Entertainment Weekend: At Tokyo Olympics, a debt to ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘E.T.’

TOKYO (AP) — Although the name Marty McFly won’t be on the start list for the first Olympic skateboarding competition, the “Back to the Future” character who inspired the immortal lines “What’s that thing he’s on? It’s a board, with wheels!” was a landmark personality for the sport in its groundbreaking journey to the Tokyo Games.

The Olympic debut in Tokyo of BMX freestyle also owes a debt to Hollywood, because it was Steven Spielberg’s movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” that showcased the acrobatic sport’s wow factor to mainstream audiences.

So Tinseltown, take an Olympic bow. Skateboarding starts Sunday with the men’s street competition. The men and women’s medal events in BMX freestyle are on the second Sunday, Aug. 1. Back when the movie blockbusters hit screens in the 1980s, McFly would have needed a time-traveling DeLorean to foresee that these counterculture activities would be welcomed into the Olympic extravaganza unfolding in Tokyo.

“The skateboard associations and the BMX associations should be giving Bob Zemeckis, myself and Steven Spielberg lifetime achievement awards,” joked “Back to the Future” screenwriter Bob Gale in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the competitions.

Gale co-created and cowrote the hit series with director Robert Zemeckis. They imagined McFly as a skateboarder to help make the character — played by actor Michael J. Fox — stand out.