Muay Thai Gets Provisional Olympic Recognition

France's Sofiane Oumiha, at left, fights Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng during a men's light weight 60-kg preliminary boxing match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Muay Thai and cheerleading have made their way into the Olympic movement.

The International Cheer Union and the International Federation of Muay Thai received provisional recognition Tuesday from the IOC executive board – a first step on a long road to becoming a future Olympic sport.

They were among 16 sports bodies which applied for IOC recognition earlier this year, and they join 35 other sports on the list of recognized federations.

Cheerleading and Muay Thai will now be assured of USD$25,000 in IOC funding per year. They are also eligible for other development programs and access to content of the IOC’s digital Olympic Channel.


IOC sports director Kit McConnell said the two federations were given provisional recognition for a period of up to three years. During that time, the IOC executive board can recommend full recognition, another necessary step in the drawn-out path toward joining the Olympic program.


McConnell said the cheerleading federation has over 100 national federations and nearly 4.5 million registered competitors.

“It is a sport with growing popularity, a strong youth focus in schools and universities and we noted that,” he said.

McConnell said Muay Thai has 135 national federations and nearly 400,000 registered athletes.