5 Of The Newest Olympic Sports And 5 Of The Oldest

Tokyo 2020 Olympics banner on a government building. Editorial credit: Pumidol / Shutterstock.com.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics banner on a government building. Editorial credit: Pumidol / Shutterstock.com.

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8, 2021. The International Olympics Committee (IOC), led by Thomas Bach, aims to make the Games more “youthful” and “urban” and to attract more female participants. Tokyo will become the first city in Asia to host the sporting event twice, having hosted the Summer Games in 1964. A total of 11,091 athletes from 206 countries are expected to take part in the Games. Tokyo 2020 will feature 339 events across 33 sports. Five of the sports and 15 events will debut for the first time in Tokyo. Below are the newest and oldest Olympic sports.

Newest Olympic Sports


Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan. Its popularity in the country has played a part in its addition to the 2020 Olympics. Baseball is a team sport played between two teams consisting of nine players each. Each team takes a turn playing defense and offense. Softball is a variant of baseball and will be played by women.


A skateboarder doing a trick. Skateboarding will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

The IOC believes that the introduction of skateboarding will attract more urban youth to the Games. Both Park and Street disciplines will feature at the 2020 Olympics.

Sport Climbing

Sport climbing will involve athletes climbing on artificial climbing walls in three formats: speed climbing, lead climbing, and bouldering. Bouldering climbing will be the climbing of walls without ropes while lead climbing is climbing marked routes while attached to the rope. Speed climbing is a head-to-head climbing of a 15 m wall.


At the European karate championship in Novi Sad, Serbia in 2018. Image credit: pajtica/Shutterstock

Karate will join other martial arts like boxing, judo, and taekwondo that have been in the Olympics for a while now. The sport includes several moves such as kicking, punching, and elbow strikes. Two karate disciplines will feature at the Games: Kumite and Kata.


Surfing also aims to attract more youth to the Games. Surfers, both men and women, will ride real waves at the Shidshita Beach and points will be awarded depending on the maneuvers on the waves.

Oldest Olympic Sports

Equestrian Events

At the OTP equitation World Cup in Budapest, Hungary in 2011. Image credit: Melinda Nagy/Shutterstock

The equestrian events in the Olympic Games included chariot and horse races which initially took place in a hippodrome. The first equestrian event was the Tethrippon, added to the Ancient Olympic Games in 680 BCE. The sport has evolved but the use of horses remains.


The pentathlon was a multi-event competition including the long jump, discus toss, and javelin throw. The sport debuted in 708 BCE but no longer exists today. However, individual events that made up the pentathlon still exist.


At the World Wrestling Club Cup in Kharkiv, Ukraine in 2016.

Wrestling was added to the Olympic Games in 708 BCE as the first combat sport. It was also included as one of the pentathlon events. It was played on a sandpit and only ended when one of the contestants conceded defeat.


Boxing is one of the oldest contact sports in the world. Ancient Greek boxing, known as Pygmachia was introduced as an Olympic sport in 688 BCE as a second combat sport. Boxers wore Himante (ox hide). A boxing match lasted only one round, so the boxing currently featured in the Olympics differs in some ways.


A sprint race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Image credit: photoyh/Shutterstock

A running race known as Stade or Stadion was one of the first events at the first Olympic Games. It debuted in 776 BCE. The race covered a distance of 600 Greek feet and currently exists as a 200 m race. The race took place in a building called Stadion. A double-stade foot race (400 m) was introduced in 724 BCE.


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