New Olympic sports explained: Karate, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing debut at 2021 Games

On June 1, 2016, the International Olympic Committee made the decision to add new sports to the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games. It approved the addition of five sports – baseball / softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing. – which would add 18 new events and 474 athletes to the Summer Games.

The IOC called the decision “the most complete development” in the history of the Olympic Games. They also explained why the governing body decided to ratify the changes in a press release.

The five sports focus on youth, which is at the heart of the Games vision for Tokyo 2020. They represent a combination of well-established and emerging sports with great popularity in Japan and beyond. They include team sports and individual sports; indoor and outdoor sports; and “urban” sports with a strong appeal to young people.

Certainly, there is buzz and excitement about these new additions. Maybe not as much as breakdancing, which will debut at the Paris 2024 Olympics, but there is still a lot of intrigue among fans of the Olympics.

We’ve seen baseball and softball at the Olympics before (most recently in 2008), so we know what to expect there. But what can viewers expect from the other four new sports? Here is a detailed look at the last four competitions of the Olympic Games.

PLUS: Full schedule, dates, times for all live Olympic events

How many sports are there at the Olympics?

There are 33 sports and 46 disciplines in the official 2021 Olympic program. This includes 339 medal-winning events in total.

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Olympic Karate will include two competitions: Kumite and Kata.

Kumite literally translates to “wrestling hands” and features two opponents facing off in a one-on-one combat. Colloquially, it can be called “sparring”.

At the Olympics, six gold medals will be offered. There will be three winners for men and three for women. Competitors will be separated by weight categories, which are as follows:


  • Less than 67 kg (147.7 lbs)
  • Less than 75 kg (165.3 lbs)
  • Over 75 kg (165.3 lbs)


  • Less than 55 kg (121.3 lbs)
  • Less than 61 kg (134.5 lbs)
  • Over 61 kg (134.5 lbs)

There are different ways to earn points in the competition, and players can be awarded one, two, or three points for proper hitting technique. A three-point strike occurs when a participant touches an opponent’s head or neck with a kick or if a technique is used against a fallen opponent. A two-point shot involves kicking the opponent on the side, back, stomach or chest. A one-point strike is a punch or hand-held strike to the opponent’s head, neck, stomach, side, back, or chest.

Players should also be controlled when hitting their opponent. They will be warned if they hurt their opponent or hit him too hard. Blows under the belt are prohibited.

Regarding the Kata competition based on a demonstration of offensive and defensive techniques against a virtual opponent. Players earn points from judges based on their power and form. There are 102 katas recognized by the World Karate Federation, so competitors must choose to perform one of these routines for Olympic judges.

New Olympic sports explained: Karate, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing debut at 2021 Games
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Skateboarding will debut as one of the most diverse sports in the 2021 Olympic arena. There is a 46-year-old competitor, Dane Rune Glifberg, and 12-year-old competitor, Briton Sky Brown.

There are two types of skate events at the 2021 Olympics: the park and the street. the to park the competition will take place on a bowl-shaped course with lots of twists and turns. The sides of the bowl are steep at the top, and skaters will look to throw themselves high into the air to perform twists, spins and other tricks before falling back into the bowl without falling.

Meanwhile, the street the competition will feature straighter and flatter courses with stairs, rails and curbs available. Skateboarders in this competition will be looking to get some air to allow them to roll and crush along curbs, rails and other obstacles.

How is Olympic skateboarding rated? According to, it will be judged on a scale of 0 to 100 points.

In each round, the best of the skater’s three 45-second points counts as their final score. Five judges use a scale of 0 to 100.00 points. The highest and lowest scores for each run are removed and the remaining three scores are averaged to two decimal places, resulting in the final score for the run.

This gives the Olympians a margin of error.

New Olympic sports explained: Karate, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing debut at 2021 Games
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Of all the new Olympic sports, surfing is perhaps the most difficult. Why? Because the conditions of the event will depend on the weather, including wind and tides, at all times.

There are two main types of surfing competitions. Some use the longboard while others use shortboards. For the Tokyo Games, short boards will be used.

The competition will feature 20 men and 20 women competing for the gold medals. The first rounds feature four- or five-person rounds while the main round will feature one-on-one battles where the loser is eliminated. Surfers can ride a maximum of 25 waves during rounds that typically last 30 minutes, depending on conditions.

Surf scoring is subjective. Five judges will score each ride focusing on degree of difficulty, surfer’s execution of moves, speed, variety and more. Surfers cannot ride the same wave. The “right of way” for each wave is determined by the athlete closest to the top of the wave or the athlete with the highest priority in the race order.

New Olympic sports explained: Karate, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing debut at 2021 Games
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Sport climbing

OK, I know what you are thinking. What is sport climbing and how is it different from normal climbing?

Sport climbing is a form of climbing in which competitors are strapped to permanent anchors for protection. In other words, they are supported by something, usually a rope, in case they fall or slip off the structure they are climbing.

At the Tokyo Olympics, there will be three forms of sport climbing competitions. They are known as lead climbing, bouldering and speed climbing.

Speed ​​climbing is self-explanatory. Athletes try to climb an object as quickly as possible without experiencing a fall.

In lead climbing, athletes must climb a 15-meter (49.2-foot) wall as much as they can within a set amount of time. The wall will also have an overhang of 6 meters (19.7 feet).

In block, the goal is for the athletes to overcome the most obstacles or problems on their courses. They are judged by the number of problems overcome on structures 4.5 meters high (14.8 feet) in a given time period.

As simple as each of the three forms of competition is, it is not easy for an athlete to excel in all three disciplines. British mountaineer Shauna Coxsey had a funny response when asked to do well in all three areas.

“It’s a bit like asking Usain Bolt to run a marathon and then cross the hurdles,” Coxsey told Olympics News. “No one has really made the transition before. No boulderer has gone through speed and lead, and no speed climber has bouldered and headed.”

Soon we’ll see if an Olympian can do all three effectively to win a medal in each category.

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