2028 Summer Olympics: Sport climbing, skateboarding, and surfing provisionally included on the LA28 sports program

2028 Summer Olympics: Sport climbing, skateboarding, and surfing provisionally included on the LA28 sports program

The 2028 Summer Olympics are set to offer a uniquely Californian flavor after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the inclusion of sports climbing, skateboarding, and surfing on the initial sports program for the quadrennial sporting event.

LA28 Chairperson Casey Wasserman was pleased with the announcement, stating, “these quintessential West Coast sports share a youthful energy and creative vibe and will be perfect for the LA28 Olympics.”

“We are eager to have the LA28 sport program include some of the most iconic LA sports and welcome the IOC Executive Board’s proposal. These sports will bring fresh excitement and relevance to the Olympic Games in America and connect the Olympics with younger fans across Los Angeles and around the world.”

The three sports will undoubtedly add a Californian vibe to the more traditional set of sports contested at the Olympic Games.

Skateboarding, a sport dreamt up by surfers residing in Southern California, is set to make its third appearance at the Olympic Games. The sport’s continued inclusion on the Olympic program marks a dramatic shift from the early days of crisp turns on sidewalks and gnarly skate sessions in the drained pools of coastal communities.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Skateboarding - Men's Street - Final - Ariake Urban Sports Park - Tokyo, Japan - July 25, 2021. Angelo Caro of Peru in action.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Skateboarding – Men’s Street – Final – Ariake Urban Sports Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 25, 2021. Angelo Caro of Peru in action.

World Skate President Sabatino Aracu was in a jubilant mood following the announcement. Aracu commented, “that’s…three!! With three Olympic Games confirmed and as one of the 28 Summer Olympic IFs, World Skate’s position takes on a new dimension that will bear fruits in the future for both the International Federation and our NGBs.”

Surfing, another sport deeply rooted within the popular culture of Southern California, so much so that it was declared the official state sport in 2018, also looks set to make its third appearance at the Olympics.

Fernando Aguerre, President of the International Surfing Association (ISA), expressed his own joy at the announcement, commenting, “today is another amazing moment in Surfing’s beautiful Olympic wave.”

“We are very excited and humbled that the IOC has recognized the unique qualities and relevance of our sport, and that this has been fully endorsed by the LA 2028 organizers. I’m convinced surfing will shine in LA2028 Games.

“On behalf of the global surfing community, I would like to personally thank the IOC and LA 2028 leadership for their confidence and vision. Combining high-performance and youthful energy with a natural and strong connection to the environment, Surfing aligns perfectly with the values of the modern Olympic Movement and the spirit of the LA 2028 Games.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Surfing - Men's Shortboard - Semifinal 2 - Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, Tokyo, Japan - July 27, 2021. Italo Ferreira of Brazil in action.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Surfing – Men’s Shortboard – Semifinal 2 – Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Italo Ferreira of Brazil in action.

He also offered congratulatory remarks for the other newer sports included on the initial list of sports, stating, “I would also like to congratulate our dear friends from World Skate and the International Federation of Sport Climbing for their accomplishment and for sharing in this monumental occasion.”

“By 2028, these three sports will make their third consecutive appearance in the Games. It’s not a coincidence that the inclusion of these three youth sports, coincides with the largest programme changes in modern times.”

“We have proven the value that we are bringing to the Olympic Movement, and we have proven the high level of the federation when it comes to execution and delivery of our sport, and how we manage our job.”

“I always believed that the principles of solidarity and fair play totally and fundamentally support surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing long-term inclusion in the Program.”

He concluded, “now I will try to sleep tonight… As this is a very memorable day in the history of our sport.”

Sport Climbing, a sport that continues to draw adherents to its rocky cathedrals across the state, will also be looking to make its third appearance at the global sporting event.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Sport Climbing - Women's Lead - Final - Aomi Urban Sports Park - Tokyo, Japan - August 6, 2021. Brooke Raboutou of the United States in action during competition.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Sport Climbing – Women’s Lead – Final – Aomi Urban Sports Park – Tokyo, Japan – August 6, 2021. Brooke Raboutou of the United States in action during competition.

International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) President Marco Scolaris, joined his colleagues in welcoming the news, commenting, “I am grateful to the IOC Executive Board for this recognition. I am confident the IOC Session in Beijing will accept their proposal, and that we will be given the possibility to contribute to the success of LA28.”

IFSC Athletes’ Commission President and Olympian Shauna Coxsey added her voice to the chorus, stating, “the continued presence of sport climbing in the Olympic programme for Los Angeles 2028 will continue to introduce the sport I love to new audiences around the world.”

“The Olympics was a life changing experience for me, and I am so pleased that future generations of athletes will be able to compete on the biggest stage and more people will get to share the joys our sport can bring.”

While the IOC offered an indication of what sports will make up the official sports program of the 2028 Summer Olympics, the possibility of additional sports to be added remains.

LA28 Chairperson Casey Wasserman offered his thoughts on the topic, stating, “as we look at additional sport recommendations, we will continue to focus on sports that are relevant to Los Angeles, provide an incredible fan experience and contribute to the success of the Games. We want to build on tradition, while progressing the Olympic Games forward.”

A surfer takes some air off a wave while surfing after sunset in Cardiff, California, U.S., January 7, 2020.
A surfer takes some air off a wave while surfing after sunset in Cardiff, California, U.S., January 7, 2020.

It would seem that the door is open to an even greater Californization of LA28. It is known that ultimate frisbee, a sport enjoyed throughout Southern California, will seek inclusion on the Olympic program in 2028. Though the sport has origins outside of California, it remains a popular professional, university, and club level sport in the state.

Other stalwarts of American sporting culture, such as baseball, softball, and lacrosse could also potentially feature at LA28 is chosen by organizers and agreed to by the IOC. A final decision on the LA28 sports program appears set for 2023.

Whatever the eventual outcome of those discussions is, it seems likely that the 2028 Summer Olympics will be uniquely Californian when compared to the Olympic Games reintroduced to the world by Baron Pierre de Coubertin at the end of the 19th century.

Ben Oakley
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