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Olympic Games: What Are The New Modalities For 2021?

Finally, the time is coming to cheer for the Olympic Games! After a year of postponement, following security restrictions against the Covid-19 pandemic, the biggest international sports competition is already preparing the countdown to its official opening on July 23th

This year, the event will take place in Tokyo. It will be the second time that the Japanese capital hosts the tournament. And look, from 1954 (the date of the first Summer Olympics in the city) to now, a lot has changed… Including the competing sports!

In the 2021’s edition, the list of Olympic categories will undergo changes. Five new modalities will be added. All of them are still in the testing phase and, therefore, will not count medals and scores for the overall picture of competing countries. However, they will still follow all Olympic procedures - and the athletes will receive golden, silver and bronze rewards. Get to know what these new sports are on the list below!  

Baseball / Softball

These two sports were already part of the Olympics list in a not-so-distant past: they were considered modalities until Beijing 2008, being withdrawn in the two following editions, London 2012 and Rio 2016. This year, they will have a triumphant return! Six countries will compete in these modalities.

Baseball and softball are very similar. In both games, the goal is to hit a ball that is thrown and run through four bases that make up the baseball field - and the two teams alterns between attack (throw the ball) and defense (run). 

But, besides these similarities, there are important differential rules between them. Baseball is played only by men, and softball is exclusively for women. In addition, another differences are related to the size of the ball (bigger in softball), the dimension of the field (bigger in baseball), the style of the pitch (in baseball, on top; in softball, from the bottom up) and the playing time (seven entries in the female version, nine in the male one).


Despite being a very old practice, karate was the last of the martial arts to integrate the Olympic Games. In Tokyo, the sport will be divided into two disciplinary categories: kumite (in which competitors face each other for three minutes - and wins whoever scores more with strikes in regions considered “targets”) and kata (which prioritizes the technique used on the mat, the accuracy of strokes, balance and speed).

Athletes will be classified according to their body weight, a rule that is already followed for other types of fighting.


This is probably the biggest news of the Tokyo Olympics - and a bet by the International Olympic Committee (COI) to draw young audiences to television! At first, the sport will be competed in three phases: difficulty, speed and boulder (practiced without the use of conventional safety equipment, such as ropes and carabiners).

In climbing difficulty, resistance is worth it: wins whoever reaches the highest height amid the obstacles of the circuit. In the speed trial, the winner is the one who competes the climbing test in less time. Finally, in the boulder stage, the one who best beats the challenge of climbing without using ropes and safety equipment wins. The athletes will compete in all categories and the one who does the best in the sum of results will win the gold.


Many people will be shocked by this news: No, surfing was not an official Olympic sport! This will be the first time of the modality and Brazil will have Tatiana Weston-Webb to inaugurate the category. In the male team, the national representative will be Ítalo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina.

Like some other aquatic modalities, surfing will be practiced in natural waters. For this reason, surfers will compete in Chiba, a municipality located 64 km from Tokyo - because the Japanese capital does not have so many coastal areas suitable for the sport. For the surfing score, the following points are analyzed: the accuracy of movement, balance, time standing on the board and the cleanliness of the maneuvers on the waves.


This is another attempt by the COI to attract the attention of the younger audience. Skateboarding will gain Olympic traces for the first time now in Tokyo. Several modalities of this extreme sport will enter the competition, including the traditional street and park categories.

On street skateboarding, competitors take turns inside a flat track full of obstacles, such as elevations, ramps and handrails. Skaters use these obstacles to perform their maneuvers. In the park category, the rules of street maneuvers with obstacles are imported, but athletes compete within a bowl - the track in the shape of a pool.

So, looking forward to the debut of these new modalities? The transmission of the games will begin on July 23th and the official coverage will be in charge of the television channels Rede Globo and Band. Don’t miss it!


The article above was edited by Karen Oliveira.

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Helena Cardoso

Casper Libero '21

A journalism student who loves musical theater and dreams about living in Disney World.
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