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Climbing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Faqs

Updated: Jul 16, 2022

Open Nationals 2019 | Sportrock Climbing Centers
Open Nationals 2019 | Sportrock Climbing Centers

Rock climbing will be making its Olympic debut in July of 2021. We are not only incredibly excited to share our sport with the world but also to give hard-working climbers a new achievement to work towards! We have created this FAQ article to answer any questions you may have about climbing in the Tokyo Olympics.

When is rock climbing in the Olympics taking place?

From August 3rd to August 6th, 2021. The schedule is below.

Remember, all times in Japan Standard Time (13 hrs ahead of EST)

August 3rd, 17:00 – 22:40 Men’s Combined Qualification – Speed Men’s Combined Qualification – Bouldering Men’s Combined Qualification – Lead

August 4th, 17:00 – 22:40 Women’s Combined Qualification – Speed Women’s Combined Qualification – Bouldering Women’s Combined Qualification – Lead

August 5th, 17:30 – 22:20 Men’s Combined Final – Speed Men’s Combined Final – Bouldering Men’s Combined Final – Lead Men’s Combined Victory Ceremony

August 6th, 17:30 – 22:20 Women’s Combined Final – Speed Women’s Combined Final – Bouldering Women’s Combined Final – Lead Women’s Combined Victory Ceremony

Where can I watch the Olympics?

Where is rock climbing in the 2020 Olympics taking place?

Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo, Japan.

What is the format of rock climbing in the 2020 Olympics?

In an unprecedented format, all athletes will compete in all three disciplines of competitive rock climbing: lead, speed, and bouldering. Each athlete’s score is composed of their placement in each of the 3 disciplines multiplied by one another. For instance, if an athlete places 2nd in sport, 5th in speed, and 1st in bouldering, their score would be 10 (2x5x1). The lowest score will win!

How many athletes will compete in rock climbing in the 2020 Olympics?

20 men and 20 women (40 total athletes) will compete in rock climbing in the 2020 Olympics. There is a maximum of 2 men and 2 women from each country. So some countries have up to 4 athletes representing them while other countries are not represented at all. The list of athletes and their countries is below.

MEN 1. Tomoa NARASAKI [JPN] 2. Jakob SCHUBERT [AUT] 3. Rishat KHAIBULLIN [KAZ] 4. Kai HARADA [JPN] 5. Mickael MAWEM [FRA] 6. Alexander MEGOS [GER] 7. Ludovico FOSSALI [ITA] 8. Sean MCCOLL [CAN] 9. Michael PICCOLRUAZ [ITA] 10. Jongwon CHON [KOR] 11. Adam ONDRA [CZE] 12. Bassa MAWEM [FRA] 13. Jan HOJER [GER] 14. YuFei PAN [CHN] 15. Alberto GINÉS LÓPEZ [ESP] 16. Nathaniel COLEMAN [USA] 17. Aleksei RUBTSOV [RUS] 18. Colin DUFFY [USA] 19. Tom O’HALLORAN [AUS] 20. Christopher COSSER [RSA]

WOMEN 1 Janja GARNBRET [SLO] 2 Akiyo NOGUCHI [JPN] 3 Shauna COXSEY [GBR] 4 Aleksandra MIROSLAW [POL] 5 Miho NONAKA [JPN] 6 Petra KLINGLER [SUI] 7 Brooke RABOUTOU [USA] 8 Jessica PILZ [AUT] 9 Anouck JAUBERT [FRA] 10 Chaehyun SEO [KOR] 11 Julia CHANOURDIE [FRA] 12 Mia KRAMPL [SLO] 13 Iuliia KAPLINA [RUS] 14 Kyra CONDIE [USA] 15 Laura ROGORA [ITA] 16 YiLing SONG [CHN] 17 Alannah YIP [CAN] 18 Oceania MACKENZIE [AUS] 19 Viktoriia MESHKOVA [RUS] 20 Erin STERKENBURG [RSA]

How did athletes qualify to climb in the 2020 Olympics?

The host country (Japan) is guaranteed 1 athlete of each gender. Additionally, the remaining athletes qualified through various international competitions hosted by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) from 2019 to 2020. All qualifying athletes had to compete in all 3 disciplines.

Why the merged format?

There have been several rumored reasons why the IFSC organized the merged format for rock climbing in the 2020 Olympics. First, rock climbing was only given one set of medals for men and women, so perhaps the IFSC wanted to be fair to climbers of all disciplines. It looks as though this may change for the 2024 Paris Olympics, however, as climbers will compete in individual disciplines. Second, many viewers will be unfamiliar with rock climbing and the merged format not only introduces new viewers to all disciplines but provides exposure for speed climbing which is considered the most exciting and easy-to-understand discipline.

What is lead climbing?

In the lead climbing event, athletes will have 6 minutes to climb 1 single difficult climb on a 15-meter wall while clipping their rope into marked points as they go. Climbers will have never seen the route before so not only must they have the endurance to climb 15 meters of difficult climbing, but they have to decipher the climb as well! The lead climbs will be difficult, but because of the time limit, pressure from the crowd, and style of climbing, it will be nearly impossible to assign a grade to the routes. Put simply, the climber that reaches the highest point the fastest wins. So if only one athlete completes the climb, they win! If multiple athletes reach the top, they will be sorted by time.

What is speed climbing?

For Speed Climbing, two people will compete on the same standard route in a head-to-head, bracket format (much like March Madness). The route involves only 2 different types of holds (1 style of handhold, 1 style of foothold) always oriented in the same way. So athletes are incredibly familiar with the route. While it has no official grade, the speed route is considered to be around 5.10b, but the holds are very far away from one another, and climbing it quickly requires lots of power! The wall is 15 meters tall and sits almost vertical at 95 degrees.

What is bouldering?

Bouldering in the Olympics will require climbers to solve and complete difficult boulder problems on 4.5-meter walls with no safety gear except mats below them. Climbers will have never seen these boulder problems before and only have 4 minutes to solve and complete them. While the boulder problems are certainly difficult, the time limit, pressure from the crowd, and style of the climbs make it difficult to assess the exact grade of the climbs. There is usually a variety of climbing styles represented from delicate slab climbs to dynamic throws! Climbers receive full points for completing the climb by having control of the top hold with 2 hands. Climbers may receive partial points for gaining control of a “zone hold” marked in the middle of the problem. Most points acquired across all 4 boulders wins!

Did we miss something? Please let us know in the comments below so we can improve this FAQ!


The routes at the Olympics are far from easy, read about the incredible US Climbers that are crushing these events!

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