LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP)Men can compete in Olympic artistic swimming for the first time at the 2024 Paris Games, World Aquatics said on Thursday.

Approval from the International Olympic Committee means a maximum of two men can be selected among eight athletes in the team event that is due to include 10 nations.

Adding men to the sport once known as synchronized swimming will leave rhythmic gymnastics as the last women-only event on the Summer Games program.

”Aquatics sports are universal and men have proven themselves to be excellent artistic swimmers,” World Aquatics president Husain Al-Musallam said in a statement.

Men have competed in artistic swimming at the biennial aquatics world championships since 2015. At the inaugural mixed duet event in Kazan, Russia, the gold medal was won by Bill May and Christina Jones for the United States.

”The inclusion of men in Olympic artistic swimming was once considered the impossible dream,” May said, citing the ”perseverance and the help and support of so many.”

At the 2022 worlds in Budapest, the mixed duet was won by Italians Giorgio Minisini and Lucrezia Ruggiero in a 13-nation contest.

”This announcement marks a milestone in artistic swimming history,” Minisini said of the Olympic inclusion.

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