(ATR) Surprise and controversy have marked the announcement of the four proposed sports to be added to the Paris 2024 Olympic Program.
Breakdancing at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires (ATR)
The reactions will likely be a part of discussions by the IOC Program Commission when it meets in just 10 days, on March 8, in Lausanne.
The Commission, chaired by the Italian Franco Carraro, will analyze the decision of the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee to include breakdancing, surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding. The last three will be making their debut in the Tokyo 2020 program while breakdancing has never been a full Olympic sport.
It is expected that the Program Commission will submit its opinions to the IOC Executive Committee that will meet later in March.
If the Executive gives the go-ahead to the selections, then the IOC Session from June 24 to 26 will take care of the final approval.
A score of sports federations had been knocking on the doors of the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee in an effort to be included.
While Tokyo 2020 added five disciplines, the number was reduced to four for the Paris Games. In France the number of athletes will be limited to 10,500 (against almost 11,000 in Japan).
The Paris 2024 program will have 32 sports, although today one of the controversies is whether breakdancing is a sport.
The inclusion of this modality of the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) caused worldwide surprise, as confirmed when reviewing social networks.
However, the French press seems to support the initiative of Paris 2024 to ensure that breakdancing has one million practitioners in the Olympic venue with 350 registered clubs.
Breakdancing was a popular attraction during its debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires last October, where three medals events were held.
Breakdancing will make its debut at the World Games of 2021 in Birmingham, Alabama and will appear in Tokyo 2020 as entertainment in the middle of the basketball games, by invitation of the international basketball federation FIBA.
Of course it has also received the accolade of the Hip Hop community.
Karate world championships in Madrid in November (WKF)
There are those who have seen its inclusion as proof of the willingness of the Olympic Movement to confront the status quo while approaching more and more young people mainly connected to street culture. Others point out the financial growth opportunities of a new market.
However, many analysts have been surprised by this proposal, especially given that karate is one of the sports eliminated.
Karate has more than 255,000 athletes in France at more than 5,000 clubs. Fifty-five percent of these athletes are under 18 years old. The host country of Paris 2024 has won 15 world titles in the last four World Championships. Globally, karate has 100 million fans in 194 national federations. The last edition of the World Championships was broadcast in 186 countries and registered a participation of 1,200 athletes from 131 nations.
According to Francis Didier, president of the French Karate Federation, the list for 2024 was to remain secret until June 15, but the four sports were leaked in the press. In his opinion, six or seven disciplines should have been chosen for 2024 and announced after the Tokyo Games.
Didier considers paradoxical the serious commitment of France to win medals in 2024 while at the same time eliminating karate, a sport where the French team routinely finishes on the podium in the World Championships. With breakdancing the objective is not to win but to have a urban show.
Baseball5 is a smaller version of the game (WBSC)
Like karate, baseball/softball is in the Tokyo 2020 sport program. But the World Baseball Softball Federation (WBSC) was aware of its difficult mission to stay in for 2024, given that the sport is not popular in France. Despite this, the WBSC made every effort, including an offer to contribute to the cost of a new installation.
The WBSC also presented Baseball5, a version of the sport with a much smaller footprint, as a new option.
WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari says he will be meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach in Lausanne on Wednesday to discuss the future of baseball/softball in the Olympic Program.
Tony Estanguet, the head of the Organizing Committee, defended the decisions.
"It was not easy, we had to make decisions and all four sports met the three criteria required: join the IOC that wants sustainable games with a limited number of athletes and without building facilities, connect with the new generations, and respond to the identity of Paris 2024."
Estanguet said he wants "revolutionary games."
Meanwhile, an IOC member, who declined to be named, told Around the Rings
that "many of my colleagues" in the international Olympic body "are surprised" particularly by the entry of breakdancing instead of karate.
"I think that many sports federations are going to say something," he added, referring to what he considers "lack of a sports structure" of this specialty with the absence of recognized world championships. Despite this, breakdancing "has passed directly" to the Olympic Program after "just a presentation" at the Youth Olympic Games in the Argentine capital, added the member of the IOC.
"How many NOCs in the world have recognized breakdancing?" Asked the sports leader who said he wholeheartedly approved the new policy of the IOC to encourage the evolution and flexibility of the Olympic Program.
The sports world will be waiting for the next meetings of the IOC, the International Federations, and the Olympic Committees.
Written by Miguel Hernandez
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