Tokyo 2020 is almost certainly going to go down as the Olympics where the old guard finally got to grips with modern sporting culture. Already we're seeing signs that it's going to be one of the most progressive games ever, with eSports events being planned around the event to compliment it, and the introduction of sports like 3x3 basketball, surfing, and freestyle BMX.
Perhaps the most head-turning addition to the Olympic rotor, though? Skateboarding — a sport that for decades has been seen as a beacon of counter-culture.
Skating is, of course, a multi-billion dollar industry these days. Events like the X-Games are now legitimate sporting events, while the evolution of the pro skater from how they were in the 80s and 90s into the elite athletes they are today is profound. Pro skaters are younger, better and more athletic than ever before, and the IOC has finally seen fit to honour a sport that speaks to millions around the world.
But with Skating being the sport that it is, it hasn't proven a particularly easy thing to adapt for an olympic setting. Which is why Skateboarding USA, the official body of the country that dominates skating more than any other, has seen it fit to release an explainer on just how it's going to work.
"Skateboarding in its heart [is] an art," says Jose Friedberg, the CEO of Skateboarding USA and the man who helped bring the "culture-based sport into the Olympic world."
“It’s invention and innovation, its culture and music and art and photography, but now we have this platform where we can actually share a lot of those things that makes skateboarding special with the world, and it will hopefully spark a new generation of kids to get involved. To give more people that opportunity is what’s really exciting to me."
The main difference that the video points out is the manner in which athletes will qualify for the sport. In order to ensure national diversity throughout the skating events, only 3 skaters from each country will be able to qualify to take part in each event, and they won't be selected by their individual teams to do so.
Instead, they'll have to qualify to represent their country by competing for qualification points at sanctioned World Skate Events, whether they be national, continental or world championships, or Pro Tour tournaments around the world. Based on the simulations that Skateboarding USA have put together, this means that roughly 10-12 countries will be able to field a team in each event, rather than Olympic Skateboarding simply being dominated by the sport's major players.
A top three placement at the 2020 World Championships will also grant the winner an automatic trip to Japan.
Two medal events each for men and women will be held across the 2020 Olympics: Park, in which skaters score points based on a 45-second runs in a skate park, and Street, in which competitors are judged off two runs of five tricks each.
Read More: How To Skateboard For Beginners