Paris 2024 Olympics: Parkour and breaking set to be included in programme


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Parkour and breaking
Parkour and breaking are set to make their Olympic debuts in Paris

Parkour and breaking are set to be radical new additions to the Olympic programme when the final line-up for Paris 2024 is revealed on Monday.

Parkour is typically a street sport which involves running, jumping and climbing over obstacles.

Breaking, meanwhile, is a form of competitive breakdancing.

“It’s going to be great for breaking as it gives us more recognition as a sport,” British breakdancer Karam Singh told BBC Sport.

“And for the Olympics, it will attract young people who may not follow some of the traditional sports.”

The parkour bid has been submitted by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), but ownership of the sport is much debated.

Parkour Earth – one governing body – has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to “reject any submission” as it feels FIG is attempting to ‘steal’ its sport.

“Parkour is a recognised sport in its own right and as such cannot be considered a discipline or subsidiary to gymnastics,” Parkour UK CEO Dan Newton told BBC Sport.

FIG has said previously it organised world cup test events for the sport and a world cup series, and had an “open-door policy” to other organisations.

Established sports aim for evolution not revolution

Of the 27 international federations to have sports in the existing Olympic programme, 20 are proposing changes. While many would like to increase their allocation of competitors and medal events, generally that will not happen.

Cost-cutting measures will see athlete numbers drop from 11,238 at Rio 2016 to under 10,500 by 2024, which will be achieved despite the addition of new disciplines and the removal of only baseball/softball and karate.

The IOC has stressed new events will only be included if they utilise existing Paris 2024 venues, and priority will be given to those with youth appeal or which help achieve gender equality.

Who wants what?

World Athletics is believed to be looking to add a cross-country mixed relay event 100 years after the sport was last included, also in Paris.

A new “extreme slalom” concept of head-to-head racing is being proposed by the International Canoeing Federation, which plans to sacrifice two events from its sprint programme to facilitate the change.

Aquatic sports governing body Fina has decided against requesting the addition of all 50m sprint events – a setback for British swimmer Adam Peaty – while Tom Daley’s hopes of competing in a mixed diving competition are also over.

Fina will instead hope 27m (male) and 20m (female) high diving can be a demonstration event at the Games, before potential inclusion for Los Angeles 2028.

A mixed team time trial could be added to cycling’s road-race programme, and a reduction in the men’s field could allow the women’s team sprint to grow from a two to three-rider competition – in line with the men’s.

“Parity isn’t something I felt we had at London 2012 or Rio 2016, but I’m really positive about how things will look at Paris 2024,” Olympic champion Elinor Barker told BBC Sport.

Rowing hopes to have three new ‘coastal’ events, with handball pitching for a beach version. World Taekwondo hopes a mixed team event can be approved, and World Table Tennis wants women’s as well as men’s doubles to be added.

The International Triathlon Union and International Shooting Sports Federation are seeking one additional medal event each, while gymnastics also request aerobic and acrobatic disciplines are included; in addition to parkour.

But not everyone is happy…

Modern pentathlon traditionally struggles in terms of viewing figures, and in an attempt to remain part of the Games its governing body has proposed radical changes.

That would see the day-long event transformed to 90-minute ‘TV friendly’ semi-finals and finals, but many athletes feel the dramatic changes are too much too soon.

“The sport needs to change like others who are adapting to become more exciting, but it’s frustrating we’ve not been asked for any input,” said world silver medallist Joe Choong.

In a statement to the BBC, Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne president Klaus Schormann said he understood why some athletes were unhappy but insisted the new format brought “exciting possibilities” for the sport.

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