Pole dancing takes a step towards becoming an Olympic sport

Oct 24 2017, 11:01 pm

Alright, get your jokes out of the way.

Pole dancing is on the path to becoming an Olympic sport.

No, athletes won’t be taking their clothes off during events. Competitions won’t be held in seedy bars. And nobody will be ‘making it rain’.

Pole dancing is no joke. It’s a real sport and the sport’s governing body – the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) – has big dreams.

This month they took another step to realizing those dreams, as they – along with six other sports – were granted observer status with the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF).

“By setting in place format that will be accepted by international sport governing bodies, the IPSF’s goal is for the Olympic committee to recognize pole sports as an official sport and to become part of the Olympic Games,” the IPSF website says.

The purpose of ‘observer status’ is to allow new sports in their infancy to take advantage of the GAISF network to grow and develop. It’s a pathway to one day getting full GAISF membership, which can assist in gaining Olympic status.

Here’s the list of federations that were also recently granted observer status with GAISF:

  • World Armwrestling Federation (WAF)
  • World Dodgeball Association (WDA)
  • Federation for International FootGolf (FIFG)
  • International Union of Kettlebell Lifting (IUKL)
  • International Federation of (Match)Poker (IFP)
  • International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF)
  • International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF)

“We warmly welcome our first Observers,” president of GAISF, Patrick Baumann said. “This is an exciting time for them and for us and we will do everything within our remit to help them realize their full potential as International Federations within the global sport’s family and, one day, maybe become part of the Olympic program. The new sports debuting at Tokyo 2020 and at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics are evidence that the pathway is there.”

Baseball and softball are returning to the next Summer Olympics at Tokyo 2020, as will the debut of skateboarding, surfing, karate, sports climbing, BMX freestyle, and 3-on-3 basketball.

Though the major sport federations in the world (like FIFA) are part of GAISF, so are some other hilarious ones like the World Bridge Federation, International Chess Federation, and World Minigolf Sport Federation.

So gaining Olympic status is not a slam dunk.


Here’s how the GAISF website describes the sport of pole dancing:

Pole sports is a performance sport combining dance and acrobatics on a vertical pole. Pole sports requires great physical and mental exertion, strength and endurance are required to lift, hold and spin the body. A high degree of flexibility is needed to contort, pose, demonstrate lines and execute techniques.

The World Pole Sports Championships has been held annually since 2012. Over 150 competitors from 30 different countries compete in multiple categories every year:

  • Men
  • Women
  • Doubles
  • Masters (40+ and 50+)
  • Youth (10-14 and 15-17)

Like gymnastics and figure skating, pole sports are judged events with regulations and scoring. And one day, they might award Olympic gold medals for it.

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