An Olympic future for polo?

  • Polo could be played at the Olympics in future, as the Federation of International Polo (FIP) has submitted an application for its inclusion as an additional sport at Tokyo 2020.

    Polo is already a recognised Olympic sport, having been played at five Games to date, the final occasion being the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Its return has been a longstanding goal of the FIP and the result of the application is expected early next year.

    “It is wonderful that this image of polo has generated so much interest in the sport in new parts of the world,” said Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers, president of the FIP. “Even if this Olympic application is unsuccessful, it will raise the profile of the sport across the world, and hopefully assist us in future applications of a similar nature.”

    One criteria considered in the approval of applications is the sport’s popularity in the host country, but polo is not well known in Japan, and the country does not boast the infrastructure for polo in the same way as a country such as Britain, or Argentina.

    “For me, this could be the first step to other advancements in the sport — we are aiming to have polo included in the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru,” added Mr Colquhoun-Denvers.

    “It would be fantastic to get polo to the Olympics,” England captain James Beim told H&H. “The logistics would take working out, what with horses and format — and the level of play, but we’ve got to start somewhere.”

    Great Britain has won Olympic gold in polo on three occasions — 1900, 1908 and 1920. Argentina took the title in 1924 and 1936, before the suspension of the Games due to World War Two. Britain’s silver medal-winning polo team in 1936 comprised David Dawnay, Bryan Fowler, Humphrey Patrick Guinness and William Hinde.

    There has been skepticism about polo’s suitability as a modern Olympic sport, due in part to the low number of countries that would be able to field a national team at the highest level.

    Ref: H&H 18 June 2015

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