The Olympic Committee Is Finally Taking Cheerleading Seriously

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Even though cheerleading requires a ton of athletic ability (and puts participants at risk for some serious injuries), it's not always taken seriously as a sport. But the International Olympic Committee just took a big step to change that. On Tuesday, the executive board voted to make cheerleading an Olympic sport. This means the committee will give cheerleading's governing body $25,000 or more per year for as many as three years. Over the course of this provisional period, the committee can vote to bring cheerleaders to the Olympic Games. So while this doesn't mean we'll see cheerleading competitions in the next Olympics or even following ones, it does mean there's a possibility. The committee's sports director, Kit McConnell, told The New York Times that the organization wanted to introduce cheerleading due to its "high youth appeal." The Olympic Committee also voted to add Muay Thai, a combat sport originating in Thailand. Several additional sports were officially voted into the Olympics: Skateboarders, climbers, and surfers will be competing in Tokyo in 2020. Unfortunately, this update already has its critics. "Cheerleading is set to become an Olympic sport. So give me a 'W.' Give me a 'T.' And, please...give me an 'F,' Nick Walshaw wrote mockingly in a Daily Telegraph op-ed. "Forget faster, stronger, higher. How about bustier, bubblier, blonder?" Reactions like his show how much we need to legitimize cheerleading and other sports associated with women — one can hope the Olympic Committee's decision means that's starting to happen.

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