The upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics Games in Tokyo will feature five new sports, bringing the total up to 30. On June 22, 2015, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the inclusion of baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.
These changes are a result of new IOC policies that are designed to promote local interest in the games by allowing host countries to propose the additions of popular sports. The Japanese committee took full advantage of these changes, as baseball and karate are among the country’s most popular sports.
Some might be surprised to learn that baseball and softball have not been Olympic sports in 12 years. The 2008 games in Beijing were the last to feature the two before the IOC voted to remove them from the 2012 games in London.
The United States should be the favorite in both sports heading into Japan. Team USA won the most recent World Baseball Classic in 2017 by defeating Puerto Rico 8-0 in the championship game. Team USA also won the most recent Softball World Championship two years ago in China.
Karate, a martial art native to Japan, will make its first appearance in the Olympics as both a men’s and women’s sport. Karate will have a forms competition as well as a sparring competition. The latter will feature three weight classes for men and women.
Skateboarding will also be making its Olympic debut with two different kinds of competition for men and women. A park competition will feature a course used at recent BMX competitions. The street competition will allow athletes to perform tricks on ramps and rails.
The sport climbing competition will feature three forms of climbing that are typically competed separately. Speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing will be featured together on one course, increasing the difficulty for climbers.
Surfing will be hosted on Shidashita Beach in Chiba approximately 40 miles from Tokyo. Men and women will compete in heats of four athletes, lasting 20 minutes. Judges will give surfers scores based on their ability to ride the wave.
Other sports have seen additions to their formatting as well. Basketball will feature a half-court 3-on-3 competition, which is set to include teams of four players. Scoring will be changed from the usual variety, as shots outside the three-point arc will count for two, and shots inside for one. Teams will play to 21 points, or until 10 minutes are up.
The IOC has also made gender equality a clear priority for the 2020 games. Archery, judo, shooting, swimming, table tennis, triathlon and track and field are set to add mixed team events. Boxing, canoe/kayak and rowing will add more women’s events as well.