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Motorsport misses out on 2028 Olympic proposal

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Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The only cars at the 2028 Summer Olympics will be those sitting in the infamous Los Angeles traffic. A Monday report from The Guardian revealed six sports will be added by Los Angeles organisers to the 2028 programme to be ratified at the 141st International Olympic Committee Session in Mumbai on 15–17 October; although motorsport was on the shortlist to be included, it was left out of the final proposal.

American flag football, baseball and softball, cricket, lacrosse, and squash make up the final pitch, being selected from a shortlist that featured auto racing, breakdancing, karate, and kickboxing.

Despite motorsport’s global popularity, it only appeared once in the Olympics at the 1900 Games in Paris conducted alongside the World’s Fair. Medals were awarded for fourteen events of varying vehicle types including two- and four-seaters meeting certain weights, taxicabs, delivery vans, trucks, and even fire trucks. A 925-mile (14,88.64 km) race from Paris to Toulouse and back was won by Louis Renault (small car) and Alfred Velghe (large), which the Belfast News Letter called the “most sensational motor-car race ever decided.” Motorcycle and motorboat races also took place, the latter later returning at the 1908 Olympics in London.

However, none of these are officially considered part of the Olympic programme. In the century since, the Olympic Charter prevented any possibility of racing becoming an Olympic sport with Rule 47.4.2 that stated, “Sports, disciplines or events in which performance depends essentially on mechanical propulsion are not acceptable,” though this provision has since been removed.

The World Games, for disciplines not at the Olympics, had motocross and speedway at the 1985 edition, with speedway later being brought back for the 2017 Games. However, each instance was as an invitational sport.

The IOC formally recognised the FIA in 2012. In 2021, the FIA joined the IOC’s inaugural Olympic Virtual Series by overseeing sim races on Gran Turismo Sport.

Electric karting was one of three demonstration sports at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, designed to help encourage the IOC to consider adding motorsport to the main Olympic rotation. Franco Colapinto, a current Formula 3 driver and member of the Williams Racing Driver Academy, won gold alongside María García Puig.

With racing out of the Olympic picture for the forseeable future pending a surprise, drivers like Nick Baumgartner and Nasser Al-Attiyah will be the closest links between the two realms in the meantime. Baumgartner, a short course off-road veteran, won gold in Mixed Team Snowboard Cross at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Alongside his five Dakar Rally victories, Al-Attiyah boasts a 2012 bronze medal in skeet and has been keen on returning for the Paris Games in 2024; he earned two medals at the Asian Games in late September.

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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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