[The Associated Press]

Pole dancers hoist themselves high, twist their bodies and do the splits upside down as they vie to be the best. But the biggest challenge they face is persuading people that this is a tough sport that should be an event at the Olympic Games — not an erotic number staged in men’s clubs.

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Pole dancers hoist themselves high, twist their bodies and do the splits upside down as they vie to be the best.

But the women, competing in the world pole fitness and sports championships in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, face a challenge even before they climb onto the pole: persuading people that this is a tough sport that should be an event at the Olympic Games, and not an erotic number staged in men’s clubs.

The Alliance of Parents from Romania called the Romanian national finals, where youngsters compete, “a step toward infantile prostitution,” and more than 100 non-governmental groups signed a petition.

Police were called during the Sept. 16 world championships. They left after speaking to one of the organizers and no action was taken, organizer Cristina Fit told The Associated Press Wednesday.

“It’s a new sport and often due to prejudice, people are reluctant or they don’t know much about it.” 

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