New Olympic Sports 2021: Full List of New Additions to the Summer Tokyo Games

Four new Olympic sports will make their debut at Tokyo 2020, which gets underway on Friday.

Surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and karate will all feature at the summer Olympics for the first time, while baseball and softball will make their first appearance since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Additionally, 3x3 basketball, freestyle BMX and madison cycling will be added to the existing basketball, BMX and track cycling programs.

Here's all you need to know about the new additions to the roster of Olympic sports.


Seventeen countries are represented as surfing makes its Olympic debut, with 20 participants each in the men's and women's competitions, both of which will follow a four-person format. Four athletes will compete simultaneously over 25-minute heats, with the two highest scores in each heat progressing to the next round.

The scores will be determined by a panel of judges, who will take into account several factors, such as the difficulty of the moves surfers pull off and the execution, as well as power, speed and flow. Only one surfer can ride a wave and surfers who interfere or obstruct their rivals can be hit with a point deduction.

The event will take place on real waves at Shidashita Beach in the Chiba prefecture, about 40 miles from Tokyo. The surfers will use shortboards, which are 1.8m long as opposed to the longboards, which are 2.7m long.

Sally Fitzgibbons surfing
Sally Fitzgibbons rides a wave in the women's final during the 2021 Isa World Surfing Games in El Salvador on June 6. The Australian is one of the favorites to win gold in Tokyo as surfing makes its Olympic debut. Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images


Athletes at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo will be riding handrails instead of waves, as skateboarding features in the Olympics for the first time with two separate events—Park and Street.

The Park event takes place on a hollowed-out course featuring a series of steep banking and curved surfaces, which the skateboarders climb at speed to then perform mid-air tricks much as is the case for the half-pipe event in the snowboard at the Winter Olympics.

The athletes are rated on the difficulty of the trick they are attempting, their execution and originality.

In the Street event, meanwhile, skateboarders will perform tricks on a series of obstacles such as handrails, curbs, benches, walls, slopes and stairs. Again, performances will be graded based on the speed and originality of the tricks, as well as on the difficulty and height reached.

Nyjah Huston
U.S. skateboarder Nyjah Huston competes during the Street World Championships 2021 on June 3 at the Foro Italico in Rome. Huston is among the favorites to become skateboard's first-ever Olympic champion as the sports makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Sport climbing

Three different disciplines will feature in the sport climbing program at Tokyo, as the sport makes its first Olympic appearance. The combined format includes speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing, with the gold medal going to the athlete with the highest cumulative score, much as is the case for heptathlon and decathlon in track and field.

In speed climbing, two athletes race up a fixed route on a 15m-high wall, which are identical for both men and women. Whoever records the fastest time wins the heat. Bouldering, meanwhile, sees climbers scale a series of fixed routes on a 4m-high wall within a certain time. The routes, which are different for men and women, are called "problems" and the climber who solves the most with the lowest number of attempts wins the heat.

In lead climbing, athletes have to climb as high as possible on a 15m-high wall within a six-minute time limit and whoever reaches the highest point is declared the winner.

A total of 40 athletes will take part in sport climbing in Tokyo, with 20 men and 20 women participants.


Karate joins judo and taekwondo on the roster of martial arts at the Olympics with 80 athletes competing across the two events—kata and kumite, with women and men competing in both. In kata, athletes compete individually against a virtual opponent and demonstrate a series of offensive and defensive movements, which they select before the start of the event. Judges rate the performances based on strength, speed, balance and power of kicks as well as clarity and force of movements.

Kumite, meanwhile, sees two athletes spar against each other on a matted area measuring 8m x 8m. The two karateka have to land strikes on the target area of their opponent's body by using three techniques: striking, kicking and punching.

There will be 80 athletes competing in karate in Tokyo with three weight classes each for men's and women's kumite events.

Baseball and softball

Baseball and softball return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008 as part of the IOC's policy of inviting the host country to add new sports to the program. Given the popularity of baseball and softball in Japan, the decision to bring the two sports back into the fold should be a crowd pleaser.

Six teams divided in two groups of three will compete in baseball. Japan, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are in Group A, while South Korea and the U.S—the gold and bronze medalists from 2008, respectively—are in Group B along with Israel. Each team will play the other two teams in its pool once and all three teams go through to the knockout stage where it will follow a double-elimination format.

Softball also features only six teams—Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the U.S.—but it follows a different format. The teams are all in the same pool and will play each other once, with the top two going through to the gold medal match, while the third and fourth team will play in the bronze medal match.

Baseball at 2008 Olympics
Jongwook Lee #39 of South Korea (L) dives back to first base while Matt Brown #17 of the United States waits for the throw during the game at the Wukesong Sports Centre Baseball Field during Day 5 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 13, 2008, in Beijing, China. Baseball and softball make their return to the Olympics for the first time in 13 years at the Tokyo Olympics. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images