Breakdancing at the Olympics: a winning move or a mockery?

Breakdancers across the world will be busting a move in celebration after it was confirmed that breaking will make its debut as an Olympic sport in Paris. 

In February last year the Paris 2024 Organising Committee said the addition of skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing and breaking would “revolutionise the history of the Games”. And yesterday the proposals were approved by the executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing will be retained after debuts at the delayed Tokyo Games in 2021. Three years later breaking will feature, building on the success of the sport at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.

The summer games in Paris will have a focus on gender equality and youth. The IOC believes the decision to include the new disciplines will help make Paris 2024 “fit for a post-corona world”.

The main features of Paris 2024’s Olympic programme include:

  • Exactly 50% male and female participation, following on from the gender equality already achieved for Tokyo 2020, which will have 48.8% female participation

  • Growth of mixed gender events, from 18 to 22, compared to Tokyo 2020

  • Skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing and breaking confirmed as additional sports based on a proposal by Paris 2024. Breaking makes its Olympic debut in Paris after surfing, skateboarding and climbing feature in Tokyo

  • Reduction in the overall athlete quota (including all new sports) to exactly 10,500

  • Reduction in the overall number of events, with a final programme of 329 events

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “We are further reducing the cost and complexity of hosting the Games. While we will achieve gender equality already at the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we will see for the first time in Olympic history the participation of the exact same number of female athletes as male athletes. There is also a strong focus on youth.”

Paris 2024 Olympic Games logo
‘The Olympics has lost what it was’

The inclusion of breaking – a competitive form of breakdancing – will give the sport “more recognition”, British breakdancer Karam Singh told BBC Sport. “And for the Olympics, it will attract young people who may not follow some of the traditional sports,” he added. 

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Squash, parkour, billiard sports and chess campaigned unsuccessfully to be part of the programme for Paris 2024. Australian squash great Michelle Martin says the decision to include breaking has made a “mockery” of the Olympics.

Speaking to the Australian Associated Press, Martin said: “You just look at the whole thing and you just go ‘where’s the Olympics going?’ I know some people say breakdancing’s a sport but… I don’t understand.

“The Olympics was all about a score, or it was a running race. There was a definitive answer and results to sports. You bring in all these judging things and it just gets so corrupt and so out of control. I just don’t get it anymore.”

Martin, a three-time world champion, has lobbied for years for squash to be included. But the 53-year-old has lost all hope of squash ever gaining Olympic status, the AAP reports. 

“It’s sort of making a mockery of what the Olympics is,” she added. “When you look at what it all used to stand for, the Olympics, it [squash] definitely fits in the category. The Olympics has lost what it was. Yes they’re trying to move with the times but it’s creating a mockery of the thing.”


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