Whenever we face a challenging situation, we are often told you either make it or break it. And, now, for the 2024 Paris Olympics, one will really have to ‘break’ it to make it. With competitive breakdancing, popularly known as Breaking, being added to the forthcoming Games as a medal sport, it has given a new dimension to Olympics.
“For many, the inclusion of Breaking into Paris Olympics might be an element of surprise, but certainly not for me. Since 1990, breaking competitions have been held internationally, and as recent as 2018, it was a part of Youth Olympic Games held in Argentina,” says Pranay Dhupkar, a 22-year-old lad from Khargar. He has been into Breaking for the last eight years, practicing every day for two hours in the morning and two in the evening.
Experiencing the rising support, in person as well as on various social media and broadcasting platforms, for Breaking, in December 2018, the organisers of the 2024 Paris Olympic informed the World Dance Sport Federation (WDSF) their intention of including Breaking provisionally in the Paris Games programme.
The breakdancers, popularly known as B-Boys and B-Girls, are facing criticism from some other sport disciplines. However, there are some like Umesh Murkar, Founder President, Shito Ryu Sports Karate Kickboxing Association, who has a word of encouragement for these youngsters. “I personally see it as a welcome move. For me, Breaking is like watching a battle, where we don’t know what is going to happen next, from provocation to comeback anything can happen and that makes it even more interesting to watch as a sport now,” opines Murkar. He goes on to add that a platform like Olympics, where you get an opportunity to represent your country, will undoubtedly have an life changing impact on youngsters.
Many try to draw similarities between Gymnastics and Breaking, but it is not the case. Unlike gymnastics or figure skating, Breaking individual performances are not judged and nothing is codified.
“Judges in real time consider artistic ability, interpretative skills and physicality while judging the battle between the two. Due to the involvement of mind, soul and body, this form of judging is called Trivium judging,” explains 21-year-old, B-Girl, Sapna Deosthale from Aurangabad.
With 32 Breakers competing at the Paris Games, the event is likely to be conducted in two days comprising the Preliminaries on Day 1 and the Finals on Day 2. Participating 16 B-Boys and 16 B-Girls will be judged upon six criteria: Technique, variety, performativity, musicality, creativity and personality.
“For the last 13 years I have been training in Hip-Hop, as well as Breaking. After I heard the news of inclusion of Breaking as a sport into the Games, I have decided to dedicate myself completely to this sport,” says 29-year-old Kolhapur boy Vaibhav Patil, who is working with a courier firm in Mumbai. He always dreamt of participating in the World Breaking Championship, and now feels Olympics is an added dimension to his aspirations. It may be recalled, that during the World Breaking Championship held in 2019 at Nanjing, besides India, there were 65 other countries that were represented and it saw participation from countries like Kazakhstan, Rwanda and Bhutan.
“It is nothing, but a gimmick by IOC to increase their broadcast revenue during the Games by attracting young viewership. Breaking as a sport form according to organisers might help them achieve this target, but it is injustice towards sports like squash which still does not find place in Olympics,” says Amandeep Singh, a squash enthusiast from Bengaluru.
Nick Mathew, Former World Squash Champion, was blunt in condemning the IOC’s call to leave out squash in favour of breakdancing, climbing, skateboarding and surfing. “Skateboarding did not even have a national governing body when it was chosen as an Olympic sport. It shows a massive disconnect from the IOC on the actual infrastructure of the sport. It has to be made accountable,” stated Mathew in his subsequent Tweet after speaking to select media houses.
While acknowledging those who have trouble in accepting Breaking as a sport, Jean-Laurent Bourquin, senior advisor WDSF, through his Tweet has made his stand clear by stating that Breaking is a combination of both sport and art with athletic dimension.
For me, Breaking is like watching a battle, where we don’t know what is going to happen next, from provocation to comeback anything can happen and that makes it even more interesting to watch as a sport now.Umesh Murkar, Founder President, Shito Ryu Sports Karate Kickboxing Association
Advertising and Marketing field seems to be upbeat with inclusion of Breaking into 2024 Paris Games. “It is going to be a very vibrant and peppy market to encash upon as far as advertorials and promotions go for this new entrant into the Rings,” says Taranum Makhija, who works with an advertising agency in Mumbai. She expresses that over a period with lot of attention from the youngsters for Breaking, it can emerge as a key player in sport advertising with its reach and instant acceptability.
“My 14-year-old daughter, Divya, and 11-year-old son, Prathamesh, are into breaking. For them it is more than just a dance form, and even if it had not made it to the Olympics as a sport, I would continue to support their passion,” opines Ushma Bhaghirathi, who now looks forward to her children scripting a name for themselves in this newly acknowledged sport.
Questions that were raised in the past are being raised in the present and will continue to be raised in future too about the inclusion of Breaking into the list of Olympic medal games. However, none can deny that for aspiring breakers, inclusion of Breaking into Olympics has opened new avenues for them.