American football is unlikely to appear on the Olympic programme in the near future, even if Boston is awarded the 2024 Games, a senior National Football League (NFL) executive admitted here today.
Mark Waller, executive vice-president, international of the NFL, welcomed the prospect of the sport appearing at the Olympics, claiming it would be good for the sport.
"It's highly unrealistic that it will be the full game [at the Olympics in 2024]," Waller told insidethegames at the SPORTELAmerica here today.
"It could be flag football, very realistically I think.
"But for 2024, the full game, probably not a realistic prospect."
The possibility of American football appearing at the Olympics edged closer to reality when the sport's world governing body, the International Federation for American Football (IFAF), became a member of the Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations in April last year following its provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in December 2013.
The IOC will decide this year whether to grant the IFAF full membership, meaning it could potentially bid to become part of the Olympic programme in 2024, a decision due to be made in 2017.
It is now easier for sports to be added to the Olympic programme following the adoption last year of Agenda 2020 which gives host cities some flexibility of proposing adding events that are popular locally, allowing Boston the possibility of suggesting sports they might like to see added if they are awarded the Games.
But IOC President Thomas Bach all but ruled at American football as an Olympic sport last month when he doubted its global reach.
"[Olympic sports] must have a broad international representation," he said while attending Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, where New England Patriots beat Seattle Seahawks 28-24.
"This I cannot see in football.
"It's a very American sport."
Waller was here to take part in a question and answer session following the announcement last week that the NFL has appointed MP & Silva as its media rights agent for 42 territories across Europe until 2020, a deal that could in fact help see the sport growing in popularity internationally.
Indeed, he highlighted free to air and digital coverage of American football as a way to bring new fans to the sport on a worldwide scale and pinpointed Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and China as "success story" nations outside of the United States.
American football was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
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