The Newest Sports at the Paris 2024 Games – and Where to Try Them

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We ask Team Canada athletes to give us the lowdown on the newest Olympic sports — and the best places to try them.

The newest sports at the 2024 Paris Games – breaking, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing – have a few things in common. “All of these sports have a strong cultural identity, and as such, they are really in tune with the times,” says Aurélie Merle, Paris 2024 sports director. “They’re accessible sports that speak to the youth, and that was really important to us.” We break down the newest events with Team Canada’s top competitors, who share their dream destinations to practise each sport around the world.

July 5, 2024

Breaking

Phil “Wizard” Kim competing in Santiago
Phil “Wizard” Kim   Photo: Andrew Lahodynskyj/COC

Breaking makes its official debut as an Olympic sport in Paris this year. The discipline will not return to the program for the Los Angeles 2028 Games, but the current buzz around the sport may bode well for its inclusion in the Brisbane 2032 Games program.

In Paris, 16 B–Girls and 16 B–Boys, including Vancouver’s Phil “Wizard” Kim, go head–to–head against each other in solo battles at La Concorde. Each battle consists of three rounds, where two breakers take turns dropping their best freestyle and power moves in 60–second throw–downs. Each routine is scored by nine judges on five criteria: creativity, musicality, personality, performativity, technique and variety.

“I’m excited and proud to be the first person to represent Canada in breaking,” says Phil Kim. “I’ve been fortunate enough to break in a lot of places. I would love to go somewhere like Egypt. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go with breaking, and I know there are a lot of people who dance there.”

Surfing

Sanoa Dempfle–Olin riding a wave in Santiago
Sanoa Dempfle–Olin   Photo: Heuler Andrey/Santiago 2023

Shortboard surfing will make its second appearance as an Olympic sport after first hitting Tsurigasaki Beach at the 2020 Tokyo Games. But don’t expect to see surfers coasting down the Seine River. For the Paris 2024 Games, surfers will head to Teahupo’o Beach in Tahiti, French Polynesia, known for some of the most powerful waves in the world. As surfers ride out a wave, they are judged on the variety and difficulty of tricks and manoeuvres they can execute with creativity, speed, power, flow and skill.

Representing Team Canada in women’s shortboard, Sanoa Dempfle–Olin hails from a family of surfers based in Tofino, where she’s been shredding waves since she got her first surfboard at six years old. “I have so much love for the Canadian surfing community, and I hope the Canadian showing at the Olympics brings a lot of opportunity to young surfers across the country,” she says.

Her dream surf destination? “I’ve always wanted to surf Desert Point in Indonesia.” Located on the southwestern tip of the island of Lombok, about a half–day ferry ride from Bali, Desert Point is considered one of the best left–hand reef breaks – a wave that peels left from the surfer – on the planet.

Sport Climbing

Alannah Yip with climbing gear
Alannah Yip   Photo: Andrew Lahodynskyj/COC

Like surfing, sport climbing made its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games, but it comes to Paris with new formats. In Tokyo, climbers competed for a single “combined” medal. At Le Bourget in Paris, climbing disciplines will be broken out into a speed event and combined boulder and lead event.

In the speed event, two climbers race against the clock — and each other — up a 15–metre wall. Bouldering involves climbing lower walls, which athletes must climb within the allotted time without the aid of a safety rope. In lead, athletes have six minutes to make it as high as they can up a challenging 15–metre wall route. Scores for boulder and lead are combined to award the winners.

North Vancouver native Alannah Yip climbed her way to 14th place in the women’s event, and while she did not qualify for Paris, you may still find her climbing rocks in Europe. “If I could climb anywhere in the world, I would climb in Switzerland in the canton of Ticino,” she says. “My favourite climbing area is called Brione. It’s in a valley, there’s a river running through it, and it’s so beautiful.”

Skateboarding

Fay DeFazio Ebert performing skateboarding tricks
Fay DeFazio Ebert   Photo: Thomas Skrjl/COC

Skateboarding also debuted in Tokyo and returns to the Games in Paris in the same format: park and street. Street competitions take place on a street–like course with stairs, handrails and other urban–style features. Skateboarders earn points for the tricks they perform and their control in two 45–second runs. By contrast, park courses combine bowls and steep bends, which skateboarders race down to gain speed for tricks performed in mid–air.

Fay DeFazio Ebert entered her first major competition at nine years old and, at 14, she may be the youngest member of Team Canada in Paris.

If she could skateboard anywhere, you may find her at Rajas Skatepark in São Paulo or 360 Skatepark in Santo André. “There are so many good skateparks in Brazil,” she says. “I’m friends with the Brazilian skateboarders now, so it would be fun to hang out with them again.”