Tokyo 2020: 365 days to go!

To celebrate one year to go until Tokyo 2020, athlete representatives from the five new sports on the Olympic programme provide an update on how preparations are progressing ahead of next summer.

  • Surfing, karate, sport climbing and skateboarding will all make their Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.
  • Baseball/softball will return to the programme, having last featured in 2008.
  • Athletes have been at the heart of each sport’s preparations for the Games.

 


Surfing

Justine Dupont, ISA Athletes’ Commission chair

I feel like the IOC not only want surfing to be part of the Games, but they want all of the culture behind it. They don’t want to just take the sport and run the competition like a business; they really want to embrace all of the culture around surfing. Our values are very similar to the Olympic values.

The preparation has already started. Obviously, there are a lot of competitions between now and then, but we all want to be ready for next summer, because the Olympic Games is only happening every four years. The first one is going to be really, really exciting.

Who knows where surfing will be in ten years, but I hope it will bring the culture and vibe from the very beginning. It’s also essential that we work hard to ensure surfing upholds its key values such as having a connection with nature, respecting the ocean, and discovering yourself.

I’ve been part of the commission as the chair, and it’s interesting to see that athletes are sharing their voice. I’m proud of the ISA, who have done a really great job in getting surfing to become an Olympic sport. That’s already a big win, and now the challenge is to keep surfing in future Olympic Games.

Sport Climbing
Sean McColl, IFSC Athletes’ Commission President

The whole of sport climbing is really excited to be part of the Olympic family and to have the opportunity to compete at Tokyo 2020, but with that comes lots of challenges.

Much of what Olympic participation means is new for sport climbers, such as the increased media coverage and the long-term preparation, but also for our event organisers and host venues. This is all really fun, but it’s also demanding – that’s where the Athletes’ Commission can play a part.

The IFSC is split into three disciplines – boulder, lead and speed – but the 2020 Olympic discipline is actually going to be a combined event, so athletes will have to figure out how to do three quite different disciplines on the same weekend.

On the commission, we have four representatives from each discipline, and a lot of our recent conversation has been on how that process is going to work, as well as qualification for the Olympic Games.

With the inclusion of sport climbing at the Olympics, the circuit has grown, and I can’t wait to see the next generation of climbers come into the sport and get on the circuit.

Baseball/Softball
Justin Huber, WBSC Athletes’ Commission Co-Chair

People don’t get to see the planning and the understanding of what a baseball tournament needs in order to engage new communities and reach new fans. There’s a shorter format, faster pace, fewer games, fewer teams. You’re going to see high pace and excitement at the Games.

From an Athletes’ Commission perspective, we’re just continuing to stick to our main strategic drivers, one of which is to be the voice at the executive decision-making level of the athletes, and we’ve got some big projects that we’re working through to achieve that by the middle of next year.

Probably the biggest, most immediate preparation step remaining is that we have an undertaking to support athlete wellbeing and safeguarding at the tournament. That’s something that we have taken on as a main focus.

On a global level, I’m very much looking forward to laying the foundations for the future of baseball and softball in the Olympic movement. On a personal level, this is actually my Olympic dream. I didn’t compete in the Olympics, but this is our moment and a chance to get swept up in everything that comes with it.

Karate
Davide Benetello, WKF Athletes’ Commission Chair

Tokyo is a dream for us. These Games will be exactly 50 years after our first World Championships in the same country, in the same city and even in the same location! We are very proud of our journey to this point.

The most important thing for us is communicating with the athletes from the beginning how to qualify for Tokyo, because as we know, we are a new sport at the Olympics and everything that comes with it is new, not only for us but for all of our athletes.

The first year of qualification gave fewer points, but since April we’ve entered the final year with full qualifying points available for the Olympic rankings. It is currently going very smoothly, but now we need to focus, as we will have six tournaments which are very important for us, held between September 2019 and April 2020.

One of the biggest challenges is keeping the athletes injury-free. Even little injuries can be very bad for some competitions. But what Tokyo will particularly help with is allowing people to understand how the rules work, how spectacular it can be as a sport, but importantly, how safe it is. Yes, it’s a combat sport, but we operate very safely.

Skateboarding
Gary Ream, World Skate Skateboarding Chairman

With the history that skateboarding has globally, we are very much used to having large cultural TV events globally, but obviously the Olympic stage is the biggest. With this Olympic stage I believe that we can change the world.

Tokyo 2020’s organising committee has been very receptive to our ideas and the creativity that we’re putting into the field of play. They are precise in the organisation and it’s very rewarding as they’re listening to what we believe is needed for it to be done in the right way.

There are many, many things left to do. The pace will be picking up in the final year before the Games, there’s no doubt about it. It’s more about moving forward, answering and dilating the details in respect to what we need to do to represent skateboarding.

This is truly a sport derived through passion. It’s a sport of expression and I want many people who maybe think they understand it, to get it fully. Working with Tokyo 2020’s organising committee, putting on the biggest and best show possible is our goal.

Is your sport ready for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games? Find out more about the preparation for next year’s Games by clicking here.