The International Cheer Union (ICU) received provisional recognition Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board — a first step on a long road to becoming a future Olympic sport.
The IOC’s executive board voted on Tuesday to recognize cheerleading (and the combat sport Muay Thai), meaning that the governing body for each sport will receive at least $25,000 annually from the committee and have the opportunity to apply for additional grants.
The provisional recognition of the two sports, which will last for up to three years, lays the groundwork for each sport to apply for inclusion in the Olympics. At any point during those three years, committee executives can vote to fully recognize the sports, after which each could petition to be included in the Games.
It has been long rumored that if cheerleading were granted admission to an Olympic cycle, that the ICU would push for it to be a winter sport, which would align with the current “cheerleading season”.
The Winter Games are held during the month of February in its Olympic Cycle, while the Summer Games are held during the month of August. However, we are sure the fans of cheerleading would be happy with either the winter or summer games.
With the provisional status lasting three years, this could potentially place cheerleading in the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan or the 2022 Winter Games in Bejiing, China.
The process of becoming a full fledged Olympic sport takes about seven years, though the IOC does grant exceptions for the host nation and allow the sport to bypass part of that process.
Kit McConnell, the IOC’s sports director, invoked the “high youth appeal” of cheerleading. The sport’s newly recognized governing body has its headquarters in the United States.
McConnell said the cheerleading federation has over 100 national federations and nearly 4.5 million registered competitors.
“It is a sport with growing popularity, a strong youth focus in schools and universities and we noted that,” he said.
This year, the committee voted to include several new sports — among them skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing — in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, in the interest of appealing to younger audiences.
Tuesday’s vote to approve cheerleading and Muay Thai, a sport similar to kickboxing, signaled further efforts by the Olympic committee to appeal to a new generation as it battles a global doping scandal that is threatening its credibility and relevance.