After being delayed due to COVID-19 in 2020, the Olympics are slated to return in the summer of 2021. These sports are making their debut (or comeback) in the Tokyo Games. Here’s an update on the new sports for this upcoming summer.

Skateboarding

The Olympic Committee took into account several factors before deciding which sports to add to the games. The addition of skateboarding took into account the appeal to the youth. The addition of the sport to the 2021 Tokyo games will include 2 events: Park and Street.

In the street event, athletes compete individually to show off their skills. The course includes stairs, handrails, benches, curbs, walls and slopes for athletes to complete tricks on. The competitors are scored on several factors including the difficulty, height, speed, originality, execution and move composition. 

The Park event consists of three 45 second runs through a course featuring steep drops and curves. Athletes will drop in the hollowed-out course and race through the curves and steep drops, picking up speed to perform tricks midair. They will be scored on their originality, difficulty, and execution.

Surfing

Surfing is making its debut at the Olympic games on the beaches of Shidashita, 40 miles outside of Tokyo. The competition will be structured in 4 man heats and the athletes will be asked to follow common surfing etiquette. This includes one rider per wave and giving the right of way to the surfer closest to the peak. 

Surfers will try to get up on the best waves to showcase different maneuvers. They will use shortboards (6-feet) for added speed and precision when tackling big waves. A panel of judges will score each competitor based on the difficulty of the maneuvers and how well they were executed. The speed, power and flow of each rider will also be considered. Riders can use tactics such as pretending not to be interested in a wave or paddling and not catching, to try to psych out the competition.

Climbing

Over the last couple years climbing (specifically sport climbing) has seen an increase in popularity. The IFSC, International Federation of Sport Climbing, says that there are an estimated 25 million people who are climbing regularly. The Olympics will take a combined score of 3 different styles of climbing: Speed Climbing, Bouldering, and Lead Climbing.

Speed Climbing is sort of what it sounds like. Two competitors will race up the 15 meter artificial climbing wall. The competitors are given a fixed route to follow and it’s the same for both the men and the women. The goal is to have the fastest run of the competition.

Bouldering showcases a different set of skills. Without a rope, competitors are asked to scale as many fixed routes within a given time as they can. The 4 meter artificial wall cannot be viewed by competitors before their initial run. Climbers will try to do the routes in as few attempts as possible. The competitor with the fewest attempts and the most solved routes will be the winner.

The scores for speed climbing and bouldering are combined with the score for lead climbing. In the Lead Climbing event, climbers are asked to climb as high as they can in six minutes on an overhanging 15 meter wall. A safety rope can be attached to quickdraws along the route that allow the climber to climb freely. Athletes try to reach the top of the wall, if they fall the height they climbed to is recorded; there are no re-climbs. Climbers are only allowed to observe the wall during a group observation period to prevent gaining an advantage from watching your competitors. Speed is still a factor in this climb though: if more than one athlete reaches the top of the wall, the one who does it the fastest is named the winner.

Karate

Karatekas (people who do karate!) will get to compete in the games this year. Having originated in Japan, the Olympic Committee thought it would be a great idea to add the ancient art to the summer games. Over 80 athletes will compete, in the traditional karate gi, in two forms: Kata and Kumite. 

Kata is a demonstration of different karate forms. A series of offensive and defensive movements can be chosen by the athlete to be performed for the judges. The karatekas will be judged on the strength, speed, rhythm, balance, power and clarity of the strikes and kicks. Their technical and athletic performances will be evaluated closely.

Kumite is sparring. The athletes will compete in three weight classes on a 8×8 meter mat. Athletes will be able to use 3 different techniques including striking, kicking and punching. Points are rewarded for delivering blows to certain target areas of the body. One point for a punch to the head, neck, belly, back or side; two for a kick to the body; three points for a high kick to the head. The quality of the karatekas form could award them more points.

Baseball/Softball

After last being seen in the summer of 2008, baseball and softball are making their return to the Summer Olympics. The host country of Japan requested they be included in the games this year due to their popularity in the country following an invitation to do so by the Olympic Committee. 

The rules of baseball and softball are pretty universal. Six countries will field a team of 9 players. Two teams will face off during 9 innings switching between fielding and hitting. The key differences between Men’s baseball and Women’s softball are playing area and pitching. The baseball field has a longer distance between the pitcher and the batter. Softball pitchers must throw underhanded, releasing the ball when their hand is at their hip.

The addition of these sports give new Olympic dreams to more obscure athletes. We are excited to watch these new faces compete this summer and learn more about the interesting sports they play.