The IFMA family gathered in the stunning surroundings of the Belarus Olympic building today to celebrate recognition by the International Olympic Committee and mark the next steps for our athletes including The World Games.
Athletes from every team attended the meeting, with some proudly carrying their flags to the podium. Videos were shown of upcoming events for them to compete at including the Pan-American Games later this year in Mexico and the European Championships in Paris.
This year for the first time muaythai athletes under IFMA will be competing at The World Games to be held in Wroclaw, Poland. This tournament in Belarus is the final qualifier for athletes who would like to compete there at 11 different weight categories across male and female.
Athletes from the SouthEast Asian region can also for the first time compete at the South East Asian Games to be held in Malaysia.
A cheer went up when IFMA president Dr Sakyche Tapsuwan talked about the historic moment in December 2016 when the IOC granted provisional recognition to IFMA as an IOC-federation.
Mr Anatoliy Simoncek from the Belarus Muaythai Federation said how proud he has been to welcome so many muaythai athletes from around the world to his country. The athletes celebrated Victory Day yesterday with the Belarus team and citizens of Minsk, and he said this was a happy moment for everyone.
Later secretary general Mr Stephan Fox told the athletes we all have a long road ahead of us, with much to do to ensure full recognition but he said he is sure the IFMA family can continue to work together and make this dream of ours a reality.
Dr Erdogan Aydin supported this speech, reminding athletes of the importance of Clean Sport and Fair Play in muaythai.
Ms Elisa Salinas from the Mexican Muaythai Federation was also present, this federation will host the IFMA World Championships in 2018; the first time this tournament will travel to the Americas. Dr Dato Shah Mohammad from the Malaysian Muaythai Federation was also present to mark Malaysia’s contribution to muaythai being included in the SEA Games.
The Olympic rings and the mascots for The World Games were also clearly visible, as the athletes talked excitedly about the many options now facing them.
Young athletes taking part in the IFMA Youth World Championships in Bangkok this year may well become the first muaythai athletes to win gold at the Olympics some day.