The "Olympic Program" is the Program of sports, disciplines and events decided by the IOC for the Games of the Olympiad and the Olympic Winter Games. The Games of the Olympiad must contain at least fifteen Olympic sports. No such minimum exists for the Olympic Winter Games, which are reserved for sports practiced on snow or ice.
The admission or exclusion of a sport falls within the competence of the IOC Session. A decision to include or exclude a discipline or event falls within the competence of the IOC Executive Board.
To be included in the Program for the Olympic Games, an Olympic sport or discipline must fulfill the following criteria: for the Games of the Olympiad, only sports/disciplines widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents, and by women in at least 40 countries and on three continents may be included; for the Olympic Winter Games, only sports/disciplines widely practiced in at least 25 countries and on three continents may be included.
An event, being a competition in an Olympic sport or in one of its disciplines and resulting in a ranking, gives rise to the award of medals and diplomas. To be included in the Program, an event must, first and foremost, enjoy a recognized position internationally in both numerical and geographical terms and have featured at least twice in world or continental championships.
Sports, disciplines or events in which performance depends essentially on mechanical propulsion are not acceptable.
Apart from exceptional circumstances, the Program of sports and disciplines is finalized seven years before each Olympic Games, and the Program of events is finalized four years before the Games.
Subject to the agreement of the International Federation concerned and the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, the IOC may depart from these time limits in order to include a discipline or event in the Program.
The Centennial Olympic Congress, the "Congress of Unity", held in Paris in 1994, recommended that the principal criteria for inclusion in the Olympic Program should be the universality and popularity of the sports. The Congress Final Document also added that, in order to evolve, the Olympic Program should also take into consideration the development of sports in contemporary society, as well as respecting certain traditions.