What New Sports are Coming to the 2020 Olympics?

There are five new sports scheduled for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games including Climbing, Surfing, Karate, Skate Boarding and Baseball.

photo of a banner for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics applicant city

Everything You Need to Know About the 5 New Olympic 2020 Sports


Yet another four years are swiftly nearing an end as we approach the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Set to be held between the 24th July and the 9th of August, the 2020 Olympic Games are claimed by the organisers to be “the most innovative ever”. In line with this and setting a precedence, the Organising Committee for Japan was able to contribute to the design of the Olympic programme for the first time ever. At the 2020 Olympic Games, five new sports were unanimously added to the to programme, totalling 18 new events from across these sports.

Let’s take a look at what we can expect to see, for the first time, at the 2020 Olympics:


Combined Climbing – A Combination of Speed, Lead & Bouldering

Climbing is a world-wide discipline with multifaceted styles and forms. For the Olympics, three of these climbing styles have been selected and combined to form what is to be a new style of competition. Speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing will form a round each, with the overall highest scoring athlete crowned as the gold medallist. Initially, the combined style, which could be called a climbing triathlon of sorts, caused some controversy because climbers are traditionally specialists in only one of these areas. You can see why when we look more closely at what is involved with these three climbing styles:


Speed Climbing:

two women speed climbing

Speed Climbers are the sprinters of the vertical world. Their challenge is to race an opponent to the top of a 15m wall, following a set route. They are incredibly familiar with the moves and holds of this route, so much so that they could probably do it blindfolded. Typically, speed climbers are like your 100m sprinters with high levels of fast twitch muscle fibres to allow for rapid acceleration, but with their challenge being against gravity, they also tend to have slighter builds and lighter frames. The holds on the speed climbing route are quite large and easy to hold, unlike the holds seen in bouldering and lead climbing. This will likely be one of the limiting factors for the speed climbers competing in the combined competition.



woman on a bouldering wall

Bouldering is the powerhouse of the climbing world. With climbing routes being only 4 metres high, the challenge with this sport lies in overcoming complicated moves with strength, power, agility, parkour style moves (at times) and exceptional balance, so that the athlete can reach the top hold on the wall within 4 minutes. Typically, a boulderer will have incredible strength, power and high proportions of fast twitch muscles, as well as incredible finger strength.


Lead Climbing

different cartoon images of lead climbing

Lead climbing mimics sport climbing. The athletes must climb as high on a 15m wall as they possibly can in a 6-minute time frame. They have to run their rope through clips as they climb to ensure safety. These routes test the athlete’s endurance to the maximum. Your typical lead climber will have large amounts of slow twitch muscles with a lean, slim and often slightly taller build.

By looking at these three climbing styles you can see why the combination of these three sports initially caused concern across the climbing community. How can such different athletes be asked to compete against each other? But the athletes, both men and women, have leapt at the challenge. In 2019, we saw some incredible initial attempts by several athletes, with many boulders transitioning well into speed and lead climbing at the IFSC Combined Qualifiers and Finals.

Japan will be looking to their incredibly strong climbers Akiyo Noguchi, Miho Nonaka, Tomoa Narasaki and Kai Harada, to bring home Gold in the summer of 2020. View this guide for more information about the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Climbing Format.


Surfing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

man riding a wave on a blue sea

World class surfers from around the world are readying themselves for their Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. Surfing as a sport has historic roots, dating back to ancient Polynesians living in the area of Hawaii. The sport showcases incredible skill and balance as riders navigate unpredictable ocean waves.

The Olympic competition style will consist of preliminary rounds which will identify the stronger riders, who will progress to compete in two-person heats. The winners from these heats will progress to the next heat until they are either eliminated or win the competition. There will be 20 men and 20 women competing in the 2020 Olympics and all athletes will be riding on short boards.

The riders are set to compete on Japans beautiful yet tumultuous coastline, specifically Tsurigasaki Beach, where they will not only don their skills, but they will expose themselves to the unpredictable nature of the sea.

For more information about surfing competition scoring and rules, see the official Tokyo 2020 surfing guide.


Karate – Kata and Kumite Make Their Olympic Debut

close up of hands of someone doing karate

Karate arguably lends its origins to the Japanese island of Okinawa, where for years, the inhabitants of the island had to learn protect themselves from the many intruders traveling along the trade routes between China, mainland Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. It seems fitting that the sport will make its Olympic debut in the city of Tokyo.

The World Karate Federation is the largest governing Karate body with 191 member countries and countless Karate styles within the Karate umbrella. The sport showcases strength, speed and stamina all within the confines of high precision kicks, jabs and punches. It differs from taekwondo in that a similar emphasis is places on the arms and legs when fighting (sparring/Kumite) and it differs from boxing due to the strong element of discipline that is integral to the sport. In Kumite, opponents strike each other with the intention to show ‘what they could do’ (landing relatively light punches compared to boxing), rather than punching their opponent as hard as they can.

In the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games there will be two events from Karate; Kumite, as previously mentioned, and Kata. Kata involves a sequence of steps that show defence moves linked that requires core strength, balance and control, as well as being a master over one’s breathing.

You can find more information about Karate in the Olympics here.


Skate Boarding – Heart of Street Culture Meets the Olympics

person on a skateboard in a skate park

No matter what part of the world you are from, the image of a rider sliding down a stair rail or weaving down a street on a skateboard is not an uncommon one. Thought to have originated on the West Coast of America in the early 1900’s, Skateboarding is an icon of street culture and unparalleled board skill.

In the Tokyo Olympics we will see two types of skateboard competition: Park and Street. In Park, riders will take themselves and their board down a hollowed, ‘u’-shape ramp where originality, trick complexity and ‘flow’ of the performance will award them points from competition judges. In street, points are awarded in a similar way, but the riders must travel a course that consists of ramps, rails and curbs, very similar to the features of a typical street.

One of the most exciting aspects of skateboarding entering the 2020 Olympics is the youthful nature and festival atmosphere that will be brought with it. All skaters will ride to a chosen piece of music which will contribute to their overall performance and how their routine is scored.

The official guide to skateboarding at Tokyo 2020 will offer you some additional information about the sport and its Olympic debut.


Last, But Not Least – Baseball

man playing base ball as the bats man

Most people associate baseball (or softball) with America, where the sport was initially brought to light in New York in 1839, but baseball is also extremely popular in Asia and other European countries. It is a game that has captured the imagination and hearts of many through films such as ‘Field of Dreams’ and ‘42’, due to the game’s foundation in team mentality, tactics and fast paced nature.

Interestingly, baseball was an Olympic sport from 1992 to 2008, so this will be a return to the stage for a globally renowned sport. The format of the game consists of two opposing teams where one team bats whilst the other team fields. The two teams then swap over, in a similar fashion to other batting games. The winner of the game is the team who has the most runs at the end.

To find out more about baseball, the official Tokyo Olympic guide can share will you the more detailed intricacies of a fantastic game.


Here at Sapporo Teppanyaki, our cuisine specialists can cook you a hearty Japanese meal that will prepare you for your next sporting adventure. At our sushi bar in Manchester and sushi bar in Liverpool, we love all things Japanese and we cannot wait to see how the Tokyo Olympic games play out in the summer of 2020.