For most of the world, the Olympic Games are a once every four years phenomenon. Countries showcase their best at each sport, athletes compete for medals, and spectators try their best to learn the rules of a new event via an NBC announcer’s narration. Every four years, the Olympics take center stage for 18 days, but for all the days and years between, the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport are working to create a pipeline for athletes to reach this monumental achievement as well as growing the fanbase for each sport. In our work with Toyota and the Toyota Sports Festival, we’ve seen firsthand the creative ways NGB’s in the US are working to promote their sport all year, every year. Read on for more about our work with Toyota and what fans can look forward to at the Paris Olympics in 2024.
The Olympic stage is not only a crucial step for an athlete, but also for a sport itself. At the Tokyo Games, four sports debuted: karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding. With the exception of karate, each will be back for the Paris Games in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028. These NBGs now have four and eight additional years to grow these sports with more organizing, national and international events, corporate and private fundraising, and growth in the awareness and fanbases. With the pandemic delay and rescheduling, each new sport had to overcome numerous obstacles to reach Tokyo. As each advances to Paris, and for the first time ever with returning Olympic medalists, teams like USA Skateboarding, USA Climbing, and USA Surfing have been able to dedicate more time and resources towards developing the athletic pipeline to support future medalist hopefuls.
Let’s take for example skateboarding’s debut in the Tokyo Olympics. What was at one time a sport reserved for the kidney-shaped skateparks of southern California launched onto the global stage with performances from phenoms like Great Britain’s Sky Brown and the US’s Alana Smith. In the years following the Tokyo Games, skateboarding has only grown in popularity and appeals to more and more people around the world each year with strong teams developing in Brazil, France, and Japan among others. From after-school programs, national grassroots event series, and expanding skateparks across the US, the buzz after the sport’s Olympic debut was palpable. The broader appeal combined with increased funding means more opportunities for athletes of diverse backgrounds. USA Skateboarding was supported by Toyota and is one of 20 NGBs at each Toyota Sports Festival, which aims to engage audiences across the country.
Olympic exposure and positive viewership supports the growth of these new sports. Sport Climbing will grow to two events per gender category in Paris from the single combined event in Tokyo. This growth is due, in part, to a newfound excitement around sport climbing which has also spurred the building of hundreds of new facilities, and the ever increasing athlete base.
At the Paris Games, breaking (break dancing) will get its debut. Originating in the Bronx in the 1970s, Olympic breaking will see a total of 32 competitors face off in a head-to-head format, judged on five criteria: musicality, vocabulary, originality, technique and execution. This will be a different judging system than used in other competitions, the so-called Trivium Value System. Audiences can watch breaking on August 9 and 10 at La Concorde and we’re eager to see how this Olympic stage increases the interest and audience of this dynamic sport.
Toyota is a Global Sponsor of both the IOC and Team USA, helping to support athletes in a 10-year commitment that will run through the 2026 Winter Games in Italy. They are also considered the biggest corporate supporters of the Paralympic Movement. In addition to supporting Team USA as a whole, Toyota sponsors individual athletes like Alise Willoughby, Evan Strong, and Jarryd Wallace as members of Team Toyota. Alongside the NGB activations,Team Toyota athletes also make appearances at each Toyota Sports Festival, helping to coach clinics and inspire the next generation of participants and fans. Each new participant in an Olympic sport allows for more awareness, competition, future and continued participation, and new and exciting opportunities for each of the sport communities that make up the Olympic and Paralympic Community.
Toyota Sports Festival was born from Toyota’s mission to create meaningful experiences that inspire mobility for all by energizing consumers in the Olympic and Paralympic Movement and supporting athletes at every level. At each 2023 Toyota Sports Festival, attendees in LA, New York and Chicago had a chance to try their hand at a sport and learn more about an Olympic or Paralympic NGB. We converted convention centers into athletic courts and tracks so participants could learn about wheelchair basketball, skateboarding, hockey, figure skating, surfing, speedskating and more. The Toyota Sports Festivals brought these sports to tens of thousands of people across the US, introducing them to the NBGs, Olympians, and fellow participants.
The modern Olympic Games continue to evolve, and with that evolution comes new opportunities for athletes to showcase their mettle on the world stage. From breaking to surfing, athletes at the top of their respective sports have earned the chance to compete for 18 days this summer in Paris. Can the new sports use the next Games to grow their communities? Will the debut of Breaking bring the sport to new heights? Keep an eye on our social media channels for more leading up to the Paris Olympics.