Running the rule over the new Olympic sports

From skateboarding to sport climbing, the Olympic audience was exposed to five new sports at Tokyo.


Some sank, some swam. Find out The Sporting Landscape’s verdict on each of the five inclusions.


Also, it’s worth noting that Freestyle BMX wasn’t included in the list as it was a new BMX discipline not an entirely new sport, but it gets a big tick.



Skateboarding

Many were skeptical about the merit skateboarding as an Olympic sport, but a stunningly unique blend of camaraderie and youth captured hearts far and wide.


Looking to appeal to younger generations to ensure the Olympics prosper long into the future, the IOC did just that. And it wasn’t just a win for the Olympics, it was a win for skateboarding.


Not only was skateboarding able to beam the best of its sport into living rooms right across the world, but the way competitors handled themselves portrayed an upbeat, happy-go-lucky group of kids, more concerned with their mate’s performance than their own.


It went a long way to shattering negative stereotypes about the sport.


And of course, it was great to watch, exposing many to a spectacle they’d never experienced. Which in a way is what the Olympics is all about.


Lock it in to the Olympic calendar for years to come.




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Surfing

It may not have reached the heights of skateboarding, but surfing more than held its own as an Olympic sport.


Similarly thrilling, and more commonplace on the professional sporting calendar, it’s a wonder how it took so long for surfing to be included in the Olympics.


The tactics that came into play were also engrossing, especially in head-to-head encounters where surfers could position themselves so their opponent didn’t get a clear run at a wave.


We’ll be seeing surfing again at Paris in 2024, although it will take place in Tahiti, a mere 15000km away from the French capital.



Sport Climbing

A strange yet captivating sport, sport climbing was a positive inclusion at Tokyo 2020.


It added another string to the diverse sporting bow of the Olympics, not only boosting the Olympic audience, but more importantly the sport’s profile.


Sport climbing claims to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with 25 million people climbing on a regular basis.


And while it was another inclusion that raised eyebrows aplenty, many would’ve found themselves paying more attention than anticipated as it came across their screens.


Sport climbing held its own as a spectacle, and certainly didn’t deduct from the Olympic experience.


Deserves its place in the 2024 Games.




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Karate

Karate was a fairly under-the-radar inclusion at the Tokyo Games.


If you weren’t looking out for it, it was easily lost amidst a sea of combat disciplines that includes Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Taekwondo, and Wrestling.


Karate was able to feature in Tokyo as host nations can nominate fringe sports, but unfortunately it was a one-off appearance, failing to make the cut for the Paris Games.


While its inclusion didn’t bring much value to the Olympics, Karate has every right to feel aggrieved considering disciplines like Judo and Taekwondo are Olympic mainstays.


Unfortunately there isn’t room for everyone at the Olympics.



Baseball/Softball

While Baseball and its sister sport Softball weren’t entirely new Olympic sports, they hadn’t featured since the 2008 Beijing Games.


Similarly to Karate, Baseball and Softball earnt their Olympic berth on the premise of local popularity.


Unfortunately both sports faltered.


Softball’s downfall came at the fault of the organisers, who forced them to make-do with men’s baseball grounds.


This meant a makeshift fence in the outfield and a second-base plate situated on grass. It was a real amateur look.


Organisational difficulties aside, Softball itself prospered.


Baseball on the other hand was plagued by the absence of MLB stars, and an American team comprised mainly of Minor League players was still able to win silver, which speaks volumes about their dominance in the sport.


With the best of the best playing, and actual softball grounds, there could be a place for Baseball/Softball as an Olympic sport.


However Tokyo wasn’t a great sell.


While Baseball and Softball weren’t included fir the Paris Games, you’d expect the hiatus to be short-lived, as 2028 sees the Olympics travel to America – Baseball and Softball heartland.

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