Five new sports approved for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Olympic sign shined in blue light. Five rings like the five new added sports.

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Olympic sign shined in blue light. Five rings like the five new added sports.

Joe Brandon, Ranger Review Reporter

Climbing, Karate, surfing, skateboarding, and baseball are all being added to this year’s summer olympics in Tokyo. Being one of the largest changes that the Olympics have brought in years, the Olympic committee is hoping to bring in a newer and younger audience according to The New Republic. By adding these new sports, the Olympics hopes to bring their ratings back up.

While skateboarding and surfing have been seen in competitions before, like the X Games and the World Surf League, climbing has not. In the 2020 Olympics, Speed, Bouldering, and Lead types of climbing will be introduced for the first time. Each one has different specialties and rules. 


Speed climbing is typically the most well-known type of competitive climbing. Every wall in speed climbing is the same: 12 meters tall with the same holds. A climber can practice the same route over and over again, unlike Bouldering. Bouldering consists of multiple walls, each 4 meters high. Each one has different holds that vary every climb. The goal is to do as many walls as possible, while testing the limits of the climbers movement as they climb without a rope. The last type is Lead climbing. Lead climbing is all about height. A climber is given 6 minutes to see how high they can climb up the 12 meter wall. The holds on the walls are often changed, and other competitors are kept away from the wall so they don’t see someone’s line and use it for themselves.

“I love climbing and I love seeing people perform at the highest levels,” Alex Honnold, a professional climber said on the Olympic Channel Podcast. “I think that the Olympics will obviously bring that out.”

Karate is one of the only sports that has been approved for this year’s Olympics alone. Karate focuses more on personal growth than winning competitions.


The participants will be split into male and female and into two categories: one being Kata and the other being Kumite. Kata are the routines that are often seen when they promote their dojos. Participants will be judged on execution and the overall move set. Kumite is the fighting aspect. Two participants will spar with light protection on the hands and feet hoping to score points by using a variety of kicks, punches, blocks, and takedowns.


“I have worked hard for many years to officiate at the Olympics, and now I’m happy for being among 14 invited referees to Tokyo,” Javad Salimi, karate referee said in an interview with Mehr News. “This first may also be the last, but officiating at the event is of grave importance.”

Surfing has been a cultural phenomenon in the coastal regions for years. Many competitions have been held over the years, the biggest one being the World Surf League Championships. Now, the Olympics are hopping on the cultural wave and adding surfing to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 


Surfing in the Olympics will consist of two rounds, the initial and main. In the initial rounds, four or five people will be surfing for 30 minutes trying to impress the judges. The judges criteria is based on elements of commitment and degree of difficulty, innovative and progressive maneuvers, combinations of major maneuvers, variety of maneuvers, and speed, power and flow. Rather than riding as many waves as possible or performing a large quantity of maneuvers, surfers want to take their time and catch a perfect wave. The main rounds will also be based on this criteria but will have the “winners” from the initial rounds. This is the round that places the medalists.

“Inclusion into 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is a remarkable opportunity for surfing to be showcased in the international arena of sport,” Layne Beachley, seven time world surf champion said in an interview posted on “This reinforces the importance of Surfing Australia’s High Performance Centre and our developmental pathways to ensure continued nurturing and future success of our athletes.”

Skateboarding will also grow its international reach on competitions with its inclusion into the Olympics this year. Two of skateboards’ most famous riders, Hemaina Reynodls and Nyjah Huston, have already been selected to ride for the U.S. team. Much like the X Games, Olympic skateboarding will have two main events that are broken into male and female categories. 


The first event is park skating. Park skating has obstacles that are similar to skateboard parks like rams, pipes, and bowls. The courses have few stairs and rails. Street skating however is the opposite. Most street skating areas are filled with rails, ledges, and stair sets. Both park and street will be scored similarly. Judges will judge participants on flow, the quality of landing tricks, the variety of tricks a participant does, and how many tricks he/she does. The scores are out of 100 with the highest one being the winner/medalist.

“When I was competing in the X Games and spent time in the lunch rooms, the uncomfortable level was pretty high. I’d love to be a fly on Michael Phelps’s lunch at the Olympics,” Kerry Getz, professional skateboarder said in an interview with Highsnobiety. “Let’s go America!”

Baseball is the only sport out of the five to have been featured in the Olympics before. Last seen in 2008 Baseball will work the same way it did then. Six teams will compete for their countries. Teams will compete each week until it comes to the finals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the gold. The two who lose in the finals and in the semi finals play one last game for silver and bronze. The current teams are Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico.

The Olympic committee aims to continue the tradition of excellence in competition with the addition of the 5 new sports this year. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will begin on July 24.

It’s not about winning at the Olympic Games. It’s about trying to win. The motto is faster, higher, stronger, not fastest, highest, strongest,” Bronte Barrat, Gold medalist said. “Sometimes it’s the trying that matters.”