Four new sports will make their first Olympic appearance at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Buenos Aires 2018. The sports that have been added at the request of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (BAYOGOC) are dancesport, karate, roller sports and sport climbing.
The inclusion of the sports is indicative of the YOG as a place of innovation and incubation, with the aim of increasing youth appeal and engagement. The four sports will join 28 others in a 32-strong sporting programme in the Argentine capital from 6 to 18 October.
Breaking on to the Olympic stage
Dancesport has proposed breaking events as part of its programme, for its youth and urban appeal. Breaking is an urban dance style that originated in the Bronx borough of New York in the 1970s.
A form of streetdance, the earliest proponents were African-American and Puerto Rican youngsters, who formed crews that would compete in dance battles on the streets.
The athletes are referred to as b-boys, b-girls or breakers, the “b” standing for break, as they put down moves during instrumental breaks in a song.
The dance style gained popularity and moved into the mainstream, even featuring at the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games Los Angeles 1984, where “Jerry Maguire” Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr was one of the official breakers dancing as Lionel Richie sang “All Night Long”.
In Buenos Aires, there will be 24 athletes – 12 b-boys and 12 b-girls – who came through two stages of qualifying. The initial phase was a digital process, where those interested in competing uploaded films of themselves performing, with 86 breakers going on to the World Youth Breaking Championships in Kawasaki, Japan, in May 2018.
Two breakers will go head to head in a battle, where one will perform first and then their opponent will respond. There will also be a mixed team competition, with each team comprising one b-girl and one b-boy, who are paired according to the final ranking of the individual event.
Each round will be scored by five judges plus two referees - head judges – according to six criteria: creativity, personality, technique, variety, performativity and musicality.
World DanceSport Federation President Lukas Hinder is proud of the digital qualification process and believes young people can be inspired by breaking.
“We have to use the tools of the kids of today to bring them out of the house. At the end of the day, the sport is real. From that point of view the potential is huge. It will be very interesting to see how they will react during the Youth Olympic Games and what the media attraction will be to breaking in Argentina. I am fully convinced, I have no doubt, but we have to deliver what we promised, and so far we have done the first and second level of the qualification system very successfully.”
Hinder also spoke of how the sport has retained its authenticity, predicting a bright future in Buenos Aires and beyond.
“It is coming from the street and it’s urban, it’s cool. The sport should remain as it is; we just gave tools to bring it onto a platform on which they can show the beauty of their sport at their level. That is the philosophy we had. I do not know any other sport which has such a scale of different disciplines which, combined, is something unique; and therefore first we must deliver an excellent event and make people aware of dancesport. We have a prosperous future now: that is my goal, my vision, my motivation.”
Karate kids make history
Buenos Aires will mark a historic moment for karate, with the martial art also included on the programme for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Karate is an ancient discipline, with the roots of its current form originating on the Japanese island of Okinawa during the Ryukyu Dynasty, which was established in the 15th century. It became popular across Japan in the 1920s and expanded internationally following World War II, its popularity growing further thanks to martial arts films in the 1970s and 1980s.
A karate practitioner is called a karateka, and there will be 48 athletes, competing in three different weight categories per gender, at the Europa Pavilion in the Youth Olympic Centre.
Each bout lasts two minutes, during which the two athletes, Aka (red) and Ao (blue), score points according to correctly executed techniques of controlled punches, strikes and kicks.
One point – “Yuko” – is awarded for a straight punch or strikes delivered to the body and/or face, while a middle kick delivered to the body is rewarded with two points, “Waza-Ari”.
Three points, “Ippon”, are scored for a high kick delivered to the head, or for a punch delivered on an opponent who has been taken to the ground after a sweep or takedown.
The winner is the athlete with the higher number of points.
Skaters ready to roll
Roller speed skating is an action-packed sport which will appeal to local youth culture, with athletes reaching speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour.
The introduction of inline skates in the 1990s led to a boom in skating, with roller hockey a demonstration sport at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, where Argentina defeated hosts Spain in the final.
In Buenos Aires, 24 skaters – 12 male and 12 female - will compete in a combined event that covers three distances on a 200m banked track at Paseo de la Costa – the 500m sprint, the 1,000m sprint and the 5,000m elimination.
The winner of each distance is awarded 12 points on a descending scale, with the last-placed finisher allocated one point.
Points in the 500m sprint and 1,000m sprint distances are assigned based on times in the last completed round.
The final ranking of athletes is based on the combined number of points earned in the three races.
Sport climbing heads to the summit
Sport climbing has become highly popular over the past two decades. Before making its debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, sport climbing will be first seen on an Olympic programme in Buenos Aires this October.
In 1985, a group of climbers gathered in Bardonecchia, near Turin, Italy, for an event called “SportRoccia”, which became the first organised “lead” competition, in which the participants climb within a certain time frame.
The first indoor event was organised in a gym in Vaulx-en-Velin, near Lyon, France, in 1986, and in the early 1990s it was decided that international events would take place on artificial walls.
The development of indoor climbing walls has contributed to sport climbing’s popularity, making it accessible to all. One of the sport’s core values is preservation of the environment, bearing a responsibility for the upkeep of the settings in which its adepts climb.
A spokesman for governing body International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) explained: “Climbing is an indoor but also an outdoor sport, so for us preserving the environment is something very important because part of our playground is outside. Even if all of our competitions take place on artificial walls and artificial venues, the rest of the activities are outside, and we should take care of that for sure.
“Something that is interesting about sport climbing is that we can very easily create a temporary venue. You don’t need to plant some grass, you don’t need to dig a lake or whatever – you can just come and build the wall, build the field of play and then dismantle everything when you leave the area, and leave it as it was before.
“You can organise a sport climbing competition in a stadium, on the beach, or any kind of area, and it doesn’t have a huge impact on the ground.”
Forty contestants – 20 of either gender – will compete in a combined event that covers the three disciplines at the Urban Park, in which the results are combined to decide the medallists. The three disciplines are speed, bouldering and lead.
In speed, the aim is to be the fastest to the top of a 15m-high wall, with the competitors racing in pairs on identical routes.
In bouldering, the objective is to overcome the most problems on a climbing route in the least number of attempts on 4.5m-high structures over a set period of time. The ranking is decided by the number of problems solved.
The goal in lead is to go as high as possible on a route on a 15m wall in six minutes.
The athletes’ results in each discipline are combined, and the person with the lowest number of points is declared the winner.