LONDON: Pole dancing has been recognised by an international sports body and organisers hope they can take it all the way to the Olympic Games.
The International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) was this month awarded observer status by the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) along with bodies representing armwrestling and dodgeball.
Observer status is designed as a first step towards full GAISF membership. Observers are assisted in areas such as becoming compliant with World Anti-Doping Agency rules and receiving the required recognition from National Olympic Committees.
IPSF president Katie Coates said the move would allow the sport to develop further internationally.
"In just eight years we have created a sport, ignited a global following and inspired a new generation of sportsmen, women and children," she said. "I am thankful to the IPSF and GAISF teams and excited about the future of our sport."
Speaking to Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, Coates said she was confident the event would become a regular fixture at the Olympics.
"In the early 2000s people started doing it as fitness and taking away the sex stigma, so no high heels and making it accessible for average people," she told the paper.
"Pole dancing is not like everyone thinks it is - you need to actually watch it to understand.
"Competitions started but they were very amateur, with friends of friends doing the judging. My goal initially was to make it more professional.
"I feel like we have achieved the impossible. Everyone told us that we would not be able to get pole dancing recognised as a sport."
GAISF president Patrick Baumann said the Olympics could be in reach.
"We warmly welcome our first observers," he said. "This is an exciting time for them and for us and we will do everything within our remit to help them realise their full potential as international federations within the global sports family and, one day, maybe become part of the Olympic programme.
"The new sports debuting at Tokyo 2020 and at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics are evidence that the pathway is there."