Dom Joly: Hang on to your joysticks for Olympics with video games

Trackside and Trigger Happy: The skills needed to get to the top level in Call of Duty 4 are far superior to those required of an air pistol "athlete"

These are my very first Olympics and overall I'm absolutely blown away by the whole thing. It's the sheer scale of the operation that defies belief. Sometimes, when I'm rushing between venues I do wonder whether it hasn't all got a little bit out of hand. There are certain events here that just don't feel ... right – they don't feel Olympian somehow, but it's an intangible thing. Football and tennis are two that immediately spring to mind but I thought I was just being unfair. Then I shared a scary Beijing taxi to a BBC studio with Steve Backley, the formidable ex-javelin thrower. He summed the whole conundrum up perfectly. In his view, nothing should be at the Olympics if being there doesn't represent the pinnacle of their sport. He was bang on. Overpaid footballers and spoilt tennis stars have enough glory moments for themselves – an Olympic medal is just another gong to stash in their trophy cribs.

The "Backley Theory", as I now call it, doesn't quite solve all my concerns. It doesn't explain why some top international sports are in the Games and others aren't. If you're going to have tennis and football, then why not golf and cricket? Both used to be – cricket was in the Paris Olympics of 1900 and consisted of two teams – England and France. The French team was made up almost exclusively of diplomats from the British embassy. Golf was also an Olympic sport but was discontinued in 1904.

Also, why are quirkier events such as beach volleyball or synchronised swimming eligible when others are not? How about skateboarding, waterskiing ... even dodgeball? God, I love dodgeball – now there's a fun spectator sport.

The Winter Olympics seem to be a lot hipper than their summer cousins. The half-pipe, trick skiing, hot-dogging etc are now part and parcel of the whole thing. Such gnarly activity would have been unthinkable even 20 years ago, but there is no equivalent in Beijing. Well, maybe one – BMX, the only new sport allowed into these Olympics (fortunately for GB we're favourites), and not one was allowed into Athens. Baseball and softball have been eliminated from 2012 onwards (at least they got that right – thank the Lord, how dull are they?) but nothing else has been discarded since 1936 when they discontinued polo.

So what makes something eligible to be included in the Games? The rules state that "to be added to the Summer Olympics, a sport or discipline must be widely practised by men in at least 75 countries on four continents and by women in at least 40 countries on three continents".

Well, with that criterion in mind – how about they crack on and add some new stuff like paintball, table football or video gaming?

I love table football and that's got to be as exciting to watch as table tennis. It might even be a football tournament we could qualify for.

And I'm not joking about video gaming either – with the advent of online gaming, hundreds of millions of people are already involved in vast virtual worldwide competitions and the possibilities for games are endless. What big difference is there between someone squeezing the trigger on an air pistol and a button on their joystick?

I would even venture that the skills and training needed to get to the top level in a video game like, say Call of Duty 4 are far superior to those required of an air pistol "athlete".

OK, I'm a little biased on Call of Duty 4 because I play it a lot and it has a really freaky thing that allows you to see how much of your life you have spent playing (sorry ... training) on it – I've currently spent 23 entire days of my life on it (that's 552 hours last year alone).

My overall point, however, is a serious one: why not have video games in the Olympics? They are all about intensive practice, extreme hand-eye co-ordination, extreme competition and they just happen to be unbelievably popular.

I think it's time that the International Olympic Committee really took a big, brave step and did a bit of culling around the edges, using the "Backley Theory", of the spoilt big-money sports. Keep the Olympic core of track and field, swimming and gymnastics, and then get really adventurous around the fringes.

Maybe they should be opened up to a vote. I, for one, am going to get some serious training in on Call of Duty 4 when I get back from Beijing. You never know what might happen at 2012. I might just get that call telling me that my country needs me and don't worry ... I'll be ready.

While we're at it – one of the things that the Olympics has really made me rethink is whether we shouldn't be represented internationally in all sports as Great Britain rather than as our individual home countries. Aren't we just further weakening our chances of international success unnecessarily?

I'd understand it if we never, ever did it, but in the Olympics we all compete under one flag (even grumpy Scot Andy Murray), so why can't we do it for everything else?

To be GB or not to be GB? That is the eternal question

While we're at it – one of the things that the Olympics has really made me rethink is whether we shouldn't be represented internationally in all sports as Great Britain rather than as our individual home countries.

Aren't we just further weakening out chances of international success unnecessarily?

Aren't Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, England just three countries too many?

I'd understand it if we never, ever did it, but in the Olympics we all compete under one flag (even grumpy Scot Andy Murray), so why can't we do if for everything else?

Beginning of the end – again

One of the real joys of being out in the smog in Beijing is that I can avoid the beginning of the Premier League. I'm really not big on football, so this is always a sad time for me. It means that the dark nights of winter approach and cricket is coming to an end... Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum