Re-Introduction of Motorsports in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo
The biggest issue surrounding the global sports field today is the Summer Olympics in Rio, Brail. However, this event for a significant number of years has not supported motorsports. Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) President Jean Todt has for the better part of half a decade, been pitching for the re-introduction of motor racing into the summer global games, both for commercial as well as socio-cultural purposes and for the first time in all his struggles he seems to have passed the message across. It is every so often debated whether Motorsport is a ‘proper sport’ as compared to more established sports such as football and other Olympics games in reference to structure, their corresponding governing bodies and their overall character. Since the 1900 Paris Olympics, no Motorsport event has featured in the summer games with only the winter spectacle accepting the existence of a sport involving a combustion engine. There have been a number of reasons placed angst the introduction of any motoring event in the summer games the first being set placed by the Olympic games charter that prohibits the use of an engine, the lack of global reach from most events, the characteristic of the sport majorly being thought of a male dominated (Garcia, 2012). In addition to this Hamil and Hassan (2012), also stated that the over reliance of technology as seen in NASCAR and F1 among other Motor racing events has reduced the human element in the sport making it ideally not a proper sport. This paper is set This paper gives an in-depth analysis of Motorsports as a ‘proper sport’ by taking into reference matters such as historical implications, economic issues, social issues, cultural perspectives and even the science behind a variety of motorsport events but more in particular formula 1.
For years, several issues have been presented against the addition of any Motorsport event in the global summer Olympics and its re-introduction of motor racing has become a complex discussion. It is now over 100 years since motorsports was part of the summer Olympics with its last appearance being in the 1900 Paris games. Over the years, much has changed and this has been as driving force for the sports re-introduction to one of the most globally recognized sporting event known today. However, as stated by Garcia, (2012), the true status of the 1900 Olympics status in reference to five major criteria as stated below
- The participation of all courtiers
- Participation of female drivers
- The lack of standardized race circuits
- The over reliance of the combustion engine in performance
- The lack of professionals in the sport (at that time)
Currently much of these criteria have been met by the sport and there is a true drive towards the re-introduction of the sports in the 2020 Tokyo games.
History of motorsports and the Olympics
For years the Olympic Charter has kept sports such as golf, rugby as well as motorsports from the summer sporting spectacle as it states that any sorting discipline or event whose dependence is based on propulsion either mechanical or not is unacceptable (NederlandsOlympischComité, 2008). However, the charter for some years has gone through several changes with different poplar-non Olympic Games lobbying or their inclusion and some, such as Rugby have found success as the sport will be included in the 2016 Rio games. Largely unknown to many, motor racing was part of the Olympics, more particularly the Paris games of 1900 (Findling, 2004). During this event, 16 events were held for motorcycles and automobiles taking place in three events. The reason for the introduction of motor racing into the games was based on its popularity and this was done so to aid increase the Olympic Games popularity. The concept of motor racing was first brought to light in 1867 when manufactures placed public shows that were based on showing the public the quality of their products with long run reliability test. As more manufactures took part in this practice as it did increase sales the idea of a race was conducted in 1894, when a reliability competition was structured between Paris and Rouen. Since then a number of ‘city to city’ races grew in popularity and drew large crowds who wanted to see the skills of various drivers and their machines. The most popularly known of these races included Paris-Marseille-Paris (1896); Paris-Amsterdam-Paris (1898); le Tour de France (1899); Paris-Toulouse-Paris (1900); Paris-Berlin (1901) as well as the Paris-Vienna (1902) (Girginov & Parry, 2005).
Through this rich history, not much is presented of about the 1900 Paris Olympics, where a three-stage event was held as part of the summer games. It was later that the charter revoked the inclusion of motor racing in the Olympics calendar. The issues bought about by this regulation was that there was a high dependency on mechanical propulsion in determining performance and the human factor that is evident in any other form of sport in the Olympics was highly disregarded when it came to motor sport. This historical implication is the reason why motor racing is not part of the Summer Olympic Games. The charter, however, did not affect the existence of motor racing in the winter games because individuals continue to participate in competitive racing with the use of mechanical propulsion form Snowmobiles.
Charter may to this date be a principle cause of the exclusion of Motorsports from the Olympic Games but it is not the only one. There has been debate over the re-introduction of motor sports back into the Olympic Games these issues include economic issues, social issues, cultural perspectives and even the science behind the technology that were used then to block motor racing from the Olympics and now play as a reason for re-introduction.
Olympic Games are expensive; from developing facilities for hosting and maintaining everything that is used in the process and hosting the athletes. Motorsports is similarly expensive though not as the aforementioned fact about the summer global games. The cost of making a circuit is high; this in reference to what has been experienced in Formula One. According to the Olympic Games Committee, the concept of building a grand prix circuit for the Olympics is highly unrealistic considering the high expenses that are involved in hosting the games without any motorsport event (NederlandsOlympischComité, 2008). For example, the final operating budget of the Beijing Olympics was estimated at 44 billion USD, as that in London four years later was 10.4 billion (Preuss, 2008; Poynter, Viehoff & Li, 2015). The current set up at Rio is expected to be over the $10 billlion mark, though the country recently hosted the World Cup and much of the infrastructure is still in good condition.
The addition of a motor sport event may not require a new facility, but if it did the All New Circuits of the Americas in Austin, Texas cost approximately 560 million USD (Jones, 2015). However, taking an example from the 1900 Paris Olympics existing open road tracks can be used for the competition this reducing the building costs of hosting a Motorsport event. This concept is not in any way new as it is practiced in Monaco and Tokyo in the F1 calendar. Similar economic issues faced the 1900 Paris Olympics and the organizers developed a three-stage course that was based on open roads. The first stage was a qualifying phase that was all inclusive of motorcycles and automobiles the two remaining stages were custom made with cars going for a long endurance run as the motorcycles took part in a circuit race that is currently the basis of the famous motor GP.
