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The two sports were voted in at the recent 129th IOC Session after a two-year deliberation process, with the Committee calling this “the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic programme in modern history.” Baseball/softball, karate and sports climbing will also debut in Tokyo, with the additions reflecting an attempt by the Olympics to engage a younger demographic come 2020.
“We want to take sport to the youth. 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. Tokyo 2020’s balanced proposal fulfils all of the goals of the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendation that allowed it. 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,” said IOC President THomas Bach.
Skateboarding and surfing are two of the most contentious inclusions. Being inextricably linked to underground culture, many believe that skateboarding’s inclusion at the Olympics will damage the integrity of the sport. Similar sentiments have been echoed in the surfing world, while others in this WSJ article state that the surf conditions in Tokyo during the summer simply won’t allow for a world-class display. Others have been more positive about the inclusion, with Kolohe Andino stating in last month’s LWA interview that “I think introducing surfing to the Olympics would be awesome. It would bring competitive surfing to the next level and truly recognise it as a global sport. I would be honored if I could represent my country doing the thing I love most.”
Skate and surf are two black sheep that have managed to wriggle into mainstream sports, and whether or not you agree with the latest inclusions, there’s no doubt that this will boost the global profile and accessibility of the sports. You can read the Olympics’ full explanation of their recent inclusions right here, and see Tony Hawk’s prediction about skateboarding in the 2020 Olympics below: