Tokyo Olympics: Paddy Power’s guide to the 5 new sports in 2021

The Olympics has five new sports added in 2021 and here’s what you need to know about each one…

Olympics tips 5 new sports


The Olympics is officially ON this summer and with the return of the world’s greatest sports day comes five fresh events either making their Olympics debut or a return to the Games.

There was a time when only amateurs could compete in the Olympics but that seems to have totally disappeared now, with elite-level tennis, football and golf included amongst the athletics, swimming and rowing events.

Betting on Olympics events has never been easier thanks to Paddy’s extensive sportsbook. But what do you know about the new sports entering the stage this summer? Here, Paddy Power casts an eye over what’s to come from these new events…

New Olympic sports this year

There are five new sports being added to the Olympics 2021 schedule. They include returning events baseball and softball, as well as debuts for karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding.


Baseball lost its place at the Olympics in 2012 – perhaps because Londoners weren’t too interested in the sport – but it returns this summer with plenty of eyeballs on it. That’s because Japan is a baseball-obsessed country, while it loves softball too. There are only six teams in the baseball and softball events, although the former is split into two groups, while the latter acts effectively as a league ladder, with a gold medal final at the end.

Japan and the USA are the big favourites to win gold in the baseball, while historic powerhouses Cuba have not qualified this summer. Italy are the only European nation to qualify in the softball.

Baseball Olympics facts
  • First official Games: 1992
  • Most successful team: Cuba (3 golds)
  • Defending gold medalists: South Korea (2008)
  • Teams competing: 6
  • Favourites: Japan
Softball Olympics facts
  • First official Games: 1996
  • Most successful team: USA (3 golds)
  • Defending gold medalists: Japan (2008)
  • Teams competing: 6
  • Favourites: USA
Olympics tips karate

Karate is also in the Olympics for the first time (GETTY)


A new kid is in town (apologies!) as karate enters the Olympics for the very first time. How this sport hasn’t been allowed at the Games until now when taekwondo, wrestling and judo have is quite frankly surprising. Did the West’s karate fever of the 1970s and ‘80s count for nothing? Karate will feature eight different events and 80 athletes. The two disciplines are Kumite – where you fight an opponent – and Kata – where you are judged on technical and athletic points. The six Kumite events are:

  • Women’s 55kg
  • Women’s61kg
  • Women’s +61kg
  • Men’s 67kg
  • Men’s 75kg
  • Men’s +75kg

Sport climbing

Climbing has not exactly had it easy getting into the Olympics. Having finally been approved in 2016, it was then decided that three separate disciplines would go into one medal. There is just one medal apiece for the men’s and women’s competition, and climbers will gain points for succeeding at:

  • Lead climbing
  • Bouldering
  • Speed climbing

The problem is, speed climbing is very different to lead climbing and bouldering. In fact, barely anyone who speed climbs also lead climbs (at least, not at elite competition level). We potentially have athletes this summer competing in two events they’re great at, and one they’re terrible at. It’s like doing a triathlon when you can’t ride a bike (or, at least, not very well). How this affects the Olympics odds is anyones guess!


Surfing has been a competitive sport for years but only now makes it onto the Olympics schedule. There will be 40 competitors from 17 nations battling it out for the men’s and women’s gold medals – of which there is only one for each. Riders will attempt to master the biggest and fastest waves possible, and pick up points from the judges for speed, height and technique. Scores are ranked out of 10 and there’ll be four-person heats to get the events going.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, neither Team GB nor Ireland have athletes competing in the surfing this year.


There are two events in the Olympics skateboarding this summer, meaning two golds are available for the men and women respectively. Park skateboarding will take place in a hollowed-out course that will challenge skaters to perform jumps, twists and turns. Street skateboarding is flatter and requires competitors to tackle handrails, benches, stairs and walls.

Skaters get three minutes to produce their best stuff and are judged on the difficulty, timing, speed, originality and flow of their ride. Just like with gymnastics, skaters are rewarded for tougher routines but marked down if they mess it up.

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