Thursday, August 11, 2016

Olympics Add Adventure Sports for 2020

As the 2016 Olympic Games continue to unfold in Rio, there was big news about the 2020 games this week – at least for the outdoor community. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had officially announced that climbing, surfing, and skateboarding will all be a part of the next Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo, Japan.

For some, the announcement came as good news, with professional climbers, surfers, and skateboarders applauding the decision. Others have shrugged it off as a non-event, saying that the Olympics are far from the venue that they want to use to promote their sports. Alex Honnold, for instance, told Reuters hat he probably wouldn't even be able to qualify, as "Competitive climbing is basically a whole different sub-sport.” He went on to add that he'll probably be on a solo expedition somewhere instead.

The surfing community has expressed a similar sentiment as outlined in this story from Outside magazine. Surf legend Kelly Slater says he'd love to compete, while others have not been so quick to embrace the Olympic spirit. Owen Wright eloquently summed up his feelings on the matter by saying “Fuck the Olympics.”

Either way, these sports will be a part of the games in four years, and it should be interesting to see how they play with a larger, more mainstream audience. I don't expect to see climbing televised, but both surfing and skateboarding will hold an appeal for sure. Whether or not viewers embrace these additions remains to be seen, but at least they are getting some recognition, even if the best athletes in each sport may not actually be there to take part.

As for the current Rio games, it has been a bit of a mixed bag for me so far. On the one hand, it is always great to see these world-class athletes competing on such a big stage. But on the other hand, the amount of trouble that has been taking place in and around the Olympic venues is a bit disturbing. Athletes getting robbed, dignitaries held up at gun point, violence in the streets. Not a lot of those stories are making it to the mainstream press, but they are happening on a regular basis. If you haven't seen the current episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumble on HBO yet, I would urge you to do so. It'll give you an entirely new perspective on the games, the IOC, and the process of determining where the Olympics are held every four years.

Lets hope things go better in Tokyo.

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