Women and men will compete together in mixed relays at the next Summer Olympics, the International Olympic Committee says, announcing a slate of changes for Tokyo 2020. The IOC says it will get close to gender balance among Olympic athletes, boosting women to nearly 49 percent, from 45.6 percent in Rio.
The Tokyo games will feature 18 mixed events, up from 9 at the Rio Olympics.
Both swimming and track will hold mixed relays, as well as a triathlon team relay; other sports will also allow national sporting federations to blend their male and female athletes, from mixed doubles in table tennis to team events in sports such as judo, cycling, and fencing.
The IOC’s executive board approved the new event program for Tokyo at a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, Friday.
Arriving along with five new sports, the shifts represent what IOC President Thomas Bach is calling “a step-change in the Olympic program.”
The changes are part of a plan to attract younger viewers. The new sports include surfing; sport climbing; skateboarding; karate; and baseball and softball. Existing sports will add new competitions, such as 3-on-3 basketball.
“I am delighted that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be more youthful, more urban and will include more women,” Bach said.
And while the moves will bring a net increase of 15 events, the board also cut athletes’ quotas in a variety of sports, for a net loss of 285 athletes.
The biggest cut hit one of the biggest sports: Athletics, which includes track and field, will have 105 fewer athletes in Tokyo. Weightlifting will lose 64 athletes, while wrestling will lose 56.