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Parkour group urges IOC to reject their sport from Olympics

France Gym's Parkour Grab

Parkour co-founder Chau Belle trains in a park in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. Belle was one of nine co-founders of the street sport born in the suburbs of Paris in the 1990s. Parkour is involved in a custody battle now with gymnastics, whose leaders are trying to take the sport under their wing. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)


LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Organizers of the sport of parkour urged the IOC on Tuesday to reject adding the obstacle course-style street-running event to the 2024 Paris Olympics because of a dispute with the governing body of gymnastics.

The Parkour Earth group has for years opposed what it calls a “hostile takeover” of the sport by the International Gymnastics Federation, known as FIG.

“Unfortunately, FIG’s encroachment and misappropriation of our sport continues,” Parkour Earth wrote Tuesday in an open letter to the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC executive board will meet on Monday and on the agenda is finalizing the sports program for the Paris Games. Requests to add new medal events or modify existing ones are expected from governing bodies.

FIG, which will have 18 medal events at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, is expected to ask again for parkour’s inclusion. Paris is where parkour was developed in the 1990s.

Parkour’s spectacular tricks in an urban setting has clear appeal at a time when the Olympics is targeting a younger audience.

Skateboarding, 3-on-3 basketball and sport climbing will make their debuts in Tokyo, though the IOC declined FIG’s proposal of parkour. Breakdancing will be an Olympic sport in Paris in 2024.

What counts against parkour for the Paris Games is the IOC’s policy of adding medal events that involve only the existing pool of athletes. The IOC does not want to increase the overall quota of 10,500 athletes competing in 2024, and parkour competitors are separate from FIG’s Olympic disciplines of artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline.

Despite the dispute with Parkour Earth, FIG plans to stage its first parkour world championships in March. Events in parkour speed and parkour freestyle are scheduled to be held in Hiroshima, Japan.

“The collaboration is a natural fit,” the Lausanne-based gymnastics body has said, “as several national gymnastics federations affiliated with the FIG already offer parkour activities.”

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