Earlier this year, Rio de Janeiro was named host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Being the capitol and birthplace of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the announcement has begged the question from grapplers around the globe:
Could BJJ be an Olympic Sport?
Several online petitions and campaigns have been started on behalf of the idea, and debate has lit up forums and message boards across the web.
The general sentiment is…
[social][/social][einset][/einset]It would be nice, but it seems highly unlikely.
The International Olympic Committee uses a list of criteria to assess the value of sports both currently in and wishing to become a part of the Games. This list includes 33 specific sections and sub-sections that sport organizations must meet in order to qualify.
Here’s how Jiu Jitsu stacks up in the largest sections to which may carry the most weight:
· History and Tradition:
Identified as the date of establishment and development of competition within the sport, BJJ does very well.
o Under the governance of the IBJJF and other leading grappling organizations, there are several high-profile championships that take place every year, including the Mundials, Pan Ams, and the ADCC.
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· Popularity: Described as participation and general public interest in the sport.
o Unfortunately, with BJJ still very much in its infancy, the sport does not do well in this category. Even as it continues to grow in popularity, it is still not very well known. Mainly due to lack of education, grappling is not a spectator-friendly sport to those with no knowledge of it.
o It has garnered little media attention as well, with world championships only available to be viewed streaming live on the web and on a handful of small channels in Brazil. Because of its lack of exposure, few major sponsors outside of the sport have stepped in with support for the organizations and athletes.
· Universality: Described as number of active nations and national federations within the sport, leaves us in a slight predicament.
o While in the last few years BJJ has spread to the farthest reaches of the globe, the epicenter of the sport has been, and will long be, Brazil and the USA. As long as this continues, it will become difficult for other nations to compete with fair representation as they catch up.
Can BJJ Qualify? We’ll explain more in Part 2…..Part 2 – Does BJJ Qualifiy as an Olympic Sport – PART 2