At the 129th IOC session during the Rio Olympics, sport climbing was officially added to Olympic program for Tokyo along with skateboarding, surfing, karate, baseball and softball. However, only two sets of medals (one for men and one for women) were awarded to sport climbing, a sport with three distinct disciplines, for 2020. The International Sport Climbing Federation made the controversial decision to debut sport climbing in the Olympics as a combined event including speed climbing, lead climbing and bouldering. Many elite climbers voiced opposition to this decision, citing the specialized nature of the sport.
The combined format was tested at the 2018 Youth Summer Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was generally successful.
New Faces To Watch
Tomoa Narasaki: Perhaps motivated by the prospect of a home Olympics, Japan’s climbers have ascended to the top of the sport in recent years. None have been more impressive, though, than Tomoa Narasaki, winner of the 2019 combined world championship as well as the 2016 and 2019 bouldering world championships.
Janja Garnbret: The 22-year-old Slovenian separated herself as the best female sport climber in the world in 2019, winning world championships in bouldering, lead and the all-important combined competition. Flashing consistency as well, Garnbret also won bouldering and combined titles during the year-long World Cup tour.
Brooke Raboutou: The United States’ best chance at a sport climbing medal in Tokyo will likely be 20-year-old Boulder, Colorado native Brooke Raboutou. Born into a family of elite competitive climbers, Raboutou owns multiple outdoor climbing age records and is a well-rounded indoor climber as well. She was the first American to qualify for sport climbing’s Olympic debut, finishing ninth in the combined competition at the 2019 Sport Climbing World Championships.