Article by Micheal Warren

As we look towards the festive season, spare a thought for our elite athletes. Many of those athletes will continue to train throughout the summer holidays as they chase Olympic qualification.

The last column for 2018 will focus on the four new sports that will make their Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2020: Karate, Skateboarding, Sport Climbing and Surfing. It was on August 3, 2016, that the International Olympic Committee voted to include these four new sports.


Pre-Olympic Test Events Set

From now until May 2020, 56 pre-Olympic test events will be held. The test events will give organisers and the Japanese public the opportunity to experience sporting events in the Olympic venues, in some cases for the first time. The objective of the test events will be to provide Tokyo 2020 management and operations staff with hands-on experience of running events and allow them to collaborate with delivery partners to ensure the smooth operation of the Games.

Some key Olympic Test Events to look out for in 2019 include:

  • Tokyo 2020 Eventing Test Event – 12-14 August 2019
  • Tokyo ITU Triathlon World Olympic Qualification Event – 15-18 August 2019
  • Tokyo 2020 Sailing Test Event – 17-22 August 2019
  • Tokyo 2020 Canoe Spring Test Event – 12-15 September 2019



Two karate disciplines will be featured in Tokyo. Kumite ("grappling hands") is the sparring discipline and will have three weight classes each for men (67 kg, 75 kg and +75 kg) and women (55 kg, 61 kg and +61 kg). Kata (martial arts) is the form discipline and will have one event each for men and women. Every event will consist of 10 competitors.

Karate will be contested in the Nippon Budokan stadium where Judo will also take place.

To learn more about Karate, click here.


Sport Climbing

Sport climbing is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors fixed to the rock for protection.

Sport climbing emphasises strength, endurance, gymnastic ability and technique, over adventure, risk and self-sufficiency.

Sport Climbing will consist of two events in Tokyo, one for men and one for women. The format for Olympic sport climbing will require participants to compete in all three disciplines – lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering. Sport Climbing will be contested at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo.

To learn more about Sport Climbing, click here.

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Above: Kiwi sport climber Sarah Tetzlaff



Skateboarding at the 2020 Olympic Games will take place in the Aomi Urban Venue, in Tokyo and consist of four events: men’s and women’s park; and men’s and women’s street events.

Each event will have 20 competitors qualify: 3 from the World Championships, 16 from world rankings, and 1 from the host, Japan.

To learn more about Skateboarding, click here.



Surfing is set to attract a lot of attention over in the lead up to the 2020 Olympic Games, as quota spots are fought for throughout the World Surf League Championship Tour throughout 2019.

Shidashita Beach about 40 km outside of Tokyo will host the surfing events where 40 of the best male and female surfers will partake.

The 2020 Summer Olympics will use a four-man/women heat structure. Four athletes will compete at any given time. The best two of each heat will continue to the next round. Each heat will run for 20 to 25 minutes, with their top two scores being used.

Only one rider may ride a wave at any given time. Using common surfing etiquette rule where the surfer who is closest to the peak has right of way. Any interference with the surfer who has right of way, can incur a penalty and result in point deductions.

A panel of judges will determine each rider’s performance from wave to wave, scoring from one to ten with two decimals. e.g. 8.51. Scores are based on the difficulty of manoeuvres performed. This includes speed, power, and flow of each manoeuvre.

To learn more about surfing, click here.

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Above: Kiwi surfer Paige Hareb is hoping to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games


Onwards to Tokyo 2020

As the countdown to Tokyo gains pace, this blog will track Kiwi athletes on their path to Olympic qualification and competition. The 2020 Games will be a momentous Olympic Games for New Zealand as it will be the 100-year anniversary since a New Zealand team left our shores to compete in the world’s biggest and most significant sporting event.


About the author 

Micheal Warren @warrenmich1

Micheal has recently completed a PhD in Political Science at Victoria University in Wellington. His research looked at how New Zealand’s participation in the Olympic Movement has contributed to national identity and ultimately found that New Zealand’s participation at the Olympic Games epitomises what it means to be a New Zealander. The idea of the under-dog and punching above our weight are best replicated through New Zealand’s Olympic participation.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games
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