Sport climbing set to be Olympic sport for Tokyo 2020

Sport climbing is expected to be confirmed as a new Olympic sport for the Tokyo 2020 Games next month.

An International Olympic Committee (IOC) session is set to announce on 3 August that the sport will be added to the programme for four years’ time.

It is one of five sports put forward by Tokyo organisers, a proposal backed unanimously by the IOC executive board.

Skateboarding, surfing, karate and baseball/softball could also become Olympic sports at next month’s meeting.

Future Games hosts are being given a chance to bring in one or more sports popular in their country to boost ratings and attract greater sponsorship.

The event programme for the existing 28 Olympic sports – which includes golf as it returns this year for the first time since 1904 – will be finalised in mid-2017.

More than 20 male golfers, including the top four in the world, have pulled out of this summer’s Games, with many citing concern over the Zika virus – a mosquito-borne virus linked to brain defects in newborn babies.

IOC president Thomas Bach said this week that the absences would be considered when the Tokyo 2020 line-up is decided.

The five new sports “offer a key focus on youth”, the IOC has previously said, have a “significant popularity in Japan and beyond”, and would be the “most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic programme in modern history”.

Sport climbing involves participants scaling permanent anchors, like bolts, fixed to the rock.

According to the International Federation of Sport Climbing, more than 140 countries have climbing walls, with 35 million climbers around the world. The average age is 23 years old, with 40% under 20.

Great Britain’s Shauna Coxsey, the Bouldering World Cup champion, told the Guardian: “This will make climbing even more popular and hopefully open it up to people who normally wouldn’t give it a go.”

Rob Adie, competitions officer at the British Mountaineering Council, which has helped campaign for climbing to be made an Olympic sport, said: “Climbing is such a wide-ranging sport and there are so many different facets. It is a good thing that it will be recognised on a world stage.”

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