Monday, July 30, 2012

How do you get pole dancing into the Olympics?

Recently, the Pole World Sport Championship was held in London (right before the kick off of the Olympics) to show that pole IS an Olympic-worthy sport.  So it got me wondering how, exactly, you get a sport added to the Olympics.  It turns out that just really, really, really, really wanting it isn't enough!  There is a long freaking process to follow before a sport can even be considered for the Olympics.

According to

How does a sport become Olympic?
To make it onto the Olympic programme, a sport first has to be recognised: it must be administered by an International Federation which ensures that the sport's activities follow the Olympic Charter. If it is widely practised around the world and meets a number of criteria established by the IOC session, a recognised sport may be added to the Olympic programme on the recommendation of the IOC's [International Olympic Committee] Olympic Programme Commission.

Apparently, some sports first go to the World Games, although it is not a requirement:

Some of the sports that were on the program of the World Games eventually made it as Olympic sports (such as triathlon) or have been Olympic sports in the past (like tug of war). Participation in past World Games is included in the evaluation criteria used to select new Olympic sports adopted by the IOC on August 12, 2004. However, with the current position of the IOC to limit the Olympic Games to 10,500 participants, it is unlikely that many of the World Games sports will be elevated to the Olympic sports.

According to wikipedia, here is how an Olympic Sport is considered:

A sport or discipline may be included in the Olympic program if the IOC determines that it is widely practiced around the world, that is, the number of countries and continents that regularly compete in a given sport is the indicator of the sport's prevalence. The requirements for winter sports are considerably lower than for summer sports since many fewer nations compete in winter sports. The IOC also has lower requirements for inclusion of sports and disciplines for women for the same reason. Following the addition of women's boxing in 2012, and women's ski jumping in 2014, there will be no Olympic sport for men only in those Games, although women are still barred from several disciplines (but on the other hand, there are women-only disciplines, such as rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming).

.  .  .

These criteria are only a threshold for consideration as Olympic sport. In order to be admitted to the Olympic program, the IOC Session has to approve its inclusion. There are many sports that easily make the required numbers but are not recognized as Olympic sports, mainly because the IOC has decided to put a limit on the number of sports, as well as events and athletes, in the Summer Olympics in order not to increase them from the 28 sports, 300 events and 10,000 athletes of the 2000 Summer Olympics. No such limits exist in the Winter Olympics and the number of events and athletes continue to increase, but no sport has been added since 1998.

 . . .

In order for a sport or discipline to be considered for inclusion in the list of Summer Olympics sports, it must be widely practiced in at least 75 countries, spread over four continents.

If you would like to read the entire Olympic Charter (dated July 8, 2011), please click HERE.  

Here is a response posted on of those random question websites

According to Chapter 5, Section III of the Olympic charter [pdf], every edition of the Olympics must include all "core" sports. These core sports are chosen by the Session upon proposal by the IOC Executive Board. In the summer, they must include at least 25 of the sports governed by the following 28 federations:

- International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)
- International Rowing Federation (FISA)
- Badminton World Federation (BWF)
- International Baseball Federation (IBAF)
- International Basketball Federation (FIBA)
- International Boxing Association (AIBA)
- International Canoe Federation (ICF)
- International Cycling Union (UCI)
- International Equestrian Federation (FEI)
- International Fencing Federation (FIE)
- International Association Football Federation (FIFA)
- International Gymnastic Federation (FIG)
- International Weightlifting Federation (IWF)
- International Handball Federation (IHF)
- International Hockey Federation (FIH)
- International Judo Federation (IJF)
- International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA)
- International Swimming Federation (FINA)
- International Union of the Modern Pentathlon (UIPM)
- International Softball Federation (ISF)
- World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)
- International Tennis Federation (ITF)
- International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)
- International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF)
- World Archery Federation (WA)
- International Triathlon Union (ITU)
- International Sailing Federation (ISAF)
- International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) 

All of these except baseball and softball are currently part of the core.

In winter, the core includes only the sports governed by the following seven federations:

- International Biathlon Union (IBU)
- International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Federation (FIBT)
- World Curling Federation (WCF)
- International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)
- International Luge Federation (FIL)
- International Skating Union (ISU)
- International Ski Federation (FIS) 

The Olympic Committee also recognizes a number of other sports; the committee session at which the host city is selected can also specify that some of these sports are to be included in that edition of the games, but only up to a maximum of 28 sports (which gives quite a bit of leeway in the winter games).

For a sport's governing body to be recognized and hence be eligible for inclusion in the games, it must be in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code; but the final decision rests solely with the committee as determined by a vote.

Baseball and softball have been removed from the games as of the 2012 edition; this opens up two slots. Those slots will be filled by golf and rugby sevens in the 2016 and 2020 games, bringing the total back to the maximum 28. Golf and rugby are not, however, part of the core, so they could be dropped as early as the 2024 games.

So, there is a lot that needs to happen before pole can be recognized as an official Olympic Sport.  I know the International Pole Sports Federation is working hard to make it happen.  As for the 75 country requirement...let's start taking a poll.  I can gather data based on who clicks on my blog, so I know I get a lot of readers from around the world.  Please post a comment below with the country (you can include city/state/etc.) in which you live and share this with your other friends around the world so we can show that pole IS worldwide! Oh yeah, and which sport(s) would you remove to make room for pole?

P.S. on 7/31/2012: I brought this up on Facebook and did the math.  If Olympic events are decided 7 years in advance, pole has only one year to "prove" itself to get into the 2020 Olympics.  Realistically, that means pole may not even have a fighting chance until 2024 (although someone did mention that pole made the short list in 2009, so maybe it is closer than I thought).  Anyway, 2024 is 12 years away, so that would make the current age of a future pole Olympian about...8 years old?  Possibly younger.  What do you think about that?

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