Karate at the Summer Olympics

Karate at the Summer Olympics
Events 12 (men: 6; women: 6)
  • 1896
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  • Medalists

Karate will make its first appearance as an Olympic sport at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. It will feature two events, Kumite and Kata. 60 Competitors from around the world will compete in the Kumite competition and 20 will compete in the Kata competition.Both divisions of competition will be split 50/50 between men and women.[1][2]


The quest to bring karate to the Olympics began in 1970's by Jacques Delcourt.[3][4][5][6]

In 2009, in the 121st International Olympic Committee voting, karate did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority vote to become an Olympic sport.[7] Karate was being considered for the 2020 Olympics,[8]—however at a meeting of the IOC's executive board, held in Russia on May 29, 2013, it was decided that karate (along with wushu and several non-martial arts) would not be considered for inclusion in 2020 at the IOC's 125th session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in September 2013.[9]

Bid for inclusion

On September 28, 2015, karate was featured on a shortlist along with baseball, softball, skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing to be considered for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympics.[10] On June 1, 2016, the International Olympic Committee's executive board announced they were supporting the inclusion of all five sports (counting baseball and softball as only one sport) for inclusion in the 2020 Games.[11]



The individual tournament for the Kumite competition at the World Karate Federation (WKF) Karate World Championships is held under a weight class system comprising five divisions for both men and women.[12]


Competitors are judged on the speed and power of their techniques. Under conventional competition rules, one competitor is assigned a blue belt and the other a red belt, and each take turns demonstrating his or her kata. The outcome of the competition is determined under a flag system, where five judges who each have a blue flag and a red flag raise either to signal which competitor, they believe, won: the one with more flags raised in his or her favour is declared the winner.[14]


  1. "IOC approves five new sports for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020". IOC. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  2. "Olympics: Baseball/softball, sport climbing, surfing, karate, skateboarding at Tokyo 2020". BBC. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  3. "Karate in the Olympics? More than a pipe dream". Active Interest Media, Inc. (February 1985). Black Belt. Active Interest Media, Inc. pp. 40–44. ISSN 0277-3066.
  4. Coleman, J. (1993): "Watch out, WUKO—Here comes Shotokan Karate's Nishiyama! Noted Instructor claims he is ready to lead Olympic Karate movement if IOC ousts WUKO." Black Belt, 31(4):18–22.
  5. Warnock, Eleanor (2015-09-25). "Which Kind of Karate Has Olympic Chops?". WSJ. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  6. Coleman, Jim (September 1992). "Questions and Answers with Wuko's Head Man". Black Belt. 30 (9): 30–33. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  7. "IOC Fact Sheet 2012" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-09.
  8. "Eight sports compete for inclusion in 2020 Olympics". Retrieved 2016-08-09.
  9. Rogge, Jacques; Riach, James (2013-05-29). "2020 Olympics: wrestling, squash and baseball/softball make shortlist". The Guardian. London.
  10. "Surfing and skateboarding make shortlist for 2020 Olympics". GrindTV.com. 2015-09-28. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  11. "IOC Executive Board supports Tokyo 2020 package of new sports for IOC Session - Olympic News". Olympic.org. 2016-06-01. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  12. Sports, Fox. "Hopes high for karate's inclusion for 2020 Tokyo Olympics".
  13. "Olympic Sports : Karate|The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games".
  14. "Olympic Sports : Karate|The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games".
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