Every four years, the whole world comes together to watch the Olympics. Staying up at odd hours and microwaving popcorn is a regular ritual during the games. There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush you get when cheering for your athletes representing your country or your favourite sports.
Olympics 2020 is slated to be hosted by Japan. It has been postponed yet again as the Covid-19 cases around the globe are on a steady rise yet again. To safeguard the health of the athletes and everyone involved, the International Olympic Committee has said that despite the delay, the Games will ultimately commence before the summer of 2021.
There’s still a lot of excitement in the air about who will end up competing at the 2020 Summer Olympics, especially now that the Games have been postponed to an unspecified date, putting many athletes’ plans up in the air.
Tokyo was the first city in Asia to host an Olympics twice, hosting the games in 1964. The 1964 Olympic games were held in October, to account for Japan’s midsummer heat and September typhoon season. Have you ever wondered how many sports are in the Olympics, anyway?
How many games are played in the Olympics?
This might seem like an easy question to answer. However, the number of sports in the Olympics can change from one set of games to the next. The number can even be debated within a particular Olympic Games. It often depends on how we define sports.
The 2020 Summer Olympics plan to award medals across 339 events, representing 33 different sports. Five new sports have been included this year - baseball/softball, skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and karate.
Here is the full list of sports, and the number of events within each sport:
- Aquatics (49)
- Archery (5)
- Athletics (48)
- Badminton (5)
- Baseball/softball (2)
- Basketball (4)
- Boxing (13)
- Canoeing (16)
- Cycling (22)
- Equestrian (6)
- Fencing (12)
- Field hockey (2)
- Football (2)
- Golf (2)
- Gymnastics (18)
- Handball (2)
- Judo (15)
- Karate (8)
- Pentathlon (2)
- Rowing (14)
- Rugby (2)
- Sailing (10)
- Shooting (15)
- Skateboarding (4)
- Sport climbing (2)
- Surfing (2)
- Table tennis (5)
- Taekwondo (8)
- Tennis (5)
- Triathlon (3)
- Volleyball (4)
- Weightlifting (14) and
- Wrestling (18)
When counting sports, some people only count sports as defined by the IOC. This is why some might say there were 28 sports in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. Others, however, count each discipline as a separate sport. This is why the official website of the 2016 Summer Olympics listed 42 sports. We say both are the correct ways to go and it just depends on your preference.
In February 2013, wrestling was dropped from the core sports list and joined with baseball and softball (joint bid), climbing, karate, roller sport, squash, wakeboard and wushu to attempt to gain a place on the program for 2020.
The sport of wakeboarding involves a shortboard with foot bindings on which a rider is towed by a motorboat across its wake and especially up off the crest for aerial manoeuvres.
Wushu is something that someone can practice to live a better life. You can gain better awareness of your body, mind and spirit. Though the chance is that Chinese athletes would dominate this sport if it were in the Olympic Games, it is still a sport worthwhile to practice.
In September 2013, wrestling was voted back into the list of sports for the 2020 Olympic program.
How many games will be played in the next Olympic games?
With all the planning and preparation already in full swing for the Paris 2024 Olympic Sports Programme, the main focus for the next Olympics games is on gender equality and youth. This new flexibility is part of the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020.
While the Tokyo Olympic programme will account for 48.8 per cent female participation, Paris is ready to outtake it with complete gender equality for the first time in the history of the Olympics. Not just that, the 2024 games are set to welcome mixed-gender events, from 18 to 22, compared to Tokyo 2020.
Paris 2024 submitted its proposal to the IOC to integrate four new sports that are closely associated with youth in order to reward creativity and athletic performance. With breaking (breakdancing) set to make its Olympic debut, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing are confirmed as additional sports based on a proposal by Paris 2024. Having said that, the 2024 Olympic games will also face a reduction in the overall number of events with a final programme of 329 events. “With this programme, we are making the Olympic Games Paris 2024 fit for the post-corona world. We are further reducing the cost and complexity of hosting the Games. While we are set to achieve gender equality at the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we will see, for the first time in Olympic history, the participation of the exact same number of female athletes as male athletes. There is also a strong focus on youth,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
In the post-COVID-19 world, limiting the overall number of events is a key element in curbing the growth of the Olympic programme as well as additional costs. Additionally, the urban sport concept has been expanded, showcasing youth-focused events that are inclusive, engaging and can be practised outside conventional arenas.
What's the difference between an event, a discipline, and a sport?
Now that you know about all the sports and the number of events in each, figuring out the categorisation on a deeper level will probably not hurt. “The Olympic programme comprises sports, disciplines and events” We all have heard this line time and time again.
An Olympic sport must be widely practised by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents, and by women in at least 40 countries and on three continents. A sport is that which is governed by an International Federation (IF).
A discipline is a branch of an Olympic sport including one or more events. For example, Aquatics is an Olympic sport comprising four Olympic disciplines: swimming, diving, water polo, and synchronised swimming.
An “event” is a specific competition that results in the awarding of a medal. It is a competition in a sport or discipline that gives rise to a ranking. So, one of the swimming events would be the 100m breaststroke.
Thus, Water Sports is a sport, while canoeing, kayaking, rafting, surfing, windsurfing, sailing and yachting, rowing and sculling are combined disciplines. White water and flat water are events.
How many sports were there in the first Olympic Games?
The earliest reliable date that recorded history gives for the first Olympics is 776 B.C. Although historians believe that the games began at least 500 years before that. It is certain that during the midsummer of 776 B.C. a festival was held at Olympia, a highly civilized eastern coast of the Peloponnesian peninsula. That festival remained a regularly scheduled event, taking place during the pre-Christian golden age of Greece. Rules and definitions for the Olympic games have all changed and evolved.
The Modern Olympics
The definition of sports has truly changed with time and if you still aren’t convinced, here’s how it did:
The first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896 in Athens, Greece. The athletic festival held in Athens took place from April 6-15. The inaugural Games of the modern Olympics were attended by as many as 280 all-male athletes from 12 countries.
The 1896 Olympics also featured the first marathon competition, which followed the 25-mile route run by a Greek soldier who brought news of a victory over the Persians from the marathon to Athens in 490 B.C.
It featured nine sports: athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, tennis, weightlifting, and wrestling. These are all still part of the Summer Games today. Competing in 43 events, the foreign athletes were greeted by parades and banquets. More than 60,000 people attended the opening day of the competition.
The ancient Olympics, held every four years, took place during a religious festival honouring the Greek god Zeus. The tradition has been carried to this day (if we let go of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that got postponed due to the pandemic). Also except during World War I and World War II.
In 1924, the first truly successful Olympic Games were held in Paris, involving more than 3,000 athletes, including more than 100 women, from 44 nations. And guess what? That’s where we’re headed for the next Olympics in 2024.
Over the next five years, the inclusivity of events in the Olympic Games will help inspire millions of children to take up sports. The Olympics are considered one of the biggest events and every four years people around the world celebrate it with undying enthusiasm and excitement. Do you watch the Olympics with your family? Are you excited about the upcoming games?
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