Archery listed among Olympic core sports
Great news for archery! The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has listed archery as one of the 25 core sports for the 2020 Olympic Games. Even though archery is one of man’s oldest sports, it is not guaranteed to be a part of the Olympic Games. In fact a sport’s inclusion in the games relies heavily on the media and how popular that sport is. In order to keep archery in the Olympics, World Archery, the governing body for international archery, continues to develop new ways to keep the sport exciting for both athletes and spectators.
“An important decision was taken by the IOC Executive Board concerning the Olympic
Programme yesterday, and 25 core sports were fixed for the 2020 Olympic Games”, declared
the President of World Archery, Prof. Dr Ugur ERDENER. “Our great sport archery is now one of the important Olympic Sports which was the vision of our World Plan. I believe that this is a result of a successful team, working together in harmony within our great family.”
“However, the elimination of one sport and the four other sports involved in the vote, demonstrates to us that it is important to sustain working hard in the future and to continue to strive to make our sport an important one at a national level worldwide. This will be the vision of the next World Archery plan.”
Archery has a long Olympic history that has taken many different turns to get where it is today. After the Olympic movement started in 1894, archery had its first appearance in the 1900 Paris games. In 1904, in St. Louis, archery was also offered for women, making it one of the first Olympic sports to include both genders. However, the sport was dropped from the Olympics after the 1920 games because there were no standard, international rules. Every country used their own competition format that they favored.
It was not until 1972 that archery would be re-included in the Olympic Games thanks to the efforts of FITA, the Federation Internationale De Tir A L’Arc. Prior to this decision, the IOC had required that the sport “conform their rules to those of the Olympic movement.” FITA took up this challenge and gathered archery officials from around the world to create a standard competition format. During this time, FITA also organized World Championships to grow interest in the sport. Here you can see a video from the 1969 World Championships when the FITA congress also met to decide the qualifications for archers in the next Olympic Games.
For the 1972 games, men and women archers shot a FITA round which involves 36 arrows at four different distances. This round was shot twice over four days. Men shot 90, 70, 50, and 30 meters while women shot at 70, 60, 50, and 30 meters.
Archery would make its next change after the 1984 Los Angeles games. During these Olympics, television networks were broadcasting more hours of the events. Therefore a push was made to make archery more spectator-friendly during the upcoming 1988 Seoul games which led to the Grand FITA. Archers would begin by shooting a FITA round. The top 24 men and women would then move on to shoot the Grand FITA where archers would shoot only nine arrows at each of the distances. The field would be narrowed to the top 18 after the first round, then to 12, and finally the top 8 for the finals. This made the competition more exciting as archers had to maintain their performance each round or be eliminated. A team event was also added where three archers from a country would shoot nine arrows at each of the distances. Teams with the highest combined score would progress.
The pressure to meet spectator and television demands remained though as eyes turned towards the 1992 Barcelona games. Jim Easton, the newly elected FITA President, took bold steps as he reshaped archery competition with the Olympic Round. Archers now competed in head to head, single elimination matches. This new format was essential for keeping archery in the Olympics and produced the kind of drama and excitement archery needed. This was confirmed in the 1996 Atlanta games and has continued to do so today.
Today, FITA is now known as World Archery and they continue to develop ways to grow our sport and to keep it as an important part of the Olympics. In 2006, they introduced the world cup circuit which gives archers the opportunity to compete in unique venues all around the world, from the canals of Copenhagen to the castle grounds of Edinburgh. In fact it is interesting to see this video of the very first World Cup Stage where Tom Dielen, FITA Secretary General, and Juan Carlos Holgado, FITA Event Director, talk about their plans to keep archery as an important Olympic sport. It is inspiring to hear that vision and to see the successes of that plan now. In recent years World Archery has also done an outstanding job with providing more video coverage of events, which can be viewed on their Youtube channel, and taking advantage of social media and other media opportunities. At the 2012 London games, archery had a stellar showing and was one of the most popular sports, with event tickets completely sold out and higher tv ratings than any other event. At this Olympics, World Archery also introduced the set system for the individual matches.
Archery would not be where it is today if weren’t for the many generations of passionate archers and leaders who have stepped up to shape and stand up for our sport. OAS is proud to be a part of this growing community as we promote the Olympic movement and our sport at the grassroots level. Competing in the Olympics is one of the greatest dreams an athlete can have, and we are excited to see it start with our youth. When they pick a bow through our program they are also opening the door to the many opportunities this sport has to offer them.