The Tokyo Olympics will feature six new or returning sports, giving the Games a record 41 disciplines and 339 gold medals this year.
What came back: baseball, softball.
New disciplines: surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing, karate.
Prerequisites: in 2014, the IOC gave organizing committees the opportunity to propose new sports for inclusion. The Tokyo Committee was the first to receive such an opportunity, and in 2016 the IOC approved every proposal.
“We want to give sport to young people,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in 2016. “The new sports are an innovative combination of existing and emerging youth-focused activities that are popular in Japan and will help enhance the legacy of the Tokyo Games.”
Judging by the numbers, the average age of Olympic spectators is growing. The 2016 Rio Games attracted 30% fewer TV viewers aged 18-34 than the London 2012 Games.
Baseball and softball: they both debuted in the 1990s but have disappeared since 2008. The softball competition has already begun, with Japan beating Australia 8-0 and the US beating Italy 2-0 on Opening Day.
Schedule: July 20 – 27 (softball); July 27 – August 7 (baseball)
Surfing: a 2016 debut on Rio’s beaches would have made the spectacle better – and it would have had big waves. But there is still a lot of excitement about what World Surf League CEO Eric Logan calls “a reaffirmation for the people who have dedicated their lives to the sport.”
Schedule: July 24 – 27
Skateboarding: skaters will compete in two competitions in Tokyo: outdoors (handrails and stairs) and in the park (big tricks in an empty pool).
Schedule: July 24 – 25; 3 – 4 August
Sport climbing: men and women will compete in only one competition, which combines three formats: speed (fastest climbing a 15-meter wall), bouldering, and climbing (six minutes to get as high as possible on a climbing wall).
Schedule: 3 – 6 August
Karate: 82 karate athletes will compete in Kumite (sparring) in three different weight categories, as well as in kata – a demonstration of skills akin to floor exercises in gymnastics.
Schedule: 4 – 7 August