China has managed to get kung fu included for the first time in the Olympics as a discipline on demonstration in Beijing next year, confident that the martial art of Asian origin would become a medal sport in future.
Chinese Olympic Committee vice-president Zhang Faqiang has confirmed that Wushu will be featured at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the China News Service reported.
Wushu practitioners in China, numbered around several tens of millions, view this opportunity as "the first step in a long march of 10,000 li (5,000 km)," Zhang said.
Wushu or kung fu, will neither be a medal sport nor a mere demonstration. Instead, the event featuring it will be named the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Wushu Competition.
But the event won't share the demonstration status that taekwondo enjoyed at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and will not be included as an official sport for the Beijing Games.
But its Olympics 'debut' will "have extremely significant implications" for wushu's eventual entry as a competitive event, chairman of the China Martial Arts Association, Li Jie was quoted as saying by China Daily.
Currently, all of the 28 Olympic sports, with the exception of judo and taekwondo, originated in either Europe or North America.
China has been actively advocating wushu since the early 1980s. The establishment of the International Wushu Federation (IWUF) in Beijing in 1991 led to its global expansion and Olympic push.
The IWUF was accepted into the General Association of International Sports Federation in 1994 and recognised by the International Olympic Committee in February 2002.