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SBD Global/February 19, 2014/Olympics

IOC Weighs Adding Skateboarding, BMX To Tokyo 2020 Program To Court Youth

IOC is looking at adding skateboarding, BMX to attract younger fans.
Energized by the additions of slopestyle and freeskiing to the Winter Games program, the IOC is weighing the addition of skateboarding and BMX halfpipe and park to the Summer Olympic program for the 2020 Tokyo Games. IOC Sports Dir Christophe Dubi said he expects the IOC to recognize the Int'l Skateboarding Federation by the end of the year. Dubi said, "That is probably the next boost to the sport. Major events, exposure to the global stage is what will help the sport continue to grow.” The IOC is in the middle of overhauling the way it determines what sports are part of the Olympics. Jacques Rogge, the former IOC president, capped the number of summer sports at 28 and number of athletes at 10,500. His successor, Thomas Bach, is in favor of loosening those rules and making it easier to add new sports.

SKATEBOARDING ALLOWED: BMX racing has been part of the Olympic program since '08, but not the halfpipe or park disciplines. Dubi said that the program for Rio 2016 is set, but the IOC will look at new sports for Tokyo 2020. In addition to skateboarding and BMX halfpipe and park, the IOC also is eyeing sport climbing, another lifestyle sport. Dubi said, "We should not move away from those sports that appear to be more traditional. You need probably a blend of urban-extreme sport and at the same time making sure that we have the ground covered with all the (traditional) others.” Dubi said adding slopestyle and freeskiing had been a huge benefit to the program in Sochi. The average age of Olympics viewers has been rising during the past decade, and the IOC has looked to attract younger viewers by adding new sports that appeal to them. The discipline of slopestyle and the sport of freeskiing, which have been part of the X Games for more than a decade, are an example of that. Dubi said internet consumption globally was up 300% for the Sochi Games and viewership for slopestyle had been “tremendous.” Dubi: “What I find interesting is it’s strong on TV, which is a good thing because it’s (where) our traditional viewers (are), but it’s also good on the internet, which is the younger generation, and these age groups have a big pickup.”

APPEAL TO YOUTHS: Dubi said the IOC feels like the Summer Games’ program is in good shape. For the first time in years, the IOC saw an uptick in younger viewers for the London Olympics, and he believes that the IOC can continue to make traditional sports relevant by making interesting venues, playing relevant music and creating colorful backdrops. But, he added that including “so-called extreme sports” to the program is something that could help, and the IOC will spend the rest of the year evaluating skateboarding, BMX, sport climbing and other sports. Dubi said, “By the end of 2014, we will know exactly what we will do" (More at SBJ's ON THE GROUND Blog).
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Related Topics:

Olympics, Russia, Japan

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