New Olympics is ‘utter embarrassment’

 

Breakdancing is now an Olympic sport.

The bizarre announcement came as the IOC continued to usher in a new era for the Games with skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing also confirmed to return at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The four sports were given the green light as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board met to confirm the Paris 2024 program.

Skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing have already been added to the program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will take place in 2021 after being postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The controversial inclusions were first put on the table by the 134th Session of the IOC last year and provisionally included on the 2024 program for Paris.

The inclusion of the four new sports has come at the expense of weightlifting and boxing categories. Proposed additions of mixed relay cross-country athletics and coastal rowing were also rejected.

The introduction of breakdancing - or breaking, as the sport is known - was "one of the results of the Olympic Agenda 2020", IOC president Thomas Bach said.

"We had a clear priority to introduce sports (that are) particularly popular among the younger generation and taking into consideration the urbanisation of sport."

 

A breakdancing competition held in Sydney.
A breakdancing competition held in Sydney.

While Bach was enthusiastic about the new direction of the Olympics, the announcement fell flat with many sport commentators around the globe on Tuesday morning (AEDT).

American sports reporter David Woods seemed to reflect public opinion when he posted on Twitter: "So no to cross-country and yes to breakdancing? International Olympic Committee is an utter embarrassment to sport".

Canadian Evolutionary Behavioural Science Professor Gad Saad also lamented the shift away from traditional human movement sports.

"And next, there will be a new sport at the 2028 Olympics. It's a triathlon: breakdancing followed by fishing and then long-jump spitting. There used to be a time when 100m sprint was the archetype of an Olympic athlete. Now everyone is an Olympic athlete," Saad wrote on Twitter.

Many other commentators were more concerned that the new sports were included while sports like netball and softball weren't considered.

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Breakdancing, which grew up alongside hip hop in the South Bronx of New York in the 1970s and is officially known in sport terms as breaking, appeared at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, in the form of head-to-head "battles".

Russia's Sergei Chernyshev, competing under the nickname Bumblebee, won the first breaking gold medal for boys in that event, while Japan's Ramu Kawai won the girls' title.

 

"Today is a historic occasion not only for b-boys and b-girls but for all dancers around the world," said Shawn Tay, president of the World Dance Sport Federation (WDSF).

"The WDSF could not be prouder to have breaking included at Paris 2024... It was a true team effort to get to this moment and we will redouble our efforts in the lead-up to the Olympic Games to make sure the breaking competition at Paris 2024 will be unforgettable."

Federations of sports that already have Olympic status were left disappointed in their bid to increase events within their sports as IOC president Thomas Bach said that none of the proposed 41 events would be included in Paris.

While some sports substituted in some events within their existing event numbers, Bach said medal events had actually gone down from 339 to 329.

 

He said the athletes' quota for Paris had been fixed at 10,500, including those participating in the four new sports.

That represents a decrease of 600 from Tokyo Games, while gender equality would be attained for the first time in Olympic history in Paris.

The question of gender equality led to the demise of the men's 50km race walk, which first appeared at the 1932 Olympics.

IOC sports director Kit McConnell said the event would be replaced by a "mixed gender event".

There was a decision to "reach gender equality by removing the men's 50km race walk", rather than introducing a women's version, McConnell said, adding that the men and women's 20km race walks would remain.

The replacement event will not, however, be a mixed cross-country, which World Athletics had been pushing hard for.

"The event had to fit into an existing Olympic venue," McConnell said, explaining that a potential re-fit of the equestrian or mountain-bike venues to accommodate a cross-country was shown to be "too expensive and complex".

- with AFP

Originally published as New Olympics is 'utter embarrassment'



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