Photo courtesy of the Olympics | The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee breaks boundaries by adding five new sports.
By Ridge Peterson ’21
The International Olympic Committee has added five new sports to the games this upcoming year. Which will be held in Tokyo, Japan from Friday, July 24, 2020, to Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020.
The new sports include karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing. While those sports are totally new, others are returning to the Olympic program after an absence, like baseball and softball.
This decision, made by the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was the largest evolution of the Olympic program in modern history.
Their choice to give the Organizing Committee an option to propose new sports and events for their edition of the Games is the first of its kind. It was done to put even more of a focus on innovation, flexibility and youth in the Olympic program.
The Tokyo 2020 Games’ Organising Committee proposed the five new sports in response to new flexibility in the rules provided by the Olympic Agenda 2020.
In a statement on why the committee has made the new additions IOC President Thomas Bach said, “We want to take sport to the youth. With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us.”
Along with the recent additions has come much debate about how they will compete in the confines of the Olympic location. The main of this debate has been surfing, which because of its need for the beach has brought up an interesting conversation on the nature of its competition.
Especially with the pop up of professional surfing wave pools around the world, like Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in California, much of the debate has been on whether competition should be held in a simulated pool or the ocean.
Some major American surfers have also joined the conversation, like Kevin Schulz saying, “Surfing began in the ocean and it should be represented in its purest form in the Olympics”. While others believed that in order to best simulate equal waves for each competitor it must be held in a wave pool. Firing out the same wave one after the other.
With all the ruckus to the side, Olympic officials still announced that surfing will be taking place in the ocean. The site of competition for the 2020 Games was decided to be Shidashita Beach, located about 40 miles outside of Tokyo in Chiba.
The addition of Karate, baseball and softball also are examples of the Olympic Committee using its new flexibility to entice local audiences. Karate, a martial art that originated in Okinawa, Japan will draw in many fans, being that it is one of the most popular sports in Japan, along with baseball/softball.
Skateboarding and sport climbing also show the Games’ effort to include more urban sports. Plans show that staging for the skateboarding and sport climbing events will take place in temporary venues installed in urban settings, reflecting the trend of urbanization of sport.
The reaction to the new sports has been generally positive. When asked about the effect of the additions Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said that “the package of new sports will afford young athletes the chance of a lifetime to realize their dreams of competing in the Olympic Games… and inspire them to achieve their best, both in sport and in life.”