Sport Climbing – Tokyo Olympics

Olympic ‘Sport Climbing’ is to make it’s debut in Japan this summer so to get you up to scratch with what will be happening and when, here is our run down.

Sport Climbing takes the challenge of scaling steep ascents to a whole new level. Using a range of hand and foot holds of different shapes and sizes, climbers put their skills and strength into practice on a vertical wall. The wall may feature varying angles of either positive (known in climbing as a slab) or negative (steep, overhanging) sections.

The sport will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and will feature three disciplines: Speed, Bouldering and Lead. Speed climbing pits two climbers against each other, both climbing a route on a 15m wall. In Bouldering, athletes scale a number of fixed routes on a 4.5m wall in a specified time. In Lead, athletes attempt to climb as high as possible on a wall measuring over 15m in height within a specified time. At the Games, each climber will compete in all three disciplines, and the final rankings will be determined by multiplying the placement in each discipline, with the athletes achieving the lowest scores winning medals.

In some disciplines, climbers attach safety ropes; however, no other equipment is permitted, and competitors must climb using only their bare hands and climbing shoes. The sport requires strength, flexibility and skill, together with careful advance planning: the first ever medallists will all possess this unique combination of physical and mental capability and decisiveness.

The sport climbing event will take place from 3 August to 6 August 2021.

All times in Japan Standard Time (UTC / GMT +9 hours)

Tue 3 August, 17:00 – 22:40

Men’s Combined Qualification – Speed
Men’s Combined Qualification – Bouldering
Men’s Combined Qualification – Lead

Wed 4 August, 17:00 – 22:40

Women’s Combined Qualification – Speed
Women’s Combined Qualification – Bouldering
Women’s Combined Qualification – Lead

Thu 5 August, 17:30 – 22:20

Men’s Combined Final – Speed
Men’s Combined Final – Bouldering
Men’s Combined Final – Lead
Men’s Combined Victory Ceremony

Fri 6 August, 17:30 – 22:20

Women’s Combined Final – Speed
Women’s Combined Final – Bouldering
Women’s Combined Final – Lead
Women’s Combined Victory Ceremony

Olympic sport climbing venue
The Aomi Urban Sports Park will host the Olympic debut of sport climbing and 3×3 basketball. It will be a temporary venue in the waterfront Aomi district, and situated close to the Athletes’ Village.

Olympic sport climbing competition format at Tokyo 2020
The sport will feature three different disciplines: Speed, Bouldering and Lead for a single set of medals in a Combined competition. Each athlete will compete in all the disciplines and the medallists will be the ones with the lowest score after the multiplication of the rankings in each climbing discipline. For example, an athlete who finishes first, second, and third in each of the three disciplines will have a score of six.

It is a different format to the World Cup competitions, where climbers compete in these three events separately.

Strength, strategy, flexibility, power, endurance and an unique combination of physical and mental skills will be the key to becoming the first Olympic champion in history.

All disciplines are climbing, but they are very different. Here is a quick guide:

Speed
Athletes climb up a 15-metre-high wall set at an angle of 95 degrees.

Two athletes compete for the fastest time to the top of the climbing wall on identical routes. The current world records are 5.63 seconds for men and 6.96 seconds for women.

Bouldering
Athletes are faced with a 4.5-metre wall and are not clipped in to safety ropes. Each athlete must try to ascend as many fixed routes as they can in four minutes and are not allowed to practise climbing them in advance. They complete a route when they grab the final hold at the top of a route with both hands. Strategy, power and flexibility are very important in this discipline, where climbers have to plan every move carefully.

Lead
Climbers are clipped into safety ropes and have six minutes to climb a 15-metre wall. When a climber attaches their rope to the top hold, they have completed the climb. Athletes who tie for the highest hold are sorted by their time.

To prevent athletes gaining an advantage from watching others scaling the bouldering and lead climbing walls before them, each climber is kept away from the climbing wall before their turn and given just a few minutes to examine the wall and routes prior to starting.

40 athletes will be taking part in Sport Climbing – 20 men and 20 women – Good luck to them all!