Is there any hope for Pakistan in Olympics 2016?

Published: August 20, 2015

With the Olympic Games in Rio a year away, there is a remote chance that any individual athlete or team will qualify for the Olympic Games. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Pakistan hockey team failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. This is a historic low as the Pakistani hockey team has qualified for every Olympic Games since gaining independence in 1947. The only exception was the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, which Pakistan opted to jointly boycott with 64 other countries due to the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan.

With the absence of the hockey team from the 2016 Rio Olympics, there is a possibility that perhaps no one gets a chance to represent Pakistan at the Olympic Games next year? Clearly, Olympic sports in Pakistan are in a dismal state which can be gauged by the fact that Pakistan managed to win only five medals at the 2014 Asian Games and four medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Based on the past performances in these events, however, there is still hope for Pakistan as it can possibly qualify for the Olympic Games in boxing, judo and wrestling.


Boxing in Pakistan has lost its way since the demise of Professor Anwar Chowdhry, who was also the head of the organisation that governed amateur boxing for 20 years (1986-2006). These days, the only ray of hope is Muhammad Waseem, who won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and a bronze medal at the Asian Games in 2014.

Photo: AFP

It is important to mention that all other boxers from Pakistan failed to make any mark in these two events. In fact, five Pakistani boxers lost in the first round at the Commonwealth Games. Reaching the final of the World Championship seems impossible for Waseem; his main hope will be to improve on his performance at the Asian Games and reach the final of the qualification tournament for Asia, scheduled to take place after the World Championships.

Photo: AFP


The sole hope for an Olympics qualification in Judo for Pakistan is Shah Hussain Shah, who won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games which took everyone by surprise. He backed it up with a bronze medal at the Asian Senior Judo Championship in 2015. He also won a bronze medal in the 2013 event. Unfortunately, he lost in the first round of the World Judo Championship in 2014 to a Canadian opponent. Shah is ranked at number 51 according to the latest rankings released by the International Judo Federation. He needs to considerably improve his ranking and move in to the top 30 by May 30, 2016 to confirm his Rio ticket.

Photo: Express Tribune


Pakistani wrestlers have done really well at the Commonwealth Games in the recent past where their main competitors are from India, Canada and England. Unfortunately, they have failed to replicate this level of success at the relatively more competitive Asian and World stage.

Photo: AFP

As a result, hopes of getting an Olympics qualification are almost non-existent as a Pakistani wrestler can only qualify if they either finish in the top six at the World championship in USA later this year or if they reach the final of the Asian qualification tournament in their respective weight categories.

Pakistani wrestlers won three medals (two gold medals and one silver medal) at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and two medals (one silver and one bronze medal) at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but they were unable to win any medals at the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games. In fact, all the wrestlers taking part could not go past the quarter-final stage.


In my view, with the Olympic Games in Rio a year away, there is a remote chance that any individual athlete or team will qualify for the Olympic Games based on their own performance. Hence, leaving Pakistan dependent on the International Olympic Committee to grant them wildcard entries, which are normally given for athletics and swimming (two for each sport), thus avoiding the possible embarrassment of being totally absent from the biggest global sports events.

In any case, Pakistan is all set to make history by sending the smallest contingent to the Olympic Games, the record to date comprised of 21 players for the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics. It is a shameful state of affairs if Pakistani athletes cannot qualify for the Olympic Games on merit. Hence, winning an Olympic medal looks like an impossible task in this scenario.

Pakistan has not won an Olympic medal since 1992, and the way things stand, the question is, how long will this medal drought last?

Hammadul Haq

Hammad Ul Haq

Is a Doctoral candidate at Uppsala University, Sweden. Other than studying multinational corporations for a living, he is also interested in sports and electoral politics. He tweets @hammadhaq

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • forced2

    Not a hope…Recommend

  • Umair

    This is shameful. A country that wants Kashmir and exports Polio and terrorism, tries to compete with giants like India, cannot even send a team to Olympics. learn from your neighbours India. They have already qualifies in 9 different sports. Won 6 medals in London olympics (more than the entire history of Pakistan). India won more than 100 medals in the past two commonwealth games and more than 90 in the past two editions of Asian Games. India is also poised to host Olympics in 10 years (after hosting Asian games and commonwealth). It is clear that Pakistan should never be compared to shining India and should be compared to countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. I am glad my family stayed back in India during partition. Otherwise we wud have been dead or on the streets in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Khalid Rafi
  • Live for Nation

