If you think skateboarding is a pursuit for hooded teenagers congregating under a bridge and so not interested in reaching the pinnacle of world sport, it’s time to think again.
That’s because skateboarding is one of five sports — along with karate, surfing, sports climbing and baseball/softball — that the International Olympic Committee has added to the next edition of the Summer Games at Tokyo 2020.
The vote, described as “the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic programme in modern history,” will not see any of the 28 events already scheduled for Tokyo 2020 replaced, instead adding 18 events and 474 athletes.
Both the IOC and the Tokyo Organizing Committee placed an emphasis on getting a younger generation of athletes excited about the Games.
“We want to take sport to the youth,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. “With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them.
“Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games.”
Karate, surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing have never before been included in the Olympics, although baseball and softball have both made appearances as recently as Beijing 2008.
The five sports were put forward in July and received a unanimous vote from the IOC.
“The inclusion of the package of new sports will afford young athletes the chance of a lifetime,” Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said. “To realize their dreams of competing in the Olympic Games — the world’s greatest sporting stage — and inspire them to achieve their best, both in sport and in life.”
While karate, with its origins being in Japan, is an obvious choice, the inclusion of some of these new sports, however, hasn’t gone down well with everyone, with many claiming that netball and squash are more deserving of a chance.
One Twitter use described the inclusion of skateboarding as “shambles,” while another dubbed the decision as “silly,” while the Guardian’s Owen Gibson quipped that IOC as “down with the kids.”
Whether or not you agree with the sports’ inclusion, one thing is for sure; it gives 474 athletes a dream opportunity to compete at the Olympics.