Boost for female participation and ‘youth and urban appeal’ as IOC confirms 15 new events for Tokyo 2020 Olympic program

For the first time - after 84 years of Olympic canoeing - canoe sprint and slalom will have a gender balanced Olympic program.

The IOC Executive Board Meeting in Lausanne confirmed the addition of 15 new Olympic events.

By Sonja Nikcevic, AIPS Media

The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee announced on Friday that a total of 15 new events would be added to the Olympic program for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, with a clear focus on female participation, and brining youth appeal and innovation to the Games.

FIBA’s 3×3 basketball – a fast-paced version of the sport played with one hoop and three players each – will feature for the first time in Tokyo 2020, along with cycling’s BMX freestyle, a trick-based event that takes places in a skate park venue. The two new disciplines are seen as a major boost to the appeal of the Olympic Games to younger generations.

3×3 basketball will include 8 men’s and 8 women’s teams, and a total of 64 new athletes.

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Gender equality

Swimming and athletics both saw mixed relay events being added to the Olympic program as the IOC look to reach the Agenda 2020 goal of 50% female participation at the Games.

A mixed 4×400 meter relay was added to the athletics program after success at the World Relays in the Bahamas earlier this year, while swimming saw the addition of a 4x100m medley mixed relay.

IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell confirmed that addition of 15 new events – which would bring the total number of events in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic program to 321 – was an important step for gender equality.

“A clear goal going into the decision process was more female athletes and a new step towards equal participation at the Olympic Games. The addition of these events will mean the Games in Tokyo will have the highest number of women competing, the highest number of women events and the highest gender balance,” McConnel confirmed.

The IOC is now closer to the equal gender participation goal by more than 2%, with Rio’s 46,1% participation quotas set to be boosted to 48,8% for Tokyo 2020.

These Rio numbers will also see an increase due to new team events in archery, judo, table tennis, and triathlon, and a number of sports, including waterpolo, boxing, and wrestling saw men’s events be transferred to women’s events to ensure equality.

This means that four new sports have gender-balance in events for the first time (Canoe, Rowing, Shooting and Weightlifting), six new sports will have gender balance in athletes (Canoe, Judo, Rowing, Sailing, Shooting and Weightlifting). At discipline level, gender balance is achieved in BMX Racing, Mountain Bike and Freestyle Wrestling.

Participation numbers

The IOC also confirmed that a smaller number of athletes would be competing in the Games in Tokyo 10,616 across the 28 sports, compared to 10,901 at Rio 2016.

McConnell confirmed that the numbers did not include those for the five new sports to be added to the program (baseball/softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing), which will bring an added 474 athletes across 18 events.

Cycling saw its total number of track events go up to 12 with men’s and women’s madison being added to the program, while swimming will also include see the inclusion of men’s 800m and women’s 1500m freestyle events, to “fill a gender gap in the program” as stated by the IOC.

The full list of additional events and changes in athlete numbers approved by the IOC are below:

EVENTS – Additions unless specified
Sport Event #
Aquatics (Swimming) 800m (M) & 1500m (W) +2
4x100m Medley Mixed Relay +1
Archery Mixed Team Event +1
Athletics 4x400m Mixed Relay +1
Basketball 3×3 (M/W) +2
Boxing Transfer of two men’s events to two women’s events 0
Canoe Transfer of three men’s events to three women’s events 0
Cycling (BMX) BMX Freestyle Park (M/W) +2
Cycling (Track) Madison (M/W) +2
Fencing Team Events (M/W) +2
Judo Mixed Team Event +1
Rowing Transfer of one men’s event to one women’s event 0
Sailing Transfer of Mixed Multihull to Mixed Foiling Multihull 0
Shooting Transfer of three men’s events to mixed events 0
Table Tennis Mixed Doubles +1
Triathlon Mixed Team Relay +1
Weightlifting Reduction of one men’s weight category -1
TOTAL (net) +15

Tokyo 2020 was consulted throughout the process and gave its agreement on the principles applied to the review of all events. Together with the IOC, it was agreed that there should be minimal impact on additional venues and athletes, and on the overall competition schedule.

The EB today also approved the recommendations of the Programme Commission with regard to the athlete numbers by sport – as follows:

Athletes – Additions, transfers and reductions
Athletes quotas
Sport Event #
Aquatics (Water Polo) Reduction in Water Polo team size, addition of two women’s Water Polo teams -18
Aquatics (Swimming) Reduction of 22 athletes -22
Athletics Reduction of 105 athletes -105
Basketball Inclusion of 3×3 with 8 teams for each gender, +64 athletes (32W/32M) +64
Boxing Transfer of 44 athletes from men to women 0
Canoe Transfer of 55 athletes to reach gender balance 0
Cycling (BMX Racing) Transfer of 8 athletes to reach gender balance 0
Cycling (MTB) Transfer of 8 athletes to reach gender balance in MTB, transfer of 4 male athletes to BMX Freestyle 0
Cycling (Road) Transfer of 14 men to BMX Freestyle 0
Judo Transfer of 38 athletes to reach gender balance 0
Rowing Reduction of 24 athletes and reach gender balance -24
Sailing Reduction of 30 athletes and reach gender balance -30
Shooting Reduction of 30 athletes and reach gender balance -30
Weightlifting Reduction of 64 athletes and reach gender balance -64
Wrestling Reduction of 56 athletes across all disciplines and gender balance in Freestyle Wrestling -56
TOTAL  -285


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