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Since I no longer am a leading part of the Austrian Federation of Parkour and Freerunning (OEPFV) which I have co founded, I am willing to voice my opinion so openly and very blunt.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on parkour related companies and organisations worldwide. While business had to stop entirely for months for some enterprises in the parkour world, this did not stop the FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) to push through with their plans in making parkour an olympic (gymnastics) discipline.

(Check out my detailed report on the international survey on the impact of COVID-19 on parkour businesses).

The Olympic Games in Japan 2021 have been an ambitious goal for the FIG in displaying parkour as a new discipline under the banner of gymnastics. On the way to becoming olympic, a “sport” has to undergo a certain process in which it qualifies to be considered for inclusion in the olympics. A very simple flow of milestones would be:

  • Inclusion of the sport in one of the existing IOC recognised international federations (the FIG claims parkour to be an extension of gymnastics, making the fit “perfect” for the FIG)
  • Inclusion of parkour as a discipline in as many countries as possible under the legislation of national gymnastics federations (in Austria this is the ÖFT)
  • Organisation / establishment of international competition formats (tryout runs for World Cups)
  • Organisation / establishment of “Worldcups” and “World Champions”
  • Testrun in the frame of Tokyo Olympics (as a newcomer discipline – not yet olympic)
  • IOC approval (information from December 2020: the IOC voted against the inclusion in the 2024 Olympics)
  • Inclusion in Paris Olympics 2024 (as is planned for Skateboarding in the yet to come Tokyo Olympics)

All of these steps are major and most of them have already been accomplished. At this moment it is not clear if the Olympics, that have been postponed from 2020 to 2021 can even take place in Tokyo this year, due to the rising infection numbers in Japan. But let a global pandemic not fool you, FIG is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the next milestone.

A totally intransparent online video competition dubbed “World Cup” is what the FIG came up with.

And the saddest part of it all, at least for me personally, is the involvment of Austria in the form of Lukas and Lorenz, who come from a parkour community in Austria and who have volunteered in behalf of the Austrian Federation of Gymnastics to “represent” the country in this event.

To someone not familiar with the whole topic I understand you have questions.

  • Why should parkour NOT become an olympic discipline? Wouldn´t it be great?
  • Whats wrong with teaming up with gymnastics for reaching this goal?
  • What about all the possible jobs and carreers if parkour became olympic? So many futures and possibilities for young athletes?

And many more.

 

I will not answer these questions in this article but I can suggest further reading:

New York Times article ->“Add Parkour to the Olympics? Purists Say ‘Nah’”

Inside the Games articles (check out the related articles too)

BBC story on the topic

 

In short my answer is: the olympics are old, parkour is young, gymnastics is old, parkour is young. Since parkour is young and unorganised, a takeover is possible making HUGE potential profits possible. Everything else is secondary.

A similar story has taken place with other sports as well, skateboarding for example: “…like NBC pays the IOC billions and billions in broadcast fees and I learned how much power and sway that they have. I’ve also learned that they’re going to do this whether we’re on board or not. We basically had the option to tell these guys to go F themselves, but they were going to go and do it anyway and it’s going to be really bad and skateboarding’s going to look crappy to a billion people. Or we could try to rally the troops and make it as good as possible…”, says Neal Hendrix, pro skater, in an interview with TheGoodProblem skate blog/magazine

With everything going on in 2020 I value all the sessions I had with everyone this year. Especially all the ones with Sandra, Schorni and Flo. I still don´t put too much effort in filming (as you can see haha).

So anyway, here are some of the clips of my year 2020. And holy moly. I am 34 now, it´s crazy…

 

https://www.instagram.com/sou.slikart/

https://www.instagram.com/schornipatr…

https://www.instagram.com/lurchparkour/

Hi Seb. Thank you for the opportunity! I recently saw your FB post regarding your thoughts on your role in James Bond. Below is a short summary, please correct me if needed:

You view the role you played critically as it portraits a black terrorist who at the end of a long (and amazing) chase scene get´s shot by James Bond, the white main character.

James Bond is a great character but it just happened that my sequence particularly remind me the cliché of “the bad black guy who is running away from the good white cops!” And it is hard to unsee that for me.

What was the trigger that made you look back and question your role in James Bond?

After I watched on Netflix the documentary 13th and understood that there are people in this world who really want us to be seen as bad and want to portray the colour of my skin as a sign low value.  I realised it is important and crucial for black kids to get representatives and inspiring model who portray a positive image to break this deeply unbalanced narrative.

Would you go back and make something different if you could?

 

I wouldn’t change anything. What is done is done and I’m still proud of my work.

I can remember a situation in Austria. We picked you up from the Vienna airport and went by train to central Vienna. In the main hall of the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) we were controlled by 2 police men. This had never happened before and I did not see the police controlling anyone else. Sadly, that´s why I dare assume that you probably have had a variety of experiences of discrimination:

Have you ever experienced/witnessed discrimination from parkour/freerunning/add practicioners or in the parkour environment in general?

I remember this moment very well and this is exactly what people of my colour experience disproportionately. I’m glad you were there to experience it because it allows you to witness and feel first hand how having a different colour skin can make you a target. My way of practicing Parkour has always been influenced by that. I don’t do anything that can give an excuse for someone or any authorities to over exercise their power on me. It is almost a second nature. My rules: practice in public places with friends, don’t go on rooftops unless you are invited or unless it is a professional situation.

Is there anything we as parkour practicioners could do or need to change in the discipline?

There is nothing to do really to be honest. The energy in the Parkour community is really good. It is a big, open minded place and really welcoming. It is just the case that Parkour is not really popular in the black community and it is understandable. When you are targeted, jumping over walls can be the reason that can lead you into trouble.

When looking at the history of parkour/freerunning/add diversity plays a huge role. The former Yamakasi (incl. you) and original practicioners came from so many different backgrounds.

When you all started what became this movement: how was the attitude from outsiders towards you and the group in the beginning? – In the recent podcast with John Hall you mentioned there was rarely to none interactions with outsiders in the beginning. Were you faced with difficulties in your practice due to the diversity of the group? How did the group approach diversity? How did it make you stronger?

First of all I started with David Belle, who was doing it before me. Our town Lisses is pretty small and almost everyone knew each other from children to parents. Only a handful of kids jumping around no one really cared. The Yamakasi story is a myth as far as it involves me. I was Yamakasi for the period of the creation of the group only. But I never really practice with most of them. This question is more to them as they really have a lot of shared experiences. I was lucky to grow up in a diverse environment where racism was not a daily issue.

Coming back to your achievements in the sector of performance and entertainment. When looking back at the collaboration with Madonna (music videos and live show tour): obviously it´s very different from what you did in James Bond: what do you think of it now? Are similar thoughts crossing your mind as with the movie?

The thoughts that crossing my mind are different in all the work I’ve done. Now I have to think positively and be constructive but always be aware and alert to what my skin colour can project and to make sure the message I send will educate and change the negative perceptions.

Thank you a lot for the time and openness!

Below you will find some links mentioned in the interview: