Five new sports debut at the Tokyo Olympics
Skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and karate: these are the four new disciplines that debut at the Olympics with the Tokyo 2020 Games that kicked off today, adding to the return of baseball and softball, absent in the last two editions.
After the addition of seven-a-side rugby and golf in 2016, women’s boxing and tennis mixed doubles in 2012 and BMX and cross-country swimming in 2008, this year’s Olympics program will also be packed with new features. with 34 new events in total.
At the Olympics, skateboarding will include park and street specialties, for both men and women. Street skateboarding takes place on a straight course with stairs, curbs and walls, while in the park the athletes compete on a course with curves and hairpin bends.
In both specialties the athletes have to perform individually in three timed races, trying to get the best score decided by the jury based on the skill shown with the board. The races, which will all be accompanied by music, are scheduled for 24 and 25 July for the street and from 4 and 5 August for the park, at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.
In this discipline, Italy is present in the park with Ivan Federico and Alessandro Mazzara (respectively 16th and 20th in the world ranking) and in the street with Asia Lanzi (26th).
The surfing competitions will take place from 25 to 28 July on Tsurigasaki beach, about 65 kilometers from Tokyo, where 40 athletes of 17 different nationalities will compete for a male and a female title.
The performances will be evaluated by five judges who will assign a score from one to 10. Only the first two scores will then be considered for the purposes of the competition, which includes heats of four and five athletes in the initial stages and a knockout phase from the third round. Italy will be present in the discipline with only Lorenzo Fioravanti, in 17th place in the world ranking.
In sport climbing, athletes will have to engage in the three specialties of lead, bouldering, speed in a sort of “triathlon”, to compete for a male and a female title.
In speed, the first of the two participants who reaches the top of a 15-meter wall wins. In the lead, two athletes attempt to reach the maximum height on a wall of 15 meters in the space of six minutes, while in the boulder they have four minutes to complete a predetermined number of routes in the least number of attempts, along a height of 4.5 meters. At the end of the three tests the scores obtained are multiplied and the first eight classified move on to the final, where the competition is repeated. The races will take place from 3 to 6 August 2021 at the Aomi Urban Sports Park. Three Italian athletes will be present: Ludovico Fossali, Michael Piccolruaz and Laura Rogora.
The martial art born in Japan makes its debut at the Olympics in Tokyo, with the two specialties of kata and kumite. The first, which means “shape” or “pattern”, is performed by a solo karateka who faces an imaginary opponent with a series of movements chosen from a list of 102 recognized by the World Karate Federation, evaluated by a score assigned by the judges.
Kumite instead sees two athletes face each other on the tatami in a three-minute long fight. The first to accumulate eight points more than his opponent or the highest score when time runs out wins, with a score from one to three awarded for each hit. The competitions will be held from 5 to 7 August at Nippon Budokan.
In karate a total of eight titles will be awarded, of which six in kumite (three for sex) and two in kata (one male and one female). Here Italy participates with five athletes: Viviana Bottaro, Silvia Semeraro, Mattia Busato, Angelo Crescenzo and Luigi Busà.
Baseball and softball
Baseball and softball make their return to the Olympics in Tokyo 2020 after appearing for the last time in Beijing 2008. The two sports, which will not return to Paris 2024, are reserved for men and women respectively. Otherwise they are almost identical, with the main difference being the technique of throwing the ball and the measurements of the court and the equipment used. The United States are favorites while the Italian softball team comes as a reigning European champion.