The combined bid by four boules sports which included pétanque to be included in the 2024 Olympic Games was finally declared as unsuccessful on 21st February by the Games Organising Committee.
The campaign had been pursued strongly by the World Confederation of Boules Sports and the case for inclusion was very compelling given the global reach of the sports. Pétanque, Boule Lyonnaise, and Raffa Volo, the Boules Sport disciplines, are represented in 165 countries, via 262 federations and more than 200 million players. 67 countries have already won medals in at least one world championship.
Given that Boules Sports are already present in the largest multi-sport global events: World Games, Mediterranean Games, Asian Indoor Games, S.E.A Games, All Africa Games, Pacific Games, Commonwealth Games, Islands Games (Indian Ocean), Asian Beach Games, the next obvious place to go was the Olympics. The sport had worked hard on developing a new image, highlighting its values of universality, popularity, and communication, and its responses to the criteria for eligibility for the Olympic Games.
Unfortunately it was not to be and the nod was given instead to breakdancing, surfing, climbing and skateboarding. Although the recommended sports must now await final approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in December 2020, this would appear to be a formality.
An IOC spokesperson has already indicated that they are pleased with the proposal as it was in line with its aim of rejuvenating the Olympics: “We are pleased to see that Paris 2024’s proposal for new sports to the Olympic programme is very much in line with the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020, which is striving to make the Olympic programme gender-balanced, more youth-focused and more urban.”
Claude Azema, who led the campaign for Boules Sports expressed his disappointment given the time, energy and resources that had been put in by so many people worldwide to support the bid. He also stated that it was now time to draw the lessons of a worthy and active campaign which had raised the profile of the sport globally.
President of PE, Martin Eggleton said, “We had great hopes given the popularity of the sport in France that we would make a breakthrough in 2024. There may be other opportunities for inclusion in high profile international events, like the Commonwealth Games and we will work with our fellow federations to push for that. I’m sure that the World Confederation will continue its good work in keeping up the pressure for inclusion in the highest profile sporting occasions wherever they may be.”