As of yesterday, skateboarding, (along with surfing, climbing, Karate and softball/baseball) is an Olympic sport.
The unanimous International Olympics Committee (IOC) decision to include 5 new sports into the next Olympics in Tokyo was formally announced as the 2016 Rio Games began.
This one has long been a thorny issue within skateboarding and will continue to be so, with an immediate response from one side petitioning against IOC President (and one-time Olympic Champion fencer) Thomas Bach‘s decision.
Bach’s announcement added yet more weight to the long understood reality surrounding the potential for Olympic acceptance of skateboarding, namely that ‘the Olympics needs skateboarding more than skateboarding needs the Olympics‘.
Bach’s own words, as reported by the BBC do seem to reinforce this long held opinion:
“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.”
Although statements such as the one above do leave you wondering how far the need to connect with the lucrative teenage demographic and access the huge endorsement budgets of sponsors fixated on that same youth market have influenced this momentous decision, it is still pretty surreal to think that in four year’s time there will be skateboarders actively competing at the Tokyo Games.
No further details regarding the types of skateboarding to be included (beyond ‘park’ and ‘street’), the logistics involved in putting together national teams, or even more generally, how skateboarding could possibly be judged in a manner that will satisfy the stark statistical requirements of the Olympics, have so far been released.
Either way, and regardless of your own personal opinions, this is a watershed moment for skateboarding.
Team GB? Anybody got any suggestions? Time to start ironing those tracksuits…