LAUSANNE, Switzerland — As expected, the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday gave approval to four sports to join the Paris 2024 program: surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and, quelle horreur for traditionalists, breakdancing, or in IOC jargon, breaking.
“More youth, more urban, more women,” Paris 2024 president Tony Estanguet said of the organizing committee’s goals for its program — the four sports a one-time add not guaranteed to be listed as part of the so-called “core” Olympic program.
Surf, skate and climbing will feature at Tokyo 2020, along with karate and baseball/softball. Breakdance made a breakthrough at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.
“Today is a historic day for the DanceSport community and the discipline of breaking,” World DanceSport president Shawn Tay said in a statement issued literally within seconds after the vote.
“We are sure breaking will be an outstanding success in Paris and will add lots of energy, athletic excellence, innovation and youth appeal to the Olympic Games. WDSF, together with the breaking community, is ready to collaborate closely with Paris 2024 and the IOC to make the Olympic dream of the world’s best b-boys and b-girls come true.”
The addition of the four sports capped an energetic Tuesday afternoon discussion capped by remarks in succession from the longest-serving member, Canada’s Dick Pound, on the IOC since 1978 — by tradition he is now called the ‘doyen’ — and its youngest, Afghanistan’s Samari Asghari, a 25-year-old basketball player from Afghanistan who was made a member just last year.
The Paris proposal for the four sports drew little to no IOC member negativity. Any number of members nonetheless had something to say — in IOC speak, to offer an “intervention.’
This went on for a half-hour, or so. Pound, always trenchant, said he wasn’t quite sure why, particularly since over the last many months the matter had been proposed, examined, scrutinized, reviewed and on and on — particularly since the Paris people were certainly entitled to some latitude for their Games.
Asghari — disclosing she had first been on a skateboard at age 8 — then stole the show.
“We heard this morning from our president, Thomas Bach, about the power of sport to change the world,” she said.
“In our country,” Afghanistan, “this is not an academic debate.
“It is deadly serious.”
In Kabul, she said, “I see kids skateboarding. I see them doing breakdancing,” adding a moment later, “Imagine what a message it would be for them choosing the sport they play to be in the Olympic Games.”
“… The Olympic movement owes it to the young kids in Kabul, Afghanistan .. it also owes it to itself and if it wants to stay relevant to this youngest generation of fans … as the president said this morning, let’s move with the times.”
Asghari also said she had a nine-second video of kids skateboarding in the Kabul streets.
“Show me the video after the session,” Bach quipped. “Maybe I start right after the session.”