Paris 2024: A look at the ‘new’ sports on show at this summer’s Olympic Games
Current International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules dictate that a Summer Olympic programme must consist of 28 “core” sports that are present at every Games unless exceptional circumstances deem them unsuitable. These include staples from football to fencing and athletics to equestrian.
On top of this, each Games can include several less traditional “new” sports. Paris 2024 will feature 32 sports in total, making it the first Summer Games since 1960 to have fewer events than the previous edition. Here’s an insight into the “new” sports on show.
Debuting in 2024: Breakdancing
The only sport to be making its Olympic debut in Paris this summer is breakdancing, dubbed “breaking” by the IOC. Promising to add style and flair to the Games, it’s a dance that originated in the USA in the 1970s. Becoming a major feature of lively block parties in the Bronx that celebrated hip hop culture, the dance style grew in popularity amongst the counter culture.
With only four athletes per continent competing this summer, qualification opportunities are sparse, as 16 B-Boys and 16 B-Girls take to Paris’s Place de la Concorde, one of the city’s major public squares.
Breaking is set to become the first dancesport to ever feature in a Summer Olympic Games and while this may feel alien to many, international breakdance competitions have been held all over the world since the 1990s. It’s also already had some Olympic exposure, having been included in the Youth Games in Buenos Aires, 2018.
While its inclusion in the Games appears on the surface to be an overtly positive juncture for the sport, there are undoubtedly opinions within the scene that are less optimistic.
Largely emerging out of poverty and oppression, due to its lack of reliance on equipment and technical training or coaching, breakdancing has historically been considered an art form rather than a sport. Nowadays, however, it’s a global industry that sees the dance itself continue to evolve, becoming more athletic and highly resembling gymnastics.
Many within the scene see the mainstream recognition in a positive light, however, some fear the sport risks losing its counter-cultural edge, which was once viewed as the bastion of urban vitality and made it what it is.
Making their second Olympic appearance: Skateboarding, Surfing and Sport Climbing
IOC President, Thomas Bach, confirmed that these sports would be included once again in the 2024 Olympic programme, following their 2020 debuts, due to the fact they’re aligned with the Olympic agenda’s priorities of ensuring gender-balance, youth appeal and urban style.
While analysis of the popularity and success of the three sports within the Olympic movement will continue to be evaluated over time, Bach’s sentiment, along with the addition of breaking, is a clear sign of the movement’s current direction. That direction enabled the world to be gripped by 13-year-old Sky Brown in Tokyo as she medalled for Team GB in the women’s park skateboarding event, while audiences were mesmerised by the surfing on show as they tuned into their first ever experience of the sport.
Having developed in 1950s USA as part of an underground, alternative culture, skateboarding’s background is not dissimilar to breakdancing and it has also become far more widely accessible and mainstream in recent years. With values entrenched in freedom and rebellion, there are some within the sport who question its place in the Olympics, however, it’s the ideal Olympic event in light of the IOC’s commitment to youth, gender-balance and urban culture.
It’s easy to understand why the IOC has committed to evolve its sporting offering, however, whether the newcomers prove to add a tangible, long-term value to the Olympic Movement, or end up simply serving a more superficial purpose, remains to be seen.
This summer surfers will take to the waves at the legendary surf spot Teahupo’o in Tahiti, while skateboarding events will be held at the Place de La Concorde and sport climbing at the 6,000 capacity Le Bourget climbing venue.
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