It’s official. Skateboarding will debut in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Skateboarders, once aligned with a malicious counter-culture and considered nuisances to American society, will have the opportunity to compete in the newly added Park Terrain event in pursuit of the most coveted prize in sports; the Olympic gold medal. The decision to add skateboarding to the 2020 Games was quoted by the IOC as “the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history.”
This news has conjured quite a response from the skate industry itself. The International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) released the following statement after the IOC session:
“Today’s announcement by Tokyo 2020 marks an important milestone in skateboarding’s short Olympic history which started with a first Olympic experience at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing in the Summer of 2014. This decision recognizes the growth and popularity of skateboarding, and we appreciate that the IOC has made it possible for new sports to be added to the Games. The ISF and the skateboarding community are ready, equipped and well positioned to help make the first Olympic appearance of skateboarding an amazing one for skaters and fans alike.”
Other proponents for the decision include the Vans Pro Skate Park Series, Nyjah Huston, and Shaun White. But the largest advocate for this change must be skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. In an interview on Larry King Now in 2014, Tony Hawk mentions the need for The Olympics to engage a younger demographic: “If you look at the success of snowboarding in the Winter Games and how that’s brought a more youthful edge on The Olympics in general, they don’t have that with the Summer Games,” he said. “They don’t have anything that’s drawing in a younger viewership.”
However, the IOC decision has raised many thought-provoking questions on regulation as well, specifically how skateboarders will comply with the use of marijuana at the Olympic Games. According to Australian skate legend Tas Pappas, “Some guys skate really well on weed and if they have to stop smoking for one competition, it might really affect their performance.”
It is true that marijuana will be tested during The Olympics. However, the recent change to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s marijuana threshold allows athletes to use pot in their off time, but not within several days of competition due to obvious safety and compliance issues. So no, it may not help skateboarders in competition, but the threshold isn’t as strict as in previous years.
Regardless, it is all finally happening in 2020 and it’s going to be epic. As of right now, Park Terrain is the only event but I hope vert is added as well. The real question is, who will be the top contenders in Tokyo? Ryan Sheckler? Nyjah Huston? Louie Lopez? There are still four years to find out. I only wish skating was added during Tony Hawk’s prime because the unofficial “goat” of the sport deserves a gold not only for his epic career, but for petitioning to get skateboarding added to the 2020 Tokyo Games as well.
It’s amazing to think it all started when some California surfers in the 1950s screwed roller skate wheels to wooden planks and called it “sidewalk surfing.” If you told one of them this sport would one day be in The Olympics, they would say you’re friggin’ crazy.