If there was one thing the Olympics needed, it was more events. The IOC agrees, and has added muaythai and cheerleading on a provisional basis.
While the events won’t immediately be part of the next Olympics, this means that they will soon get direct funding from the IOC. It will also include anti-doping measures and pathways for athlete development.
IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell had this to say following the decision of the IOC Executive Board to add muaythai.
“Muaythai is an organization with 135 national federations, nearly 60 are recognized by their national Olympic Committees and nearly 400,000 registered athletes.”
Not to short change cheerleading, McConnell noted how big and popular that sport is as well.
“The international cheer union (ICU) has over 100 national federations and nearly 4.5 million registered athletes.”
“It is a sport with growing popularity, a strong youth focus in schools and universities and we noted that.”
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.
Tokyo 2020 is including sport climbing, surfing, and karate during their turn as hosts. It remains unlikely that we see muaythai and cheerleading any time soon, but this is an important first step for them if they want to compete on an international level.