IOC boosts female participation at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Kyodo

The International Olympic Committee on Friday approved the Tokyo 2020 Olympic event program in a move that will increase female participation while reducing the total number of competitors.

The decision by the IOC’s executive board will see 15 more events than were competed in last year at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games, while reducing the total number of athletes by 285. Judo will add a mixed team event, while mixed doubles will be added to the table tennis tournament.

Shohei Ono, the men’s Olympic 73-kg judo champion, welcomed the new competition that will see three men (73 kg, 90 kg and over-90 kg) and three women (57 kg, 70 kg and over-70 kg) battle in a 12-team field.

“Japanese love team events, so I think it will certainly generate excitement,” Ono said.

Table tennis mixed doubles may also be a boon for Japan, which boasts the world’s top-ranked pair, Maharu Yoshimura and Kasumi Ishikawa.

“I’m really happy this has been added,” said Ishikawa, a 2015 world silver medalist in the event along with Yoshimura.

Although most table tennis categories are dominated by China, mixed doubles had been an exception, since until now it had not been an Olympic event. This decision will likely see the Chinese push to extend their domination there as well.

Tokyo, which was given freedom to recommend additional sports to those already on the Olympic program, successfully pushed for baseball and softball, surfing, sport climbing, skateboarding and karate.

In addition to the new ground broken by the local organizing committee, the IOC has approved 3-on-3 basketball in one of the numerous changes to traditional Olympic sports.

IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement, “The fascinating new events that we approved today, together with the five new sports that were added to the Tokyo 2020 program last year, represent a step-change in the Olympic program.

“I am delighted that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be more youthful, more urban and will include more women.”

Swimming will see a new event, a 400-meter mixed medley relay, as will athletics, in a 4×400-meter mixed relay, and triathlon will have a mixed team relay.

Other sports will decrease the number of men’s events, while increasing those for women.

Also on Friday, the IOC’s executive board approved a recommendation to name the 2024 and 2028 Olympic host cities at the same time in September, effectively assuring that Paris and Los Angeles will both host the games.