What are the five new sports debuting at the 2021 Olympics?

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(Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Five new Olympic sports are making their debut at Tokyo 2021 this summer: surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing, karate, and men’s baseball/women’s softball.

Each Olympiad, the program of sporting events contested changes somewhat. The International Olympic Committee takes into account numerous factors when considering which sports to include in the Greatest Show on Earth.

Factors such as the impact on gender equality, youth appeal, and the overall legacy of including a sport in the Games are important in the decision-making, as are logistical considerations such as the number of additional athletes and facility requirements. Of course, we all know the IOC cares about its bottom line, so commercial appeal and sponsor interest matter too.

Looking at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, five new sports are on the schedule. Let’s take a look at the new sports you can watch during the 2021 Olympics.

1. Karate will debut at the 2021 Olympics

It’s only fitting that karate is included in the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games, right? The word itself is actually a combination of two Japanese terms — “kara” (empty) and “te” (hand) — reflecting on hand-to-hand combat without weaponry. Karate date back hundreds of years to origins in Okinawa, Japan, but this is the first (and possibly only) time it will be contested at the Olympic level.

Karate was included specifically for Tokyo, as opposed to becoming a permanent Olympic sport. A total of 80 athletes will compete in two styles — kata (forms) and kumite (sparring). Kata is practiced alone, where the athlete must demonstrate a series of offensive and defensive movements. In kumite, two athletes fight each other using three techniques – kicking, striking, and punching. Kumite will have three weight classes each for men and women, whereas kata will have just one men’s and one women’s event.

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