“There is a tremendous amount of talent here,” Measday said. “It says a lot about where our sport is going.”
Pole dancing’s destination, organizers hope, is the Olympics.
Hong Kong-based Ania Przeplasko, founder of the International Pole Dance Fitness Association, said efforts are underway made to make pole dancing a “test” event for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016. Pole dancers had tried to get on the schedule for London in 2012, but were too late to make a serious bid.
A wide range of sports aspire to join the Olympics, but few are able to reach those heights.
To be included on the Olympic program, a sport must be approved by the full assembly of the International Olympic Committee. Last year, golf and rugby sevens were added for the 2016 Olympics, while baseball, softball, squash, karate and roller sports failed to make the cut.
Organizers said Thursday’s championships marked a major step forward for sport pole dancing. The competition was held in a large arena near the Tokyo Dome, the Japanese capital’s main sports stadium, with competitors from countries ranging from Malaysia to Moldova.
Performers got four minutes and two poles about 12 feet (three meters) tall to show what they could do. Stiletto heels were checked backstage, and rules required outfits be “dignified and appropriate for athletic competition.”