Angela Ruggiero, Chair of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Athletes’ Commission (AC) and a member of the Executive Board (EB), expressed her excitement as the ground-breaking new event programme for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 was approved.


The new programme significantly improves gender equality, increases the focus on youth and introduces several new urban innovations – all within the existing venue plans for the Tokyo Games.   

“I am proud to be a member of an Executive Board that supports such a positive evolution of the Olympic programme. The increase in gender equality across the programme is a positive step that is reinforced with introduction of nine new mixed events,” said Ruggiero. 

The EB decision will lead to a net increase of 15 events, an overall reduction of 285 athletes from Rio 2016, and the highest representation of female athletes in Olympic history. In Tokyo, the number of mixed events will double from nine in Rio 2016 to 18. All new events will make use of existing venues. 

The AC chair continued, “The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of any athlete’s career, and this new programme offers more opportunities for athletes to excel across a wider variety of sports. It underlines our vision to put athletes at the heart of the Olympic Movement and makes a significant step towards achieving the 50 per cent gender balance in both athletes and events at the Games. We hope this will inspire ever more young women to take up or stay in sport around the world.” 

“I am also pleased that we are able to welcome the athletes from the new disciplines of 3×3 Basketball and BMX Freestyle into the Olympic family; and also to see more men and women competing as equals on the field of play in the mixed events.”

Four new International Federations (IFs) will move to gender balance in events for the first time (Canoe, Rowing, Shooting and Weightlifting). In terms of athletes, six IFs will move to gender balance for the first time (Canoe, Judo, Rowing, Sailing, Shooting and Weightlifting). At discipline level, gender balance is achieved in BMX Racing, Mountain Bike and Freestyle Wrestling.

Ruggiero also stressed the measures taken to ensure that sports innovation is an integral part of the programme.

“It is great to see events from the Youth Olympic Games being included in the programme for Tokyo 2020. I am sure this will provide even more inspiration to the athletes’ in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires 2018 and encourage further innovation in formats to increase global appeal across the various events.” 

The programme also includes youth-focused and urban-based additions such as Basketball 3×3 and BMX Freestyle, on top of Sport Climbing and Skateboarding. Basketball 3×3 was a successful innovation at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore 2010 and Nanjing 2014. Sport Climbing and Skateboarding were proposed along with Baseball/Softball, Karate, and Surfing by Tokyo 2020 last year.

The next edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games, which will take place in Buenos Aires in October 2018, will already feature BMX Freestyle, Karate and Sport Climbing as well as several new innovative urban sports such as Breakdance and Roller Sports. 

The review process for the Tokyo 2020 programme started in Rio 2016, where comprehensive data were collected for the first time at event level, giving IFs unparallelled insight into the overall performance of their sports, disciplines and events at the Olympic Games. Concurrently, IFs were invited to submit their requests for changes to their events, athlete quotas and competition formats to the IOC by February 2017. 

Having reviewed in full the proposals received from the Olympic International Federations, the Olympic Programme Commission met on 5 May and made a number of recommendations to the IOC EB. Based on these recommendations, the EB took the following decision regarding new events in Tokyo:

Tokyo 2020 was consulted throughout the process and gave its agreement on the principles applied to the review of all events. Together with the IOC, it was agreed that there should be minimal impact on additional venues and athletes, and on the overall competition schedule.

The EB also approved the recommendations of the Programme Commission with regard to the athlete numbers by sport – as follows: