Pole dancing’s bid to feature at the Olympic Games has received a major boost after an 11-year battle to have the pursuit officially recognised as a sport was successful.
The Global Association of International Sports Federation [GAISF] gave pole dancing the green light, giving “observer status” to seven pole dancing events, which comes with provisional recognition as a sporting event.
The news is significant for the long-held Olympic Games dream, with the International Pole Sports Federation [IPSF] now eligible to apply to become members of the International Olympic Committee [IOC].
That application is not certain to be successful, but pole dancing is seen – like the recently approved skateboarding, karate and climbing – as a way to attract new fans to the Olympic Games.
“I feel like we have achieved the impossible,” IPSF president Katie Coates told the UK’s Daily Telegraph. “Everyone told us that we would not be able to get pole dancing recognised as a sport.”
Ms Coates added that pole dancing did not carry the “stigma” it used to.
“In the early 2000s, people started doing it as fitness and taking away the sex stigma, so no high heels and making it accessible for average people,” she said.
“Pole dancing is not like everyone thinks it is, you need to actually watch it to understand.
“Competitions started but they were very amateur, with friends of friends doing the judging.
“My goal initially was to make it more professional.”
The IPSF has 24 national federations, with a further seven in the application process.
Another seven federations, including the United States and Australia, are listed as having an “interest in applying” on the IPSF website.
With two years to prove themselves to the IPSF, Ms Coates said more federations are needed if they are to win permanent status as a sport.
“To officially become a sport, you need federations in 40 countries across four continents, and they need to be recognised by the highest sporting body in their countries,” she added.
GAISF president Patrick Baumann said the announcement was “exciting” for pole dancing.
“This is an exciting time for them and for us and we will do everything within our remit to help them realise their full potential as International Federations within the global sport’s family and, one day, maybe become part of the Olympic program,” he said.