The FIG made a proposal to the IOC to include Acrobatic Gymnastics, Aerobic Gymnastics and Parkour at Paris 2024 but all were rejected due to the restrictions on logistics and quotas for gymnastics.

So Acrobatic Gymnastics will not be at Paris 2024.

Parkour however will be included in non-competitive demonstration events around Paris. This is due to Paris being the birthplace of Parkour. For more about Parkour check out this article here.

Given the IOC’s desire to keep the Olympics relevant for a younger audience, it would be fair to say that Parkour probably has the best chance of becoming an Olympic sport before any of the other gymnastic disciplines including acrobatics.

Acrobatic gymnastics has a moderate level of popularity, with dedicated competitive circuits and national and international events. It has a growing following, especially among young gymnasts, but is not as widely known or followed as other gymnastics disciplines like artistic gymnastics.

The pinnacle of acrobatic gymnastics is the world championships and has often been dominated by Russia, China, Ukraine and Bulgaria.

Many high-level acrobats pursue a career in the circus after retirement. Cirque de Soleil employs many acrobats making it a lucrative source of income for those that are chosen. However, acrobatics lacks the mainstream media exposure of Artistic gymnastics, especially in the USA.

This is a factor that will prevent acrobatic gymnastics from replacing one of the existing gymnastics events at the Olympics.

Final Thoughts

The existing gymnastics program at the Olympics is extremely popular with TV viewers so it’s hard to see the IOC withdrawing an event and replacing it with acrobatics or any other event.

Until the quota for gymnastics is increased at the Olympics, Acrobatics will continue to be a non-Olympic sport.