The 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro approved six additional sports at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The Games host was allowed to offer one or more popular sports in Japan to raise the ratings of the competition and attract new sponsors. The Tokyo Games Organizing Committee proposed six sports, all of which were approved.
For the first time, the Olympics will include baseball (men), softball (women), karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing, and 3×3 basketball.
Baseball and softball have already appeared at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. According to the data of the WBSC, about 65 million people in 140 countries around the world play these sports.
Karate has never been included at the Olympic Games. However, the native martial arts of judo debuted back in 1964, and since 1972 has become a permanent sport of the Olympic program. After unsuccessful attempts by the World Karate Federation to get the sport included at London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the sport will finally debut at the Olympics with 80 athletes set to participate.
60 athletes will participate in kumite (free sparring) and 20 in kata (a formalized sequence of movements related to the principles of conducting a duel with an imaginary opponent).
Sharuya Arun (Instagram / Linkedin), Sports Management Researcher and 1st Degree Blackbelt with over 15 years experience as a karate practitioner commented on the inclusion of karate in the Olympic program:
Why was Karate never before at the Olympics ?
Olympic debut for Karate! It has not been an easy journey. The World Karate Federation (WKF) has been trying to get karate into the Olympics for a very long time. It was in 1999 when WKF was recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Since then, karate has been shortlisted to the Olympics on several occasions but could never get the majority vote required to be included in the Olympic program. Even for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, karate’s bid was not accepted in 2013. It was only added to the 2020 Olympics after a recommendation from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee. Hence, there’s a very high probability that we might not see karate in the Olympics again. The specific reason for why karate is not a regular sport at the Olympics is simply due to its difficulty to receive a majority vote from the IOC for its inclusion in the Olympics.
Why did the IOC decide to include it in the coming Olympics?
The 2020 Olympics is happening in Tokyo, Japan and karate has been included in the 2020 Olympics based on recommendations of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee which is headed by the former Prime Minister of Japan and includes several members from the Japanese Government and Japanese Olympic Committee. Hence, the recommendation from them is based on the fact that karate will engage the young people to the Olympic Movement. It is also important to note that karate has a deep legacy with Japan and there can be no better place for karate to make its Olympic debut than its country of origin.
What are your expectations for it in Tokyo?
The expectations from Tokyo are huge. With only two events (kata and kumite) and 80 competitors at the Olympics, the level of karate at display will be very high as only the best karate practitioners in the world will be competing against each other. Due to this, the Olympics is a great opportunity for karate to make its presence felt at a global level and prove to the IOC that karate deserves a regular spot at the Olympics. Also, in addition to this, the Olympics will increase global participation in karate as millions across the globe will see karate as a sport at the Olympics which will motivate them to go and try it out. Hence, my main expectations from the 2020 Olympics are that the global participation in karate will rise and karate will become a regular Olympic sport.
The inclusion of skateboarding and sport climbing should also attract young people to the Olympics and reflect the trend towards urbanization of sports in the world. According to the International Federation of Sport Climbing, there are 35 million climbers in 140 countries with an average age of 23.
The International Surfing Association is delighted to receive the news of the inclusion of surfing in the Olympic program for the Tokyo Games. It was announced that new surf parks with the technical ability to create artificial waves that can reach two meters will be constructed in line with the Olympics.
Another fascinating discipline that many are looking forward to is 3×3 basketball. Each team will only include four people. The match duration will be 10 minutes, or until one of the teams scores 21 points.
3×3 basketball is a very unpredictable sport, unlike classic basketball. It is likely that we will see many unexpected results and dozens of highlights.
We managed to get a comment from Yuri Kondrakov, one of the brightest players of the Ukrainian basketball super league as part of BC ODESSA and a Ukrainian 3×3 national team member, regarding the addition of 3×3 basketball to the list of Olympic sports.
“I can say that the appearance of 3×3 in the Olympic program is certainly a big leap for this sport because it is considered new although I’ve been playing it since I was still 14-15 years old. I started participating in FIBA events and more serious tournaments in 2015. In 2016, I already participated in the World Cup and the League of Nations.
Today,it is already a full-fledged Olympic sport, and, of course, it is very cool. At the moment, the organizers of the Olympics accommodated only 8 women’s and 8 men’s teams. I think that over time the number of teams will increase because it is a very entertaining sport.
With only ten minutes of net time, or up to 21 points, many cool moments happen. This is what the audience needs.
As for us, theoretically, there is still a chance to get to the Olympics. On May 11, under the supervision of head coach Oleg Yushkin, we began our preparations in Kiev for the weeklong European Championship. Also, from May 20 to 24, there will be an international tournament in France whose results will determine who will qualify for the Olympic Games.
Many new sports have never been included in the Olympic Games as only a few new sports are generally approved. With such a significant addition to the roster, the upcoming Tokyo Games is highly anticipated!
Edited by Aldo Tong