Tokyo is officially ready to rock with 3-on-3 basketball at the 2020 Olympic Summer Games.
The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board approved the addition Friday, in addition to 14 other events, to the next Olympic program. The changes are intended to add more youth-focused events, boost women’s participation and lower the total number of athletes.
In addition to 3-on-3 basketball, a discipline that was part of the first two editions of the Youth Olympic Games in 2010 and 2014, the new events include men’s and women’s competitions in BMX freestyle, team fencing events and the track cycling madison event. The swimming program will add a men’s 800-meter freestyle, women’s 1,500-meter freestyle and a mixed 4x100-meter medley. Men and women will also compete side by side in new archery, judo, sailing, shooting, table tennis, track and field and triathlon mixed events. New women’s events have also been added in boxing, canoe and rowing.
The most visible change, however, might be the introduction of 3-on-3 basketball, which brings a high-octane, half-court version of the sport to the world’s biggest stage. The international version of 3-on-3 is often accompanied by nonstop music, DJs and sideline performers. A 12-second shot clock is used, and games last a maximum of 10 minutes — with no halftime, quarters or timeouts. Eight men’s and women’s 3-on-3 teams will qualify for the Tokyo Games. Rosters will include one reserve player per team.
The U.S. women's teams won bronze and gold medals in 3-on-3 basketball at the 2010 and 2014 Youth Olympic Games, respectively.
“The IOC's decision provides great encouragement for FIBA to continue promoting our urban discipline,” said FIBA Secretary General and IOC member Patrick Baumann.
In swimming, the addition of the women’s 1,500-meter freestyle creates another medal opportunity for Team USA star Katie Ledecky. The five-time Olympic gold medalist is the current world champion in the event and also holds the world record of 15:25.48.
Some men’s events were eliminated in boxing, canoe, rowing, shooting and weightlifting. As a result, the Tokyo Games will be the most gender-balanced in Olympic history. Women will comprise 48.8 percent of the total number of competitors, up from 45.6 percent in 2016 and 44.2 percent in 2012. The 2020 program will add 15 events but have 285 fewer athletes overall from the Rio Games. The Tokyo Games will award medals in 321 events, up from 306 in Rio and 302 in London.
The additions — which are part of Olympic Agenda 2020, a set of 40 recommendations adopted by the IOC membership in 2014 to ensure long-term sustainability of the Olympic Movement — expand on last year’s IOC decision to add five sports to the 2020 program. Those sports are baseball/softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing.
“The fascinating new events that we approved today, together with the five new sports that were added to the Tokyo 2020 program last year, represent a step-change in the Olympic program,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “I am delighted that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be more youthful, more urban and will include more women.”
Other program modifications include:
- Canoe/kayak slalom: Replaces men’s canoe double with women’s canoe single
- Canoe/kayak sprint: Replaces men’s canoe single 200-meter, men’s kayak double 200-meter and men’s kayak four 1,000-meter with women’s canoe single 200-meter, women’s canoe double 500-meter and men’s kayak four 500-meter
- Fencing: Includes all six team events, as opposed to rotating two out each Games
- Sailing: Replaces mixed multihull with mixed foiling multihull
- Track and field: Addition of 4x400-meter mixed relay
Thomas Neumann is a Florida-based writer and journalist who previously worked at ESPN and the San Diego Union-Tribune. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.