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Combat Sports in Olympics

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    Combat Sports in Olympics

    The conversation in the "BJJ in the Olympics" thread has got me wondering. Which combat sport would you most want to see in the Olympics? Would it have the support to get in? Would IOC water it down?
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    As J Sho said in that thread I linked, I would say the first thing to consider is does it meet the IOC criteria. To c&p J-Sho:

    Originally posted by J Sho
    The Olympic Programme Commission, in their report to the 117th IOC Session stated that they had developed a set of 33 criteria to be used in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each potential/current Olympic sport and the 'value' that each sport adds to the Olympic Programme. (you can read the methodology and the assessments of all Olympic sports in the link above, pretty interesting reading).

    The criteria break down into the following categories:

    • History and Tradition
    • Universality
    • Popularity
    • Image and Environment
    • Athlete Welfare
    • Development and Costs.

    Each of these areas then has objectively analysed criteria.

    History and Tradition
    • Date of establishment of the International Federation (IF)

    Olympic Games

    • Introduction to the Olympic Programme
    • Number of times on the Olympic Programme (Benchmark "Strong tradition" = 20 participations and more)

    World Championships

    • Date of 1st World Championships
    • Number of World Championships held to date
    • Frequency of World Championships

    Other Multi-sports Games

    • Is sport on the programme of the last All African Games, Pan-American Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games or Universiade?)

    Recognised IFs - World Games
    • Number of times on the World Games programme

    • Number of Member National Federations
    • Number of Member National Federations compared to maximum number of NOCs (brackets)


    • Percentage of National Federations that organised national championships in 2003-2004
    • Percentage of National Federations that took part in qualifying events for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games
    • Percentage of National Federations that took part in the last IF Continental Championships
    • Recognised IFs - Percentage of National Federations that tookpart in qualifying events for the World Games 2001


    • Number of medals awarded at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games
    • Number of NOCs that won medals at the Athens 2004 OlympicGames
    • Continental distribution of medals won at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games


    • Extent to which best athletes would compete


    • Average percentage of the total of number tickets available sold at Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Athens 2004 Olympic Games


    • Average number of media accreditation requests at the last two World Championships


    Olympic Games

    • Average number of hours of television coverage per day of competition during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games
    • Average prime time viewers hours per day of competition during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games

    World Championships

    • Number of countries where the last two World Championships were broadcast
    • Number of countries that paid for TV rights for the last two World Championships
    • Income from the sale of TV rights for the World Championships


    • Total number of articles from 30 July to 12 September 2004
    • Average number of articles per publication from 30 July to 12 September 2004



    • Five major sponsors of the IF and kind of benefits provided

    Image and Environment

    • In the sport Percentage of Member National Federations (corresponding to the number of National Federations affiliated to the IF)that took part in qualifying events for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games: comparison of female VS male participation
    • Recognised IFs - Percentage of Member National Federations (corresponding to the number of National Federations affiliated to the IF) that took part in qualifying events for the World Games 2001: comparison of female VS male participation
    • In the IF governing bodies Composition of Executive Board (or equivalent)


    • Steps taken by the IF with a view to presenting its sport in the most interesting and attractive manner


    Athlete Welfare



    • Number of out-of-competition tests 2002 and 2003


    DEVELOPMENT OF THE IF Strategic planning
    • Existence of a four-year strategic planning process and details


    • Summary of the three main development programmes run by the IF between 2001 and 2004
    • Summary of the financial distribution system used by the IF to support its national federations and continental associations


    • Costs for venue to stage event
    • Technology requirements at competition venues
    • Television production cost

    Sports 'recognised' by the IOC

    Some sports and disciplines are not part of the current Olympic program, but are recognized by the IOC. Their respective International Sport Federations are responsible for ensuring that the sport's activities follow the Olympic Charter.

    A recognized sport may be added to the Olympic program in future Games, by recommendation of the IOC Olympic Programme Commission and a vote by IOC members. The IOC voted on July 11, 2005 to remove baseball and softball from the Olympic program for 2012 (reaffirmed by vote on February 9, 2006 ) but also rejected their replacement with karate and squash (selected from a list that also included golf, roller sports and rugby sevens).

    Recognised sports include Sumo, Golf, Karate and Polo.

