New friends, put to the test: skateboarding at Tokyo 2020 Part 1

Category: Sports


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. freewheelin' / ˈfriˈʰwi lɪn / (adj.) – moving freely, in a way that has no limits

    Be careful when you walk around the park. You might get hit by some freewheelin’ skaters.

  2. rejuvenating / rɪˈdʒu vəˌneɪ tɪŋ / (adj.) – making someone look or feel energetic or young again

    My week-long vacation was rejuvenating. I have so much more energy for my projects now!

  3. dowdy / ˈdaʊ di / (adj.) – having a boring, unattractive, or unfashionable appearance

    Amelia’s clothes are so dowdy. She has no sense of style.

  4. fret / frɛt / (v.) – to feel nervous, worried, or concerned about something

    Stop fretting about the mistake you made. No one else even remembers it!

  5. co-opt / koʊˈɒpt / (v.) – to make someone or something a part of a group or organization, especially as a way to control him/her/it

    New members will be co-opted into the student council next week.


Read the text below.

For skateboarding, a sport where the No. 1 rule is that there are no rules, the straitjacket of the Olympic Games, with its dense thickets of tradition and regulation, may not be a natural or immediate fit.

So at the Tokyo Games, freewheelin’ skaters and Olympic officials are going to learn a lot about each other. Could be quite a ride. Both have plenty to gain from making a splash with their brand-new partnership. Skating is one of four debut Olympic sports, along with karate, surfing and sport climbing.

The spectacle of skaters turning their boards into flying machines, soaring over obstacles, will deliver a rejuvenating injection of youthful energy to the dowdy sporting extravaganza. The youngest, Japan’s Kokona Hiraki and Britain’s Sky Brown, are just 12.

With skateboarding’s street fashions and “all are welcome” inclusive culture of all genders, ages and abilities having fun together, officials anticipate that the sport will help snag future generations of Olympic fans and viewers that the International Olympic Committee needs to keep making megabucks from the games.

For skaters, the powerful Olympic spotlight means global visibility, which may bring better prospects of earning a living from riding and sponsorships. Skaters also hope the Olympic seal of approval will mean more funding for skate parks and bowls in which to train, land and invent their tricks.

Some skaters fret that Olympic codification will come at a cost for the freedom, spontaneity and soul of a sport that was born on the streets. They argue that skating is a whole lifestyle, and worry it will be crimped and compromised by being co-opted. There were similar misgivings among snowboarders — before snowboarding went on to become one of the most riotous and popular shows at the Winter Olympics. (AP)

To be continued…

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Some skaters hope that the Olympic seal of approval will mean more support for it as a legitimate sport and more funding for skate parks. In your opinion, did becoming an Olympic event improve the image of skateboarding in your country? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Some skaters fret that Olympic codification will come at a cost for the freedom, spontaneity, and soul of a sport that was born on the streets. Do you agree that being part of the Olympics will affect skateboarding’s freedom as a sport? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Skating was one of four debut sports at Tokyo 2020, along with karate, surfing, and sport climbing. What other sports would you like the Olympics to include (ex. e-sports, more traditional sports)? What sports do you think should be cut from the Olympics? Why? Discuss.
  • Olympic officials were anticipating that skateboarding would help snag future generations of Olympic fans. Do you think many young people tuned in to watch the skateboarding events? Which Tokyo 2020 events (if any) did you watch? How about your friends and family? Discuss.