For the first time in history, skateboarders are headed to the Olympics. The Tokyo Games will feature skaters from around the world doing gnarly tricks on a newly built skate park.
Nike was tapped to design the kits for the United States, Japan, France, and Brazil. All of the outfits feature a burst of color, with shirts and tank tops covered in graphic patterns that represent the landscape of each country. With these kits, Nike’s design team is attempting to capture the sport’s renegade, antiestablishment spirit. But it’s unclear whether they’ll help quell the fears of some skateboarders who worry that the Olympics may contribute to a more corporate and institutionalized skateboarding culture.
The International Olympics Committee has recognized how important skateboarding is to young people around the world and in an effort to draw in younger audiences, it is inviting skaters to take part in this year’s Olympics. That creates a paradox for skaters and their fans: How do you take a fundamentally rebellious sport, born on city streets, and embed it in the glossy, corporately sponsored world of the Olympics?