Quidditch is set to become an Olympic event in 2016 due to a series of developments in flight technology and its increasingly popular presence on university campuses.

The popular sport that was first introduced in the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling is to be turned into an Olympic event thanks to a breakthrough in flight technology that will allow for professional Quidditch matches to take place around the world.

Previously, anyone outside the fictitious wizarding world has had to make do with “Muggle Quidditch”, which involves two teams on the ground with brooms held between their legs. Now, scientists from a company based in Austria have developed the first in what is to be a long line of fully-functional flying brooms that will be used for sporting purposes.

Tiny electrodes are attached to the underside of the broom and become active when the rider holds the broom with corresponding technology fixed to their palms. Quidditch players can then fly around an arena and, depending on their abilities and level of skill, perform stunts as well as shoot goals and hunt for the illusive golden Snitch. Scientists are currently negotiating for funding to research the possibility of flying “Bludgers”- round, jet-black balls made of iron used to increase the intensity of the match- but have been met with some resistance from health and safety regulators.

Unlike the brooms in the Harry Potter series (Nimbus 2000, Firebolt, Silver Arrow, etc.), the current broom models on sale are not branded and all manufactured brooms are produced in Austria. However, there are rumours of ongoing discussions between the Austrian Science Society [ASS] and companies such as Nike, Dyson, Samsung and Ferrari.

University Quidditch Team “The Swansea Swans” recently invested in top-of-the-range equipment that will allow them to compete in the first official Quidditch World Cup, organised for 2014, after which they hope to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. Their brooms have been specially made and imported from America, where Quidditch is already the most popular university sport, surpassing soccer and American football.

High achiever: A member of the Swansea Swans doing a test-run on his new broom [Photos by Karina Young]

Trying to catch the Snitch: Team mates train together for the World Cup

AU President Dan Ryan-Lowes spoke with The Siren about the team’s recent success against their main rivals, the Cardiff Crabs.

“I am incredibly excited about seeing the team at the World Cup,” he said. “We have had a fantastic season and have beaten some of the best university teams in the UK. Now we’re leading up to Varsity, the World Cup, and hopefully the Olympics!”

Terry Portha, one of the first to test the first batch of brooms, said she was thrilled that the sport has been suggested for the Olympics.

“Each broom costs 9.75 million,” she said. “So it’s definitely worth seeing how your team does on the ground before investing in professional equipment.”

“It’s fantastic that the sport is already being considered for the 2016 Olympics. I’m already looking forward to the World Cup, and I know that a lot of university teams are seeking funding so they can invest in the latest in broom technology.”

The Swansea Swans will perform a special flight over university campus today at 12pm to celebrate the upcoming Varsity games and their win against the Cardiff Crabs last week.

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