Why is Chess not an Olympic Sport? Here is why


Chess board close up

Chess is a majestic competitive event that has stood the test of time which existed for many decades and has lived through many kings, emperors, and presidents. It has been included in many prestigious sporting events, however there is one that denies the inclusion of this beautiful game.

Of course I am talking about the olympics, the almighty event where multiple players from all over the world gather to find the best of the best in their particular field of expertise. I actually agree with the exclusion of chess in the olympics for a good reason, and those reasons will be discussed in this article, keep on reading if you are interested.

Chess is not an olympic sport because it lacks physicality

This is probably the biggest reason why chess is not included in the olympics even with all the negotiations, it does not have the apparent physical quality that is necessary in olympics. Games that are to be played in the olympics need to be physical related competitions, something that has obvious physical requirements that the olympics pride itself in.

If you look at all the games that are included in the olympics, you will notice that almost all of them are physically demanding games, chess does not meet this criteria. The olympics is originally made for physical inducing sports, chess is mostly mental which does not classify in this category.

The history of the Olympics originally implies that it is an event made for identifying strong athletes, those that excel in physical display of strength. Though chess has certain elements of physicality into it (kasparov vs. karpov was almost a death match), it is not a physically focused sport.

Most people who do not play chess cannot visually tell that it is a physically demanding sport, and we have to admit that it focuses on the mentality rather than on the body. Games that are played in the olympics are those that are body first and mind second, chess definitely do not fall under this criteria which is why including it in the olympics is hard.

Some custom chess sport like the always interesting chess boxing might be included in the olympics which is a possibility, however chess in its pure form might never make it in the olympics. Chess boxing does have the physical aspects into it which would make qualifying for the olympics possible, chess on the other hand if more on the thinking side which is not as feasible.

Chess can be physically demanding, but it is not the point of the sport

One can argue that chess is also a physically demanding sport which it is, however, this is not apparent for regular viewers. If we are going to reach that far then almost all competitions can be physically demanding if played for consecutive hours, chess should not be an exception.

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The only reason why chess is physically demanding in the first place is the longer time controls that exhausts a player’s physicality which is not necessary, shorter time controls that do not require this. A good example is the bullet or blitz time formats, these are time formats that do not exhaust the players physicality as much as the longer time controls.

One can even argue that the rapid time control does not exhaust chess players all that much, most of the time formatting in chess or not physically demanding which does not help the case. It would help if longer time formats are the default time format for the sport, however, this is not the case since shorter time formats are also being played all the time.

One can also say that the only reason why chess is also physically demanding is the mental stress that is associated with the game, there are studies that indicate mental stress to be able to transfer into physical distress.  This is why chess is not included in the olympics, there isn’t just much physical requirement to be good at the sport as with other games.

Chess are not included in the olympics since the other games will complain

One of the unpopular reasons why chess hadn’t made it into the olympics is that it will open the floodgates or other board games to complain, an example would be bridge, scrabble, and sudoku competitions. These types of events don’t really fit with the nature of olympics, which is why chess is not included.

There are so many games that are similar to chess that can be argued to be included in the olympics, if the olympic committee gives a nod to chess then they shouldn’t stop other games from participating. At the end of the day not every competitive activity out there deserves to be in the olympics tomorrow should be some sort of a filter.

This filter would separate physically demanding sports that deserve to be in the Olympics from those that do not, and that criteria does exist today. The olympic committee separates competitive activities that do not fall in the nature of the olympics, and chess unfortunately is one of the games that do not deserve to be in the series.

As much as many people love to include chess it is purely mental and it is not a physically demanding esports as with any other, many other competitive games will complain if chess makes it for some reason. The nature of the game is purely mental, there are other board games that should be included if chess makes it to the series.

Chess is not an olympic sport because it is boring for most viewers

Another reason why board games in general are not included in the olympics is because it is boring for the viewers, the olympics has evolved and now consider the viewership for its events. Almost nobody is going to watch two players move pieces on the board without any context, the market for chess is just too small.

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We must admit the nature of the Olympics have changed so much from its initial conception, now it is a business that needs to know how to fund its sporting events. We all hear news of various olympic participants gaining a lot of money from winning the gold medal, this kind of money does not come from nowhere as the sponsors need to do their job.

