LAUSANNE, Switzerland (REUTERS) - The martial art of muay thai and cheerleading, with its strong youth appeal, received provisional recognition as Olympic sports by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday (Dec 6).
The two sports will now be able to tap into some IOC funding and take part in a number of programmes, including athlete development and anti-doping. They take the number of recognised Olympic sports to 37.
At the end of their three-year provisional recognition period, they can apply to become part of the Olympic Games sports programme.
"Muay thai is an organisation with 135 national federations, nearly 60 are recognised by their national Olympic Committees and nearly 400,000 registered athletes," said IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell following the decision of the IOC Executive Board.
"The international cheer union (ICU) has over 100 national federations and nearly 4.5 million registered athletes," McConnell added. "It is a sport with growing popularity, a strong youth focus in schools and universities and we noted that."
McConnell, who said 16 sports had applied for recognition, added that both muay thai and cheerleading would receive US$25,000 (S$35,500) a year as direct funding from the IOC.
While becoming part of the Olympic Games is a drawn-out seven-year progress, the IOC has changed the rules to allow host cities to introduce sports of their choice for a one-off appearance in the Games.
Tokyo, hosts of the 2020 Games, will have surfing, sport climbing and karate among the six new sports they have included in their Olympics.
"The door has not been shut for the other applicants," McConnell said, without naming any of the 14 sports which did not receive recognition. "We will continue to look at the other applications we received."