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Skateboarding flips, twists, & grinds into the Tokyo Olympics 2021

“We used to see ourselves as a family of misfits, but now the world will call us Olympians”

LiFTED | Roger Yiu | 22 Jul 2021

Hip Hop and skateboarding are like Thor and Loki, seemingly disparate but destined to intertwine. Born on the streets of California in the 1960s, skateboarding has vastly evolved from a budget vehicle for surfers when the waves were flat to a global youth movement expressing rebellious creativity. Now, skateboarding has reached new heights by being one of the four sports added to the Olympics program at the Tokyo Olympic 2021.

The pride and excitement in the global skate community is summed up best by the greatest skater of all time, Tony Hawk, in this commercial:

LiFTED is here to guide you through all the details so you can sit back in front of your TV and watch the world's greatest skate contests.


Built by California Skateparks, the company responsible for most of the Street League skate parks as well as Vans Parks series, the Ariake Urban Sports Park will be the primary stage for 80 skateboarders over the next two weeks. The course is divided into two areas - street and park - for both genders. The street course features stairs, handrails, curbs, benches, and walls as the street competition focuses on doing tricks while taking advantage of the built-in obstacles. The park course, on the other hand, features a series of concrete bowls allowing skateboarders to perform bigger mid-air tricks. This one-of-a-kind street and park course will be permanently made for public use after the Olympics.


The skateboarding program will be four events in total. The competition is divided into two categories - street and park. Males and females will separately compete in both categories.

For street, each skater gets two 45-second runs and a best trick section [each skater gets five tries on an obstacle to do their best trick possible]. Out of 20, the top eight go to the finals before the top three are judged for gold, silver, and bronze.

For park, 20 skateboarders will have to fight for eight spots in the final, too. Each skater will have three 45-second runs and only the best score of the three will count.

Skaters will be given points according to variety, technical difficulty, execution, creativity, use of the course, and flow. However, points will be deducted for repetition of ticks or critical mistakes like bailing out.


In each discipline, there will be 20 competitors from different countries and according to the newly added rules by the International Olympics Committee, each continent has to be represented, which means we will be seeing an inclusive cast of skateboarders during the global event. In Asia, Japan as the host has an obvious advantage with 10 competitors throughout the four disciplines, with China’s two and one skater from the Philippines.


Much like other athletes, skateboarders are required to wear national uniforms during their competitions at the Olympics. To minimize the commercial factors, no logos and brands can be shown on the clothing, so we probably won’t be seeing a Nike swoosh or a Red Bull patch.

As for the competitive equipment, skateboarders are allowed to wear their own sneakers and use their own skateboards, no matter the sizes, shapes, or material used, but they have to be on the market for sale for at least six months prior to the Olympics. While modifications are not forbidden, the skateboard cannot be attached to a skater's feet by any physical means according to the official rulebook.

Helmets are a must for park and street skaters who are under 18 years old and lastly, no visible stickers are allowed on any equipment.


Mark your calendar! The skateboarding program will be split into 4 days. The men’s street event is on July 25, while the women’s is on July 26. The women’s park event is on August 4, while the men’s is on August 5. All events start at 9am Tokyo Time. [GMT +9].

Usually in the Olympics, there are winners and losers, but this combination is a win-win opportunity. The Olympics need to modernize to attract young viewers and adding skateboarding is one way to do that. It’s also a chance for skateboarding to show off its lively style and amazing aerial tricks that will be seen by millions of people all at one time.