Rock Climbing Inches Closer To Olympic Status

Competitive rock climbing is one of five sports headed to the International Olympic Committee for official consideration.

<p>Robert Scoverski and Truc Allen, Vertical World<span></span></p>

Competitive rock climbing just overcame a major crux en route to becoming an official Olympic sport.

The International Olympic Committee announced this week that climbing is one of four new sports under consideration for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The committee meets this August in Rio to decide, according to Climbing Magazine.

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Climbing, along with karate, skateboarding, surfing, and baseball/softball, is in the new sports package up for possible approval later this summer. Basically the IOC's executive committee agreed to consider it, but the announcement language is reason for optimism among supporters.

"If approved at the 129th IOC session in Rio de Janeiro in August, the change would be the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history," it reads.

Should climbing actually become an official Olympic sport, it will be a far cry from outdoor cliff-scaling adventures. Last fall pro climber Alex Honnold told Reuters that he wouldn't compete in the Olympics even if he did manage to qualify. He wasn't disparaging the activity. It's just too different from what he does.

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"Competitive climbing is basically a whole different sub-sport," he said at the time.

If climbing and Olympics sounds familiar, that's because in 2013 the sport was rejected from the 2020 Olympics. The shortlist ended up being baseball/softball, squash, and wrestling, Climbing Magazine reported.

But it ain't over 'til it's over. Since then, the IOC introduced a strategic roadmap to encourage innovation that lets host cities suggest new sports and events. Given that flexibility, rock climbing has a good shot.

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According to Climbing Magazine, the International Federation of Sport Climbing has specified that 20 men and 20 women would compete in sport, bouldering, and speed climbing for the Olympics. Events would take place over four days with medalists chosen from combined results.

Keep chalking up at the gym, kids. You could end up on the podium.

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