The International Olympic Committee is throwing tradition out the window. What will that mean for Brisbane 2032?

When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sits down in a few years to pick what sports will feature at the Brisbane 2032 Games, they’ll have this criteria front of mind – affordability, youth, urban and women.  

Brisbane’s Olympics are still a decade away but as it inches closer, tradition is going out the window at the IOC.

And when the thousands of athletes roll into the Sunshine State in July 2032, who knows what the line-up will be.

Tokyo 2021 was just a taste.

The 2021 Games introduced skateboarding, sport climbing, karate and surfing, and new disciplines — like 3×3 Basketball and BMX Freestyle — were added. 

IOC sports director Kit McConnell said the Games was becoming “more youth, more urban, more women”.   

“We really wanted to reach out to new young audiences around the world [with] sports that are really accessible, that are cheap to participate,” he said.

“Now we’ve provided those sports with the world’s ultimate sporting stage.”

Paris 2024 will be the first Olympics with break dancing on the program. 

“We changed our structures so we could allow new sports into the program without taking other sports out,” Mr McConnell said.

“That obviously made it easier to add these sports.

“We now allow the hosts of each edition of the Games to propose sports.”

What sports are on the table?

Unfortunately the IOC has ruled out Australia’s native sport – Australian Rules Football.    

“The IOC is looking for sports that obviously have a global following, are really highly developed on an international stage with competition between a number of different countries, ideally different regions around the world,” Mr McConnell said.

“And it works both ways. With these new sports on the program, we’re also adding new audiences giving them exposure that they’ve never had before.”

Jay stares into the camera, sitting on his bike in lycra, sweat glistening.
Jay Vine got into esports during COVID. (ABC News: Andrew Kennedy)

The IOC also has its eye on esports.

Last year ahead of the Tokyo Games, the IOC ran the Olympic virtual series.

“We’re fully supportive of the virtual forms of esport, the things like the Zwift cycling, the physical forms of virtual esport, but equally, the sport simulations and all of their different forms.”

Australian Jay Vine is a professional cyclist who is making inroads on the global stage, but he began his career as an ecyclist after winning an online Zwift competition in 2020.   

“Without esports, I wouldn’t have been able to turn professional, so it’s life changing for me,” Vine said.

“I think the inclusion of esports in Olympics alongside more traditional sports like soccer and basketball and athletics would be really important and it allows different athletes to show themselves.

“Just like cricket has, test matches, one day and T/20 … [ecycling] is a shorter format, which is more exciting, and will hopefully bring more viewership into the cycling space.”

A man in a yellow jacket kisses the gold medal around his neck. He also holds a small bouquet of flowers in the air.
Logan Martin won gold in the men’s BMX freestyle at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (AP: Ben Curtis)

Last year, Australia enjoyed success in Tokyo when Logan’s very own Logan Martin won the inaugural gold medal in the first Olympics to include BMX Freestyle. 

Now with Brisbane 2032 on the horizon, Martin has inspired the next generation of young riders.

Keegan Pryor, 14, trains weekly with Auscycling’s National team on the Gold Coast, and is eyeing off a home Olympics birth after already winning global events in the USA.

a teenager in a cap holds a gold coloured medal up to the camera and gives a thumbs up
Keegan Pryor loves the thrill of BMX.(ABC News: Steve Keen)

He loves the thrill of the sport, and a medal on his home turf is the Stretton teen’s “biggest goal”. 

“I would just love to make it … especially with it being in my hometown and it just means so much to me and my family,” he said.

He said it was great to see the Olympics take a new turn with non-traditional sports.

“I think BMX is just a sport for everyone. You can do whatever you want and it’s really just like having a good time with everyone you know and all your mates and there’s no rules to it, so you can’t mess up as long as you’re having fun.”

Could netball bring more women to the Games?

Mr McConnell said the IOC wants more women on the program.

Netball has gone from strength to strength since it was added to the Commonwealth Games program in 1998, and competition has never been more fierce — as demonstrated in Birmingham in July when Jamaica played Australia in the final.

A member of the Queensland Firebirds netball team on the court
Gabi Simpson says to see netball at the Olympics would be “an absolute dream”. (Supplied: Queensland Firebirds)

Former Diamond and current Queensland Firebirds midcourter Gabi Simpson said it was time the Olympics took notice of netball.

To see it in 2032 would be “an absolute dream”, she said. 

“We have such a strong contingent of teams that battle it out. It used to just be Australia and New Zealand.

“Now, there’s four or five, six teams that are really battling out for the top spot in the world.

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