On Thursday, the Olympic Games’ executive board voted to have cheerleading as an Olympic sport. The combat sport of Muay Thai was also stamped as a viable Olympic sport.
With the stamp of approval from the Olympic Games’ executive board, the two; cheerleading and Muay Thai, have the stage set to become official Olympic sports.
Before then, however, there are a few hurdles to scale. This provisional recognition by the IOC will last for three years, during which committee members can vote to fully recognize the sports at any of the IOC’s annual meetings, or sessions.
The next such session is scheduled for September 2017 in Lima. Should the two sports be fully recognized when the time comes, each sport can apply to be included in the Games.
Apparently, getting a sport to become an Olympic sport is a really big deal and a difficult task. Quartz reports that it is difficult to get added to the Olympic lineup and easy to get dropped. According to them;
“Only five sports—athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, and swimming—have been staged at every Summer Games since the first in 1896”
Cheerleading and Muay Thai were enabled to get to this stage in the inclusion bid because the IOC recently scrapped its cap on the number of sports in the Games, opening the door for more to compete.
Why is the addition of a new Olympic sport necessary at all?
The International Olympic Committee is trying to appeal to younger audiences. To that end, they had voted to add a handful of new sports to the roster for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, including skateboarding, and surfing.
Cheerleading and Muay Thai are also appealing to younger people and since Olympic TV ratings keep going down, the committee has to find a way to reel young people in.
Even the provisional recognition of these two as Olympic sports comes with some perks. The governing body of each sport will reportedly receive at least $25,000 a year in grants from the IOC and can apply for more.