Skateboarding at the Tokyo Olympics: What you need to know

The eclectic sport of skateboarding will debut at the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

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Skateboarding makes its debut at the Tokyo Olympics but it might not be the style of skateboarding you remember from events like the X Games.

And much like climbing, which is also appearing in the Olympics for the first time in 2021, its inclusion has divided the community. Some have expressed gratitude and excitement at the idea that skateboarding will get more exposure as a sport, while others worry that the Olympics will damage the culture and lifestyle that accompany it.

For now, here what you need to know about the structure, and scoring process for skateboarding at the 2020 Olympics. 

Skateboarder jumping at a skate park.

The park discipline will feature a course that resembles a large basin with lots of dips, twists and turns.

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What will the event be like?

Skateboarding at the Olympics features two disciplines: park and street. 

The park competition will take place on a hollowed-out course featuring a complex series of twists and turns. Park courses resemble large bowls with steep sides, nearly vertical at the top. Skaters send themselves to dizzying heights, performing jaw-dropping spins and tricks midair, and then gracefully bring themselves back down to the bowl to do it all over again on the other side. 

The street competition features a straight course with stairs, handrails, benches, walls and slopes to mimic a real street. This kind of skateboarding is characterized by riding along curbs and rails, leaping into the air without using hands, and that familiar grind of board on metal. 

Olympic skateboarders will experience at least some of the creative freedom they get in their home parks and streets: They’re free to choose which parts of the course to cover and, of course, which tricks to perform. Also, in an attempt to maintain the feel of the sport, music will accompany each rider. 

Only one athlete rides at a time, and competitors get three timed runs to post their best score.

Young men skateboarding in urban environment.

The street discipline mimics what it’s like to skateboard in a city environment. The course will feature rails, benches, curbs and other things you’d find on a real street.

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When and where is the skateboarding event?

Olympic skateboarders will compete in Tokyo at the Aomi Urban Sports Venue, which will also host 3×3 Basketball and Sport Climbing. The street portion takes place on the 25th and 26th of July. The Park event takes place on the 4th and 5th of August.

How will athletes be judged?

Judges will score athletes based on speed, difficulty, originality, timing, stability and the overall flow of the performance. One important skill judges will be looking for is the ability to seem suspended in midair. 

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