Everything You Need to Know About the New Sports Heading to the Tokyo Olympics

Surfing, karate and skateboarding are just some of the must-see sports making their debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Meet some Team USA members who may just win big in the new events.

By Mike Vulpo Jul 20, 2021 4:00 PMTags

Prepare for a whole new wave of must-see sporting events.

With the 2020 Olympics kicking off in just a matter of days, fans are looking forward to witnessing long-time favorites like gymnastics, swimming and track and field.

But as Team USA arrives in Japan with a mission to win gold, a few new sports are entering the picture and promising to catch the attention of new and old fans. One event already making buzz is skateboarding.

At 24 years old, Mariah Duran will make her Olympics debut alongside teammates Alana Smith and Alexis Sablone. The chance to compete in her favorite sport is an opportunity she doesn't take lightly.

"It's different, it's new and I can only relate to when I first saw skateboarding in my neighborhood and I was just so fascinated by how they did it," Mariah exclusively told E! News while supporting Always' #KeepHerPlaying campaign. "It's not really the easiest thing to get into. It's pretty dangerous. But, you know, you can take it as far as you want to go and I feel like that's the beautiful thing about skateboarding."

Tokyo-Based Films to Watch Ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games

She continued, "There's room for anybody and everybody who wants to do it or try it. You can go as far as you want to go, whether that's trying to be the elite Olympian or just be a guy or girl who just cruises down the street."

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Meanwhile, Ariel Torres has been mastering the art of karate for 16 years. Now, at 23 years old, the Florida resident is ready to represent his country in the men's kata event.

"I hope that karate debuting at the Tokyo Olympics brings awareness to the sport and encourages more people to get involved," he explained to E! News after teaming up with got milk? for the brand's film The Fridge, which shows how he relies on milk to fuel his training and performance. "There's so much passion, power and love for the sport and I'm excited for people to see it on the Olympic stage." 

Ultimately, this is only a taste of what's to come at the Tokyo Games. Prepare for surfing, rock climbing and the return of a few familiar sports below.


Who's ready for some action?! According to NBC Olympics, skateboarding will be divided into park and street disciplines.

Park competitions take place within a dome-shaped bowl and skaters focus on maintaining good flow through the course while executing tricks. Street competitions feature a course with stairs, rails and other features that replicate popular real-world obstacles. In both disciplines, a group of judges will score the skaters.

On Team USA, fans are cheering extra loud for Mariah Dunn and Nyjah Huston who are both favored to win big.

"We're constantly looking on the side of the road for good stair sets or rails or ledges or whatever it is," Nyjah previously told E! News. "We literally see things so differently, all the architecture and stuff. That's the cool part about skateboarding. We're out there skating stuff that's not meant to be skated."


At this year's Olympics, the two karate disciplines set to be featured are kata and kumite.

According to NBC Olympics, kata is the demonstration discipline where athletes are judged on karate techniques while kumite is the fighting discipline where athletes compete head-to-head. 

"Karate is about so much more than just the competition," Team USA's Ariel Torres told E! News. "I've matured through karate. The more you practice the more you start to understand yourself and your body—you become thankful. It helps build character and has allowed me to experience and appreciate new things, new people and new cultures." 


This summer, the forecast calls for big waves and even bigger Olympic moments. Kolohe Andino, John John Florence, Kelly Slater, Caroline Marks, Carissa Moore and Lakey Peterson are set to make history as the first U.S. Olympic surfing team.

If weather conditions allow, the competition will kick off on July 25 and be completed in four days. 

"With surfing, it's such a unique sport," Caroline explained to E! News in June. "It's one of the only sports where you rely on mother nature and I think that's what makes it so hard." 

Sports Climbing

Warning: This isn't your average rock-climbing hobby!

In Tokyo, sport climbing will be contested as a single event with all three of the sport's main disciplines (speed, bouldering and lead) being used in a combined format to determine the winner. According to NBC Olympics, athletes tend to specialize in in just one or two disciplines allowing for a unique challenge at the Olympics.

For Team USA, Brooke Raboutou is gaining buzz and documenting her practice routines online. As she wrote on Instagram, "It is so true what we say, you climb your best when you're having fun!" 


Although baseball joined the Olympics as a medal event in 1992, it was removed from the program after 2008. This year, things are looking up as six countries will participate in the Olympic baseball tournament.

The games will start with opening-round pool play before moving into the knockout stage to determine the champion.

One member to look out for on Team USA is Eddy Alvarez, who currently plays on the Miami Marlins. "It's a great privilege and honor," the MLB player wrote on Instagram after making the Olympic team. "Let's run it back #teamusa." 


Softball previously became a medal event in 1996, but like baseball, it was scrapped after 2008. According to NBC Olympics, the Tokyo Games will be a one-off for both sports, as neither one will be contested at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Nevertheless, the United States will join Japan, Australia, Italy, Mexico and Canada in the six-team tournament. 

Team USA has 15 players including superstar pitcher Monica Abbott. "It is an incredible feeling to wear [USA] across your chest," she wrote on Instagram. "But it is my honor to represent something way bigger than myself: to represent sport, the softball world and a nation, on a daily basis." 

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