The last stop of the Olympic Qualifying Series kicked off yesterday in Budapest. GETTY IMAGES

Thomas Bach emphasised the importance of urban sports for the future of the Olympics as he kicked off the second stop of the Olympic Qualifying Series yesterday in Budapest. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president has been impressed with the inaugural series of the OQS so far, with the Olympic trials which determine which athletes will compete in the Paris 2024 attracting thousands of spectators to watch over 450 athletes from more than 120 National Federations compete in breaking, BMX freestyle, skateboarding and sport climbing in a festival-like event fusing sport, art, music and culture in a festival atmosphere.

"The Shanghai leg was a very successful demonstration, and here in Budapest, even though the competition has barely started, we can already feel the vibrant sports atmosphere just from touring the venue, " said Bach, according to Xinhua.

The first stop of the OQS unfolded last month in Shanghai and was attended by 45,000 spectators —30 percent were under 18 years old, and 58 percent were aged between 18 and 45— and was hailed “a benchmark for future Olympic Qualifiers” by the IOC who established the series to boost the visibility of the OQS’ sports, extend the excitement of the Olympics beyond the few weeks of the Games and to attract more attention from young people.

The Budapest stop, held at a campus of the National University of Public Service in Hungary, the youthful and athletic ambience is also evident: aligning with the Olympic Qualifying Series' slogan: "Younger, More Urban, More Open.”

"In our times, sport has to go where the people are, whether it's in the real world or the virtual world. This means sport has to go to the urban centres. This is true for grassroots sports where you have to offer sports facilities in the neighborhoods. And this is also true for sports events that they should be close to the people, meaning sport is going to the people and is not waiting for the people to come, " said Bach.

"That's the reason why we are promoting the introduction of these new urban sports into the Olympic programme. These sports are attracting the young generation, and the Olympic programme has always to be like a kind of jigsaw puzzle where you have some more traditional pieces and some innovative pieces. These urban sports are therefore very important for the long-term development of the Olympic Games,” he added. 

The Olympic Qualifying Series continues through the weekend and is the final stop on the road to the Paris Games. Olympic hopefuls competing in breaking, BMX freestyle, skateboarding and sport climbing will be earning their berths based on an overall ranking of performances at both OQS stops, with the Olympic World Skateboarding Ranking (OWSR) thrown into the mix for skateboarders.