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Parkour Moves Closer to Olympic Status, But Controversy Remains

29 Nov, 2017

By: Michael Popke

Will parkour be on the Olympics program in 2024? The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) sure hopes so.

Following meetings with its new Parkour Commission and Parkour Earth — a rival organization that claims to be the sport’s governing body and opposes FIG’s involvement in parkour — FIG announced in early November that parkour demonstration events will be held at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aries and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. (Parkour also is known as freerunning, the urban discipline closest to obstacle racing.)

According to Inside the Games, a leading news site about the Olympics, FIG also wants to host the first FIG Parkour World Championships in 2020 and put the sport on the World Games program in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2021.

“Their ultimate objective is then to be added as a new discipline on the Olympic program at Paris 2024,” Inside the Games reports, “a decision likely to be made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2021.”

FIG President Morinari Watanabe also has “promised [the organization] will help develop the discipline and ensure that parkour is run by specialists. Educational courses are due to be rolled out [on] five continents.”

But there's a lot going on beneath the surface that FIG isn't discussing.

After FIG integrated parkour as a gymnastics discipline, the organization was accused of "encroachment and misappropriation,” and Parkour Earth was formed as the sport’s governing body. Still a small entity with only six members, Parkour Earth remains against FIG’s takeover of the sport.

Parkour UK’s Chief Executive Officer Eugene Minogue, who also serves as the transitional head of Parkour Earth, told Inside the Games that “if [FIG] want[s] a dialogue, we are happy to continue having it.”

Meanwhile, as the sport continues to make strides in the United States, a 10-by-30-foot wooden viewing platform at Vault PK — a popular parkour facility in San Diego where children learn how to run, jump and flip through American Ninja Warrior-style obstacle courses — collapsed on Nov. 11. At least 23 people, mainly kids, were transported to hospital by ambulance.

San Diego city and fire inspectors found several building code violations at Vault PK, including improperly constructed walls, mezzanines, stairs, partitions, restrooms, locker rooms and offices, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

“They will never operate again in our building,” Rob Schupp, spokesperson for the city’s Metropolitan Transit System, which leased warehouse space in which Vault PK was housed as part of the San Diego Sports Entertainment Center. “They can’t get back in. They’re gone.”

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