Time for wannabe gold medallists to dust off their boomboxes and fine‑tune their one-handed airflares: competitive breakdancing will be the sparkling new attraction at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
This was confirmed on Monday by the International Olympic Committee as part of plans by the president, Thomas Bach, to make the Games “more gender balanced, more youthful and more urban”. Surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing, which are part of next year’s Tokyo Games, will also be included at Paris 2024.
Breakdancing – or breaking as it is known – evolved in New York in the 1960s and 70s as a way for rival street gangs to fight for turf. It made its Olympic debut at the 2018 Summer Youth Games in Buenos Aires. The IOC has confirmed it will be staged at a prestigious downtown venue, joining sport climbing and 3-on-3 basketball at Place de la Concorde.
The news was greeted with delight by the British breakdancer Karam Singh. “It’s going to be great for breaking as it gives us more recognition as a sport,” he said. “And for the Olympics, it will attract young people who may not follow some of the traditional sports.”
While many involved in breaking were happy, some expressed concerns that the sport – which is influenced by a variety of sources such as gymnastics, tap dance, capoeira and kung fu – may lose its authenticity by becoming part of the Olympic movement.
To make way for the newer sports, the IOC is cutting the number of weightlifting and boxing categories and rejected requests for other new events, such as mixed relay cross-country athletics and coastal rowing. The overall athlete quota will also be reduced to 10,500, down around 500 from those expected in Tokyo.
Meanwhile the IOC has also decided to provisionally suspend the Belarus president, Alexander Lukashenko, from attending the Tokyo Olympics after allegations that athletes have been tortured, beaten and arrested for speaking out or demonstrating after his re-election in August.
Bach said Lukashenko, who is the head of the country’s National Olympic Committee, and other senior members had “not appropriately protected the Belarusian athletes from political discrimination within the NOC, their member sports federations or the sports movement”, adding: “This is contrary to the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter, and therefore seriously affects the reputation of the Olympic Movement.”