Breakdancing is one of the four additional sports expected to be included at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris along with Surfing, Sport climbing and Skateboarding. While the three other sports have already been added to the programme for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and invited to return in Paris, Breakdancing would be making its first appearance in the Olympics in 2024.
At least 20 disciplines from federations across the world, including Karate and Baseball/Softball, have applied for inclusion. The Olympic Games Organising Committee (OGOC) must submit the recommended list to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which will make a decision in December 2020, following the Tokyo Games. The IOC and OGOC have already declared that the number of participating athletes will be capped at 10500, a reduction from the Tokyo maximum, for the 2024 Games.
Breakdancing originated as a hip-hop style of athletic dancing in New York City during the late 1960s and early 1970s from martial art moves developed by street gangs. From those early roots, break-dancers began to add innovative athletic moves that were popularized by African-Americans and US Latinos. However, Breakdancing could not sever its ties from crime and gang violence. Notion changed in the 1980s when the form was adopted by Michael Jackson. The pop icon lifted the status of Breakdancing and spread it among larger audience.
The World Dancesport Federation recognized Breakdancing and took it in its ambit under the Street Dance section. As per WDSF, Breakdancing is often improvisational, sometimes even anarchic. This, to an extent, thrives on interaction between the dancers and the spectators. This was exactly the explanation of Tony Estanguet, the head of OGOC, while announcing the proposal of including Breakdancing in the Olympics. The former Olympic gold medallist in Canoeing explained that the new sport will make the Olympics “more urban” and “more artistic”.
Breakdancing was included at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018 ahead of traditional dance competitions like Ballroom and Latin dancing. Russia’s Sergei Chernyshev, nicknamed ‘Bumblebee’, claimed the first-ever Breakdancing men’s gold and 17-year-old B-Girl Ram (Ramu Kawai) of Japan won the first-ever gold in women’s category at the Youth Olympic Games. As one of the head judges at the Youth Olympics, Kevin ‘DJ Renegade’ Gopie recollects that the impact of Breakdancing was huge among audience not because it was a novelty, but because of the extreme skill levels of the participants.
If it is included in the Olympics, Breakdancing will be obviously seen more than just ‘the worm’ in a nightclub or someone merely spinning on his head on a dance floor. “We are pleased to see that Paris 2024′s proposal for new sports to the Olympic programme is very much in line with the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020, which is striving to make the Olympic programme gender-balanced, more youth-focused and more urban,” the IOC said in a statement.
But the announcement of Breakdancing’s inclusion has left the governing bodies for sports like Karate, Squash, Billiards and Chess disappointed. The President of World Karate Federation Antonio Espinos said in a statement, “Over the last months, we have worked relentlessly, together with the French Federation, to achieve our goal of being included in Paris 2024. We believed that we had met all the requirements and that we had the perfect conditions to be added to the sports programme; however, we have learned today that our dream will not be coming true.” Likewise, the Squash fraternity is totally heartbroken by the decision. Keir Worth, chief executive of England Squash. “It is particularly heartbreaking for the talented young players from around the world that will miss out on the chance to showcase their talent, hard-work and athleticism on the biggest stage in sport.”
But the win for Breakdancing is definitely the win for thousands of street dancers who come from struggle and has an opportunity to compete and break down stereotypes.