TOKYO – To strengthen the Olympic curriculum, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has given host countries the right to improve the regular Olympic program. That is why in Tokyo 2020 four newcomers – sports climbing, karate, skateboarding and surfing – as well as an “ex” – baseball / softball – will be mentioned.
Under President Thomas Bach’s Olympic agenda 2020, Tokyo is the first city to take advantage of this new flexibility. From 28 in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, these sports program increases to 33 sports competing in Japan.
Here is an overview.
Baseball / Softball
After a 13-year hiatus, baseball and softball are making a comeback to the Olympics, in a country that literally eats both sports. It was unthinkable for the Japanese not to have these two disciplines for their second summer game.
Six countries – South Korea, the United States, Israel, Italy, Japan and the Dominican Republic – will compete for the three medals at stake.
Canada, who did not count on their best elements, failed to qualify.
In softball, representatives from Australia, Canada, the USA, Italy, Japan and Mexico will try to climb to the top of the podium. The Canadians should reach the medal round.
Both disciplines are played at Azuma Baseball Stadium in Fukushima. Softball starts July 21-27. Baseball begins the next day, and the medal matches take place on August 7.
Here is an exciting discipline, available in three tests: speed, difficulty and bouldering.
In speed climbing, the challenge is to reach the top of a 15 meter climbing route as quickly as possible. The event is contested in duels.
The difficulty, also called route climbing, is disputed on a 15 m high wall. The climber who has reached the highest distance in six minutes will win.
Finally, climbers climb a series of fixed routes on a 4.5 m wall in a given time.
In the Olympics, each climber will participate in the three disciplines for a combined event. The final ranking will be determined by multiplying the ranking of each of them, the athletes who have achieved the lowest points, win the medals.
Canadian Sean McColl, four-time world champion, will obviously be one to watch. Alannah Yip will also be in Tokyo. The competitions will take place August 3-6 in Aomi Urban Sports Park.
Karate will only briefly enter the Olympic program, since Paris, host of the next summer games, in 2024, has preferred breakdance.
Martial arts of Japanese origin, it will be practiced by 28 nations in Tokyo. Two events will be on the menu: kumite and kata.
Kumite is actually a fight against an opponent, while kata consists of a structured sequence of techniques that represent a fight against multiple virtual attackers.
Ontarian Daniel Gaysinsky, a silver medalist in the Pan American Games in 2019, is the only Canadian to qualify for the Olympic tournament.
Karate will be attacked from 5 to 7 August at Nippon Budokan.
Skateboarding is one of those disciplines that has been added to target a younger audience by the IOC.
Two events will be presented in Tokyo: the street course and the park.
The street course (July 25-26, Ariake Urban Sports Park), snowboarders will use the various obstacles – stairs, ramps, curbs, benches, walls and slopes – of a straight course that looks like a street to flutter with techniques and figures, called “tricks”.
In the park (August 3-4), snowboarders will show off their knowledge on the hollow course filled with technical turns and bowls, which allows athletes to perform multiple figures with plank holding, or griper tak.
Andy Anderson, one of the most versatile snowboarders, is the only Canadian to compete in the park. The British Colombians Matt Berger and Micky Papa will represent the country on the street.
The board was elected to the Olympic program. It is practiced on boards of 1.80 m with a pointed end, which facilitates the turns. The board is also easier to maneuver and tends to be more receptive to more dynamic techniques.
The competition will first consist of groups of four or five surfers in the initial phase, before knockout duels in the main phase.
In the preliminary round, athletes are allowed to maneuver a maximum of 25 waves, and the score for their two best waves is counted. Five judges will be responsible for evaluating the performance.
The competition will take place on Tsurigasaki Beach, approximately 100 km from the Olympic Stadium, from 25 to 28 July, if conditions allow. Book dates from July 29th to 1stis August, the competition will be held in a safe way.
No Canadian has managed to qualify for Tokyo 2020 in surfing.
Frédéric Daigle, The Canadian Press