With Euro 2020 out of the way, we can finally get back to enjoying the rest of our summer without any further distractions.

“What’s that? There’s another huge sporting event just on the horizon?”

Yes, that’s right, after a year’s delay, the Olympic Games is finally getting under way in Tokyo, Japan but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this will be unlike any Olympic Games seen in the modern era.

Sadly due to a spike in Covid cases in Japan, there will be no fans in attendance for any of the events, which consist of 46 different sports and 53 disciplines.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t marvel at the sporting endeavours of your favourite athletes back home on television. Of course, there are popular sports such as athletics and swimming but maybe you are into more niche events like weightlifting or fencing.

Whatever your sport there is something for everyone at the Olympics. Think of it like a nice buffet where you can either eat to your heart's content on your favourite things or just take small samples of everything. For those who prefer the latter, you’ll be delighted to hear that the International Olympic Committee has added five new sports to this year's proceedings. So, what’s new then?

Karate

Many combat sports such as boxing, judo and taekwondo have been present at the Olympics for some time now but it’s fitting that karate has been added to the mix in the country where it was invented.

80 different karatekas will be competing in Tokyo in two different disciplines. 60 karatekas will compete in Kumite, which is a combat discipline where fighters will go head-to-head in a three-minute fight. The remaining 20 karatekas is Kata where judges will assess the competitors on pre-approved choreographed offensive and defensive movements.

Both Japan and Spain, who have many decorated karatekas between them, are expected to dominate this event.

Skateboarding

If you grew up obsessed with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on Playstation, then you’ll be delighted to hear that skateboarding is finally being recognised as a serious sport and makes its Olympic debut this summer. The two disciplines will consist of the park and street courses. 80 male and female skaters will compete across the two events with some of the best in the world on show, including Nyjah Huston, Tom Schaar, Leticia Bufoni and Heimana Reynolds.

Team GB’s youngest ever athlete will feature in the skateboarding event. Sky Brown, who won bronze at the 2019 World Skateboarding Championship, has only just turned 13.

Sport climbing

Climbing will make its debut in Tokyo 2020 and the 40 climbers have a steep task ahead of them. The athletes will compete across three different events:

  • Speed: basically a race between two climbers up a wall
  • Bouldering: climbers have to navigate courses which are known in the biz as ‘courses’
  • Lead climbing: climbers have to scale a 15m high wall and get as high as they can in six minutes.

Climbers from Slovenia, France, Czech Republic and Italy are among the favourites for medals in the men’s and women’s competitions. Shauna Coxsey is the only climber competing for Team GB but stands a chance of winning something having picked up a bronze medal at the 2019 world championships.

Surfing

Taking place on Tsurigasaki Beach, around 100km away from Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, surfing will make its debut at the Olympics in Japan which we have to say is pretty radical. 40 surfers will compete in the competition where they will be judged on five criteria in their 30 minute heats: difficulty, innovation, speed, power and flow.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their nation’s association with the sport, the US, Australia and Brazil are amongst the favourites for the medals. However, Kelly Slater, possibly the most famous surfer ever (apart from Keanu Reeves in Point Break) will not be at the games after he missed out on the final spot for Team USA to two-time world champion John John Florence.

Baseball/Softball

This technically isn’t a new sport as both baseball and softball were introduced to the Olympics in 1992 and 1996 respectively but were dropped after the 2008 games in Beijing. After being absent from the last two games it’s back and it’s fitting that it returns in Japan where the sport has a huge following.

Just in case you are wondering what the difference between the two sports is, it’s all down to the pitching. In baseball, the pitcher throws the ball overhand whereas in softball it is thrown underhand. Also, baseball is played by men and softball is played by women.

Both Japan and the US are considered the favourites for the medals but those hoping to see some of the top stars from Major League Baseball will be disappointed as the Olympics clashes with the current MLB season, ruling many players out of the games.

And that’s it for the new sports – but for the purists, here are the new events that have been added to the already existing sports at the Olympics.

  • Athletics - mixed 4x400m
  • Judo - mixed team
  • Shooting - mixed 10m air rifle, mixed 10m air pistol, mixed trap
  • Swimming - 4x100m mixed medley relay
  • Table tennis - mixed doubles
  • Triathlon - mixed relay
  • Boxing - women’s featherweight, women’s welterweight
  • Canoe slalom - women’s C1
  • Canoe sprint -women’s C1 200m, women’s C2 500m
  • Cycling - women’s madison, BMX freestyle park
  • Rowing - women’s coxless four
  • Swimming - men’s 800m freestyle, women’s 1500m freestyle
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