News 2021

Title:  Tokyo Olympics - Climbing
Date:  23/07/2021

Climbing will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games

Since the International Olympic Committee’s announcement on the 3rd of August 2016, that Sport Climbing would feature in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the worldwide climbing community has been waiting with bated breath for competition climbing to takes its place on the greatest of sporting stages. On Tuesday 3rd of August – five years to the day - forty climbers, twenty male and twenty female – will give Sports Climbing its Olympic debut.

Climbers will compete in a combined format competition, with all athletes taking part in the three competition-climbing disciplines: Speed, Bouldering and Lead. The competition will comprise of two rounds, a qualification round for all athletes and a final round for the top eight male and female athletes, respectively.

Speed Climbing

In the Speed discipline athletes’ power and co-ordination is tested as they race each other on a 15m high wall following a standard pre-determined route. The Speed climbing race may be the fastest race of the Tokyo Game with the current World records standing at 6.96 seconds for women, and 5.20 seconds for men.


In the Bouldering discipline the athlete’s strength, flexibility and problem-solving ability is challenged as they try to reach the top of three very challenging boulder problems. Climbers have an unlimited number of attempts but only five minutes to find the solution to reach the top of each problem, which lends for intense viewing as all the boulders come with an extremely high risk of slips and spills. The style of the boulder problems varies massively, some requiring delicate balance, flexibility, and nerve, whilst other require maximum power and dynamic co-ordination. In Bouldering climbers are ranked according to the number of top holds they reach, the number of zone holds they secure and by the number of attempts required to do so.

Lead Climbing

The third discipline is Lead, in this climbers’ strength, endurance and problem solving is pushed to the limit as they try to climb as high as possible up a 15m high (and very overhanging) wall. Climbers use a rope, and clip into carabiners on the wall as they climb higher.


Competitors get an overall ranking by multiplying their rank position from each of the three disciplines to give an overall score. For example, if an athlete placed 4th in Speed, 1st in Bouldering and 2nd in Lead, they would get – 4 x 1 x 2 – 8 points, the athlete with the lowest overall score is the winner!

Who To Watch 

Japanese climbers like the much-loved Akiyo Noguchi and Tomoa Narasaki are hotly tipped to win medals at the Games, but not without a serious challenge from the likes of Team GBs Shauna Coxey who is considered a medal contender by many. Slovenian Janja Garnbret goes into the Games as the female favorite and is always a very exciting climber to watch. In the men’s field Czech climber Adam Ondra and Germany’s Alexander Megos are sure to be in the hunt for a medal.

Climbing Times

Date Start time (BST) Event
Tuesday 3 August 09:00 Men's Combined, Speed Qualification
Tuesday 3 August 10:00 Men's Combined, Bouldering Qualification
Tuesday 3 August 13:10 Men's Combined, Lead Qualification
Wednesday 4 August 09:00 Women's Combined, Speed Qualification
Wednesday 4 August 10:00 Women's Combined, Bouldering Qualification
Wednesday 4 August 13:10 Women's Combined, Lead Qualification
Thursday 5 August 09:30 Men's Combined, Speed Final
Thursday 5 August 10:30 Men's Combined, Bouldering Final
Thursday 5 August 13:10 Men's Combined, Lead Final
Friday 6 August 09:30 Women's Combined, Speed Final
Friday 6 August 10:30 Women's Combined, Bouldering Final
Friday 6 August 13:10 Women's Combined, Lead Final

Paris 2024 

Although there are no climbers competing for Team Ireland at the Tokyo Games there are several athletes who are working hard towards securing a place at the Paris 2024 Games in which climbing will also feature. 

Give It A Try! 

For information on how to start climbing please click on the following link: Start Climbing

For information on climbing competitions organised by Mountaineering Ireland please click on the following link: Competition Climbing


Important information regarding cookies

This site requires cookies, which are small text files that the site puts on your computer, to operate. These cookies help us provide a better service to you. We use these cookies to track general user traffic information and to help the site function properly. Cookies are used by approximately 92% of all sites on the internet.