One year ago, Buenos Aires 2018 brought to life its vision to “bring sport to the people”. Close to a quarter of a million people lined the main avenue of the Argentine capital to celebrate the Opening Ceremony, and this was followed by one million spectators experiencing the four parks, which were packed with exciting sports competitions and cultural and sporting activities, and were spread out across the city.
Taking inspiration from this city-wide urban festival were the Tokyo 2020 organisers, who, in less than one year, will be bringing new sports and urban sporting experiences to Olympic fans.
Using the Youth Olympic Games once more as the perfect testing ground for the Olympic Movement and, in particular, to explore ways to make the Games more youthful and urban, the IOC worked with the Buenos Aires 2018 Organising Committee to develop one of the most ground-breaking concepts to date, the Urban Park.
Using a popular green area of the city where people already gathered, new urban sports and disciplines were brought to life right in the beating heart of Buenos Aires. These included 3x3 basketball, sport climbing, breaking and BMX freestyle park – all of which had first been tested at a Youth Olympic Games edition. Youth and street culture were blended with sport, food trucks provided a real taste of Buenos Aires and access was free for everyone with a festival-style bracelet.
A number of top athletes now working on their own qualification for Tokyo 2020 – Leticia Bufoni (skateboarding), Nyjah Huston (skateboarding) and Logan Martin (BMX freestyle) – joined skateboarding legend Tony Hawk to showcase their sports in the Urban Park, while local kids were invited to bring their skateboards and ride the park themselves with their heroes.
Many experiential elements tested at the Urban Park will be seen at Tokyo 2020, such as opening the venues to fans when the Olympic competition finishes and the opportunity to try out sports. In Tokyo, the festive atmosphere of the Urban Park will be seen across the Waterfront City area with the Urban Festival, which will play host to BMX and skateboarding events. Meanwhile, the Playground will include outdoor warm-up areas where visitors can watch 3x3 basketball players and sport climbing athletes as they get ready to vie for Olympic glory.
The Urban Park did not just offer an opportunity to wow local audiences in Buenos Aires, however; millions of fans also tuned in via the Olympic Channel to watch the high-adrenaline sports. This was in addition to engaging with athletes and influencers via social media, ensuring that fans on the ground and around the world were brought closer to the Olympic action than ever before.