Friday, June 9, 2017 7:40 pm
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved mixed-gender events in athletics, swimming, table tennis and triathlon for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The Games will include a 4×400 metres mixed relay in athletics and a 4×100 metres medley mixed relay in swimming.
IOC president Thomas Bach said the Games will be “more youthful, more urban and include more women’’.
Swimming will also include two further new events — a men’s 800m and women’s 1500m freestyle races.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Tokyo 2020 will have five more sports than Rio, taking the total to 33.
However, the existing sports have been given 15 more events.
Cycling has gained two new events, for men and women, and basketball will have a three-on-three event.
The introduction of freestyle BMX and the madison to the cycling programme make that sport the third largest at the Olympics in terms of medals, with 66 up for grabs.
NAN reports that other additions include a mixed relay in the triathlon and a mixed doubles in table tennis.
“We have taken a really important step forward in terms of gender equality,” IOC sports director Kit McConnell said.
In a reaction, Rio 2016 champion swimmer Adam Peaty said the introduction of mixed events for Tokyo 2020 would make the Olympics “more fun”.
“It’s something that will make things (at the Olympics) a little bit more fun.
“Obviously it’s very serious, but it’s great to mix things up from what they’ve been for so long as it adds a little spice and they’re great to watch.’’
Also, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) welcomed the introduction of mixed relays but says it could be difficult to implement.
It said in a statement: “We should not expect the athletes entered to compete in the men’s and women’s 4x400m relays, from which the participants for the mixed relay will be naturally drawn, to compete in a third round of heats and finals for the mixed relay.
“We must allocate the appropriate space and time in the programme, or enable teams to bring additional athletes.”
IAAF president Sebastian Coe said: “Athletics is the number one sport at the Olympic Games. So, we want to work with the IOC to drive effective and meaningful change.
“We will also work with the IOC on how best to introduce a mixed relay event in Tokyo following the huge success it enjoyed in IAAF world relays and Nitro Athletics this year.’’