With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set to vote on Aug. 3 on whether or not to include skateboarding in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk is stepping up to support his sport’s candidacy in a big way.
“There are more participants in skateboarding than most sports,” Hawk told the Associated Press about the upcoming vote. “So I feel like [the Olympics] need our credibility and they need our excitement level in their Summer Games.”
As we’ve reported on, officials within the IOC and the 2020 Tokyo organizing committee are working to recruit the interest of younger generations of sports fans. In order to do that, the IOC is set to vote on a collection of five sports — surfing, skateboarding, karate, sports climbing and baseball/softball — for potential inclusion in the 2020 Olympics.
And, according to Hawk, no sport is better positioned to help bring in younger viewers than skateboarding.
“They don’t have that element … and if they are going to get any younger viewership, they need that,” he told the Associated Press. “So I think that (skateboarding) could very well happen.”
Currently, the plan is to either vote to include all five of the sports in question or none of them, but if skateboarding is accepted, 80 skateboarders will compete in street and park disciplines in Tokyo. And while Hawk is optimistic about skateboarding’s potential inclusion, if it does get voted in, not everyone will be pleased.
Bob Burnquist has spoken out in past years about how he is against skateboarding’s inclusion in the Olympics. He has softened his stance recently, telling the Laureus World Sports Awards in March that he could get behind the sport’s inclusion in the Olympics if the International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) was the governing body chosen to set up how the sport will be ran in the Olympics.
While the IOC has claimed that the ISF will be consulted in the sport’s implementation, ultimately, the governing body chosen was the International Roller Sports Federation, a move Burnquist told Laureus “100 percent of skateboarding” would be against.
But Hawk feels that the fear over the sport’s inclusion is reminiscent of the controversy surrounding snowboarding’s inclusion in the 1998 Olympics.
“In the beginning, snowboarding was felt more chastised than embraced,” Hawk told the AP. “Eventually it became the highlight of the Winter Games. I feel like skateboarding is on that trajectory.”
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