Skateboarding in the Olympics?
Skateboarding and BMX freestyle have a shot at becoming Olympic sports at the 2016 Summer Games, thanks in part to added push from sports power players who want to attract younger viewers and action sports fans.
Cycling's world governing body, the Switzerland-based Union Cycliste Internationale, and others are lobbying for the sports to be added to the 2016 Games in Rio De Janeiro. Discussions are under way "to have BMX freestyle as well as skateboarding in the Olympic program," said Enrico Carpani, a spokesman for UCI.
UCI attempted to include skateboarding in London's 2012 Olympics, but it fell through in 2007.
"The challenge at the time was the necessity to create a structure within the skateboarding community," said Sandrine Tonge, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee. "There was, back then, no recognized national entities or World Championships."
Organizers say skateboarding is ready for the Olympics.
"The IOC is keen to keep the Olympic sports program relevant for the young generations," Tonge said.
Margo Christiansen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, said snowboarding was a boon to the Winter Olympics because it's a sport "kids are doing across terrain parks all over the world."
Christiansen thinks skateboarding is a similar activity.
"From what I can see in the streets, it translates to this as well," she said.
Skateboarding's chances at the Olympics increase with the backing and influence of the UCI. The nonprofit, non-governmental association has close ties to the International Olympic Committee as its former president, Hein Verbruggen, is a senior member of the IOC.
Some might favor the X Games or other competitions as more legitimate for action sports, but others don't see harm in mainstreaming skating and BMX.
"I do not see how it will hurt in any way," said Alan Foster, brand manager at Felt BMX in Irvine, Calif. "I hope this will replace another non-bike Olympic event that is old and outdated."
The IOC has set a limit of 28 sports for the 2016 Games, meaning several sports will compete over the last two available slots. For example, baseball and softball are making bids for a return, as both were dropped from the 2012 program because not enough top players were able to compete. Other events looking for a spot in Rio include golf, rugby, squash and karate.