• Andy Marston

Sepak Takraw could be a winner at future Olympics

Tokyo 2020 saw the inclusion of Surfing and Skateboarding. When the Olympics next return to Asia, there’s a push to see regional sports such as sepak takraw included. Here's why it could be a success.

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The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the sixth summer games to be held in Asia, featured just five new sports from a proposed 26. There is a push, however, to see more traditional Asian sports such as sepak takraw included the next time the Olympics return to Asia, according to a report from Nikkei Asia. Sepak takraw, for those of you unaware, involves a team of five players kicking a small rattan ball over the net into the opponent's court. And the sport, which is already played at the Asian Games, has many of the ingredients to be a success at the Olympics. Firstly, for a new sport to be approved by the IOC for inclusion, it must be “practiced widely across the world.” While it may not be familiar to many in Europe, the sport already has huge appeal across Southeast Asia. Furthermore, similar games such as jokgu in Korea and FootVolley in Brazil, mean the game translates into other international markets, too. With close ties to the world's most popular sport, sepak takraw should have no difficulty in attracting an interest among at least a percentage of the 3.5 billion football fans, either. FootVolley has attracted many international football stars - particularly in Brazil. Furthermore, we've seen numerous footballers, including David Beckham, try their hand at Teqball, too. (think a football/ table tennis cross over). Lastly, with overhead kicks and incredible rallies, the sport is perfectly built for today’s highlight-focused, content hungry, Gen-Z audience. In fact, many people's first interaction with the sport (outside South East Asia), is likely to have been the result of a viral video shared across social media - such as this one shared by Joe Rogan back in 2018. With the IOC looking to increase the Olympics relevance among a younger generation, as well as among the Southeast Asian population, a demographic enjoying huge economic growth, they could be on to a winner with sepak takraw.