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Mixed Gender Teams? International Federations Propose Changes for 2020 in Tokyo

19 Apr, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Here's What Planners of Sports Events Should Know About Changes that May Affect Competitions at Other Levels

Want a glimpse of the future? Look no further than Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics where a few new events proposed for the Games may be instrumental in changing the landscape of sports events in years to come.

According to an article in Inside The Games, many changes that are being proposed relate to current sports, meaning they are variations within the sports currently being offered. (Oh, and count on at least some of them to begin showing up at the local, regional and national levels). According to the Global Association of International Sport Federations (formerly known as SportAccord), which held a meeting recently, a few of the governing bodies proposing changes are as follows:

At the GAISF Convention, sports, including archery, aquatics, basketball, boxing, judo, modern pentathlon, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon and weightlifting have all proposed new events or disciplines. Canoeing, rowing and shooting have also proposed new events to replace old ones in order to ensure full or greater gender equality on their respective programs.

Here is a breakdown of the proposed changes:

  • Cycling has not officially confirmed its plans but reportedly, in addition to male and female BMX freestyle park events, men's and women's madison (in other words, team) competitions have been proposed to be added to the track program. If approved, this would mark the debut of the women's madison/mixed team and the return of the men's event after it was dropped following Beijing 2008.

  • Track & field has been given until after its meeting in London later this month to finalize its application for any new sport divisions.

  • Racewalking: It was proposed that the 50K racewalking event be dropped; however, athletes have petitioned the IAAF to keep this event in the Games. More information will be released as it develops.

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) proposed the most changes (and, some say, the most far-reaching):

  • The addition of high diving as an "extreme sport" in which men will dive from a 27-meter (approximately 88-1/2 feetplatform and women from 20-meter (65-plus feet).

  • A mixed duet (male and female) synchronized swimming event consisting of 12 teams is another innovative proposal. (Read about the U.S.’s willingness to adopt mixed duet and the Soviet’s reaction of nyet here.)

  • As well as the 32 existing Olympic events, this would include 50m breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly events for both men and women.

  • Women wouldl also race over 1,500m while men would compete over 800m.

  • A 4x100m freestyle and a 4x100m medley mixed relay has also been submitted.

  • Twelve, rather than eight teams, would compete in male and female water polo competitions, although team size would also be cut from 13 to 11.

  • It is also hoped that an extra 24 divers and 20 open water swimmers will feature.

Other sports:

  • Of the new disciplines proposed, basketball 3x3 appears the most likely to be successful. Two 16-team competitions consisting of 48 male and 48 female athletes have been submitted.

  • Archery has proposed a two-person mixed team event consisting of athletes already on the program.

  • Mixed relay events have also been proposed in modern pentathlon and triathlon.

  • Canoeing has proposed the women's C1 slalom event to replace the men's C2.

  • The C1 women's 200m and C2 500m will replace the C1 men's 200 and K2 men's 200m.

  • In order to give sprinters in the latter events an alternative, the men's K4 500 will replace the K4 1,000m.

  • A mixed team competition has been proposed in judo. In addition, men are expected to compete at under-73, under-90 and over-90 kilograms. Female bouts will be held at under-57, under-70 and over 70kg

  • Taekwondo has also proposed a mixed team event. The format would likely consist of five athletes - something which would require at least one additional participant per team due to the current maximum of two men and two women participating across individual events.

  • Two new female weight categories have been proposed in boxing. Exact divisions have not yet been announced, but there is no proposal to drop any male event. It is thought that the numbers of boxers competing in each individual division will instead be cut in order to avoid a cumulative rise. Three new mixed team competitions have been proposed in shooting to replace three individual events.

  • These will be in 10m air rifle, 10m air pistol and trap events.

  • The men's 50m rifle prone, 50m pistol and double trap would all be dropped from the program.

  • Table tennis has proposed men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles events. This would be in addition to the four existing singles and team events.

  • Weightlifting hopes to add an eighth women's category to ensure full gender equality.

  • Also in weightlifting, new events for under and over 90kg would replace the existing over 75kg category.

  • Additional quotas would not be required for additional athletes, however, meaning numbers in other divisions would be trimmed.

Some things, however, are not changing. Badminton, equestrian, handball, hockey, sailing, tennis, volleyball and wrestling will not be proposing any new events. Some of these, such as wrestling, are currently considering changes to "improve the format" of the existing events. Gymnastics, too, has refused to comment regarding changes, as has golf. FIFA has not submitted a response either.

Fencing is expected to continue its usual rotation system in which only four of the six team events will be present. If it continues its typical system, the two missing out at Tokyo 2020 will be the men's foil and women's épée. (This is expected to be announced "during the summer,” according to officials.)

Under its Agenda 2020 reform process, the IOC aims to avoid having more than 310 events on the Olympic program. There were 306 events at Rio 2016, and the five new sports added for Tokyo 2020 do not count in this total.

Want to know more? You’ll have to wait. New events and disciplines within existing sports are now due to be considered by the IOC Olympic Program Commission before final decisions are made during an Executive Board meeting scheduled for July in Lausanne.

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