Promoting urban sports is crucial for Olympics future, says IOC chief Bach

Budapest, Jun 21 (IANS): International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach emphasised the importance of urban sports for the future of the Olympics as he attended the Budapest leg of the Paris Olympic Qualifying Series.

Bach also praised the Shanghai leg of the competition in May as a "huge success."

"The Shanghai leg was a very successful demonstration, and here in Budapest, even though the competition has barely started, we can already feel the vibrant sports atmosphere just from touring the venue," said Bach as quoted by Xinhua.

To extend the excitement of the Olympics beyond the few weeks of the Games and to attract more attention from young people, the IOC decided to establish the Olympic Qualifying Series to increase the visibility of the "Road to the Olympics."

The inaugural series includes four urban Olympic sports: skateboarding, sport climbing, breaking, and freestyle BMX. It is being held in two legs, with the first leg having concluded in Shanghai from May 16 to 19 to great acclaim, and the second leg taking place in Budapest from June 20 to 23.

The Budapest leg is being held at a campus of the National University of Public Service in Hungary, where the youthful and athletic ambiance is evident everywhere, aligning with the Olympic Qualifying Series' slogan: "Younger, More Urban, More Open."

"In our times, sport has to go where the people are, whether it's in the real world or the virtual world. This means sport has to go to the urban centers. This is true for grassroots sports where you have to offer sports facilities in the neighborhoods. And this is also true for sports events that they should be close to the people, meaning sport is going to the people and is not waiting for the people to come," said Bach.

"That's the reason why we are promoting the introduction of these new urban sports into the Olympic program. These sports are attracting the young generation, and the Olympic program has always to be like a kind of jigsaw puzzle where you have some more traditional pieces and some innovative pieces. These urban sports are therefore very important for the long-term development of the Olympic Games."

The former fencing Olympic champion mentioned that feedback from many athletes about the Olympic Qualifying Series has been excellent, and International Sports Federations have expressed similar views. This support is crucial for the IOC's future event system construction.

Among the four competition events, breaking will make its Olympic debut in Paris. However, it was not selected by the Los Angeles organizing committee for the 2028 Games, which means it will temporarily exit the Olympic stage after a successful debut.

"Now, there was a decision of the organizing committee (of Los Angeles) of what we have seen for breaking. And I think what you could not only feel, but the experience is that we appreciate the breaking very much. We had it in the Youth Olympic Games in 2018, and you know this was leading the way then to Paris. So we hope very much that then Brisbane, 2032 will offer the Bboys and Bgirls, again, the opportunity to make their Olympic dream come true," said Bach.

In the competitions of the day, Chinese athlete Luo Zhilu ranked sixth in the bouldering event of the sport climbing combined discipline, placing her in a favorable position to compete for a spot in the Paris Olympics.



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Title: Promoting urban sports is crucial for Olympics future, says IOC chief Bach

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