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Why is breakdancing an Olympic sport - All you need to know

Popularly a celebrated dance form with roots in hip-hop, breakdancing will make a grand entry at the 2024 Paris Olympics as a medalling sport!

Breakdancing is set to make its debut at the 2024 Paris Olympics

Breakdancing is set to make its debut at the 2024 Paris Olympics 


Sohinee Basu

Updated: 15 Nov 2021 3:04 PM GMT

You can't quite blame the eyebrows being raised when one thumbs their way down the list of sports slated to be featured at the 2024 Paris Olympics and pause around 'Breaking' or 'Breakdancing' and draw in a sharp breath.

We'll go with your thoughts — "Breakdancing?", "As a sport?", "How can it be so?", "You mean to say the things we see sitting on our couch play out on So You Think You Can Dance and Step Up's many editions will now be an Olympic sport?", "Is that thing which we saw Michael Jackson doing?" and so on so forth.

Phew. That's the trajectory of thoughts, isn't it? But, if you do pause a moment longer, you will realize that the inclusion of breakdance in the Olympic roster is not that wild or unjustified, in reality. Fair enough, the debate is still very much raging and a lot of mixed opinions are brewing regarding the welcoming of breakdancing at the Paris Olympics, but the decision has been made and the reasons behind it are multiple.

The 2024 Paris Olympics, along with breaking, will feature sport climbing which will make its debut while surfing and skateboarding will make a return appearance at the Paris Games.

What makes breaking an Olympic sport?

Breakdancing will have face-offs and dance battles (Source: Getty)

While the broad idea is that breakdancing or breaking is a dance form with roots in the second half of the 20th century - originating in the streets, blending in smoothly with the hip-hop culture that pairs well with funk, breaking also involves a good amount of athleticism. How many times have you gaped at a dance performance that involved breaking and wondered at the flexibility of the dancers - how less are they than any other athlete?

Moreover, the Olympics has always had the Rhythmic Gymnastics as a part of its medalling roster and over there, there is dance, coordination, music and body balance and fitness involved, making it tick the boxes to be a sport. Similarly, breaking, despite being unconventional has developed as a sports form as it includes nimble footwork, athletic and acrobatic gravity-defying moves like a back or head spin that demands fitness extraordinaire.

Emerging from the Bronx area in the 1970s, breaking always happens in an infectious and lively atmosphere specifically suited for the youth. After gaining popularity in the hip-hop community, international dance competitions started being held in the 1990s. Developing itself as a sports form soon, with the World Dance Sports Federation at the apex, athletes or dancers involved in breaking are known as b-boys and b-girls and they are judged on a number of criteria during their choice of routine - which includes an estimation of their technical skill, creativity, speed, rhythm, style and flexibility and fitness.

After a romping outing at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games at Buenos Aires, breaking's inclusion at the 2024 Paris Olympics was only expected. There will be two events in Breaking at the 2024 Paris Games — one for men and one for women. There will be 16 B-Boys and 16 B-Girls who will go face to face in solo battles. These B-boys and B-girls will employ a variety of power moves that include windmills, the 6-step and freezes as they move along to the DJ's upbeat tracks, improvising away and keep the heat on for the Olympic crown.

Towards a more inclusive future

Athletes will be required to showcase certain power moves (Source: Alamy)

Over the years, the efforts of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to rope in sports, no matter how strange and avant garde, has been done to attract a diverse audience as well as keep the Olympic Games relevant and not outdated. Breakdancing or breaking, as it will be called as at the 2024 Paris Games, is typically a dance form but because it involves the dancers to display their athletic prowess, it is no lesser than a sport.

Thomas Bach, the IOC President, mentioned that, "We have had a clear priority, and this is to introduce sports which are particularly popular among the younger generations. And also to take into account the urbanization of sport." Holding this in regard, youth-centric sports are being included in the fold to garner the attention and guarantee the participation of an younger audience and keep them more active, in the spirit of the Olympics. In fact, the IOC is also in the talks of having E-Sports as a part of its roster - while no decision has been arrived at about this, the discussion is very much on.

The inclusion of breaking once again shows the need of the Olympics to remain relevant and popular and go outside of the mainstream and regular by foraying into more interdisciplinary spaces. Come Paris, therefore, get ready to feast your eyes on the world's best breakdancers to take stage and stir up a storm at the La Concorde with their moves on the floor.

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