FIA President Jean Todt and other likeminded advocates of re-introducing motorsports into the Olympics have highlighted on issue of adopting the sporting structure seen in the 1956 Olympics that made it capable for equestrian events to be part of the summer spectacle. During this time, the regulations in Australia saw it hard to import or export horses making it impossible for the host country to have the equestrian events on home soil, the solution was found in Sweden where the competition took place. With the increase in globalization, it is easy to have a grand prix Olympic event that would be televised worldwide, thus significantly reducing on costs for hosting a motorized sporting event as earlier presided.
Of the known issues presented against Motorsports not being a ‘proper sport’ have been based on the fact that motor racing from its genesis has ha limited socio-cultural impact. For instance, all the events that are represented in the Olympic Games represent the sporting heritage of a country and for the period the event takes place nations are brought closer socially (Georgiou, 2012). This for a significant time has not been the case for Motorsports as car manufacturers have been the major beneficiaries and not the drivers taking part or their countries. However, this trend has changed significantly; for instance, drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Sabastian Vettel, as well as Filipe Massa just to mention a few F1 drivers have been continually been seen wearing their nations flags on their helmets during races around the world and have attracted a high social status on the sport over the years.
The left image shows the current F1 champion Lewis Hamilton supporting the Grenada and Great Britain teams during the 2012 London Olympics. The second image (on the right) shows him wearing a helmet with the United States colors; it shows him supporting the US team in the current Copa American competition in 2016. Motorsports has grown over the years to command the social support of a variety of nations as events such as F1 command television viewings of approximately 750 million viewers all over the globe (Donaldson, 2014). The fact that the event is televised around the world, it is possible to introduce more vipers into taking up interest in various Motorsport events.
Since the introduction of the combustion engine by Nikolaus Otto, in 1885 to the first races; Motorsport has culturally been placed as a ‘Man’s” sport this being a factor in not recognizing it as a proper sport (Hamil & Hassan, 2012). It is a fact that goes undeniably that there is a limited interest of women taking part in the Motorsport world majorly as drivers. Culturally, throughout the history of motor racing women have been largely known for taking up the obligation of “pretty girl” who hand out trophies or accompany racers on and off the track. However, this trend is swiftly eroding as more ladies have taken up the responsibility of doing more than they have in the past with women such as Lyn St James, Danica Patrick, Denise McCluggage as well as Janet Guthrie have opened up doors to female racers taking part in motor racing (Bouzanquet, (2009). This view has also been welcome by the fans and viewers as more attendants have been recorded in support of women participants. For example, Ana Carrasco, who started racing in the world Moto Gp with Aleix Espargaro’s Boe41 RBA team in 2013, has shown the capability of women drivers being competitive on the track. She was later in 2015 joined by Maria Herrera and the two female racers have been receiving high admiration from the crowds changing the culture of motor racing as being male dominated.
Machine dependency has been the primary factor that has been highlighted as the reason why motor sports is not an event fit for the Olympics. The human factor in Motorsport has been viewed as a supporting trait and performance is majorly based on the vehicles and not the driver. It should be noted that the premise is not entirely untrue as the roots of motor sports were based on the capabilities of the vehicles and not the individuals driving them. However, over time the governing body FIA as continuously been harmonizing performances to make the playing field more balanced not to favor the companies with the largest engines, but the competitive edge a team has over its rivals (Donaldson, 2014). . For instance, in 1950 the first ever F1 race was conducted with nine participants and due to the lack of regulation on engine performance there was always one winner Italian Nino Farina. However, regulations stared being enforced after five years of racing. By 1955, much was being done about engine modification and F1 cars became rear engine, several years later in 1968 the concept of aerodynamic was introduced to increase downforce and finally in 1981 carbon fiber chassis were brought into the sport to reduce on weight (Georgiou, 2012). Currently, FIA has embarked in further reducing engine sizes to smaller turbo engines that would be supported by Kinetic energy recovery units helping in making the cars more fuel efficient and adopting the hybrid power mechanism (Codling, Murray & Windsor, 2015).
The technological changes have gone across the board making the cars perform at a high level; however, become more environmentally friendly and drivable under the intense pressure of hitting speeds as high as 300 kilometers an hour side by side with a full grid. The technological factor in F1 has generally made it easier to recruit skilled drivers such as Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Venrperten who are only in their teens and taking part in the sport competitively.
In conclusion, the Olympic Games have always been regarded as the biggest sporting events in the world, generating a high amount of buzz in all echelons of sports; however, due to regulations there has been a number of sporting activities omitted from the summer spectacle. The Olympic charter has for a while provoked the idea of not allowing motor sports into the global competition basically due to the dependence on the vehicles on performance. Other than that the economic factors have always played against the setup of an Olympic circuit because it is expensive, but with the adoption of the structure seen in the 1900 Paris Olympics and the Tokyo and Monaco grand prix or the 1956 Australian Olympics it is currently inexpensive to host an F1 Olympic event. Though Motorsport has always been limited to region, for instance, NASCAR in the United States the increase in globalization has risen its social status to a point where an event such as F1 commands viewing of approximately 750 million viewers globally from different supporters. Culturally the sport has always been known to be male dominated, but there has been an increase in the participation of female participants in the motor racing arena changing the perspective held over the years. Technologically the machines used today either in NASCAR, MotoGP or F1 has made the human interface of the sport more appreciative and safer than before. From the aforementioned factors, it is clear that motor sport is currently a proper sport worthy of being placed in the upper stratums of the Olympic Games more particularly the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo as presented by FIA president Jean Todt.
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