chapter  13
19 Pages

The Olympic Movement, action sports, and the search for Generation Y: Holly Thorpe and Belinda Wheaton


During an International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in 2006, IOC president Jacques Rogge asked the International Cycling Union (ICU) to assist with the entry of skateboarding into the Olympics. Accepting Rogge’s request, an ICU spokesman proclaimed: ‘From our side we are committed to help the development of skateboarding’ (quoted in Higgins 2007: para. 6). Newspaper headlines shortly after the meeting suggesting that ‘Skateboarding could make its Olympic debut at the 2012 London Games’ (Peck 2007) as a wheel-based activity under the cycling discipline, however, provoked anger amongst the transnational skateboarding community. Indeed, thousands of skateboarders from across the world responded by signing an online petition titled ‘No skateboarding in the Olympics’ addressed to the IOC president:

With due respect for Olympic Athletes, we the undersigned skateboarders and advocates strongly request that the IOC NOT RECOGNIZE SKATEBOARDING AS AN OLYMPIC SPORT, or use skateboarding to market the Olympics. . . . Skateboarding is not a ‘sport’ and we do not want skateboarding exploited and transformed to fit into the Olympic program. We feel that Olympic involvement will change the face of skateboarding and its individuality and freedoms forever. We feel it would not in any way support skateboarders or skate-parks. We do not wish to be part of it and will not support the Olympics if skateboarding is added as an Olympic sport. (The Petition 2010: para. 1)

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42

the continuing attempts by the IOC to create space for new ‘action sports’, such as skateboarding in the 2012 Summer Olympic program, point to a growing issue at the heart of the Olympic Movement in the 21st century: that is, how to remain relevant to younger generations.1