New Olympic Sports: What to Know About the 5 New Sports at the Tokyo Games

Six countries (including the US) are set to participate in the baseball and softball tournaments at the Tokyo Olympics, which will start with opening-round pool play before it moves onto the knockout stage to determine the champion.

Who to watch: Active-roster Major League players can’t play for Team USA, as the Olympics occur during their regular season, but players to watch for from the US include infielder Eddy Alvarez — a silver medalist in the 2014 Winter Olympics in short track speed skating— and past MLB All-Stars Todd Frazier and David Robertson. On the softball side, Team USA’s Haylie McCleney was a gold medalist in the 2016 and 2018 WBSC Women’s World Championships, as well as at the 2019 Pan American Games, and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Monica Abbott is making a comeback to the Games.

When to watch: The baseball tournament will take place July 27 through August 7. Softball will take place from July 24 through July 27.

Karate

Karate, which originated in Japan, will be making its debut as an Olympic sport — something enthusiasts have been lobbying for since the 1970s, the IOC says. However, this, too, may be a one-off occurrence, as it’s not currently slated for the 2024 Paris Olympics program.

The Tokyo Games will feature two karate disciplines: kata (form demonstrations, where athletes are judged on technique) and kumite (a mat competition where athletes compete head to head).

The karate events will take place at the Nippon Budokan, which hosted the first World Karate Championships in 1970.

Who to watch: American athletes to watch include two-time USA karate national champion Ariel Torres for the men’s kata, and seven-time USA national champion Sakura Kokumai for the women’s kata. Athletes to beat include Sandra Sanchez of Spain, Ryo Kiyuna and Kiyou Shimizu of Japan, Hamideh Abbasali of Iran, and Tzu-yun Wen of Taiwan.

When to watch: Karate events are scheduled for August 4 through August 7.

Skateboarding

Skateboarding will be added to the program for the first time in the Tokyo Olympics, taking the street sport fully mainstream. The action sport is already anticipated to do well in popularity — it’s also already been approved for the Paris Olympics in 2024.

The Tokyo Games will feature two skateboard disciplines, park and street, both of which will have prelims and finals. The park competitions will take place in a smooth, dome-shaped bowl, and competitors will be scored on originality and the difficulty of their tricks. Street competition, meanwhile, mimics a skatepark — think stairs, rails, and other real-world features — with a set amount of time. Each discipline will have judges scoring the runs.

Who to watch: Skateboarders to watch on the US side include Nyjah Huston, who competed in his first X Games as a preteen; Mariah Duran, who won back-to-back gold medals at the 2018 X Games; and Brighton Zeuner, who became the youngest gold medalist at the 2017 X Games. Competition includes Yuto Horigome of Japan on the men’s side, and on the women’s side, Britain’s Sky Brown (who will turn 13 right before the Games), Kokona Hiraki of Japan, and Margielyn Didal of the Philippines.

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