October 1, 2015 6:12 AM EDT

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The Olympics are on a perpetual quest to connect with younger audiences. This X Games fave checks that box, even though its biggest name, Tony Hawk, is 47.


The waves! The wipeouts! The beach views! The sport has a rich history and will play well on TV. The post-event interviews should also be gnarly.


“Rules are simple,” an official said during a pitch to Tokyo officials. “Get to the top.” It’s also popular; there are an estimated 35 million climbers worldwide.


The sport, with its deep roots in Japan, is a natural fit for a Tokyo Games. Watch for Azerbaijan’s Rafael Aghayev, who could be a gold-medal favorite.

This appears in the October 12, 2015 issue of TIME.

Write to Sean Gregory at sean.gregory@time.com.

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