Who’s got spirit? The International Olympic Committee (IOC), that’s who.
The Olympic Games’ executive board voted yesterday to recognize cheerleading as well as the combat sport of Muay Thai, setting the stage for each to become an Olympic sport, the committee announced.
The 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 session is scheduled for September 2017 in Lima. Once fully recognized, each sport can apply to be included in the Games.
Becoming an Olympic sport is no easy task and getting to this stage is a feat in itself, as Quartz reported. It’s difficult to get added to the Olympic lineup and easy to get dropped. Only five sports—athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, and swimming—have been staged at every Summer Games since the first in 1896.
However, the IOC recently scrapped its cap on the number of sports in the Games, opening the door for more to compete.
Earlier this year, in a bid to attract younger audiences, the IOC voted to add a handful of new sports to the roster for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, including skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing. Cheerleading and Muay Thai similarly appeal to similar demographics, which is important with Olympic TV ratings down as shifting viewer trends driven by younger people who are turning to streaming video.
With provisional recognition also comes funding, the New York Times reported (paywall). 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.
The governing body for cheerleading, International Cheer Union, is based in the US, while the governing body of Muay Thai, International Federation of Muaythai Amateur, is headquartered in Thailand.