Karate at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

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Karate at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

This page focuses on Karate at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It examines the kumite and kata events at the Tokyo Olympics. As we get closer to 2020 Olympics, we will add more details (i.e. match dates, match winners, etc.) to this page.

Karate has been newly added to the Olympics because the Olympic games in 2020 will take place in Japan. Karate joins Taekwondo, Judo, Boxing, Wrestling and Fencing as one of the martial arts "sports" at the 2020 Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics will will run from July 24 to August 09, 2020.

Kumite (Sparring)

Kumite at the 2020 Olympics will consist of male and female divisions. Each division will have 5 weight classes. According to the Tokyo Olympic website, kumite at the 2020 Olympics will consist of non-contact sparring matches (unlike Kyokushin sparring matches which are full contact). "Competitors send tsuki, or punches, and keri, or kicks, with explosive force at the prescribed regions of their opponent's body. However, a tsuki or keri never actually hits the opponent because competitors perform every tsuki and keri with absolute control, enabling them to stop the motion suddenly only millimetres before coming into contact with their opponent".

"There are four ways of determining victory or defeat: (1) a lead of eight points scored within the prescribed duration of the match determines the scorer as the winner; (2) withdrawal from the match, rule violation, or disqualification by one competitor determines the other as the winner; (3) an advantage in points scored by the end of the prescribed duration of the match determines the scorer as the winner; or (4) in the case of a tied score at the end of the prescribed duration of the match, a decision by the judges determines the winner".


Kata at the 2020 Olympics will consist of male and female divisions. According to the Tokyo Olympic website, Karate participants can choose kata from "75 types designated by the WKF. At the tournament, competitors are required to demonstrate a different kata for each match, including the final".

"Competitors are judged on the speed and power of their tsuki and keri, and are also required to show their understanding of the meaning, or principle, carried by the kata they demonstrate… 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."

Reference Sources

  1. Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, https://tokyo2020.jp/en/games/sport/olympic/karate/

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