Could Muay Thai Revive The Olympics?

What do you think? Yay or nay for Muay Thai as Olympic Sport?


In December of 2016, the International Executive Olympic committee voted to recognize the Art of Eight Limbs – Muay Thai as an Olympic sport. There will be a 3-year period in which board members can protest the vote or pass it through. All the while, Muay Thai’s international governing body will receive $25,000 every year and be eligible for other grants. These funds are for the sole purpose of helping Muay Thai set a foundation for inclusion in the Olympics. Competitive Cheerleading is also in the same boat as Muay Thai. Other sports that just received the O.K. to participate in Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Olympics are skateboarding, surfing, and rock climbing.

Notice a trend in the new sports?All of the newly introduced sports seem pretty “cool” or “youthful.” In other words, these new sports aren’t your grandmother’s synchronized swimming competition. These sports all incorporate real risks too: surfing, skateboarding, rock climbing, possibly Muay Thai and competitive cheer.

What’s with the “cool sports”?NBC Universal paid $12 Billion to host the Olympic Games until 2032. NBC is now scrambling to boost viewership because 18-45 year olds are watching tv less and less. In fact, young people are watching 25% less than they did in 2012 here in the USA and up to 28% less in London. Sponsors are searching for competitive events that young people like to boost those views.

Why some believe Muay Thai will become an Olympic sport…Some feel that Muay Thai is a natural shoe-in. MMA and UFC fighting relies on Muay Thai’s bloody elbow strikes, brutal flying knees, and controlling clinches to win fights (and make them more interesting). 2.75 million people tuned in to watch Conor McGregor face Dennis Siver and that was on pay-per-view! Aside from the combat sport’s growing popularity, Nak Muays are freaks of nature. They can withstand baseball-bat like kicks to the shin, have excellent endurance, and strategize to overcome opponents. To watch the best compete on an international platform like the Olympics would be incredible.

Why others believe Muay Thai won’t make the cut…As Fightland Vice so eloquently put it, “What will happen the first time a part-time, casual, suburban Olympics fan raised on gymnastic floor routines and dressage and the point-based delicacies of taekwondo witnesses a head-kick knockout or repeated knees to the head?”

Naysayers think that even if Muay Thai makes the cut, the carnage will be too much for your iPhone-using 8 year old and sweet granny. They think an Olympic Muay Thai would be a watered down Muay Thai focused on culture, tradition, and not so much on flesh-splitting blows.

What do you think? Yay or nay for Muay Thai as Olympic Sport? Who could you see as a top Muay Thai champion who could also become a crowd favorite?

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Kru Chris

Head Instructor, federal law enforcement officer.