    The World Games

    The World Games, first held in 1981, are an international multi-sport event, meant for sports that are not contested in the Olympic Games. The World Games are organised and governed by the International World Games Association (IWGA), under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

    Some of the sports that were on the program of the World Games eventually made it as Olympic sports (such as triathlon) or have been Olympic sports in the past (like tug of war). Participation in past World Games is included in the evaluation criteria used to select new Olympic sports adopted by the IOC on August 12, 2004. However, with the current position of the IOC to limit the Olympic Games to 10,500 participants, it is unlikely than many of the World Games sports will be elevated to the Olympic sports.
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      I'd like to see mma fighters in the Olympics, and other worldwide athletic competitions. Amateurs though, as the pro's are mainly from four or five countries, on an elite level, at least.

      That would get plenty of women into mma, fueling calls for a female ufc division. Unfortunately, it might be easier to force a ufc Ladies division, that getting them fighting mma rules in the Olympics.

      I'd wet myself with glee were they to put combat sambo in there. That would be great, and mma fighters could compete under those rules, as they loosely resemble mma rules, relative to other sports. Also less likelyhood of a bloodbath, than mma rules, which sponsors wouldn't like.

      History and Tradition
      Image and Environment
      Athlete Welfare
      Development and Costs.
      from the criteria above, IMO mma would have more luck in getting in than combat sambo, due to it's relative universality, and heightened popularity.

      The sport is getting so big, and popular with the youth, that I doubt the Olympics can ignore it for ever. Change is gonna come.
      Last edited by bobyclumsyninja; 3/14/2011 8:24am, .


        I think you really have to address the underlying motives for why people want to get their combat sport into the Olympics. What does the Olympics have to offer a sport like BJJ, Muay Thai, MMA, Sub-grappling etc...?

        In my view the Olympics offers legitimacy. It offers multiple layers of legitimacy.

        Firstly it offers legitimacy through recognition. People will see the sport being reported on during Olympic coverage, it will be on tv and they may happen across it. It puts the sport into the public consciousness. Judo is a good example if you ask people what they know about Judo they will probably turn to the Olympics for reference.

        It offers legitimacy as a sport. Often in arguments over is it a sport the common point of reference for most people is inclusion in the Olympics. A common simplistic argument against classifiying activities such as cheer leading or dancing as sports is to point to their exclusion from the Olympics. If your activity is in the Olympics it is a legitimate sport.

        It offers moral legitimacy. Doping scandals and other nefarious activity aside, the Olympics is seen as the paragon of sporting morality. Sports included in its programme have a moral authority that sports excluded lack. A simplistic example of this is Boxing and MMA. Boxing is an Olympic sport therefore it is seen as a legitimate sport and has a moral authority to be a sport based on its Olympic pedigree. There are of course many other factors legitimising it as a sport, but the Olympics plays a key role.

        Could you imagine someone succesfully arguing that it would be immoral to hold events for an Olympic sport at Madison square gardens? That campaign wouldn't get very far. As everyone could say that if that sport can take place on the highest profile and most morally authoritative sporting platform in the world why exclude it from New York or elsewhere.

        The Olympics offer financial legitimacy. IOC regulations and the requisite NGBs that go along with Olympic inclusion offer well run and respectable faces for the sport. That governments can channel money into to support and which can help generate revenue for grass roots growth and elite level athlete support. Not to say that Olympic status eliminates money worries ask any Judoka in the US or UK whether they're rich and they'll tell you no. However, it creates legitimate streams through which revenue can be directed into the sport and the athletes.

        So if you're a BJJ, MMA or Sub-grappling guy Olympic membership must look quite attractive to you because it offers all those forms of legitimacy to your sport and allows you to effectively counter many arguments against the expansion, funding and future of your sport.

        Personally I would like to see Muay Thai at the Olympics, because its cool.


          Personally I would like to see Muay Thai at the Olympics, because its cool.
          If they added Muay Thai, the Chinese would want to bring the SanDa fighters in to challenge. There would be a giant shitup over what ruleset would occur. The Chinese would threaten trade sanctions, and voila....Muay Chi is born. The Chinese then patent the punch, and roundkick, and finally, sue Dana White for control of the UFC, due to it's intellectual property violations. Soon, not wearing red in an mma match is an automatic 10-9 first round, and anyone not sporting a horrible haircut (creepy glasses optional) can't be champ.

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            I'd like to see Shootboxing.

            Would it have the necessary support? Very doubtful.

            Would the IOC water it down? Signs point to yes.


