Topend Sports Logo

Climbing at the Olympic Games

After lobbying for inclusion into the Olympic Games for many years, sports climbing was finally accepted onto the program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, along with four other new sports. It will agina be on the program for Paris 2024.

indoor wall climbingindoor sport climbing

What is Sport Climbing?

Sport climbing requires great feats of strength, speed and flexibility and a lot of skill, an exciting sport to to watch. You might be familiar with outdoor rock climbing, however, the Olympic “sport climbing” event is a little different, being performed indoors on an artificial climbing wall, but requiring much the same skills.

Climbers use a range of hand and footholds of different shapes and sizes to scale a vertical wall. The wall can feature both positive and negative angles. The competitors must climb using only their bare hands and climbing shoes, though in some disciplines safety gear may be worn.

2024 Olympic Climbing

There are three disciplines in the Olympic climbing competition – lead climbing, speed climbing, and bouldering. At its Tokyo 2020 debut, there was a combined speed, bouldering and lead climbing event.

  1. Speed climbing – two athletes race up a 15-meter wall side-by-side on an identical course. The first to the top wins and progresses to the next round
  2. Bouldering – the competitors attempt to scale fixed routes of varying difficulty on a 4.5m wall in a set time.
  3. Lead Climbing – how high a climber can go in six minutes?

Now, in Paris 2024, the speed event will be separated from the bouldering and lead events. The result will be an increase in the number of Olympic gold medals from two to four. 

There is one gold medal for male and females up for grabs in the speed climbing event. There is also gold medals available for the combined bouldering and lead event, in which the final rankings are determined by multiplying the place in each of the two disciplines, with the athlete with the lowest score winning.

Climbing at Past Olympics

This is not the first time that climbing has been part of the Olympic Games. From 1924 to 1936, the IOC gave a gold medal for "alpinism", another word for mountaineering. See more about Alpinism at the Olympics.

Related Pages

send us a comment Any comments, suggestions, or corrections? Please let us know.

Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

 → How to Cite