This milestone moment is the result of years of hard work...Our commitment to grow cheerleading internationally has transformed it from an exclusively American activity to an exciting global sport.
When the big news hit that cheerleading had gained provisional Olympic status, news feeds, group messages and the like were filled with cheers of joy and a lot of questions.
What does this mean? Who will compete? What are the odds cheerleading will become a part of the next Olympic Games? Question after question came in from cheer enthusiasts across the world. So we asked an expert.
Jeff Webb is the father of modern day cheerleading and easily one of the most respected figures in the history of cheerleading. As President of the International Cheer Union and Founder of Varsity Spirit, he's got answers to the questions everyone's looking for.
What steps were taken in order for the ICU to receive provisional recognition from the IOC?
It started with the creation of an international governing organization, the International Cheer Union (ICU), which today includes 110 member nations, including USA Cheer in the US.
Anti-doping policies, in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency, were put in place and the ICU World Cheerleading Championships were established for national teams, in compliance with Olympic guidelines. The ICU first applied to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2010. In 2013, the ICU was accepted as a member of SportAccord, an organization comprised of all the international sports federations. This recognition elevated the ICU's status and gave cheerleading increased visibility on the global stage. Recognition by the International Olympic Committee came in December of 2016.
Who were the key players in advocating for cheerleading with the IOC?
This milestone moment is the result of years of hard work by ICU Secretary General Karl Olson and me. The ICU's officers worked with other international sports federations who supported our cause. Our commitment to grow cheerleading internationally has transformed it from an exclusively American activity to an exciting global phenomenon.
What does this mean for cheerleading and its Olympic future?
Following its provisional status period, the ICU will be able to petition the International Olympic Committee for inclusion in future Olympic Games. Additionally, the ICU's new status will provide support to all 110 country members as they work to build cheer participation in their respective countries.
If selected to participate in the Olympic Games in the future, how will cheer teams qualify?
The ICU World Cheerleading Championships would serve as an Olympic qualifier for national teams.
Would the competition be coed, all girl or both?
This would be determined in the future by the IOC, but our preference would certainly be to include both.
Would the competition format be the traditional competitive cheerleading routine we're used to seeing?
The competition format would resemble what you see at the ICU World Cheerleading Championships. Routines open with a short cheer or chant, along with crowd leading props, followed by a sequence of stunts, pyramids and tumbling skills performed to music.
Why do you think cheerleading was chosen over the many other sports that applied for this status?
I believe some of the most significant factors are cheerleading's high youth appeal and its continual growth and heightened participation around the world. It is young, athletic and open to males and females. It is spectator-friendly and visually appealing. Through the leadership of the ICU and the support and commitment of the 110 national federation members, cheerleading has experienced meteoric global growth over the last 10 years, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Want to know more about the ICU and the current championship? Watch Going For Gold, a documentary following the 2016 All Girl US National Team to a gold medal victory!