Los Angeles 2024 have emphasized the Californian origins of some of the new events proposed this week for Olympic inclusion and their history of “pioneering modern sports geared towards a youth audience”.
Speaking ahead of a visit by bid representatives to the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) World Tour Finals here, Los Angeles pledged to “sustain the spirit of fresh thinking and innovation ushered in by the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms”, with new sports appealing to young people a key dimension of this.
This follows the somewhat controversial decision of Tokyo 2020 organizers to propose skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing alongside baseball and softball and karate as their five recommended additions ahead of a final decision by the IOC next summer.
Criticism has been expressed by some of the sports overlooked, particularly squash, over the choice to select these events over supposedly more established sports.
But Los Angeles, the city which officially replaced Boston as the United States’ candidate last month, has been quick to use it as a way to showcase their bid concept, highlighting how both skateboarding and surfing were developed locally.
Surfing in a modern sense is synonymous with its Californian origins, while skateboarding began there in the 1950s when surfers wanted something to do on dry land when the waves were flat.
All five sports proposed are popular across California, bid officials have claimed, highlighting baseball’s popularity in venues like the Dodger Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as climbing facilities in locations like Malibu, Joshua Tree and Yosemite National Park.
BMX, another relatively recent addition to the Games-program which first featured at Beijing 2008, also originated in California, as did beach volleyball ahead of its Olympic debut at Atlanta 1996.
A separate process is expected to be held for new sports at the 2024 Games, although the likes of skateboarding and surfing would certainly fancy their chances.
“Los Angeles and Southern California are blessed with beautiful beaches, so the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals is an ideal opportunity for us to see how we can best use our natural assets,” said Los Angeles 2024 chairman Casey Wasserman.
“Beach volleyball is part of Southern California’s history and healthy outdoor lifestyle, and the proposed new 2020 sports of surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing also fit in to this category.
“It goes without saying that baseball/softball and karate are extremely popular sports here too.
“Los Angeles and Southern California have always been at the forefront of innovation in sport.
“Beach volleyball has its roots in Santa Monica, where the inaugural beach volleyball championships were first staged, and beach volleyball was introduced as an Olympic discipline at the last US Summer Games in Atlanta in 1996.”
“We recognize that the proposed new 2020 Games’ sports are subject to IOC approval, but it is an exciting development.
“If Los Angeles has the honor of being elected as the host city of the 2024 Games, we look forward to working with the IOC on developing a dynamic and flexible program that reflects our city and region’s history of youth culture and sport, and would help connect the Games to the widest possible audience worldwide.”
Los Angeles official John Harper is present here this weekend, as the fledgling bid team seek to learn more about how to organize events within specific sports.
The city is one of five to have formally submitted their interest to bid to the IOC last month, along with Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome.
A final decision is set to be made at the 2017 IOC Session in Lima.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Inside the Games.