Inclusion of Yoga in Olympic and Asian Games Sport

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Source-This post on Inclusion of Yoga in Olympic and Asian Games Sport has been created based on the article “Why India has no reason to be shy while pitching for yoga in Olympics 2036” published in “The Indian Express” on 5 July 2024.

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Context- The article discusses the demand to push for inclusion of yoga as a competitive sport in major international sporting events like the Olympics and Asian Games.

There are fears that it may be used as political propaganda by the ruling dispensation. However, it’s important to understand that yoga transcends any ideology and has consistently served as India’s soft power regardless of the ruling party.

What are the arguments to support the inclusion of Yoga in Olympic and Asian Games Sport?

1) Yoga as a Sport: – Yoga meets the Oxford Dictionary definition of sport, which defines it as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill, especially one regulated by set rules or customs in which an individual or team competes against another or others.”

2) Yoga’s Spiritual Essence-Competition doesn’t necessarily devalue yoga’s core principles.

3) Global Popularity and Reach of Yoga-According to Statista, yoga was practiced by 33.6 million people in the US in 2023, surpassing the popularity of flag football (20 million practitioners) and T20 cricket, and showing higher participation rates among women globally.

4) Featured in Khelo India Youth Games– The competition included three types of events: Artistic yoga, Rhythmic yoga, and Traditional yoga. This has demonstrated yoga’s potential as a thrilling sport where flexible athletes can deliver impressive performances.

Read More- Khelo India Programme

5) Recently Included Sports-A parallel is drawn with other recently included sports, such as Xiangqi, traditionally played in Chinatowns globally and included in the Asian Games last year, and flag football, known as a recreational activity in US gym classes, added to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics nine months ago, to support the argument for yoga’s inclusion.

What should be the wayforward?

1) Learning from Flag Football’s Journey: –It took 20 years for the sport to achieve Olympic status, a process that included codifying rules, organizing international championships, and promoting it globally.India should follow the same process.

2) Utilizing Olympic Rules-The International Olympic Committee lets host nations include popular regional sports. The USA and China have promoted sports important to their culture when hosting major events. India should similarly push for yoga’s inclusion in the Olympics and Asian Games.

Question for practice

What are the arguments to support the inclusion of Yoga in Olympic and Asian Games Sport?

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