The Tokyo Olympics introduce four new sports: skateboarding, surfing, karate and sport climbing. Everyone has come their own way to the Games. Here are, at a glance, the tales of how these sports reached Tokyo, and what to look out for in each.
When he debuts: August 5-7
Why it’s at the Olympics now: Because he’s coming home for his Olympic debut. The martial art that spread across Japan in the early 20th century and quickly became ubiquitous around the world has been a candidate for Olympic inclusion since the 1970s, but organizers have never found its case. convincing until the Tokyo Games presented the opportunity to showcase his blend of striking combat and the rigorous discipline of his homeland.
What to look for: The three days of competition at the famous Nippon Budokan will feature dozens of talented kumite (sparring) competitors in three weight divisions, as well as the fascinating precision of kata (demonstration of forms, often compared to a floor exercise in gymnastics). . With karate currently booming due to its resurgent popularity in movies and television, viewers are hoping to see some excitement in a sport that isn’t always as violent as casual sports fans probably believe.
Stars to watch: Japan’s greatest fighters will be under pressure to deliver. Naoto Sago’s competition against Frenchman Steven Da Costa and the best of the 67kg peloton could be a highlight of the opening day. Miho Miyahara could kick off the women’s competition on the same day with another gold medal for Japan. Ken Nishimura is a favorite at 75kg. The women’s kata competition will almost certainly be tight between Spain’s Sandra Sánchez and Japan’s Kiyou Shimizu.
When he debuts: Sunday July 25, with the male street competition.
Why it’s at the Olympics now: An early Olympic sport recruited by the organizers to attract young audiences.
What to look for: High-flying tips and stunts; an astonishing age range, with competitors ranging from 12 to 47 years old.
Stars to watch: The American skater Nyjah Huston, in the male street, is arguably the most famous skater; in a women’s park, 13-year-old Sky Brown made waves for Britain with her bravado of female power, recovery from injury and her mark on social media.
When he debuts: There will be at least three days of competition over an eight-day period, starting on Sunday, although events will be determined on the day depending on surf conditions.
Why it’s at the Olympics now: The International Surfing Association has been lobbying the International Olympic Committee since 1995, although the effort to include the sport dates back to the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm, when Duke Kahanamoku, a five-time swimming medalist and Hawaiian icon revered as the godfather of modern surfing, first pushed for it to become an Olympic sport.
What to look for: Most maneuvers are either types of turns, airs, or barrels. While men’s competition typically dazzles with explosive tunes, women’s play often features a more danceable rhythm that showcases the speed, power, and fluidity of the run.
Stars to watch: Reigning world champion Carissa Moore of the United States appears to be the woman to beat, along with Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore, whose record of seven world titles makes her the most decorated surfer in the competition today. The Brazilians are expected to dominate the men’s team, with Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira known as the masters of aerial maneuvers.
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When he debuts: August 3-6
Why it’s at the Olympics now: Rock climbing has reached new heights in recent years, both in the professional and recreational ranks. The documentary “Free Solo” – Alex Honnold is not at the Olympics – added to the popularity of rock climbing, as did the expertise of the sport’s top climbers on social media.
What to look for: Sport climbing has been dubbed the epitome of the Olympic motto “citius, altius, fortius” (faster, higher, stronger). Climbers climb a 15-meter wall filled with various holds in the leading discipline. The bouldering involves smaller “problems” and dynamic movements. Speed is an upward stroke on predetermined takes.
Stars to watch: Czech climber Adam Ondra has completed some of the toughest outdoor climbs in the world and is one of the favorites to win gold in his debut in the sport. Slovenian Janja Ganbret has a similar CV and has dominated the World Cup circuit.
– By Greg Beacham, John Leicester, Sally Ho and John Marshall