2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo Expands With 5 New Sports
The Summer Olympics are quickly approaching and will feature the largest number of sports in the history of the Games. Five new sports will be added for a total of 33 in the program that kicks off on July 24th.
The Olympic Games are returning to Tokyo for the first time since 1964. Two of the new sports, baseball/softball and karate have been added, most likely for a one-and-done appearance in the Games. Karate originated in Japan and has been proposed to be featured in the Olympics since the 1970s. With Japan’s deep history with karate, it seems perfectly fitting that karate will make its debut in Tokyo.
Baseball and its sister sport, softball, last appeared in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The sporadic inclusion of the sports is closely tied to the ability of the host city to propose new sports, considering the popularity and loyal fan base within the host country.
5 New Sports For 2020 Summer Olympics
Traditionally an anti-establishment culture, skateboarding is now included on sport’s biggest stage. Skaters will compete in the street and park disciplines and showcase to the world the technical progression, skill, and creativity involved with skateboarding.
But don’t call it a sport and don't call them athletes to their face. The mainstream rebellion of skating’s early days in the 1970’s lives on, when trespassing to drop into drained swimming pools was the only venue. Regardless of what your perception of skateboarding is or how it’s inclusion in the Olympics makes you feel, one thing is certain. It’s gonna blow minds. But what will the uniforms look like?
The growth of the sport of rock climbing has provided the green light for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympics. Medals will be awarded for men and women in three disciplines: lead, speed, and bouldering. Speed climbing will feature a race between two climbers, bouldering and lead climbing measures height scaled in specific times.
It has taken over a century to make the Olympic program since first the “father of surfing” Duke Kahanamoku asked the International Olympic Committee to consider adding surfing but the tide has finally turned. Many believed that wave pools would foster the Olympic age of surfing but the event will actually be held at a Pacific Ocean beach break about 40 miles outside of Tokyo.
A quick look at the World Surfing League’s leaderboard will give you a list of potential favorites, with Brazil, Australia, and the United States stacking the field.
Although the two sports did not make the shortlist for the proposed sports in the Paris 2024 Games, the sports are wildly popular in Japan and the United States. Both countries have professional leagues for each sport. Major League Baseball athletes are highly unlikely to compete in Tokyo due to the conflicting schedules at a critical point in the season but minor league players will likely fill out the roster.
Two disciplines, Kumite and Kata, will be introduced this summer. There will be three different weight classes per gender in the head-to-head fighting event of Kumite and one per gender in the individual discipline of kata.
The Olympic Effect on Sport Growth
There can be no doubt that the exposure the Olympics affords any sport, generates growth in youth interest and involvement in those sports. Although baseball and softball have deep traditions and massive participation globally, the new sports will experience a boom period. It should only be a matter of time till your kid comes home beaming with the news that they just made the varsity skateboard team.