Will MMA ever be an Olympic Sport?

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has fought for years now for the acceptance of the sport by the Olympic Movement. With various delays in the process and demands, the battle to turn MMA into an Olympic sport continues to this day. We hope that all of the problems will be resolved as soon as possible and that one day soon we will see MMA competitors in the Olympic Games. If you want to learn more about where the battle is at the moment, then read the rest of this article.

The Battle for the Olympic Sports Approval

The date of IMMAF’s very first application to GAISF (Global Association of International Sports Federation) was in 2016. The purpose of this application is for the GAISF to recognize MMA as a sport by the Olympic Movement. However, the process of recognition was not going as planned up to this very day. There have been various delays and new demands, and the entire process was fraught with a tremendous lack of transparency. Long story short – the IMMAF has met all the prescribed criteria. Despite this, there has been a lack of progress and stalling in the negotiations for a long time.

Truth be told, there is one single criterion that IMMAF hasn’t met though – and not because of the lack of good intentions by IMMAF. And this is the fact that IMMAF doesn’t have a signatory status of WADA (World Anti-doping Agency). But again, IMMAF meets all the criteria for becoming a getting a WADA membership, and this process, too, is fraught with stalling and lack of transparency.

One of the GAISF’s members to MMA becoming a sport in the Olympic Movement is a so-called “lack of compatibility”. This is a highly unclear notion, as there are many other sports that can be deemed incompatible but they are still recognized by GAISF. The process of recognition is likely to last for a long time to come, though, especially given the fact that there is a pandemic raging all around the world with the COVID-19 coronavirus. So, the GAISF has a lot of other worries for the time being – including the fact that the 2020 Olympics will be postponed.

The IMMAF also has a battle with WADA for getting a membership in this organization – the purpose is to keep the fighters off performance-enhancing drugs and to confirm that the sport of MMA is code compliant – which is highly important for increasing the standing of MMA all around the world and making it an Olympic sport.

So, because WADA has declined the application for membership of IMMAF, the following course of action was to take things into court. The process is still going. WADA cites the reason that it needs approval from GAISF to approve of new memberships. This organization suggests that the court case be disbanded due to the fact that WADA will get autonomy to make its own decisions independent of GAISF in 2021. But this is still not a guarantee that it will accept MMA as a member.





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  1. There are rumors about a risk MMA is posing, taking away athletes from other sports. IMMAF chief executive Densign White said “There is a fear, I believe, that MMA is growing too quickly and I think they’re concerned about the commercial impact it’s going to have on them. Their perception may be that MMA has gotten too popular and there is a risk here that MMA gets recognized and jumps ahead of us to the Olympic Games.”

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