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Tokyo Olympics Bring New Sports as Event Embraces Millennials

Five new sports will be included when the Tokyo 2020 Games open next year



    Tokyo Olympics Bring New Sports and Changes to Previous Events

    The 2020 Olympic Games are almost a year away. Here’s what you can expect to see at the Tokyo games next year. (Published Tuesday, July 23, 2019)

    Tokyo 2020 is not going to be your grandparents' Olympic Games.

    When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed five new sports were to be included in the Tokyo 2020 Games, it was a clear signal the organization was making a concerted effort to embrace youth culture. To that end skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing and karate, as well as the return of baseball and softball, look to make a grand splash in 2020.

    Here's a quick breakdown on what to expect on the high-flying new additions when the Summer Olympics kick off in Tokyo in one year's time.  

    The International Skateboarding Federation President Gary Ream told CNBC that skateboarding "has grown from a fad in the 1960s to the center of mainstream youth culture by the early 2000s," all while maintaining its own culture. 

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    As to why the sport was selected for Tokyo 2020, he added: “Skateboarding leads the world in terms of socially connected and technologically savvy young participants.”

    That could mean fans may see prolific snowboarding champ Shaun White competing in Tokyo as he recently adapted his skills to skateboarding. 

    White said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show that he will compete at world championships in September "and see what happens" before deciding whether to try to earn a spot on the U.S. team for skateboarding's Olympic debut next summer in Tokyo.

    The three-time Olympic snowboarding champion has won five of his 23 X Games medals on the summer side in skateboarding.

    Sports climbing
    Three climbing events have been added: Lead, speed and bouldering. Climbing has enjoyed a growing international profile in recent years, and was a demonstration sport at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

    How's this for a totally rad addition to the Olympic games. According to, the competition will take place on the open ocean, where the condition of the waves, the direction and strength of the wind, and the height of the tides will all be factors. A panel of judges determines the winners, with scoring based on the type and difficulty of maneuvers performed, along with speed, power and flow

    Alun James, a sports sponsorship expert and managing director of consultancy firm Four Communications told CNBC via telephone: “Both skateboarding and surfing clearly show the IOC’s attempt to appeal to a millennial audience. The sports are lifestyle-oriented, as well as very dramatic and visual, which would have influenced the decision to include them.”

    While technically not new additions... baseball and softball are due to return to the Olympic Games in 2020.

    Each was last played in Beijing in 2008. Team USA won bronze in baseball during those games, finishing behind South Korea and Cuba. Team Japan is the reigning softball gold medallist.