The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the program for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics on Friday.
One of the biggest takeaways? For a 25th consecutive edition of the Winter Games, the men will compete in Nordic combined and women don’t.
Nordic combined – which includes ski jumping and cross-country skiing – has been contested at every Olympic Games since the first Winter Games in 1924.
After women’s ski jumping was added to the Olympic program in 2014 following a long fight, it initially looked like women’s Nordic combined would be next.
But while sport has seen strong growth in recent years, that was not enough to merit inclusion, according to the IOC. The organization cited the fact that too few countries are competing – and winning medals – as well as the fact that the women’s Nordic combined did not have its first world championship competition until 2021.
“Right now, I’m disappointed with the IOC’s decision, especially when it talks about gender equality at the Olympics,” the US Women’s Nordic Combined head coach said. Tomas Matura said in a press release.
“For the women who put their all into this sport and make the sacrifices we are making, we are very disappointed with the IOC’s decision not to add women’s Nordic combined to Milano Cortina 2026,” said the American athlete. Annika Malacinski.
“While stating in the same breath that this will be the most gender-balanced Olympic Winter Games to date without adding the women’s Nordic combined, it’s really disappointing. We hear your message loud and clear, and the fight has only just begun.
The IOC has also acknowledged that – while men’s Nordic combined will be included in 2026 – the sport as a whole could be dropped from the Winter Olympics in 2030.
“The inclusion of Nordic Combined in the 2030 Olympic Winter Games depends on a significant positive development, particularly in terms of participation and viewership,” said the IOC sports director. Kit McConnell. “The attendance in terms of the number of people and the diversity of countries participating in the Nordic Combined, and then the audience being the number of people watching it. And I think it’s fair to say that it struggled to develop on both counts.
The IOC has made several notable changes that will improve gender balance at the 2026 Winter Olympics. A new women’s doubles luge event will debut in 2026 after the first ever Women’s Doubles World Luge Championship took place earlier this year. Women’s ski jumping will also feature a new big jump event, something female ski jumpers have been pushing for for years.
“We have been fighting for equal events at the Olympics for a long time and it is relieving to see people listening to us,” said the 2022 Olympian. Anna Hoffman. “It’s a great start to changing some of the gender inequalities in our sport. There’s still a lot of work to be done for equality, but it’s a huge step forward for us on the biggest stage of competition.
Other sports, however, remain unbalanced for the 2026 Games.
Bobsleigh will continue to offer more male quotas (139) than female (81). The 2022 Winter Olympics marked the first time bobsledders had two medal opportunities, but because women are competing in monobob – not a four-man event – fewer female athletes can compete in the Games. American pilots Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers-Taylorwho won gold and silver respectively in the monobob’s Olympic debut, have long argued for the inclusion of a four-man event.
The IOC also announced the addition of a new sport: ski mountaineering, which will feature a men’s, women’s and mixed event. In addition, in freestyle skiing, the dual mogul events for both men and women will be included.
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Women’s Nordic Combined banned from 2026 Winter Olympics originally appeared on NBCSports.com