Is Darts an Olympic Sport?

Ever dreamed of becoming an Olympian? Me too.

Stepping up to throw a double 20 to seal the Olympic title and be recognised for the next 4 years as an Olympic champion – what a feeling that would be! But is darts in the Olympics?

Darts is not currently an Olympic sport and there are no plans to include darts in upcoming Olympic games. The World Darts Federation (WDF) is however planning to make an application so we could see darts added in the future.

So unfortunately it looks like you won’t be seeing your favourite players stepping up to the Oche and throwing for an Olympic title any time soon.

Have darts ever been in the Olympics?

Darts has never featured in the Olympics but that doesn’t mean spots with similar objectives and forms haven’t been in the Olympics. Probably the closest sports to darts which have had a place at the holy grail of sports are shooting and archery.


Shooting has been in almost all of the modern Olympic games since it restarted in 1896. Much like darts shooting usually involves striking a target with a projectile. The differences being that guns are used instead of arms and that the target is sometimes moving instead of stationary.


Archery, or more specifically recurve archery, is probably the closest sport to darts in the Olympic games. Involving striking a target with an arrow from distance. With accuracy building a higher score.

You can see from the above that despite darts not being in the Olympics, and by some arguments being more about the human’s ability, due to the dart being propelled by an arm through rather than with the aid of a rifle or bow, a case can be made for the inclusion of darts in the Olympics based on similar sports.

What are the requirement to be an Olympic Sport?

For a sport to be featured in the Olympics there are a number of hurdles, excuse the pun(!), that must be crossed before the Olympic committee will consider a sports inclusion.

The first is that the sport must be recognised to have an international body by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The situation for this is a little bit murky for darts. There is the World Darts Federation (WDF) who consider themselves the governing body of darts however it isn’t that straightforward. With the rivalry between the British Darts Organisation (BDO) and Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), which now appears to be drawing to a close with the liquidation of the BDO in 2020 there are a number of large players in darts who currently don’t all recognise a governing body and instead have different players who play exclusively in events.

This means that as of publication in this article the IOC does not recognise darts as a sport. You can see a full list of the recognised sports here.

Current proposals are for the darts world to rally around the WDF as the governing body and make an application to the IOC but only time will tell if this will hold and be accepted by the IOC.

Once a sport has a recognised federation with the International Olympic Committee it must then enforce the rules in the Olympic charter which includes anti-doping tests for players (including outside of the events) and provide evidence of this being effectively enforced to the IOC.

Once the sport has been recognised and enforced rules to match the Olympic charter the sports international federation can them make an application to the IOC demonstrating its eligibility for inclusion in the Olympics.

Once the application is submitted it now falls to the IOC to weigh up the merits of the sport and decide if it is suitable for admittance to the games. In order for the sport to be accepted into the Olympics the following guidelines are generally used to establish if the sport is suitable:

  • The sport must be widely practiced by men in no fewer than 75 countries, four continents and played by women in no fewer than 40 countries and on three continents. I have tried to establish if darts would qualify for this criteria but data is surprisingly difficult to find. What data I could locate indicates that darts wouldn’t likely qualify and needs to expand to more countries.
  • The sport must also increase the ‘value and appeal’ of the Olympics. Whilst this isn’t a yes/no criteria for admission I do believe that darts would meet this criterion. There are estimated to be millions of darts players around the world, particularly in northern Europe and the United States.

Will Darts ever be an Olympic sport?

Never say never!

Whilst darts isn’t currently in the Olympics and has a wide international appeal, I personally don’t think that the IOC would permit darts to be part of the Olympics in its current form and with its current reach.

I think that darts needs to invest heavily to increase its popularity around the world, this would help the sport meet some of the criteria that the IOC will judge the sport on and cement it as an international sport.

It should also be noted that just because a sport gets into the Olympics it doesn’t mean that it will stay there. Some notable sports which have been in the Olympics and are no longer recognised as Olympic events are; Cricket, Lacrosse and Polo despite being recognised as having international federations by the IOC, which is a status darts hasn’t even achieved yet.

Is Darts a professional sport?

Whilst darts may not be in the Olympics it is definitely a professional sport. Darts is recognised by sports authorities in many countries around the world as a ‘sport’.

Many players also generate a full time income from playing darts, and for this reason I consider it a professional sport.

I hope you’ve found this article an interesting read, I personally hope that the rifts between darts organisations can be healed and that darts can continue to expand globally as I think darts would be great addition to the Olympic sport list. Happy throwing!