Spotlight on Tokyo's five new sports


Summer Sports

Spotlight on Tokyo's five new sports

09 September 2016 / 16:00

A total of 28 sports were contested at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but in four years’ time, in Tokyo, there will be an additional five sports to contend with.

Skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing, karate and baseball/softball join the Olympic fray in Tokyo – some for the first time, and some making a return after a period away from the Olympic spotlight.

The number of sports and athletes from Rio 2016 will not be affected, meaning in Tokyo there will be an additional 18 gold medals awarded, with an extra 474 athletes competing.

In the build-up to Rio we brought you a spotlight on each sport, so now we turn the spotlight on the five new sports coming to Tokyo 2020.


Gold medals on offer: 8 (Kata – male and female. Kumite (three weight classes) – male and female)

Number of athletes: Kata – 20. Kumite – 60.

Competition format: Ten athletes will compete in each event, in a round robin system, with the top two from each pool qualifying for the semi-finals. Competition is provisionally scheduled for days eight-11.

Number of national federations affiliated with the world governing body: 181

Joining taekwondo and judo in the Olympic Games, karate will be the third martial art to become an Olympic sport.

The last World Championships, in Bremen, Germany, attracted more than 50,000 spectators and the World Karate Federation has more than 250,000 likes on Facebook.

Kumite is the fighting element of karate, which translated literally means ‘meeting of hands’, and three-minute bouts are decided by scoring points for punches to the chest or stomach, slap kicks to the back or face, or sweeps/takedowns followed by a stomp or punch.

Kata, on the other hand, is executed as a specified series, composing of a variety of moves, including stepping and turning.

The current World Champions come from countries such as Japan, Brazil, France, Turkey, Italy and Egypyt.


Gold medals on offer: 2 (baseball – male, softball - female)

Number of athletes: Baseball – 144 (six teams of 24 athletes). Softball – 90 (six teams of 15 athletes)

Competition format: Six-day, non-overlapping tournaments, with finals potentially scheduled for days nine and 16.

Current world champions: Baseball – Dominican Republic (2013). Softball – USA (2016).

Number of national federations affiliated with the world governing bodies: 209

The world baseball and softball international federations were set up in 1938 and 1952, respectively, with 39 and 14 World Championships in each sport being held to date.

Baseball became an official Olympic sport in 1992, with Cuba winning, and was last played at Beijing 2008, where South Korea took gold.

Softball was introduced to the Olympic Games four years after baseball, with the USA winning gold at Atlanta 1996, but it exited the Olympic programme at the same time as baseball, when Japan were victorious in China.

Discussions are currently ongoing as to whether the world’s best athletes – those registered to Major League Baseball franchises in America – will participate.


Gold medals on offer: 4 (Street – male and female. Park - male and female)

Number of athletes: Street – 40. Park – 40.

Competition format: Skaters compete in a series of runs with their best score qualifying them to semi-finals, and then to finals. Competition potentially scheduled for days one and two.

Number of national federations affiliated with the world governing body: 107

Street skateboarding involves using urban street furniture, such as stairs, handrails, benches and planter boxes to perform tricks on, or over.

Whereas park skateboarding comprises a variety of styles employed to ride boards in purpose-built skate parks, which often include half or quarter-pipes.

Runs are judged on their difficulty, style and execution.

Sports climbing

Gold medals on offer: 2 (Bouldering, lead and speed combined – male and female)

Number of athletes: 40

Competition format: All athletes will compete in the three elements of the competition, with the overall ranking determining the winner. Provisional schedules show climbing on days four and five.

Number of national federations affiliated with the world governing body: 88

Sports climbing relies on permanent anchors fixed to the rock, or wall, being climbed, to limit the risk of falling and increase the emphasis on the process of climbing, and speed.

Lead climbing involves a competitor clipping onto bolts as they go, while bouldering features steep overhangs and speed combined is a mix of lead and speed, with competitor facing off to be the fastest up two, identical, parallel, routed.

The sport’s governing body, the International Federation of Sport Climbing, was only established in 2007, and recognised by the International Olympic Committee in the same year.


Gold medals on offer: 2 (Shortboard – male and female)

Number of athletes: 40

Competition format: Athletes will have to negotiate a qualifying round, before going through to semi-finals and finals. The schedule plans for competition on days two and three.

Number of national federations affiliated with the world governing body: 92

2015 World Surf League Champions: Adriano de Souza (Brazil) and Carissa Moore (Hawaii)

The last World Championships, in 2014, attracted crowds of nearly 400,000 for both the men’s and women’s competitions, combined.

The International Surfing Association managed adaptive surfing, bodyboarding, body surfing, kneeboarding, longboarding, stand up paddle, tandem surfing and wake surfing, but it is just shortboard that will appear at Tokyo 2020.

Every wave ridden is scored by a panel of five judges, with the highest and lowest scores being discounted. A riders’ two best wave scores, out of a possible ten, are added together to make their score for a run.

Sportsbeat 2016

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