At just gone 7pm last night, the biggest match in snooker’s history arguably began. China’s Ding Junhui and Hong Kong’s Marco Fu began their quarter-final in the Saga Insurance Masters at Wembley Arena.
While the match roughly began at around 3am in China, the TV viewing audience there was still expected to be in the millions. Snooker has finally reached the big time (Steve Davis even gave a message in Chinese) and it leads you to ask one question: why the hell is it not in this year’s Olympics?
Technically, to refer to a previous post discussing the IOC’s recognised sports, it could become an Olympic sport since billiard sports are covered in the IOC’s so-called recognised list.
However, two obvious problems come to the fore. Firstly, there is the lack of physical exertion which, whilst not bothering me in the slightest, would certainly bother your traditionalists / “sport should involve some sweating and physical activity” group; and secondly, is the problem of the sport’s coverage. Whilst played widely around the world, the amount of world-class players outside the UK is still rather small, with Ding and Fu being the two current exceptions.
However, for pure theatre and atmosphere, imagine a gold medal match in front of thousands in the National Indoor Stadium. After all, it would easily be filled with obsessive Chinese snooker fans to the curious, wanting to catch a glimpse of a new Olympic sport – it would surely be one of the highlights of the Olympics.
But could that be one of the reasons why it isn’t? Would the IOC accept that a sport of a less athletic nature could claim the limelight? Would the IOC accept the face of a Ding Junhui, one of the sporting personalities in China, as one of the faces of the Olympics? A snooker player ahead of a 100m sprinter? I can’t see it.