In honor of the Olympics officially being one week away from the time of publication, here is a rundown of the new sports coming to the big stage in Tokyo this month.
- Karate. Karate, a Japanese word meaning “hand-to-hand combat without weapons,” was selected to debut in Japan at the Olympics rather than become a permanent Olympic sport. A total of 80 athletes will compete in two differing styles of Karate known as the “kata” and the “kumite.” Kata, meaning form, is done solely by one athlete at a time. A typical kata will demonstrate movements used in sparring with opponents and is often used to have athletes move up on the belt system in training. Kumite, on the other hand, will feature athletes sparring with one another using methods of kicking, striking, and punching. The kata event will feature one men’s division and one women’s division, but the kumite event will feature three separate weight classes for both the men and women’s division.
- Surfing. Surfing will be introduced in Tokyo and then move forward as a permanent Olympic sport. Surfing will make its big debut on Shidashita Beach in Japan where it will feature 20 men and women competing in elimination heats. For example, even though four surfers will compete in each heat, the top two will advance onto the next round until the final heat. In the final heat, the top three will be awarded medals. Looking ahead to the 2024 Olympics in Paris, the surfing competition will be held in another country all-together due to wave sizes. Paris, who has opted for choosing Tahiti as the surfing location, has even been rumored to add other water-based events to the 2024 Olympic lineup.
- Sport Climbing. Sport Climbing will feature three different divisions in Tokyo: speed climbing, bouldering, and lead climbing. Speed climbing will feature competitors going head-to-head to see who can climb the given climbing apparatus the fastest. During lead climbing, athletes will be timed on how quickly they can climb a 15-meter-high wall within a time limit of six minutes. Bouldering will see athletes climb up multiple routes on a four-meter-high wall in four minutes. When it comes to scoring, there are only three medals for men and three medals for women. Much like golf, whoever has the lowest combined score wins.
- Softball/Baseball. Although not new to the Olympics, softball and baseball are returning to play. Since they were taken out following Beijing 2008, softball and baseball can expect a triumphant return. The re-instatement of the sports largely come from the enthusiasm for baseball and softball in Japan, hence why they were brought back for Tokyo. To comprise the teams and make it fair, players who serve as an active member on the American Major League Baseball (MLB) roster are not allowed to participate. However, minor league players and veterans are allowed to do so. For softball, fans can expect to see Cat Osterman, two-time former Olympian pitching in both the Athens and Beijing games, make her return to the Olympic stadium one last time before retiring. Even though baseball and softball have been met with nothing but enthusiasm for the games, softball and baseball will not return in the Paris 2024 Olympics.
- Skateboarding. An extreme sport made popular by the 90s grunge scene in America, skateboarding is set for its debut in Tokyo in just two weeks. Even though skateboarding is prevalent in other competitions nationwide where the athletes are doing “tricks” to standout and win the event, Tokyo will be a little different. The Olympic games will feature two different divisions in skateboarding: street and park. The street event will feature outdoor skate platforms such as benches, railways, stairs, and more to mimic street skateboarding, while the park event will feature the actual skateboarding bowl. Here, they will have the ability to showcase tricks and speed.
The Tokyo Olympics kick off on NBC Friday, July 23 with the Opening Ceremony at 7:30 p.m. ET. Coverage will continue until Sunday, August 8th with the Closing Ceremony.