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International Olympic Committee approval paves the way for cheerleading to become Olympic sport

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:38 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After being accepted by the International Olympic Committee, the sport of cheerleading may be on it’s way toward a debut in future Olympic Games.

At around 2 a.m. CST, the International Olympic Committee voted to grant full recognition to the International Cheer Union, paving the way for cheerleading to become a future Olympic event.

“This is definitely one of the most important days in the history of cheerleading,” said Jeff Webb, president of the International Cheer Union (ICU).

This does not mean that cheerleading with be an Olympic event in the upcoming Tokyo Games, in fact there’s a lot of work still to be done before cheerleading can become an Olympic sport.

“With this recognition, you’re not automatically in the Olympic Games, but you can apply, which we intend to do,” Webb said.

The ICU, with 116 different national cheer federations on every continent, host the World Cheerleading Championships annually. ICU organizers say that event shows that cheerleading is a great sport to add to the Olympics.

“Cheerleading, which we kind of learned as we started growing globally, is very universal,” said Karl Olson, secretary general of ICU. “It’s great for boys and girls, all body types. It’s very inclusive. It’s great with all cultures.”

“You have all these teams that bring their fans,” Webb said. “They’re doing their chants in their native languages, they got their signs, they got their native garb, and it’s an amazing amazing celebration as well as a serious competition.”

The ICU headquarters have been located in Memphis for the last 17 years, making the Bluff City home for the push to recognize cheerleading on a global scale, which took over 10 years to accomplish.

“All the roots are tied here to Memphis,” Olson said. “So, it’s really gratifying to actually be here in Memphis when this announcement happened.”

The ICU hopes cheerleading will make its Olympic debut in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

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