LAUSANNE, Switzerland (REUTERS) – Mixed relays in athletics and swimming and three-a-side basketball were among new events approved on Friday by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The IOC’s executive board also agreed to add mixed doubles in table tennis, mixed team events in judo, shooting and archery and a mixed team triathlon. IOC President Thomas Bach said the new disciplines would make the games “more youthful, more urban and will include more women”.
An IOC statement said Tokyo would include a 4 x 400 mixed relay in athletics and a 4 x 100 medley mixed relay in swimming. Swimming would also include two further new events – a men’s 800 metres and women’s 1500 metres freestyle race.
The IOC said the numbers of athletes in some sports would be cut with athletics (105 fewer athletes), weightlifting (64) and wrestling (56) the main casualties. On the other hand, basketball would have 64 extra participants.
The world athletics body (IAAF) said it was delighted at the inclusion of mixed relays but disappointed in the reduction in its athletes quota. It said mixed relays had been “hugely successful and appealing for athletes and spectators alike”.
“Pitching teams of two men and two women together with the added dimension of team tactics, make this a vibrant, youthful and exciting competition.” But it added: “Whilst we understand the need to be firm on numbers and applaud the IOC’s stance on gender equality in all sports, reducing the quota will inevitably have an impact on our joint goals of universality.”
Three-a-side basketball, an urban sport where the teams aim for the same hoop, was introduced at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore 2010 and Nanjing in 2014. The IOC said that men’s and women’s madison would be added to track cycling and Freestyle Park to BMX cycling. Boxing, canoeing and rowing had agreed to reduce the number of men’s events in exchange for more women’s events.
It said there would be a net increase of 15 events, an overall reduction of 285 athletes compared to Rio in 2016 and “the highest representation of female athletes in Olympic history”.
The decision is a significant step towards having equal numbers of male and female athletes and events at the Games, the IOC said.