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Skateboarding And Surfing Added To Youth Olympic Games In Dakar, Which Will See Historic Gender Equality

By Chrös McDougall | Dec. 05, 2019, 4:10 p.m. (ET)

The Olympic rings are hoisted into the air at the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 Opening Ceremony on Oct. 6, 2018 in Buenos Aires.


Two new sports and a handful of new youth-focused disciplines will join the Summer Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2022, which will be the first Games to feature full gender equality in terms of the male and female representation in each sport and event.

Skateboarding and surfing are in for the Games, which also marks the first Olympic event to be held on the continent of Africa. They replace roller sports, which was held as part of the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.

In addition, the 2022 program features new disciplines in the form of beach wrestling and beach canoe sprint, while a handful of other changes also tweaked the list of medal events for the fourth edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games.

The changes result in 239 medal events, matching the number from 2018, which was the first Games to have equal male and female athletes, but for the first time each sport and event at the Games will have gender equality.

Established by the International Olympic Committee in 2007, and debuting in 2010 in Singapore, the Youth Olympic Games is a multi-sport competition for athletes ages 14-18. Athletes have an Olympic-like experience, including staying at an athletes’ village, though the Youth Olympic Games have unique aspects designed to instill the Olympic values for participants.

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While several traditional Olympic sports are contested at the Youth Olympic Games, the latter is also an opportunity to try out new, youth-focused disciplines as well as mixed team events.

For example, basketball in the Youth Olympic Games uses a 3x3 format while athletes in the soccer tournament play the small-sided version called futsal.

Multiple sports that have been contested at the Youth Olympic Games level have later been added to the Olympic Games. Athletes at the Buenos Aires 2018 Games competed in breaking, or break dancing, prior to that sport’s expected Olympic debut at the 2024 Games in Paris. Climbing and karate were also held at the Youth Olympic Games prior to their 2020 Olympic debuts.

In Dakar, skateboarding will feature 12 men and 12 women competing in park, one of two disciplines making their Olympic debuts in 2020, while the same number of athletes will also compete in shortboard surfing, which too makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

In addition to roller sports being dropped from 2022, other changes include the elimination of trampoline gymnastics, a switch from a combined-discipline climbing event to bouldering, and the removal of Greco-Roman wrestling to make way for beach wrestling. Also, the cycling format will switch from four team events to add individual competitions in BMX freestyle as well as road race and individual time trial. 

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.