A leading agent to many Olympians has questioned whether hockey should be an Olympic sport, while suggesting that the quadrennial extravaganza should be scrapped and refreshed for the modern ages.
Writing a column in The Telegraph, Jonathan Marks said that too many sports in the current Programme weren’t relevant and poured scorn on some recent additions to the Games as “token”.
“Too many Olympic sports are not relevant to a global audience – the likes of rowing, modern pentathlon and hockey are public-school sports that could be justified for the most part of the 20th century, but is that still the case?” writes Marks.
“Sports like golf, tennis and football do not place anywhere near as much importance on the Olympics as they do their own marquee championships.
“No sport should be automatically culled, but they must deliver for the requirements of a modern audience.”
Hockey is certainly a global sport, with Championships across the continents. But the sport has also come under threat from being axed from the Games in recent years.
It is one reason why world hockey chiefs have made inroads on the shortened format of the game and bringing the sport to a more visible, urban setting.
While Paris 2024 will see the traditional 11 v 11 game played, there is uncertainty over Los Angeles 2028 when the need to minimise participation levels, environmental concerns and cost will no doubt have a large bearing on sports such as hockey.
Marks, who has represented many British athletes while also looking after key Olympic partners, says now is the time to consider the future of sport’s blue riband event.
He added: “It is miraculous that the size and scale of the event has lasted this long, but it has been exposed by the current pandemic as being brutally out of line with the world around it. The juggernaut needs to pivot.
“At Rio 2016, there were large swathes of the city that did not even know the world’s greatest sporting spectacle was on its doorstep, so great were the economic and political divisions. With Tokyo’s problems now, how many cities will even have the support let alone economic justification to bid to host in the future?”