Poker – the Next Olympics Event?

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It seems that poker is getting closer to being included in future Olympic games.

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For many years supporters of games of skill such as Chess and the Ancient Game of Go have argued that these games should be featured in Olympic Games, and more recently as the game has become more popular the lobby has been joined by poker enthusiasts.

The issue of what games can be included in the Olympic games is determined by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the decisions that sometimes they have made in the past have been difficult to understand. For instance, games that are not allowed include rugby, squash, golf and cricket yet synchronised swimming and rhythmic gymnastics are allowed.

Some permitted Olympic sports are mind games rather than purely athletic competition; take such sports that require the contestants to hit a target with arrows or bullets. Surely, say representatives of the official mind games organisations, other mind games should be included also.

Most of the official lobbying has come from FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and WBF, the World Bridge Federation. At one stage it looked as if they were going to do battle in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, but they backed down.

Unfortunately for the game of poker, there is not a strong international lobbying group. The most influential group is the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) in the USA. Its mission is to protect the interests of poker players and although currently they are somewhat concentrated on dealing with potential US legislation, they are also promoting the game with the IOC.

Poker is becoming recognised as a game if skill alongside chess and the others that have been mentioned. Should these others be included in the Olympics it will be difficult to rationally exclude poker and perhaps the best hope is that poker will find its way to Olympics on the back of them.

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