Tony Hawk discusses Olympic possibilities
Christophe Dubi, sport director for the International Olympic Committee, announced in February that the IOC is aiming to officially recognize the International Skateboard Federation in 2014, an important step toward eventually bringing skateboarding to the Summer Games. That effort got increased attention this week when Tony Hawk told Larry King he has been involved in recent talks with the IOC and that skateboarding is "very likely to be in the 2020 Games" during an interview for "Larry King Now."
Hawk will be 52 by the time the 2020 Games roll around and told King he would be unlikely to compete if Olympic skateboarding comes to pass, ceding the territory to younger athletes like Mitchie Brusco and Tom Schaar.
In the interview, Hawk echoed a line he had previously used when skateboarding was being considered for the 2016 Rio Summer Games in Brazil, telling King, "To be honest, I think they need skateboarding more than we need them."
"The Olympics may or may not need skateboarding, but the interest is certainly there and has been heightened after the high-profile debut of the snowboard slopestyle and freeskiing events in Sochi," Gary Ream, co-founder of the ISF and president of the Camp Woodward action sports camps, told XGames.com.
Ream and the ISF first began conversations with Dubi and the IOC about skateboarding's potential Olympic future in 2006, as new sports were being considered for debut at the 2016 Summer Games and beyond.
Skateboarding has already missed the cut for both Rio and the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, but Hawk, who is involved with USA Skateboarding -- a national branch of the ISF -- suggested it's not an impossibility.
"The sports program for the 2020 Games has been confirmed by the IOC session in Buenos Aires in September" and does not include skateboarding, IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau confirmed Tuesday, checking Hawk's exuberance. "However, under the leadership of the IOC president Thomas Bach, the composition of the program, together with a number of other themes, is being discussed as part of a wider reflection on the future of the Olympic movement and its activities. Key decisions are expected to be made by the end of 2014."
Bach, who began his eight-year term after an election at the 125th IOC session in September, has indicated that he hopes to loosen IOC rules that cap the number of sports in the Summer Games at 28, which could ease the process for the addition of skateboarding, BMX freestyle and other contenders.
"The programme of the Olympic Games has to represent a balance between tradition and progress," Bach wrote in his "Unity in Diversity" manifesto prior to the election. "We have experienced the exciting positive impact of new events, reflecting new cultures and attracting new audiences. This has also encouraged other Olympic sports to modernize their competitions without compromising their essential cores. The composition of the Olympic programme is like a jigsaw puzzle: You cannot simply replace some pieces with others, because you may destroy the harmony of the whole picture."
The Youth Olympic Games have become an important piece as the IOC works on that jigsaw puzzle, and skateboarding will make its Youth Olympic Games debut as a showcase sport this summer in China. The IOC will be paying close attention.
"As you may know, the IOC executive board agreed in 2013 to allow some new sports and disciplines not currently on the Olympic program -- sport climbing, roller sports, wushu and skateboarding -- to be showcased at the Youth Olympic Games this summer in Nanjing," Moreau said. "In parallel, the IOC is currently looking at a potential recognition of the International Skateboarding Federation, which is the first step to then apply to join the Olympic program."
BMX freestyle events are also being considered for future Olympics, said Ream, who is also a co-founder -- along with BMX legend Mat Hoffman -- of the International BMX Freestyle Federation. BMX freestyle events would likely come under the control of Union Cycliste Internationale, as BMX racing did when it debuted at the 2008 Beijing Games.