Tokyo Olympics: Full list of sports making their debut or comeback at the games
The highly-anticipated Tokyo Olympics is set to be huge, with a record number of 339 medal events taking place this year. The increase is due to additional events being introduced at the esteemed games in 2021, along with the already existing disciplines.
NBC reports the decision to increase the number of Olympic disciplines was made on the basis of 'Agenda 2020', a series of reforms made by the International Olympic Commission (IOC) that allows host cities to introduce sports popular in their region to the event, with special focus on youth-oriented sports. In 2021, a total of six new sports are being introduced to the already controversial Olympics, with four making their debut, and two returning to the Olympic fold after previously getting axed.
These sports have been selected after gauging their impact on gender equality, youth-centric appeal, and its legacy in the host city. Among those making their Olympic debut are karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing. The other two sports, baseball and softball, are resuming their spot after being axed previously. With the 2021 Olympics already making history by allowing transgender athletes to participate in the category of their preferred gender, here's a look at the other novelties gracing the summer games this year.
With its origins tracing back to Okinawa, Japan circa 1868, the martial art's popularity soared in the 1900s. Karate's global spread followed the Second World War, and its fame in Japan has led to its inclusion in the Tokyo Olympics. The event will not be a part of the next Olympics, scheduled for 2024. This year's event will feature two disciplines of karate: Kata and Kumite. Kata is the demonstration discipline, where karate techniques will be judged. Kumite is the fighting discipline and will see athletes competing head-to-head. Men and women each have three weight classes in the Kumite discipline. The Nippon Budokan, which hosted the first-ever World Karate Championships in 1970, will hold the event.
The popularity of action sports continues with the addition of skateboarding in the Tokyo Olympics. But while the Japanese city might be the first to host the sport as an Olympic event, it surely won't be the last as skateboarding has already been approved for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The two disciplines showcased this year will be park and street. Park involves skateboarding within a dome-shaped bowl, where skaters are to maintain good flow while performing their tricks. Street involves stairs, rails and other features simulating real-world obstacles. Both disciplines will have a group of judges scoring each run.
The recreational sport turned into an organized competition in 1985. Popular as indoor climbing has become, outdoor rock climbing has become a hotbed for docu-flicks focusing on the dangerous accomplishments of climbers. The Tokyo Olympics will see sport climbing contested as a single event, with its three main disciplines - speed, bouldering, lead, all examined together to estimate the winner among both men and women. Regular sport climbing competitions are known to keep each of the disciplines separate events, thus making the Olympic event a unique challenge because individual athletes in the sport usually specialize in one or two disciplines.
Surfing will also feature in Paris Olympics, although the event will be held 9,800 miles from the city of love in Tahiti. Tokyo Olympics has divided its surfing competition into men and women categories, both featuring preliminary-rounds followed by competition among all. The Tsurigasaki Beach in Ichinomiya (about 45 miles southeast of Olympic Stadium), will hold the event, with its flexible contest window reliant on wave conditions of the day.
The sport had joined the Olympics several times as an exhibition event before becoming a medal event in 1992. Although culled from the program in 2008, baseball had made its way back to the Olympics in Tokyo due to its popularity in Japan. The country's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league is widely acknowledged as a premier league league in the sport after Major League Baseball. Japan is also known for several new-age MLB talents like Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Yu Darvish, and Shohei Ohtani. The Tokyo Olympics' baseball tournament will see six countries playing against each other, starting with opening-round pool play before they proceed to the knockout games.
After becoming a medal event in 1996, softball too was scrapped like baseball in 2008. Also like baseball, softball is not set to return in the next Olympics. While Tokyo Olympics' baseball is men's only, their softball tournament will be women's only. The participating countries are the US, Japan, Australia, Italy, Mexico, and Canada. The opening round will see each team playing the round-robin format, from which only two teams will advance directly to the final gold medal event.
The Tokyo Olympics are set to bein from Friday, July 23, and last till Sunday, August 8.