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Is Bowling an Olympic Sport?

Is Bowling an Olympic Sport - Bowlingview

Bowling, a sport appreciated globally for its accessibility and wide appeal, is not currently a part of the official Olympic Games program. Despite its popularity, and multiple attempts by the international bowling community to push for its inclusion, the sport has yet to earn a permanent spot in the Olympic lineup.

This topic holds relevance for enthusiasts and athletes alike, as the inclusion of bowling in the Olympics would represent a significant milestone, potentially elevating the sport’s status and recognition on the international stage.

History of Bowling: Early Beginnings of the Game and Its Evolution

The origins of bowling date back to ancient civilizations, with evidence of a similar game found in the tombs of ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire.

The game, as we know it today, evolved in Germany as a religious ritual where people would roll stones at clubs to absolve themselves of sins.

Bowling, over centuries, gradually transformed into a popular pastime. In the 19th century, it found its way to the United States, where it gained significant popularity and started to be recognized as a competitive sport.

The standardization of rules and equipment in the late 1800s by the American Bowling Congress (now United States Bowling Congress) set the stage for bowling’s modern, competitive era.

Bowling as a Competitive Sport

The global appeal and competitive nature of bowling cannot be understated. Once considered a recreational pastime, bowling is now recognized as a competitive sport worldwide, with numerous national and international leagues and tournaments.

The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) in the United States and the World Tenpin Bowling Association (WTBA), the sport’s global governing body, are testament to bowling’s well-established competitive stature.

These associations manage highly competitive leagues, host prestigious tournaments, and set standards for professional bowling.

Professional bowlers from different nations compete fiercely in top-tier tournaments, such as the World Bowling Championships, the PBA Tour, and the Weber Cup.

There’s also an increasing trend of countries, particularly in Asia, investing in bowling infrastructure and training, further bolstering the sport’s global competitive scene.

The appeal of bowling lies in its unique blend of skill, strategy, and accessibility. It’s a sport that encourages participation from all ages and abilities, yet at the highest levels, demands precision, consistent performance, and strategic thinking.

In short, while bowling continues to be a fun and recreational activity for many, its evolution into a competitive sport has been significant and continues to grow on the global stage.

Bowling and the Olympics

The relationship between Bowling and the Olympic Games has been a topic of discussion for many years. The sport of bowling has made several attempts to be included in the Olympics.

Historically, the first significant attempt to include bowling in the Olympics came in 1936 when it was demonstrated at the Berlin Summer Games.

However, it did not achieve official recognition at that time. More recently, in 2015, the World Bowling submitted a bid for the sport’s inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but unfortunately, the bid was not successful. Despite these setbacks, the bowling community remains optimistic and continues to strive for the sport’s recognition at the Olympic level.

Current Status of Bowling in the Olympics

As of today, bowling is not included in the roster of Olympic sports. Despite active lobbying and demonstration of the sport in several Olympic Games, including as recently as the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, it has yet to gain entry to the official program.

Most recently, the International Bowling Federation (IBF) submitted an application for inclusion in the 2024 Paris Olympics, but it was not selected.

Yet, the global bowling community remains hopeful, with the IBF continuing to make efforts to modernize the sport and strengthen its bid for future inclusion.

Pros and Cons of Including Bowling in the Olympic Games

There are quite a few compelling reasons to consider the inclusion of bowling in the Olympic Games.


  • Global Reach: Bowling is a sport that is enjoyed by millions worldwide, indicating that its inclusion could boost global interest in the Games.
  • Accessibility: As a sport that has low physical barriers to entry and can be played by people of all ages and abilities, it will promote inclusivity.
  • New Revenue Streams: The addition of bowling could introduce new revenue streams via sponsorships, broadcasting rights, and merchandise sales.

However, there are also several cons that must be given equal consideration.


  • Lack of Physical Rigor: Critics argue that bowling does not require the same level of physical demand and athletic prowess as other Olympic sports.
  • Limited Following: While bowling has a global presence, it’s not universally followed as a spectator sport, which could limit viewer interest.
  • Olympic Integrity: Some believe adding bowling could dilute the Olympic brand by straying from traditional athletic events.

In conclusion, while there are both pros and cons to its inclusion, the future of bowling in the Olympic Games remains an ongoing debate.


In summarizing the arguments raised, it’s clear that the idea of including bowling in the Olympic Games has its merits and drawbacks. On the one hand, its widespread popularity and high accessibility could enhance global engagement and inclusivity in the Games.

Meanwhile, new revenue opportunities emerge through sponsorships and sales. Conversely, questions arise about the physical demands of the sport, its limited spectator following, and the potential dilution of the Olympic brand.

From a personal standpoint, while acknowledging the validity of the opposing viewpoints, I lean towards the inclusion of bowling in the Olympics. The spirit of the Games, after all, is to promote unity and inclusivity, breaking down barriers.

The introduction of bowling could serve as a progressive step in evolving the traditional framework of the Games, making them more accessible and universally relatable.

It is, however, imperative that the International Olympic Committee weigh these pros and cons meticulously to ensure the integrity of the Games is upheld.


To further understand the role of bowling in global sporting events and the potential for its inclusion in the Olympic Games, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their insightful answers.

Bowling is not currently an official Olympic sport, although it has been included in the past as a demonstration sport, notably at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

The Summer Olympics are an international multi-sport event, which includes a variety of sports.

Bowling, however, has not been a consistent part of the Olympics programme although it has appeared as a demonstration sport.

10-pin bowling is one variant of bowling where players roll a bowling ball down bowling lanes to knock over a set of 10 pins.

The main difference between it and other types of bowling is the number of bowling pins and the size and weight of the bowling ball.

Yes, the Pan American Games include bowling; it became an official sport in 1991. It is considered one of the popular sports in this multi-sport event which happens every four years.

Special Olympics is an international sporting competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics does include bowling, and it’s played as Unified Sports, a program that pairs Special Olympics athletes with partners without intellectual disabilities for competition.

Yes, ten-pin bowling is included in the World Games, a multi-sport event held every four years for sports not otherwise included in the Olympic Games.

The potential benefits include enhanced global engagement and inclusivity, as bowling is a sport with widespread popularity and high accessibility. The inclusion of bowling could also generate new revenue opportunities through sponsorships and sales.