They need to do many things in order to raise money, but one of the absolute reasons is they need to choose sporting events that naturally attract a lot of viewers. This is because nobody is going to watch a sport that is boring, they need to host a competitive activity that appeals to the general market.

Viewership equals money that is going to be used to fund sporting events, if chess brings in millions of dollars in revenue I think there will be honest consideration of it being in the olympics. But the truth of the matter is that chess is not that profitable, it will not bring much money since many people who would not even understand what is going on for the most part

Chess is not an olympic game since it focuses on the individual and not the country

Another critical ingredient of sporting events that manage to be included in the olympics as they promote patriotism and nationalism, that the participants represent the country that they are born in. This is one of the prides of the Olympics, and is one of the reasons why it has become popular in the first place.

Chess unfortunately does not fall within this criteria, the game itself is mostly about individual ability and representing yourself, not the country that you are born in. Of course the country of the one who dominates the field will receive some credit, but for the most part it is the player that benefits from it all.

If you look at the other games included in the olympics it is mostly about representing your own country (or sometimes even the host nation), chess does not have this. Chess does include flags that can be seen on the board, but the game is really more about the individual and not the country, it does not follow through the essence of the olympics.

Actually it is the opposite with chess, the fanbase is going to be angry if nationality or if some politics is involved in the game, we can see this from the outrage created from Sergey Karjakin calling out Daniil Dubov for helping Magnus Carlsen. Chess is really more about the individual and not the country that they represent in, it couldn’t even matter less for the most part in competitive arenas.

Esports will be accepted in the olympics first before chess

We have to understand that many more profitable industries are struggling to get into the olympics which are more likely to be included than chess, this is a bad sign for all chess lovers out there. If one industry that is more competitive, profitable, and popular sporting event  cannot make it in the olympics than chess would probably never have the chance.

There is another industry that is way bigger than chess and could be argued to be included in the olympics just the same, I’m talking about esports. Even esports are currently not included in the olympics, if chess were to be considered in the olympics I am positive that esports will come first.

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Esports is a popular industry in profitable countries like the america and the united kingdom which is struggling to be included in the olympics, this is despite their profitability. This is because esports is also not a physically related sport, although you can argue that it seems like defense of the ancient 2 is as physically demanding as chess.

Sitting for consecutive hours in a competitive arena such as defense of the ancient 2 can be physically demanding as well, perhaps of the same level as chess would. At least here we see here that the olympic committee does not discriminate, if even an industry as big as esports is not included, then chess should be not.

Chess has made its own olympics, namely the chess olympiad

Fide had been negotiating with the olympic committee (for decades) for chess to be included in the olympics, due to a lot of technicality it didn’t follow through. Chess in turn has made its own olympiad which would have mimicked the way chess players would have experienced the olympics.

I think that the existence of the olympiad is enough for chess players out there to satisfy their cravings for olympic games, the chess olympiad basically follows the same setting as the actual olympics. 

Ironically this might be one of the reasons why chess would not be included in the olympics eventually, since the olympiad serves the same purpose of the olympics, I doubt that there will be any further push for chess to be included in the olympics.

The olympic committee has considered chess as a sports since the early 2000

Even when the olympic committee did not include chess in its events the olympics generally considered chess as a “sport game” since the early 2000’s (which is why it was negotiated in the first place). Even if chess is not included in the official games yet there might come a time when chess will meet the other games.

This is what some people think but I personally do not believe that this will be the case, the existence of the olympiad just makes it so there would not be as much interest in pushing for the olympics. However it is still in good faith that the olympic committee considered chess as a sporting event worthy of being called an actual sport, this shows much support to the game.

Two of the main reasons why chess is not included in the olympics is the lack of physical requirement included in the sporting event mainly because it is mental, and the existence of the olympiad. The main reason that the Olympics are constructed in the first place is that they host physical related events, which chess is not.

Now there might be some physical aspect to chess as with any other competitive event, however the game focuses on the mental aspects and not the physical. Plus it only mostly applies on longer time formats that test the participant’s physical capability, the shorter time formats are different, thank you for reading.

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