Despite significant doubts about the wisdom of going ahead with the Tokyo Olympics - even a year on from its initial postponement - with the coronavirus pandemic still raging, the Games have proven a triumph, packed with incident, astonishing personal stories and remarkable achievements.
Spectators gripped by the action in their living rooms across the world have been particularly enthralled by the new sports added to the 2020 roster like skateboarding, mountain biking, sport climbing and surfing.
From the 12 and 13-year-old competitors like Britain’s Sky Brown executing gravity-defying tricks and collecting medals at the Ariake Urban Sports Park to the climbers scrambling up artificial walls to slam a buzzer at the summit in less than six seconds, the new additions have kept audiences rapt and ushered in a next generation of household names.
For those already looking ahead to the next installment of the Summer Games, Paris 2024, the good news is that all four sports will be back next time around and joined by a potentially even more thrilling discipline: break dancing.
Explaining the surprise addition, the head of the Paris organising committee Tony Estanguet said in June 2019 that the emphasis would be on appealing to youth and ensuring the Games were “more urban” and “more artistic”.
“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is keen to set a new standard for inclusive, gender-balanced and youth-centred games,” the Paris Games says on its website.
“Paris 2024 submitted its proposal to the IOC to integrate four new sports that are closely associated with youth and reward creativity and athletic performance. These sports are breaking, sport climbing, skateboarding, surfing. All four are easy to take up and participants form communities that are very active on social media. Over the next five years, the inclusion of these events in the Olympic Games will help inspire millions of children to take up sport.”
Break dancing, or “breaking”, was a hit with the crowds when it was included at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the men’s competition was won by Russia’s Sergei Chernyshev (AKA “Bumblebee”) and the women’s by Ramu Kawai (AKA “Ram”) of Japan.
Other sports that campaigned for inclusion among the 32 to be showcased in 2024 but which were ultimately unsuccessful were chess, billiards and squash, while baseball and karate will not be returning next time out.
Because of the suspension of the Tokyo Games last summer, the next installment of the Olympics is now just three years away, taking place in the French capital from 26 July to 11 August 2024.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies