New sports change course of Olympics

Desperate to attract the next generation of fans, the IOC used the Tokyo Games to change tack and send the Olympic movement down a seemingly irrevocable path towards modernisation.

A Games like no other given limitations imposed by a global pandemic, Tokyo 2020 – or more accurately 2021 – represents a fork in the road moment.

Five new sports were added to the Olympic rota for these Games – surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing, 3×3 basketball and karate – and all but karate will be there again in Paris 2024, when it is replaced by breakdancing.

Throw in the freestyle discipline of BMX cycling, which also made its debut in Tokyo, 카지노알 and it was a clear push for the hearts and minds of today’s youth.

The IOC described it as “the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history.”

For Australia, the new sports proved popular – and beneficial – with three medals, including a memorable gold to an 18-year-old who speaks with an American twang but also pride for the role Australia played in his development as a skateboarder.

Gauging their success is hard, given organisers would have been imagining raucous party-style crowds at these new events similar to those witnessed at beach volleyball at recent Olympics.

Can you imagine what the atmosphere at the Ariake Sports Park would have been like when Japan was clinching double gold in the street skateboarding, when a pair of 13-year-olds and another aged 16 shared the youngest podium in Olympic history in the women’s event?

But if social media and word of mouth are any guide, the IOC seem to be on a winner.

How could you not be endeared to Logan Martin, the 27-year-old from Logan in Queensland who built a BMX freestyle course in his backyard to prepare himself for the run that propelled him to Tokyo gold.

Now that the evolution is in full swing, the question remains – was it needed?

Listen to the hundreds of interviews conducted with athletes in Tokyo and they frequently include references to motivation gained from watching the Games at a young age.

“This is where my dream started by watching them,” beach volleyballer Mariafe Artacho del Solar said of the inspiration provided by Australia’s Sydney 2000 gold medallists Kerri Pottharst and Natalie Cook.

Said her silver-medal winning partner on the sand Taliqua Clancy: “My journey started from watching Cathy Freeman and the Sydney Olympics. As an eight-year-old, that was me.”

Time will tell whether their displays on the Tokyo sand light the fire in an eight-year-old to make it to Brisbane 2032.

There is little doubt however that there would have been people watching the BMX, or the skateboarding or the climbing that had never been interested in the Olympics before.

And their structure fits in perfectly with today’s society – a 45-second run on a skateboard or the eight seconds it took the climbers to imitate spiders scampering up a wall serves short attention spans well.

So where to now for the IOC on this course?

Breakdancing – or ‘breaking’ as it will be known – comes in for 2024, though there is no word yet on whether athletes will need to supply their own cardboard.And before anyone mocks its inclusion – is it any less worthy than artistic swimming or rhythmic gymnastics?

It at least resonates with today’s society – when was the last time someone told you they wanted to get together with some friends for a bit of artistic swimming?

And how far will the IOC push the envelope?

Surprisingly for a nation so ensconced in gaming, e-sports wasn’t on the Tokyo 2020 radar.

But it is worth noting, the IOC did hold an Olympic Virtual Series in the months leading up to the Games.Perhaps this is the first step in Fortnite or Gran Turismo taking place in between the pole vault and the javelin one day?

Don’t be too quick to write it off – after being an exhibition event in 2018 – there will now be esports medals up for grabs at the 2022 Asian Games.

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