When last we checked, pole sports (that would be pole dancing, not pole vaulting) was planning to meet with the IOC regarding possible inclusion. The governing body, the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) has noted that the meeting, held February 1, went well, and that IPSF is hopeful for IOC recognition.
The news, carried on IPSF’s website, noted the organization had applied for recognition on August 1, and that the meeting with the IOC had been not only positive but groundbreaking for the group, which previously had not been able to lobby for official recognition as a sport:
This was the first time anyone from our sport has been able to present our amazing sport to the IOC and it was a great honor. Applying to the IOC is a lengthy process covering many aspects of governance related to being an international sport. The IOC Sports Department graciously relayed to us that they were extremely impressed with the rapid growth and development the IPSF has achieved for Pole Sports in just a few short years. It was confirmed by the IOC in the meeting that the IPSF, as the governing body of pole, is on the right track for our sport and has made an impressive leap toward a positive future based on the quality of standards and regulations already in place by the IOC on a global basis.
This shows how serious and committed the pole community is around the world about having our sport recognized for our athletes, our federations, our judges and all our pole enthusiasts. The impression of pole by the IOC is that we are a new progressive and trendy sport with not only youth appeal but evidence that pole is a sport for all. These words were music to the IPSF’s ears, as we know from research, that’s these are all qualities that the IOC looks for when officially recognizing a sport.
In keeping with its work toward recognition, IPSF appears to be taking a page from the book of gymnastics, creating logos for competitive divisions and disciplines within its sport. These include new logos and in some cases, even divisions, for:
International Pole Sports Federation: An overall new streamlined look distinguishes the new logo.
World Artistic Pole Championships: Described as “perhaps the softer, more artistically inclined sibling of Pole Sports,” this discipline encourages creativity with more emphasis on artistic interpretation and is judged by the newly created Freestyle Pole Series Rules, which does not include a Code of Points, but relies more heavily on art, choreography and musicality. It will first be seen in July 2018 in the Netherlands during World Pole Weekend.
World Ultra Pole Championships: According to the IPSF website, Ultra Pole “was designed to encourage innovation, embolden creativity, elevate freedom of expression, and escalate ultimate athleticism to attract the most radical and innovative athletes yet. Judged by the new Freestyle Pole Series Rules Ultra Pole is an ultimate trick battle enabling the athlete to trick out against other competitors in battle style rounds expressing the ultimate in acrobatic and creative inspiration and skills.” This discipline debuted at the 2016 World Pole Sports Championships.
World Urban Pole Championships (scheduled to launch in the 2018/2019 membership year) is described as “being practiced outside in the open air; bringing an exciting and thrilling dimension to pole which challenges the concept of pole sports to the extreme.”
World Para Pole Championships (a Paralympic version of the sport, open to athletes with physical challenges, including those with blindness or visual impairments, athletes in wheelchairs or amputees); the first competition is scheduled to take place in July 2017 in Holland at the World Pole Sports Championships.
The International Pole Sports Federation's website showcases the various disciplines within pole sports, including the categories of Men, Women, Doubles, Masters (40+ and 50+) and Youth (10-14 and 15-17). Videos of competitive pole dancing can be found here.
Coming into the meeting with the IOC, pole sports actually had a point in their favor, being confirmed as a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency Code.
IPSF noted the IOC was able to provide essential feedback on the application process, including a discussion of the fact IPSF has been “implementing correct policies and procedures in all areas of IPSF and Pole Sports governance. We were also given positive guidance to help us make important improvements in line with the IOC IF Recognition procedures, and we look forward to the many new challenges facing us in our bid to have pole recognized as an official international sport.”
IPSF still has a long road ahead, as does any sport lobbying for recognition. Recently, cheer received provisional Olympic recognition; however, this is a provisional status, and can last up to three years, after which it can only be made full members by an IOC Session. However, even acceptance is no guarantee a sport will appear in the Olympic Games. For example, the International Ski Mountaineering Federation was fully recognized during the recent IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro, while the World Flying Disc Federation was added last year in Kuala Lumpur. Neither sport appears in the Olympics.
SDM will continue to follow this developing issue.