[Source: IOC] Shanghai and Budapest have been selected as hosts for the Olympic Qualifier Series, a new series of festival-style events combining sport with urban culture. This decision was confirmed on 12 October by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The two-part series, taking place in the period leading up to the Olympic Games Paris 2024, will be an important step in determining which athletes qualify in BMX freestyle, breaking, skateboarding and sport climbing for Paris 2024.
The Olympic Qualifier Series, a key project under Olympic Agenda 2020+5 , brings together the best athletes from each of the four sports involved in the Series in a vibrant festival-like atmosphere in a single urban park. These compact events held over four days offer fans an immersive Olympic experience merging sport, art, music and culture. The Shanghai stop on the Series will be held at the Huangpu Riverside from 16 to 19 May 2024, while the Budapest event will take place at the Ludovika Campus from 20 to 23 June 2024. The Series' conclusion in Budapest will coincide with Olympic Day, the annual celebration of the Olympic Movement, held every 23 June, which next year also marks the end of the athletes’ qualification period for Paris 2024.
The Olympic Qualifier Series will represent a significant milestone in the athletes' journeys towards Paris 2024, serving as the ultimate qualification stage for BMX freestyle, breaking, skateboarding and sport climbing. At least half of the qualification quota spots for Paris 2024 in these sports are allocated through the Olympic Qualifier Series, with 464 athletes set to compete.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: "The Olympic Qualifier Series offers an exhilarating pathway for athletes to qualify for Paris 2024. They will be able to showcase their skills in vibrant major city locations in front of passionate crowds. Shanghai and Budapest perfectly align with the concept of the Olympic Qualifier Series, serving as the ideal backdrop for an exciting new chapter in the Olympic Movement. The Series promises an unforgettable Olympic experience for both athletes and fans, with the conclusion on Olympic Day adding a special touch of celebration to the Series.”
President Bach continued: “This series of Olympic qualification events represents a key milestone in enhancing and promoting the road to the Olympic Games. By bringing together the best athletes from these four sports in iconic urban environments, we aim to give them more visibility and highlight their remarkable achievements on the road to Paris.”
The IOC is working closely with the four partner International Federations to deliver the Olympic Qualifier Series – the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC), the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) and World Skate – which retain responsibility for running their respective competitions.
Xie Dong, Vice Mayor of Shanghai, said: “We are thrilled to host the Olympic Qualifier Series in Shanghai in 2024. It is a remarkable opportunity for our city, known for its rich sports history and talents, growing industry and strong sports atmosphere, as it strives to build itself into a world-renowned sports city. The event will be held on the banks of our beloved Huangpu River, adding to the beauty of the surrounding scenery as it comes alive with the energy of the most talented athletes. This top-tier event, celebrated for its youthful and urban atmosphere, will undoubtedly ignite the passion of Chinese youth for BMX, breaking, skateboarding and sport climbing.”
Balázs Fürjes, Co-Chairman of the Budapest Local Organising Committee, said: “Budapest, a pioneering city, is honoured to bring together a new generation of Olympic sports at a vibrant urban festival in 2024. We will be ready – again – to host the world’s best urban sport athletes following on from the highly successful and trend-setting Budapest 2019 World Urban Games. We are also delighted to celebrate Olympic Day together, just over a month before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Paris 2024. As always, we are committed to offering our best in the Hungarian capital, ensuring we remain gracious hosts and contributing to the development of Olympic sports.”
Commenting on the Olympic Qualifier Series' distinct nature as a prelude to Paris 2024, American skateboarder Jake Ilardi said: "I think the Olympic Qualifier Series is going to be a unique experience because, usually, when we qualify, it's just skateboarding only. I think it will be cool to take a break from the competition, watch the other athletes, see how they prepare, see what they’re bringing to the table. It will be a good time, and I think it will be a precursor to Paris 2024, giving us a taste of what's to come."
Speaking about the Olympic Qualifier Series, Brazilian sport climber Anja Kohler said: "I always like when different sports are represented at the same event because then you can go watch different sports, experience great sports moments and meet a lot of new people, and for me it is just one more motivation to push to participate in the Olympic Qualifier Series. It will be a lot of tension because everybody wants to qualify, but at the same time there will be a lot of joy and great sports moments."
Discussing the anticipated atmosphere at the Series, French BMX freestyler Anthony Jean-jean remarked: "I think that we can expect a very beautiful atmosphere, like always in our sport. There is always a good spirit and a good atmosphere between the athletes. The interaction with the public will be good. Both the athletes and the public will be aware of what is at stake. [There will be] a lot of pressure and implications for every nation, which will need to give their best to hope for a quota place, so it'll be a great moment and great competitions to prepare for Paris 2024."
Sharing her excitement for the Olympic Qualifier Series, B-girl Yell from the Republic of Korea said: "The Olympic Qualifier Series are very exciting for me. They are the final shot, the decisive blow, the last shot just before the buzz. It is that moment of suspense between what you have achieved so far and what you dream of achieving... It will be a magical atmosphere!"
The Olympic Qualifier Series contributes to the continuous evolution of the road to the Games. It builds upon the successful inclusion of urban sports at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, where these dynamic sports were featured in urban parks. The urban park concept will come to life again in the heart of Paris at Place de la Concorde at the Olympic Games next year. The Olympic Qualifier Series provides a preview of the electrifying experience that awaits spectators in Paris.