Update 2 – Sept 2018
The author of this article in the UK newspaper The Guardian has a rather cynical view of why he thinks bridge (and egames) might be considered for inclusion in the Olympics. The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), he believes, were persuaded to include bridge by Michael Bambang Hartono, a 78-year-old from the small town of Kudus, in Central Java, Indonesia. It seems he is a multi-billionaire.
The author concludes by saying:
The argument over the difference between a sport and a game has gone on almost as long as people have been playing them. It seems the IOC and the OCA have decided it has less to do with how much physical activity is involved than it does how much money the players have and the organisers stand to make.
Update – Sept 2018
When I first wrote this post 3 years ago, I had no idea how popular it would be. There have been lots more debates about whether or not bridge is a sport, but it has been recognised by the IOC as a “mind sport”. Most recently, it has been included in the Asian Games after the organisers recognised bridge as a sport in 2018 – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-45293912
Have you ever wondered if bridge could become an Olympic sport? Maybe you think I’m going a little made even to ask, but I’m not.
Clearly bridge doesn’t take years of intensive physical training like most physical Olympic sports and most bridge players don’t have to spend hours in the gym or eat a special diet, but top bridge players do take years of intensive study and play to develop their skills. Bridge is classed as a “mind sport”.
It seems unlikely that it will be played at the Olympics in the near future, but the IOC has recognised the World Bridge Federation as a sporting organisation. That means that participants in the World Bridge Championships are subjected to the same rules as other athletes – including drugs testing http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/general/others/why-bridge-should-be-officially-recognised-as-a-sport-9152961.html
The author of the above article was on a team that was asked to demonstrate Bridge to the IOC in 2002. Here is the transcript of the press conference held by the IOC president in which bridge and a few other games were turned down http://www.olympic.org/Documents/Reports/EN/en_report_538.pdf
It seems that players believe that bridge should become part of the Winter Olympics as it is played indoors. Who knows, maybe bridge will be reconsidered as an Olympic sport sometime in the future.