Wushu Included in Dakar 2026 Youth Olympic Games
On January 8, 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that wushu will be included in the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games (postponed to 2026). This will be the first time that wushu has been included in the YOG sports programme. So far, in addition to the original 28 major events, the Dakar Youth Olympic Games in 2026 will add a total of 7 events including wushu.
This is a tremendous milestone in the development of wushu, and the positive outcome is the result of the hard work, longtime efforts and substantial global promotions of the IWUF and its 155 members over the past 30 years.
Wushu is now included in the next YOG as an official sport for several reasons:
- Wushu is popular among young athletes. It offers gender equality in competition, uncomplicated requirements for fields of play and equipment, and sustainable development. These characteristics are consistent with the principles, vision and mission of the YOG and the IOC.
- The promotion and popularization of wushu in Africa has been successful and steadily increasing. At present, the IWUF has 39 national federations in the African continent. In recent years, the competitive level of African wushu athletes has steadily improved. At the last two World Junior Wushu Championships in Bulgaria and Brazil athletes from Africa won three gold medals. Wushu is an official event at the All-Africa Youth Games held in 2018.
- The Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China in 2022. As the representative of Chinese traditional sports, wushu’s inclusion in the YOG in 2022 creates a positive relationship which will promote the preparation of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
- It will enhance understanding and friendship among youth from different countries, cultures, and beliefs, help promote understanding, and create cultural exchanges between the East and the West.
The Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games is expected to welcome 48 athletes from all over the world to participate in four events: Men’s Changquan & Gunshu Combined, Men’s Taijiquan & Taiji Fan Combined, Women’s Changquan & Gunshu Combined, Men’s Taijiquan & Taiji Fan Combined.
To date, IWUF has hosted and grown its major signature events all over the globe, including 15 World Wushu Championships and 8 Junior World Wushu Championships, and has tracked steady growth in participation and an increase in athlete skill levels. The federation has also built up elite athlete championships including the Sanda World Cup and Taolu World Cup, and has created a dedicated tournament for the globally popular sport of taijiquan in the World Taijiquan Championships. Wushu is celebrated by many thousands at the ever-growing sport-for-all event World Kungfu Championships, which will see its eighth edition in Emeishan, China. IWUF has gained significant recognition in the global sport community by successfully getting wushu added as a competition or exhibition sport to a number of important and diverse multi-sport games — including the Asian Games, the Summer Universiade, the World University Games, the World Combat Games, the African Youth Games, the Asian-Pacific Masters Games, and the Islamic Solidarity Games.
Wushu and the Olympics
In 2001, the International Wushu Federation first applied for wushu’s inclusion in the Olympic Games.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, the IWUF was approved by the International Olympic Committee to hold the “Beijing 2008 Wushu Competition” and “Nanjing 2014 Wushu Competition” in accordance with the Olympic model and standards, as cultural programs. Members of the International Olympic Committee including Presidents Mr. Rogge and Mr. Bach went to the stadium to watch wushu competitions and award medals. Wushu was also the only awarding ceremony by Mr. Bach at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games. Through the promotion of the Beijing Olympic Games and Nanjing Olympic Games, the image and international recognition of wushu has been greatly improved.
The International Wushu Federation applies to the International Olympic Committee to include Wushu in the Olympic Games twice, and ultimately failed for the inclusion of alternative projects.
IWUF for the third time submits an application to the International Olympic Committee for wushu’s inclusion into the Olympics. In July, the IOC Executive Board in Durban, South Africa makes a decision to list wushu as one of eight candidates for the 2020 Olympic Games project. At the 2012 IOC Executive Board, wushu’s inclusion went into the third round of voting, and ultimately was not accepted.
In 2014, in conjunction with the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, the IWUF was officially invited to exhibit wushu in the inaugural IOC Sports Lab, an interactive showcase of four sports working toward inclusion in the Olympic Games. Wushu’s top athletes and their performances were broadcast to millions of television viewers, gaining wider exposure for the sport and more prominent recognition in the IOC community.
In 2015, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing Committee announced the shortlist of new projects; wushu ranked as one of the eight candidates for the project. In the end, it missed inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
However, after three applications, the International Wushu Federation gained valuable experience regarding wushu’s bidding procedures and technical aspects for future Olympic bids.
The recent IOC Executive Board meeting in December 2019 voted on the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic project settings. In addition to the 28 permanent and five major items of new projects, the Board continued to evaluate the wushu’s inclusion into the Dakar Youth Olympic Games, and slated further discussion to continue January 8, 2020 in the IOC Executive Committee.
January 8, 2020
Wushu is included as an official event in the Dakar 2026 Youth Olympic Games.
Wushu, Looking Ahead
In the future, the IWUF will continue to actively reform, further improve the rules and standards, and make wushu competitions “faster, higher, and stronger,” further increase popularization and promotion, develop more member countries and regions, and make wushu a healthy and happy lifestyle for everyone.
In 2026, what kind of spark will Wushu and Africa have? Let us wait and see!
The IWUF is committed to promote the sport of wushu both to the global sporting community and to the IOC.