Olympics Could Soon Feature Pole Dancing, Foosball and Poker

pole dancing

What do Poker, foosball and pole dancing have in common?

Besides being activities you could do on a night out in Vegas, officials that help prepare specific sports for Olympic recognition now think poker, foosball, and pole dancing could soon be featured alongside running, gymnastics and ski jumping in the world’s most prestigious athletic competition.

pole dancing

Yeah… you seriously read that correctly!

Earlier this month, the Switzerland-based Global Association of International Sports Federations granted observer status to the International Federation of (Match) Poker, the International Pole Sports Federation and International Table Soccer Federation along with the organizing bodies for four other nontraditional sports. This is the first step toward joining the Olympic program. Patrick Baumann, the president of GAISF, said in a statement:

“We warmly welcome our first Observers. 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.”

Baumann added:

“The new sports debuting at Tokyo 2020 and at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics are evidence that the pathway is there.”

Two years from now at the Olympics in Tokyo, softball, karate, surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and baseball will join the lineup of sporting competitions. These sports were chosen to reflect the changing interest in younger athletes and the worldwide popularity of these sports, especially seen in the sport of skateboarding. The President of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Yoshiro Mori said in a statement:

“Through these additional events, the Tokyo 2020 Games aims to inspire new generations and become a turning point and a model for future Olympic Games.”

But pole dancing, foosball, aka “table soccer,” and poker?

Well, for the aspiring poker Olympians, so far cigarettes and watered-down cocktails are not on the list of banned “performance-enhancing drugs.”

pole dancing

So when – or, more importantly, will – these sports make their debuts in the Olympics?

For any of these sports to be considered, they need to be practiced by men in 75 countries on four continents, and by women in 40 countries on three continents even be considered for the Olympics. So the men’s division of pole dancing may run into some issues. Not only that, poker could face the same challenges that the game chess experienced from the International Olympic Committee with its ban on purely “mind sports.”

But even if dodgeball, foot golf, kettleball lifting, table soccer and arm wrestling can pass these tests, the IOC has worked in recent years to manage the scope of the games by only permitting new sports to join when others are discontinued. That means those athletes might have to wait for sports like curling and table tennis to go the way of tug-of-war and water skiing.

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