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Karate at the Olympics

Karate made its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games (along with four other new sports). In Tokyo, there were two karate events, Kumite and Kata. However, karate has not been included in the sports program for the following Olympics in 2024 nor in 2028.


Karate at Tokyo 2020

There were eight gold medal events: six for the Kumite competition (3 weight categories for males and females) and two gold medals for the Kata competition (one each for males and females). There were sixty competitors competing in the Kumite competition, and twenty in the Kata competition.

Kumite Competition

The Kumite competition was held in three weight classes (men: −67 kg, −75 kg, +75 kg, women: −55 kg, −61 kg, +61 kg). Fights lasted for up to three minutes. The aim in kumite is to score points using kicks, punches, strikes, throws and sweeps. The winner is the first to score eight points more than their opponent, or the fighter with the most points at the end of the time. In the matter of a tie, the contestant that scored the first unopposed point wins.

Kata Competition

Kata competitors are judged on the power and correctness of their techniques. Competitors take turns in demonstrating his or her kata in a performance routine. The result is judged by a panel of judges, each awarding a score based on technical and athletic performance. The two highest and lowest scores are discarded to determine the winner. 

The Road to the Olympics

It was seen as difficult for Karate to gain inclusion in the Olympics given that there are already several other combat sports on the Olympic program: boxing, judo, taekwondo, fencing and wrestling.

In August 2009, the IOC voted on which two sports to add to the program for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Karate was one of the leading contenders, though it missed out when the sports of Golf and Rugby were selected. After further lobbying, it was finally accepted onto the program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, along with four other new sports.

Karate has not been included in the sports program for the following Olympics in 2024 nor in 2028.

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