Olympics: IOC gives nod to mixed relays for Tokyo 2020

IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell speaks during a press conference after an executive board meeting, on June 9, 2017.
IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell speaks during a press conference after an executive board meeting, on June 9, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

LAUSANNE (Switzerland) • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday approved a mixed 4x400m relay along with 14 other events for Tokyo 2020, hailing the move as "an important step for gender equality" at the Games.

IOC sports director Kit McConnell said the Tokyo Games would comprise 321 events - up from 306 at Rio de Janeiro last August - with three-on-three basketball among the additions.

"We have taken a really important step forward in terms of gender equality," he told reporters in Lausanne, after the mixed relay and mixed swimming events were approved.

He added there had been "a larger number of requests" from federations to beef up the Tokyo Games, but that the IOC was focused on appealing to "young and urban audiences", as well as redressing long-standing imbalances between male and female athletes.

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Mixed triathlon will also appear at Tokyo for the first time, along with a mixed team archery event and BMX freestyle.

The IOC also agreed to add mixed doubles in table tennis and mixed team events in judo.

The swimming programme will also feature men's 800m and women's 1,500m freestyle races.

"The fascinating new events that we approved today, together with the five new sports that were added to the Tokyo 2020 programme last year, represent a step-change in the Olympic programme," IOC president Thomas Bach said in a statement.

In total, the number of mixed events at Tokyo will double to 18 from nine in Rio, the IOC said.

The body's executive committee also managed to trim the total number of athletes by 285 compared to Rio, another key priority to guard against the Games growing increasingly costlier.

Bach said the new disciplines would make the quadrennial Games "more youthful, more urban and will include more women".

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'IOC gives nod to mixed relays for Tokyo 2020'. Print Edition | Subscribe