Olympic sport climbing at Tokyo 2020: Top five things to know

The best climbers in the world will compete at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021. Who will become the first Olympic champion in history? When and where will sport climbing take place? Find out here.

5 min By Lorena Encabo
(Picture by Marco Kost / Getty Images)

Sport climbing is one of the new sports you will be able to watch at the Tokyo 2020 Games in July 2021.

But what is it about? and who are the best Olympic athletes in the sport? Here is your definitive guide to climbing at Tokyo, an event that will combine strength, strategy, flexibility, power, and endurance.

Olympic sport climbing competition format at Tokyo 2020

The sport will feature three different disciplines: Speed, Bouldering, and Lead for a single set of medals in a Combined competition. Each athlete will compete in all the disciplines and the medallists will be the ones with the lowest score after the multiplication of the rankings in each climbing discipline. For example, an athlete who finishes first, second, and third in each of the three disciplines will have a score of six.

That's a different format to the World Cup competitions, where climbers compete in these three events separately.

Strength, strategy, flexibility, power, endurance and an unique combination of physical and mental skills will be the key to become the first Olympic champion in history.

All disciplines are climbing, but they are very different. Here is a quick guide:


Athletes climb up a 15-metre-high wall set at an angle of 95 degrees.

Two athletes compete for the fastest time to the top of the climbing wall on identical routes. The current world records are 5.63 seconds for men and 6.96 seconds for women.


Athletes are faced with a 4.5-metre wall and are not clipped in to safety ropes. Each athlete must try to ascend as many fixed routes as they can in four minutes and are not allowed to practise climbing them in advance. They complete a route when they grab the final hold at the top of a route with both hands. Strategy, power and flexibility are very important in this discipline, where climbers have to plan every move carefully.


Climbers are clipped into safety ropes and have six minutes to climb a 15-metre wall. When a climber attaches their rope to the top hold, they have completed the climb. Athletes who tie for the highest hold are sorted by their time.

Top Olympic sport climbers at Tokyo 2020 in 2021

There will be 40 athletes in total in Tokyo, as 20 men and 20 women will try to claim one of the six medals up for grabs.

Czech Republic's Adam Ondra is one of the men's favourites. He was the first person to ever climb a 9C route, considered the hardest route in the world, doing so on the 'Silence' formation in Norway.

The 27-year-old is a five-time world champion and a specialist in lead and bouldering, although he doesn't feel as confident in speed.

French siblings Mickael and Bassa Mawem will be competing against each other. Mickael qualified first, finishing seventh at the 2019 Climbing World Championships in August while Bassa qualified through the Olympic Qualifier Tournament in late November.

Alberto Ginés is Spain's climbing hope and one of the youngest athletes to compete. "It's like a surfer from the Sahara making it," he told the Olympic Channel in an exclusive interview. The 18-year-old comes from the flat region of Extremadura.

Nathaniel Coleman,(https://www.olympicchannel.com/en/athletes/detail/nathaniel-coleman/) nicknamed "Captain America", will also be one to watch. He was the first male U.S climber to qualify for the Games.

For the hosts, Japan will be represented by world champ Harada Kai and three-time world medallist Narasaki Tomoa on the men's side, while Nonaka Miho and Noguchi Akiyo will try to reach the podium for the women in Tokyo.

Janja Garnbret from Slovenia will be star to watch out for in the women's tournament. The six-time world champion is one of the best climbers in the world. "When I'm on the wall, nothing else matters," the Slovenian said in 2019.

One of her main rivals will be Shauna Coxsey, Britain's most successful competitive climber. She is one of four women who has climbed an 8B+ boulder route - the third-most difficult rating.

The 2016 bouldering world champion Petra Klinger, who featured in one of the home workouts for Olympic Day in 2020, will be the only athlete representing Switzerland in the sport's Olympic debut.

Another name to watch out for will be Laura Rogora. The Italian, who is only 19, won her first international medal at 17 – a silver at the European Championships in 2019.

Olympic sport climbing schedule at Tokyo 2020

The sport climbing event will take place from 3 August to 6 August 2021.

All times in Japan Standard Time (UTC / GMT +9 hours)

Tue 3 August, 17:00 - 22:40

  • Men's Combined Qualification - Speed
  • Men's Combined Qualification - Bouldering
  • Men's Combined Qualification - Lead

Wed 4 August, 17:00 - 22:40

  • Women's Combined Qualification - Speed
  • Women's Combined Qualification - Bouldering
  • Women's Combined Qualification - Lead

Thu 5 August, 17:30 - 22:20

  • Men's Combined Final - Speed
  • Men's Combined Final - Bouldering
  • Men's Combined Final - Lead
  • Men's Combined Victory Ceremony

Fri 6 August, 17:30 - 22:20

  • Women's Combined Final - Speed
  • Women's Combined Final - Bouldering
  • Women's Combined Final - Lead
  • Women's Combined Victory Ceremony

Olympic sport climbing venue

The Aomi Urban Sports Park will host the Olympic debut of sport climbing and 3x3 basketball. It will be a temporary venue in the waterfront Aomi district, and situated close to the Athletes' Village.

Olympic sport climbing debut

Sport climbing was first included at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018 in Buenos Aires, where it proved successful.

The sport was confirmed on the 2020 Olympic Games programme at the 129th IOC session in 2016.

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