With a record 339 medal events taking place, the Tokyo Olympics will be the biggest Olympics of all time. This increase is largely due to the addition of five new sports to this year's main event.
The inclusion of these sports was decided on the basis of multiple factors by the International Olympic Commission (IOC): impact on gender equality, youth appeal, and legacy of adding them to the Tokyo Olympics among others.
Let's take a look at the new sports being introduced at the Olympics this year:
Karate is a martial art that originated in the Ryukyu Kingdom and arrived at the Japanese archipelago during the early 20th century. The martial art form gained worldwide popularity after World War II and fittingly enough, it will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo.
The Tokyo Olympics will feature two particular disciplines of Karate: Kata and Kumite. While Kata is a demonstration discipline where athletes are judged on their technique and style against a virtual opponent, Kumite is a fighting discipline where athletes will compete against each other. In the Kumite event, there are three weight classes for both men and women.
From originating in the streets of Southern California to making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, the sport of skateboarding has come a long way. Skateboarding has also been approved for the 2024 Paris Games.
Athletes, both men and women will be competing in two categories: Park and Street. Competitions in the Park category will take place within a dome-shaped bowl where skaters need to focus on their flow and momentum while executing tricks. Street competitions resemble a real street challenge where the course will be fitted with stairs, rails and other features that athletes will need to tackle.
Despite existing for centuries, sport climbing only began as a formally recognized competition after 1985. However, since then, the sport itself has gone on to become extremely popular and will now make its Olympic debut in Tokyo.
At the Tokyo Olympics, sport climbing will be contested as a single event with all the three main disciplines for both men and women – speed, bouldering, and lead – combined into one format to determine a single overall champion for men and women.
This will be a departure from most other sports where various disciplines are contested differently.
Surfing is yet another action sport that will be making its Olympic debut in Tokyo. The men's and women's events will begin with preliminary-heats followed by a head-to-head knockout competition.
The Surfing events will be held at the Tsurigasaki Beach in Ichinomiya which is about 45 kms away from the Olympic Stadium. Athletes will be judged on the difficulty of the maneuvers they can perform and the masterful execution of moves on the largest waves will fetch the highest scores.
Unlike the other sports mentioned above, Baseball and softball will not be making their Olympic debuts. Instead, they will be returning after being absent from the last two Summer Olympics.
The two sports were reinstated following IOC's invitation to the host country to propose the temporary inclusion of additional events. Men's baseball and Women's softball are popular in Japan.