Bowls’ challenge to be part of 2032 Games

by Aidan Davis

Like most sports-loving Australians and national sporting bodies, Bowls Australia welcomes the historic announcement that Brisbane will host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Naturally, as a result of Australia’s enduring love and considerable success at the sport of bowls on the international arena, much speculation has occurred in recent times as to whether bowls could be included among the programme of sports at a home Games in 2032.

In order to be considered, bowls must first be recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and/or the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

World Bowls undertook steps to achieve IOC recognition in 2015 and in 2018 examined the process and requirements that must occur to fulfil the obligations, while also identifying the potential issues that the sport could face.

The initial step is for World Bowls to become a member of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF).

The initial hurdle faced by bowls is that the minimum criteria for GAISF members is 40 Full Member Nations of the applying International Federation (World Bowls) but those Member Nations must be individually internationally recognised, which is problematic because certain nations, such as England, Scotland, Wales and other UK countries, Hong Kong China, Macau, Norfolk Island, Cook Islands, Niue, won’t be individually counted or contribute to the requirement.

Admission to the Paralympics also remains a possibility; given bowls has been part of the Paralympics programme on four previous occasions (1976, 1984, 1988, 1996).

The International Bowls for the Disabled (IBD) is the sport’s peak international body, which would need to gain admission as a member of the IPC for bowls to be considered for the Paralympics.

Bowls Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Neil Dalrymple provided clarity on the path that lies ahead for the sport to be included for a fifth time.

“The IBD’s CEO is Jan Palazzi, formerly Executive Officer of Bowls NT and an Australian Jackaroo, and whilst Disability Sport Australia (DSA) have been the member of IBD, with DSA’s agreement, Bowls Australia (BA) will become a direct member of IBD and I will attend the upcoming General Assembly occurring on 22 August,” Dalrymple said.

“The next steps will see BA working very closely with World Bowls and IBD to explore what it takes to get Bowls in the Olympics and Paralympics for 2032 and addressing the areas of concern that could hinder our ability to be included.

“You can be assured that every effort will be made by BA (and World Bowls) to place our credentials before the Games organisers, pointing out that we are not only a major sport globally but we are a low-cost option in terms of facilities which are the equal of anywhere around the world.”

Bowls Australia remains hopeful that the sport can overcome these hurdles and that come July 23, 2032, the Australian Jackaroos will be among the athletes competing at a home Olympic Games and that from August 24, 2032, our Australian Para-Sport Jackaroos will be granted the same opportunity at a home Paralympic Games.