Select members from the skateboarding world and the Olympic world converged upon the Conrad Hilton in Istanbul, Turkey, May 22-25, 2015 to discuss the potential inclusion of skateboarding in the 2020 Olympic Games. This is the first year of the Global Skateboarding Summit.
Skateboarding in the Olympics is a topic that has been both heavily debated and hotly contested, and summits such as this have been happening all around the world. This is both because there’s a lot to discuss, and because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has yet to decide on an official international federation within skateboarding. This event was hosted by the World Skateboarding Federation (WSF).
Over the course of the 3-day summit, select members of the skateboarding community met with various external resources to discuss, among other things, skateboarding’s potential inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Saturday’s discussions covered a wide variety of topics that are pertinent to the Olympics. WADA, for one. WADA is the World Anti-Doping Agency, who creates policies and tests to ensure Olympic athletes aren’t using performance-enhancing drugs. Mike Jacki, who has a history of working with WADA and the U.S. Gymnastics program, headed up the lecture and discussion.
Of course, there isn’t a lot of drug testing in skateboarding, but it could very well become part of the major contest circuit. WSF Founder Tim McFerran plans to incorporate drug testing for the upcoming Kimberley Diamond Cup in South Africa.
Jacki posed the question: “What constitutes a performance-enhancing drug, anyway?” This is something that WADA is considering on a case-by-case basis. According to Jacki, WADA has yet to make a ruling concerning marijuana. There is also debate on whether or not behavior modification drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall would be banned.
One of the most heavily debated topics of Saturday was surrounding the format of modern skateboarding contests. Hardly surprising, considering it’s been an ever-evolving source of contention long before the Olympics were on the horizon. Run formats turned into jam-formats, at the behest of the skaters. But because the broadcasting of the Olympics is a multi-billion dollar facet, it warrants some attention to the question: “How can you showcase skateboarding in a way that’s true to the core, but digestible for the television audience?”
Peter Shakkour, who has produced televised skateboarding contests since the Maloof Cup in Flushing Meadows, opened up a spirited discussion that touched on format. The idea was to find a balance, a common ground between what was comfortable for the skaters, and understandable for the viewers.
Other speakers touched upon important topics such as gender equality in skateboarding, developing skateboarding in countries where skateboarding is small or nonexistent, and the development of “competition venues.”
Only time will tell what future skateboarding has in the Olympics, but because it would be such a significant chapter in skateboarding’s history, it’s important to begin these very discussions as early as possible.