Breaking Is Officially an Olympic Sport. Here’s How Scoring Will Work at the Summer Games

The Olympics have been going on for a pretty long time now—we’re coming up on the 33rd installment this summer—but the global competition is anything but stale. One big reason? The Games are evolving all the time, and new sports and events are continually added to the mix to bring in some novelty (and new generations of fans!).

This summer’s Paris Games will showcase competitions across 32 sports, including tons of classic fan favorites we’d expect to see at the Olympics, like gymnastics, track and field, swimming, and a whole bunch more. But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will also be introducing one completely new sport for 2024: breaking. After first being included at the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018, the sport will make its Summer Games debut in Paris.

For everything to know about the new Olympic sport—plus important intel on a few updates to some existing ones—keep on reading, and get psyched to catch lots of brand new action this summer.

First off, what exactly is breaking?

The Olympics organization describes breaking—also known as breakdancing—as an urban style of dance rooted in hip hop culture. It originated in the 1970s in the Bronx and later expanded internationally, with the first global breaking competitions held in the 1990s.

It’s essentially a dance-off style competition where athletes showcase a combo of acrobatic moves, fancy footwork, and stylized improv. A big component of breaking competitions is the DJ, who is in charge of the music. Athletes—or B-boys and B-girls, as they’re called—must adapt their dance moves on the fly to whatever beat the DJ drops, which brings an element of novelty and surprise to each showdown.

How is breaking scored?

Breaking competitions involve athletes going up against each other in a one-on-one battle format. Basically, they take turns performing their moves in what’s known as a “throw down.” These are brief—roughly 60 seconds—and each athlete usually executes about two to five of them in a competition.

Dancers perform three types of movements: top rock (standing moves), down rock (floor moves), and freeze (held poses).

A panel of judges, who are usually breakdancers themselves, evaluates the throw downs and rates them on six criteria: creativity, personality, technique, variety, performativity, and musicality. After every round, the judges share their scores. In the end, the dancer with the most points wins.

At the 2024 Games, 16 B-boys and 16 B-girls from around the world will compete for medals, with separate competitions held for the men and women.

Who’s competing in breaking at its very first Olympics?

Out of the 32 total athletes competing, four dancers (two men and two women) are from the US, NBC News reports. So far, we know two of them: Sunny Choi and Victor Montalvo.

Choi, who is from Queens, got into breaking as a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, where she joined the school’s club, as her Team USA bio details. In 2012, she started competing internationally, and last year she became the first American woman breakdancer to qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

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