The Tokyo Olympics will see six new sports that were not on the programme in Rio, out of which four will make their debut, along with repackaged disciplines and the introduction of the mixed team events in traditional sports.
Baseball and softball, surfing, skateboarding, karate and sports climbing will become part of the Olympic roster in Tokyo. Additionally, the Tokyo Olympics will also feature several existing sports in new forms in basketball and cycling.
The International Olympic Committee has said it wants to promote “youth-oriented sports” and make “gender equality a big focus for Tokyo”.
This package of events features both traditional and emerging, youth-focused event, all of which are popular in Japan and internationally. They reflect the Tokyo 2020 Games Vision and will act as a driving force to further promote the Olympic movement and its values,” according to the Organising Committee.
Overall, Tokyo will offer more sports as well as more chances to win gold, with a record 339 medal events. Yet, while the IOC predicts that a record 11,091 athletes will take part, some sports, particularly the newcomers, have small allocations. There will be just 18 BMX Freestyle competitors, 40 surfers and 16 four-member 3x3 basketball teams.
Here is a closer look at the five new sports, including four debutants, and the big names competing in them ahead of the Tokyo Games.
Karate, the traditional martial arts of Japan will make its Olympics debut in Tokyo. The sport, born in Okinawa, Japan in 1868, was inducted by the Organising Committee in the roster because of its rich history and popularity in the country.
However, karate will not feature in next edition of the Games in Paris.
In the 32nd edition of the Summer Olympics, karate will played in two disciplines – kata and kumite. While athletes are required to demonstrate their techniques in kata, kumite has weight classes and is judged on the basis of the results of head-to-head fights. The competition will be held in three weight classes for both men and women at the Nippon Budokan.
Sandra Sanchez of Spain, Japanese duo of Ryo Kiyuna and Kiyou Shimizu, Iran’s Hamideh Abbasali and Tzu-Yun Wen of Chinese Taipei are some of the notable names to be seen on the mat in the upcoming Games.
Baseball / Softball
Baseball and softball, are hardly new to the Olympics. Baseball made its first appearance in 1904 in St. Louis, softball in 1996. Both were dropped in 2008, victims of the constant battle to control the number of competitors at the Games.
Baseball wan inducted into the Olympic program as a medal event in 1992 Barcelona Games and remained part of the showpiece till the 2008 edition in Beijing before being dropped from the list.
But being a popular sport in Japan, baseball is set to make its return to the Olympic program in the upcoming Tokyo Games.
Softball, on other hand, made its debut at the Olympics as a medal event in 1996 Atlanta and was part of the Games till 2008 before being dropped from the program. But like baseball, softball will make its return for a one-off Games in Tokyo as it has been again booted out from the 2024 Paris roster.
While baseball is competed among men, softball is an women only event.
Both baseball and softball competitions will contested among six countries – Australia, hosts Japan, Italy, USA, Mexico and Canada.
Skateboarding is an action sport that will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo The sport had got a huge boost as it has already been approved to be part of the 2024 Paris Olympics.
In Tokyo, medals will be on offer for two disciplines of skateboarding – park and street. While in park discipline, skaters are required to show their skills and execute tricks in a dome-shaped bowl, in street competitions competitors had to overcome real-life obstacles like stairs, rails etc.
The participants will be judged on the basis of difficulty level, originality and their execution skills at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.
Nyjah Huston (USA), Pedro Barros (Brazil), Shane O’Neill (Australia), Leticia Bufoni (Brazil), Alex Sorgente (Italy), Japan’s Yuto Horigome and Aori Nishimura and 12-year-old British Sky Brown are the some of the big names who will be vying for the top honours in the sport in Tokyo.
Surfing is another adventure sport that will make its Olympic debut and will continue to be a part of the sporting event as it has also been approved for the 2024 Paris Games.
The competition will be held in both men’s and women’s categories, featuring preliminary heats followed by head-to-head knockout rounds. The events will be held at Tsurigasaki Beach in Ichinomiya.
The surfers will be judged on their commitment and degree of difficulty, innovations, manoeuvres, flow, speed and power
The top five surfers to watch out for in the upcoming Games are Brazil’s Gabriel Medina, former world champion John John Florence of USA, another American Carissa Moore, Australia’s seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore and local favourite Kanoa Igarashi.
Sports climbing started to get recognition in the 1980s and its induction in the Olympic program for the first time in Tokyo will definitely give a huge boost to the discipline, which is popular among youth.
The event to be held at Tokyo’s Aomi Urban Sports Park will be contested as a single event. All the three min disciplines of the sport – speed, bouldering and lead will be combined to determine the overall winner in both men and women’s section.
Top sport climbers to be seen in action at the Tokyo Olympics are Adam Ondra of Czech Republic, Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret, Japan’s Miho Nonaka, the Mawem Brothers – Mickael and Bassa of France and Britain’s Shauna Coxsey.
Cycling – BMX Freestyle
Trick cycling is also coming to the Olympics with BMX Freestyle joining BMX Racing, which has been part of the Games since 2008.
The sport will use he BMX park format. Riders have 60 seconds to perform acrobatics on obstacles such as walls and ramps known as boxes and spines. They are marked on difficulty, originality, execution, height and creativity.
Like skateboarding, basketball is taking it to the streets in Tokyo with the addition of men’s and women’s three-on-three competitions.
The playground variation is played half court using one basket. Games end when one team reaches 21 points (there are no three pointers) or after 10 minutes.
Several traditional sports are mixing up the genders with events in which both men and women compete. Swimming, athletics and triathlon are adding mixed relays.
In all three, teams will be made up of two men and two women. In swimming they will compete in a 4x100m medley, in athletics in a 4x400m relay and triathlon in the shorter sprint format.
There will be mixed pairs competitions in air pistol, air rifle and trap shooting and in archery. Judo will have a team event with three men and three women, from different weight classes, in each team. Table Tennis is bringing in mixed doubles.
With Agency Inputs