TOKYO – Skateboarding made its historic debut on the Olympic stage early Sunday, with the men’s street heat kicking off the sport’s four-day event under the blazing sun of Tokyo.
The opening event marks a turning point for skateboarding, which has its roots in youth street culture and has influenced everything from art to fashion.
The men’s street competition on Sunday will be a star-studded affair, with international skating competing in who.
But all eyes will be on the United States’ Nyja Huston and hometown favorite Uto Horigome, who will skate on a concrete course designed with rails and benches adorned with five Olympic rings.
By adding skateboarding to its roster, the International Olympic Committee hopes to tap into its legion of young fans around the world who have built skateboarding into a multi-billion dollar industry.
For skating legend Tony Hawk, the sport’s inclusion in the Olympics has been long overdue.
Tony Hawk, who is in town to serve as a TV commentator, tried out the new Waterfront Bowl in Ariake this week and says he’s surprised it took so long for skateboarding to be adopted at the Olympics.
“As a kid who was mostly raved about my interest in skateboarding, I never thought it would be a part of the Olympic Games,” Hawk wrote below an Instagram video posted earlier this week.
Skateboarding, although extremely popular in Japan, is discouraged in most parks and it is unusual to see skaters running on the street.
Just outside the skate park where the Olympic finals are taking place on Sunday, a poster taped to the outside white fence showed a ban on skateboarding for locals.