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Climbing at the Olympic Games: Paris 2024

From its beginnings as the passion of an intrepid few to its triumphant rise as a recognized Olympic sport, climbing has captured the hearts and minds of adventurers and athletes alike. At the 2024 Olympic Games, this challenging and exciting sport will take the world stage, marking a historic milestone for the climbing community worldwide.

The inclusion of climbing in the Olympic Games is not only a significant event in itself, but also a testament to the hard work and dedication of those who have elevated the sport to new heights. Thanks to the perseverance of climbers, sports federations and enthusiasts, climbing has been recognized as an Olympic discipline, opening the doors for the world’s best athletes to demonstrate their skill and ability on the sport’s biggest stage.

It’s important to note that while climbing at the Olympics will take place in an indoor environment, in the setting of a climbing wall, the sport also has deep roots in nature itself. From majestic granite walls to rocky peaks soaring skyward, outdoor climbing offers a unique connection to the natural environment and challenges that test both the physical and mental strength of climbers.

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Sport climbing is a modern sport that has become immensely popular in the last 20 years. It is a young, co-ed sport, where 39 percent of climbers are under the age of 18, that is practiced both outdoors and in a more urban, indoor format. There are more than 25 million climbers in 150 countries around the world.

In 1985, a group of climbers gathered in Bardonecchia, near Turin (Italy), to hold an event called ‘SportRoccia‘, which became the first organized competition in which participants had to climb in a set time. A year later, the first competition was organized in an artificial climbing wall, in Vaulx-en-Velin, near Lyon (France).

In the Olympic Games, sport climbing consists of three disciplines: bouldering, speed and difficulty.

In bouldering, athletes climb 4.5m-high walls without ropes in a limited time and in as few attempts as possible.

Speed is a spectacular race against the clock in one-on-one elimination rounds that combine precision and explosiveness.

In the difficulty discipline, athletes climb as high as they can a wall over 15m high in six minutes without having seen the route in advance.

The routes for this event become increasingly complex and challenging throughout the event, requiring all the physical and mental abilities of the athletes.

At Tokyo 2020, each athlete competed in all three disciplines and the final scores reflected the combined results of the three competitions. The climber with the lowest score took home the first Olympic gold medal in sport climbing history.

In Paris 2024, two competitions will crown their own Olympic champion in sport climbing. One will be crowned in the combined bouldering/difficulty climbing event and the other exclusively in the speed event.

Sport climbing took its first steps on the Olympic stage at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires and proved to be a big hit with the public in Argentina. The discipline then made its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games, joining the Olympic program as a new sport.

The originality of sport climbing events, as well as the visual, aesthetic and exciting character make it a popular sport and widely practiced by young people. Moreover, it can take place in a variety of environments, both urban and natural. Sport climbing will be just one of the four new sports at Paris 2024, along with breaking, surfing and skateboarding.