English Heritage (EH) is calling for jousting to be recognised as an Olympic sport, it has announced today (21 July).
The charity is asking the public to sign a petition to that effect, and has made initial approaches to the FEI and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The campaign aims to secure the 1,000-year-old sport a place at a future Games.
EH head of projects Lucy Hutchings said: “We want to see jousting take its rightful place at the Olympics table.
“It is one of the oldest equestrian sports in the world, with its roots in ancient Greece, and requires similar levels of athleticism and artistry as other official Olympic sports.
“Jousting is a wonderful dramatic spectacle, it is fantastic to watch knights in action against the backdrop of our castles, it would be even better to see it on the Olympic stage.”
EH says jousters need “the same level of athleticism and agility, skill and strength as many of the would-be Olympic medal winners heading to Rio this summer”.
Each rider wears 20kg metal armour and carries a 12ft lance while galloping towards his or her opponent.
An EH spokesman said: “Jousting shares similar attributes to sports already featured at the Olympic Games, from fencing to equestrian disciplines such as dressage and eventing.
“Like fencing, jousting requires dexterity and weapons expertise and like Olympic equestrian events, much hinges on the artistry and poise of both the horse and its rider.
“Today’s call and appeal to the public by English Heritage is the first step on what will be a long road to the Olympics, but there are encouraging signs.”
Jousting tournaments are held across the world. A similar campaign has been launched in America, where jousting is recognised as a sport in many states including Maryland, where it is the official state sport.
The IOC is changing the Olympic programme and starting with Tokyo 2020, host nations may make proposals for extra events at that Games. Tokyo has proposed sports including skateboarding and surfing.
EH jousting expert Dominic Sewell said: “Jousting is a sport that requires a huge amount of skill and involves a daily training regime.
“You have to be strong, not just physically but mentally, so you can sit fearlessly in your saddle, face your rival, and offer yourself as a target. And just like the Olympic British equestrian team, we ride beautiful horses to an exceptional level.”
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Jousting would have to be represented by an international federation recognised by the IOC, after which it could apply to be included in the Olympic agenda.
H&H reported last year that the Federation of International Polo had applied for inclusion at Tokyo 2020, while there have also been campaigns for vaulting to become an Olympic sport.
For more information, or to sign the petition, click here.