Darts set for the Olympics as Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson back bid for place in the next decade
- World Darts Federation is in the second stage of becoming a ‘recognised sport’
- Darts could feature at the 2024 Olympics, although 2028 is more likely date
- World champions Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson are backing the bid
Darts is on its way to becoming an Olympic sport with its world governing body ticking the boxes with the International Olympic Committee.
The World Darts Federation have told Sportsmail they are in the second stage of becoming a ‘recognised sport’ with the IOC – a requirement to get to the Games.
The WDF are compliant with the Olympic charter and World Anti-Doping Code, and are slowly but surely pressing forward with the process.
World champions Michael van Gerwen (above) and Gary Anderson are backing the bid
Once successful, they would then be able to apply to be part of the Olympic programme. While it is too late for Tokyo 2020, the 2024 Olympics is still open, though 2028 is likelier.
Those at the top of the sport are in support of its bid, including Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson, though there are bound to be naysayers.
There has long been the debate of whether darts is a sport, with it now well known for its boozed-up crowds and glamorous walk-on girls at the Alexandra Palace every Christmas.
‘The WDF are in the process of Olympic recognition,’ WDF president Bill Hatter confirmed.
‘We are also a member of the Global Association of International Sport Federations (GAISF, formerly known as SportAccord) and the Alliance of Independent Recognised Members of Sport (AIMS), as well as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.
‘The WDF attends meetings for WADA, GAISF and AIMS and we are a member of the Olympic family, albeit not yet a recognised sport.
The World Darts Federation is in the second stage of becoming a ‘recognised sport’
‘As far as the Olympic recognition process goes. We are in the second level of our application and are moving forward slowly with this process.’
The documents that have to be completed to be considered a recognised sport by the IOC have been described as ‘comprehensive and rigorous’ and ‘extremely deep and technical’ by those dealing with them.
It is through this same process that surfing, skateboarding, karate and baseball were added to Tokyo 2020. The idea is that these sports – all popular in Japan – will add to the legacy of those Games and this is taken into consideration when the IOC add to their programme.
Sportsmail has seen a letter from Stephan Fox – the AIMS president and GAISF vice president – that was sent to the WDF, confirming it as a ‘recognised sport and active member’ to them.
AIMS and GAISF are umbrella organisations recognised by the IOC. A spokesperson for the former said: ‘AIMS services its members in providing assistance in the IOC application using its resources and experience.’ WADA also confirmed that the WDF is governed by its code.
WHAT DO THE PLAYERS THINK?
Two-time world champion Gary Anderson was asked about this topic in January and The Flying Scotsman told Sportsmail: ‘Is shooting a sport? I think darts is, because you have got to hit a target 8ft away and you’re working to millimetres.
‘I do think it is a sport. It is the same as archery. If you play darts out there at the Ally Pally I don’t think there is an Olympic stadium that will come close to that. Show me a sport in the Olympics that gets half as loud in the crowd, I don’t think you will find one.
‘We are up there performing in front of these crowds. The money that is involved with darts, snooker, football, we are tested all the time, which is good. It keeps us clean and happy.
‘Anything where you are playing for prize money I am a great supporter of drug testing.’