    Try for it. Their is nothing to impossible. Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Sir, I know the term in vogue is Af-pak. But that is an insult to Afghanistan. A separate category should be created for pakistan – below Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan etc. In splendid isolation :-)Recommend

  • Handcrafter

    Pakistan has been winning gold medal in Most porn searches at google.. Much bigger event then olympics… And will never let any other to succeed…,, So do not underestimate us…Recommend

  • Anon

    What happened… far no comments about India’s rape and poverty from the other side of the border….Recommend

  • Queen

    In your haste to justify your decision to remain in India at the time of partition, you forgot to mention the population of India and the per capita data which is used to rank success of nations at the Olympic Games. It will be good to know that india, being the world’s second-largest population and its ninth largest economy; has been competing since 1900, has only won 22 medals in every Olympics combined, half of those in field hockey. It has never won a medal at the winter games. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, India had the lowest ratio of medals-won to the population of any competing country: one medal per 383 million Indians. And that year was their best Olympic performance ever. If you rank countries by the total number of Olympic medals they have won, India places 55th in the world, tied with Morocco and Thailand. It will be good if you read articles of international sports journalists if you need further proof of India’s Olympics performance. Pakistan is addressing its issues and it will better if you too can do the same in your home country.Recommend

  • Talha Zafar

    How can sports flourish in a state where there is no infrastructure for providing training and developing for fostering sports. Therefore, except cricket (and that too at the private level), which sporting facility is being looked after. Only the affiliated ministries within the sports flourished, however the benefit was never passed on to the talented lot. A dismal and crude reality. Sports being virtually dead spirit here in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Aqeel Maqbool

    Good Read Doctor saab. Love the overview. Most of us dont know about anything sports besides cricket. Nice to see you are up to date on many more :)
    Always a pleasure reading your work!Recommend

  • Aqeel Maqbool

    I am glad you are happy with choices your parents make. And India is, no doubt, doing better in sports then Pakistan but considering population and economic size of India, Its Olympic performance is pathetic and there is no shame in having bad sports credentials but please stop calling yourself giant if you have nothing to show for yourself in discussion of Olympics. Being better then Pakistan (due to population and money) does not make you giant. There are 200 countries in the world and you will be giant if you are in top 3. Stop comparing yourself with Pakistan!
    Funny thing is, in most popular sports of both countries, Pakistan outclass India 72 to 51 in ODIs and 12 to 9 in tests :)Recommend

  • Riaz Ahmed

    I know people will lambast me but Sports will improve in Pakistan only when this mad obsession of cricket ends….
    Who would want to train for years trying to get a shot at Olympics which comes once in 4 years when the general public dont respect them over the cricketers who play every other weekRecommend


    ya thats true but its undeniable that india is doing better in recent years from commonwealth to asian games medal tally had improved considerably ,now india have more total medal then before unfortunately these medals are in form of silver and bronze but they are there, is a big achievement.Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    forget olympics save pakistan first ….sabse pehle pakistan…lelRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    u would have been dead if u would have been a shia/ahmedi/christian/hindu/sikh/woman/child/sunni/black/white/human/
    girl’s school/barber/barber shop/in pak…. that sums it up all…ohh forgot one more thing if u would have been playing music…like DJ or something …(pss its not allowed)Recommend

  • Bobby Lee

    i’m here in PAK & doing my job in a multinational firm.
    i came from Vietnam.
    but let me tell you something you already know what the hell is wrong with our nation.
    well we know whats wrong & dont want to go for the solution.
    how hard is to understand that for the development of this nation the only thing we can do is performing in sports. in here what do we have out of 190000000 people , NOTHING..
    what we’re doing NOTHING…
    what can we do ???????
    there is good infrastructure for providing training and developing for fostering sports i’ve seen in many sports but… all are empty

    because none of us want to doRecommend

  • nav

    if terrorism is a game…then pakistan will win gold medalRecommend