              I vote for pankration, which could be distinguished from MMA by getting rid of the MMA gloves. This could be emphasized as a safety factor, reducing the likelihood of brain damage because participants wouldn't be able to throw as forceful a punch to the head for fear of injuring their hands. (Video of Tank Abbott vs John Matua could be used to underscore the point, that being the introduction of MMA gloves into the UFC.) Besides, pankration has the historical connection thing going for it, being an ancient Olympic sport for about a millennium.


                I have trouble believing that the IOC would be willing to support any bare-knuckle combat sport. But I too think Pankration would be a good addition. It has all the benefits of MMA without the stigma of being "cagefighting". That, and its origination in Ancient Greek olympics would make it a much easier sell. The increasing popularity of MMA helps with the Universality and Popularity requirements, because it would be an easy transition for many MMA fighters.
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                  Didnt they try to get pankration in the olympics before?


                    I don't know. They could always try again. Many Olympic sports had to be submitted more than once before finally making the cut.
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                    "You all just got fucking owned.";
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                      They should eliminate all (unarmed) combat sports from the Olympics & replace them with 3 events:

                      1- Unified striking rules
                      2- Unified grappling rules
                      3- Amateur MMA rules

                      But prior to that the whole world have to agree on unified rules and host national, regional, continental then world tournaments.

                      Is ALL that possible NO


                        Well, in this case we wouldn't be able to expect it any time soon. But with the growing popularity of combat sports, it at least seems feasible we might be able to expect a greater inclusion within the next 10-20 years.
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                        "You all just got fucking owned.";
                        "TaeBo_Master and GajusCaesar just scored 10,000,000 points on all you pawns."

                        - The Wastrel


                          Honestly the combat sports that are likeliest to get added to the Olympics are probably kickboxing, muay thai, and sanda. All three are large, well organized sports with fairly consistent rule sets that are used across multiple countries. Figuring out which one is likeliest means taking a close look at the Olympic criteria as well as using some common sense regarding what the IOC is going to want to see.

                          Kickboxing is, IMO, probably the least likely sport of the three to be inducted into the Olympics. While it is a very popular sport with great universality due to the variety of included styles, it has no single world governing body, unless you count the IKF, which has a history only going back to 1992. It is also a very hard contact sport, which is not likely to go over well with the IOC. They like TKD because of its safety track record and the large amount of protective equipment.

                          Muay Thai has an excellent chance of eventually becoming an international sport if they can get the other SE Asian countries on board. Muay Thai is an event at the Southeast Asian Games, although Myanmar refused to participate at least once due to the name of the event. (Interesting side note: Wushu, Vovinam, Arnis, Karate, Kenpo and Pencak Silat are also hosted at the SEA Games.) I don't know of any single international federation for Muay Thai.

                          It also has the tradition and history part down pat. In addition, despite the relatively violent nature of the fighting and the lack of additional safety gear the rate of injury among Thai fighters is surprisingly low.

                          This brings us to San Da/San Shou. I'm going to include le tai matches as part of the tradition and history and say this probably has as much as Muay Thai does. It has the International Wushu Federation, which admittedly is barely older than the IKF, though it is recognized by the IOC and is affiliated with the World Anti-Doping Agency. It has an established world cup with a fair amount of international competitors, including a non-Chinese King of Sanda. There is also the amount of safety equipment. San shou is the only sport of these three that requires head gear and body protectors.

                          I suspect from looking at these that either Muay Thai or San Shou will eventually be an Olympic sport, and that San Shou would come through it with the fewest changes. It already has the protective equipment they are likely to require and its federation has already done the sucking up to the IOC necessary to get it considered. On the other hand Muay Thai is already a competitive sport at an international games competition that is affiliated with and partially supervised by the IOC.

                          Either way the first Olympics to include either of these is going to be absolutely kickass.


                            How about an Olympics Just For Combat Sports:

                            Muay Thai, Sambo, San Da, Karate, Judo, Wrestling, Sumo, Grappling, Pankration, Kendo, Boxing etc... all in one event sanctioned under the International Olympic Committee.

                            Best part is the Organizing committee of the games payed for the airfare and housing for all qualified athletes, at least for the FILA Wrestling, Grappling and Pankration. The next one is in 2013 in Russia and FILA should also have MMA in addition to Wrestling, Grappling and Pankration.

                            Worst part, no media interest what so ever in the United States!!!


                              ... you know for the most part, I'm really over the Olympics. Don't get me wrong, there are some events which I'm quite interested is watching. Some team events will still go really good and get better each year.

                              But for the vast majority, there's just too much money and politics in it. And in some cases, it ruins sports.



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