Netball is officially recognised as an ‘Olympic sport’ – so why isn’t it played at the Olympic Games?

Why Not Netball?

It gained official Olympic recognition in 1995, and many at the time expected inclusion at the Games to follow. The official recognition opened up sources and channels of funds the like of which the sport of netball had not previously had access. But it is still yet to be included in the list of contested sports, and in an increasingly gender-aware sporting world, this remains something of a mystery to many. And indeed to KUDOS. So what’s going on, and what can we do to help push for its inclusion?

As far as we can tell there’s never really been any official reason given for netball’s continual rejection. There are some theories that the USA’s indifference to netball is the number one factor. Certainly the fact netball is largely missing in the US doesn’t help, and the absence of netball in two other Olympic behemoths – China and Russia – is another serious problem.

Building the case for netball

To convince the IOC (International Olympic Committee) of netball’s worth, the International Netball Federation needs to make a strong case for netball and that it meets a wide ranging set of criteria including popularity and global reach, ticket sale potential and costs.

The sport’s visibility is certainly improving. Netball is played by around a million people every week in the UK, and its public profile is undoubtedly increasing, with Netball Superleague fixtures shown live on Sky Sports and now being played in front of record attendances. Televised netball hasn’t always been particularly well executed, but Sky – as they do with so many sports – have now cracked it and its coverage is eminently watchable. Such an exciting sport that now translates well to TV should have no problem with global reach.

Sign the Petition and spread the word!

Netball is enjoying solid growth across Africa and in other parts of the world such as Europe and South America, but while the sport expands across the globe it could also be said that it has failed to fully capitalise on its strengths in the countries where it has traditionally been most popular. The proposed use of a relatively small 8,300 capacity stadium for the 2019 Netball World Cup, hosted in Liverpool, seems curious when the venues for recent World Cups and Commonwealth Games have been rather bigger.

Alas, there is no magic wand to be waved and the netball community must continue to push and promote this great sport. There is a petition circulating to push for its inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and it is well on its way to reaching its target, at which point it can be delivered to both the IOC and the Japanese Olympic Committee. Please sign it here and share on social media using the hashtag #WhyNotNetball.


KUDOS is passionate about encouraging and supporting people of all ages and backgrounds to get into netball at any level.


A KUDOS custom netball kit is designed to suit the demands of the sport in matching styles across all garments including netball skirts, dresses, shirts, skorts and tracksuits.


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