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Hang gliding is a sport that is both super exciting to watch and also requires quite a bit of skill. That said, is hang gliding an olympic sport?
Unfortunately for gliding enthusiasts out there, hang gliding is not an Olympic sport. At least not yet. However gliding was once approved to be an official Olympic sport in the 1940 games, but the games were cancelled due to World War II and gliding was never included as an official sport again.
Fans of aviation and hang gliding might tune into the Olympics and be disappointed to find their sport not included. At least not yet. In this article, we’ll take a look at whether hang gliding is an official Olympic sport, if it’s ever been considered for the Olympics, if it’s competitive enough for the Olympics, and if it ever will be included in the Olympics.
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Is Hang Gliding An Official Olympic Sport?
As the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympics is the premier place for athletes from all over the world to show off their skills and compete to be the best. Held every four years in the summer and winter, the Olympic games bring the countries of the world together in the spirit of competition. And with how many unique sports there are in the Olympics, it would make sense for hang gliding to be included, right?
Sadly, hang gliding is actually not an Olympic sport. If you’ve ever hang glided yourself or at least seen it up close and personal, you know that it is very physically demanding and requires a heck of a lot of skill. Not to be pedantic or get into a discussion about any of the other sports that are included in the Olympics, but I personally think that hang gliding requires more skill than some of the other sports!
But alas, at least for now, hang gliding is not included at the Olympics. At least not for now it’s not (we’ll touch on this a bit more later). That said, it actually was included in the Olympics one time, back in 1936 where it was used as a demonstration sport during the summer games and garnered quite a bit of fanfare and excitement.
Hang Gliding And The Olympics
The history of hang gliding and the Olympics goes all the way back to the 1930s, when the idea of including it as an Olympic sport was brought up at the International Olympic Committee’s conference in 1932. With many people clamoring for the relatively new sport to be included in the next Olympics, hang gliding was done as one of the demonstration sports during the 1936 summer Olympics.
These demonstration sports were typically done back then to gauge interest in the sport and see if it’s really something that people would want to see. Due to the popularity of gliding and how much excitement the demonstration stirred among the masses, it actually was approved to become an official sport in the 1940 Olympics.
However, if you’re a history buff or you know your Olympic history, you’ll know that the 1940 games were infamously canceled due to World War II. The 1940 Olympics were set for Tokyo, Japan but were rescheduled and moved to Helsinki, Finland due to the war. Sadly, the games were eventually canceled altogether, and hang gliding was never again included as an Olympic sport.
Is Hang Gliding Competitive Enough To Be In The Olympics?
Many people out there that don’t really know the intricacies of hang gliding and how difficult it really can be may not think that it’s a competitive sport worthy of the Olympics. But as you might know as a hang glider yourself, that’s far from the truth! Hang gliding takes an enormous amount of skill and there are certainly enough competitive aspects of it to make it a sport.
In fact, hang gliding is already a competitive sport and it has been for a long time. Events such as distance flying and precision spot landing could make for great Olympic events full of excitement and thrill. In terms of competitive hang gliding, there are three classes as follows (don’t mind the strange class numbering scheme):
- Class 1 — These are gliders with flexible wings, but should not be confused with paragliders. The pilots typically control the flight by shifting their weight.
- Class 5 — These gliders have rigid wings and are controlled by spoilers that are typically located on the top of the wings.
- Class 2 — The pilots are actually integrated into the wings in Class 2 gliders and have the best performance of the three. Top competitions will use these types of gliders.
All that said, there are all sorts of hang gliding competitions that could very easily be turned into Olympic events!
Will Gliding Ever Be An Olympic Sport?
While hang gliding (and other types of gliding) are not Olympic sports as of now, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for the future. There’s reason to be optimistic if you’re a fan of gliding sports — who isn’t? — that began back in 2015 when the 2020 Olympic Games Organising Committee asked for proposals on which sports to include. Following the invitation, multiple gliding commissions and federations put together a proposal for paragliding to be included in the 2020 games.
Although the 2020 games have now come and passed and gliding ended up not making the final cut, this is promising for the future. It shows that our sports are starting to get more and more attention around the world and makes me excited for the future and for the chances of gliding being included as an Olympic sport!