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)
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