Five new sports set to spice up the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Published on May 13, 2019

With the summer Olympic games in Tokyo just over 14 months away, now is a good time to explore the new sports which have been added to the 2020 Olympics.

Every four years new sports are added to the both the summer and winter Olympic games. In some instances sports are even retracted — as was the case with Cricket — which was last played in the 1900 Paris Olympics.

Five new sports have been added to the Tokyo Games coming up in 2020. They are baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing. The last three sports mentioned can all be classified as extreme sports which is testament to sporting taste of the current generation.

What do each of these sports entail, and what we can expect to see from them in the 2020 Games?


The popularity of baseball in Japan has undoubtedly played a part in ushering this sport into the 2020 Olympics. The general consensus asserts that baseball derives from another bat and ball sport called Rounders, popular in Great Britain and Ireland in the 18th century.

A game of baseball is played between two teams, each composed of nine players, that take turns playing offense and defense. The team playing offense bats and the team playing defense pitches and fields.

A standard game consists of nine innings. The goal of the game is to score more points in the form of runs than the other team. A run is constituted by literally running from base to base, with the objective being to complete a run by reaching all four bases. A player may only run when the ball is hit in front of the foul lines which sits at 45 degree angles to the batters home plate.

Softball is a variant of baseball and will be played by women at the 2020 Olympics. The main differences between the two is that in softball the ball is larger, the parameters of the field are smaller, and the pitchers throws the ball underhand instead of overhand.


It is rather surprising that karate is only making its debut in the Olympics in 2020, considering that many other martial arts such as judo, boxing, wrestling and tae kwon do have been in the Olympics for decades.

Karate is a mixed martial art in the fact that it includes a multitude of moves such as punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open-hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands and palm-heel strikes.

Two disciplines of karate will feature at the 2020 Olympics. Kumite is the sparring discipline and will have three weight classes each for men and women. Kata is the form discipline and will have one event each for men and women. There will only be three weight categories as opposed to the usual five used by the World Karate Federation.


In an attempt to keep the Olympics relevant for the millennial generation, skateboarding, is a new sport that is being added to the 2020 games. Skateboarding has long been considered a counter-culture sport which involves making dynamic moves on a wooden board with two pairs of wheels on it.

There will be two disciplines in the 2020 Games, namely, Park and Street. Park involves skating on a series of ramps, including, half pipes, bowls and quarter pipes. Skaters are awarded points from a team of judges based on the speed, height of jumps, and grabs they are able to perform whilst skating on these features.

Street in involves skating on a course involving reproductions of obstacles naturally found within the urban environment such as handrails, benches, stair sets and boxes. Skaters are awarded points for the difficulty of the maneuvres they perform. And although it isn’t that popular yet, there is beginning to form a competitive scene around electric boards. Depending on how things evolve, we may also see that as a discipline in the future.

Sport Climbing

Sport climbing is a discipline within rock climbing. In the 2020 Summer Games athletes will be climbing on artificial climbing walls in which three formats will be run – bouldering, lead climbing and speed climbing.

Bouldering is a more technical discipline within rock climbing which involves free climbing up short sections of rock or climbing walls without the use of ropes. Athletes secure victory by achieving the set challenge in the shortest number of attempts in a timed period.

Lead climbing involves climbing a designated route on a climbing wall while attached to ropes. Athletes will achieve a podium spot either by climbing to the top of the course in the fastest time or by reaching a higher point than their opponents before falling.

Speed climbing sees athletes go head-to-head in a knock-out format where they attempt to climb a 15m wall faster than their opponents.


Like skateboarding and sport climbing, surfing has been added to the 2020 Games in an effort to give the sport greater exposure to surfing novices and help keep the Olympics relevant in the modern era.

In spite of several new wave pools opening across globe over the preceding years, the competition will involve surfers riding a real wave at Shidshita beach about 40 miles outside of Tokyo. There will be both men’s and women’s categories. As the competition will depend on there actually being a surf-able wave, there will be a 16 waiting period to allow for the best conditions possible.

The best surfer will be the one who receives the highest score from a team of judges based on the surfers maneuvres on the waves within his/her heat. These maneuvres are graded on variety, difficulty level and speed, power and flow.

Marc Bromhall is a Columnist at Grit Daily. He spent the last 10 years working in the London tech startup scene, and has recently moved back to his city of birth, Cape Town. He is the co-founder of content creation agency, Contentellect. In his spare time Marc enjoys surfing, rock climbing and reading business books.

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