PARIS • Skateboarding does not need the prestige of Olympic status, and it could inadvertently harm the sport's counter-cultural standing, Tony Hawk said on Saturday.
The skateboarding great, whose popularity has extended into a long-running video game series, was at the Vans Park Series France event in the French capital when he commented on the sport's inclusion at next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
He told Reuters: "My only concern of skateboarding on the Olympic platform is that somehow that will inspire people to skate only for fame or fortune.
"Skateboarding has so much more to offer young people in terms of self-confidence, in terms of identity, in terms of setting their own challenges. And that is not competitive-based."
Hawk went on to say it was the Olympics that needed skateboarding more than the other way round.
"Through my more prominent professional years, I wouldn't have cared if it was in the Olympics because we already had our own scene, and skateboarding was far more fun and popular than most Olympic sports," he said.
"At this point, I feel like they need our cool factor more than we need their validation."
This uniqueness, Hawk added, born of the sport's creative and alternative spirit, should continue to attract potential skaters - not its popularity or lucrativeness.
The International Olympic Committee has given skateboarding a provisional green-light for the Paris 2024 Games alongside surfing, climbing and break dancing, although the final decision will be made late next year after Tokyo, and it is not guaranteed it will have a place at future editions.
While Hawk, who turned pro in 1982 at the age of 14, did not enjoy the same level of international acceptance at the time, he claimed skateboarding's counter-culture aspect pushed him further to become a better person and athlete.
"I'm really thankful that I got to grow up in a time when we had to prove ourselves, just through our own dedication and not a validation from some higher source," he said.