The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board announced on Friday it will add new events to the swimming program for the 2022 Olympics in Tokyo, including U.S. star Katie Ledecky’s specialty, the 1,500 meters.
Ledecky, the Bethesda native who won four gold and a silver at the 2016 Games in Rio, has held the world record in the 1,500 for three years. A men’s 800 and a 4×100 mixed medley relay — another possible event for Ledecky — was also added.
Track cycling is adding men’s and women’s madison races and track and field will add a 4×400 mixed relay.
The events approved Friday include 3-on-3 basketball and BMX freestyle cycling, added as part of the committee’s overarching effort to appeal to a younger, more urban audience.
The committee had decided last August to include sports climbing, skateboarding, surfing, baseball, softball and karate.
“We want to take sport to the youth,” International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in a statement. “With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them. Tokyo 2020’s balanced proposal fulfills all of the goals of the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendation that allowed it. Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games.”
The new sports will add 18 events and 474 athletes, and further the IOC’s goal to establish gender balance in both athletes and events. The IOC expects women to account for 48.8 percent of the athletes.
“I am delighted that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be more youthful, more urban and will include more women,” Bach added.
Overall, the Games will see a net increase of 15 gold medals — possibly made out of recycled cellphones — for a 321-event program.
The new additions do come at a price — the IOC eliminated 285 athlete places found in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro with track and field losing nearly half those spots (105). Also losing athlete places are weightlifting (64), wrestling (56), sailing (30), shooting (30) and swimming (22).