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‘Mockery’: Olympic breakdancing under fire

Should breakdancing be an Olympic sport? Some claim that including the sport is a betrayal of the Olympic spirit, but others think breakdancing has earned its place in the limelight. When you think of the Olympics, the sports that come to mind are probably gymnastics, running or swimming. But when you sit down to watch the Paris Olympics in 2024, you will be able to watch an all-new event: breakdancing. Yesterday the International Olympic Committee added breakdancing to the lineup of Olympic sports in a move that has divided opinion. Australian sports legend Michelle Martin said that the decision made “a mockery” of the Olympic tradition. But British breakdancer Karam Singh is looking forward to it: “It's going to be great.” Breakdancing originated in African American and Puerto Rican communities in the 1970s, then spread around the world, picking up dedicated followers in Britain and France, but also as far away as Japan and South Korea. Japanese breakers now dominate international competitions. Breakdancing has all the hallmarks of a sport. It requires extreme physical fitness and dedicated training. And injuries are common: breakers often suffer muscle sprains, joint dislocations and even bone fractures. However, some remain unconvinced. Martin argues that events like breakdancing that do not keep a fixed score – meaning that the winner has to be chosen by judges – are open to corruption. Others think that featuring breakdancing at the Olympics flies in the face of what the contest is all about. But in fact, breakdancing would not have been out of place in the ancient Olympics, which aimed to celebrate the beauty of the human body as well as athletes’ sporting prowess. Breakdancing, too, is a chance to show off the elegance of the human form. For some, this is a question of inclusiveness. The Olympics already features shooting, fencing, sailing and no fewer than three horse riding events. These are all passions that cost a lot of money to pursue, and they are dominated by rich white people. Breakdancing, on the other hand, was born in poor, diverse neighbourhoods, and around the world it is disadvantaged Black, Asian and North African communities that have taken it up and made it their own. Some think it is high time the Olympics featured a sport with its roots in these communities. However, some breakers are also sceptical of the decision. They worry the inclusion of breakdancing in the Olympics will distance it from its local, creative roots. At one time, each city had its own signature breakdancing techniques. Now, the mainstreaming of the sport has stifled this originality, since people tend to learn using online videos rather than picking it up. Should breakdancing be an Olympic sport? Breaking even Give it a chance, say some. Breakdancing requires just as much athleticism as more traditional Olympic sports, like athletics or wrestling, and while it does not have such an obvious winner as a scored sport, it is similar to other judged events, like gymnastics. This is a chance to celebrate a sport that was pioneered by the little guy, and make the Olympics a truly universal, inclusive contest. Not so fast, say others. The Olympics should not try to represent every sport: it should return to its roots, with strictly scored contests in which there is a clear winner. There are already 10 international breakdancing competitions: it does not need to be an Olympic sport as well. Some also worry that the modern sport is becoming alienated from its roots in local communities. KeywordsCorruption - When someone abuses their power for personal gain. It often involves bribery.

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