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Olympic Facelift: New sports, new look. Will adding skateboarding, surfing and other youthful sports attract a younger audience?

Adding Sports to Reach Youth

In August of 2016, the International Olympic Committee announced the addition of five new sports to the roster of the 2020 summer games in Tokyo: skateboarding, sport climbing, karate, baseball/softball, and surfing. This decision, referred to as “the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history,” is an effort by the IOC to make the games more relevant and reach a younger audience. As IOC President Thomas Bach puts it, “We want to take sport to the youth. With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will automatically come to us. We have to go to them.”

What Teens Say About the Olympic Additions 

So what do the young people the Olympics are hoping to reach think of additions of these sports? Fuse surveyed one thousand 13-18-year-olds to get their thoughts and here’s what they told us: 

Adding more youthful sports to the Olympics in 2020 has positively impacted Gen Z’s views of the summer games.

With the addition of new, youthful sports to the Olympics, 45% of teens now have a more positive view of the games.  

“It’s so amazing to see that the Olympics are opening up to non-traditional sports that so many people enjoy and are excited about.” – Gen Z Survey Respondent 


By including sports like surfing and skateboarding in the Olympics, Gen Z’s likelihood of watching the games has increased.

More than 57% of Gen Z respondents stated that the new additions have increased the likelihood that they will watch the Olympics and its new sport disciplines

“It’s very exciting to see surfing and skateboarding added! As a viewer, this is important to me because it will give a lot of young professionals amazing opportunities to further their careers and represent their sport and country!” – Gen Z Survey Respondent 


When it comes to which sport Gen Z was most excited about being added to the Olympics, surfing topped the list. 

Although Gen Z loves the inclusion of all the new sports, 21% were most excited about surfing being added to the Olympic roster, compared to baseball/softball (17%), karate (15%), skateboarding (14%), and sport climbing (8%).  

 “I love the inclusion of all of the new sports because I feel like it will give up and coming athletes a chance to make a name for themselves.” – Gen Z Survey Respondent 


Most Gen Z are still unaware that new sport disciplines have been added to the upcoming summer games in Tokyo.

Less than 30% of respondents were aware of each of the 5 new sports being added to the upcoming summer games.

What Happens Next 

Our survey results this month support the IOC’s belief that appealing to a younger audience starts with the addition of more youthful sports. As we grow closer to the opening ceremonies, the IOC must promote these sport additions to inform and excite a new and younger audience. For more information about sports marketing and how your brand can reach Gen Z, please contact us. 

To Read More 

For more information on this topic, check out the announcement of the first USA Skateboarding National Team, the determination of new Olympic qualifying events such as Dew Tour, and thought-provoking opinion pieces on what it means for these sports to be added to the Olympic roster. 


OLYMPIC is a registered trademark of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).  This article has not been endorsed, sponsored, or otherwise approved by the USOC.