How does sport climbing work at the Olympics? Rules, format and score system

Discover the Olympic climbing at Tokyo 2020. How to score, what modalities are there and everything you need to know this new olympic discipline.

How does sport climbing work at the Olympics? Rules, format and score system
Dimitris Tosidis EFE

Tokyo 2020 will be the first Olympics where climbing is an official sport. At this year's Olympics, the new Olympic sports are: surfing, skateboarding, karate, baseball and climbing. Olympic climbing is a sport that consists of climbing a wall with the help of guides and ropes. It is an individual sport where climbers compete for medals along three different disciplines: speed climbing, bouldering, and lead climbing.

What are the differences between the Olympic climbing disciplines?

Although the three disciplines belong to the same sport, there are many differences between the three styles:

Speed climbing: Climbers have to climb a 15-meter wall in the shortest time possible. This discipline is the most dynamic since climbers can climb this wall in 6 seconds for the male category and 7-8 seconds for the female category. The fastest climbers will be those who get the first positions in this category.

Bouldering: In this style, climbers must scale 5-6 meter rocks without any support from a rope. They must climb the greatest number of obstacles in 4 minutes. When the climber touches the last hold, the judges consider the obstacle valid and the next one begins with as many routes as possible.

Lead climbing: In this discipline climbers have 6 minutes to climb a 15 meter wall with the help of ropes. In this modality, the rocks are very small, and sometimes they can only use their fingertips to support themselves. This is the hardest modality because if the climber falls he does not have another attempt. Wherever the climber falls is his personal mark. In this category the opponents cannot see the climb of other athletes so as not to have a benefit on their turn.

How is sport climbing scored?

The climbing score in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics depends on the position in which each athlete finishes in each discipline. The place of each climber is multiplied among themselves and the climber with the lowest score is the winner.

For example, if a climber has these marks: 2nd in speed climbing, 1st in bouldering and 6th in lead climbing, his score will be 1x2x6 = 12.

To get the best final score, the climber must have a last "controlled" grip. If the last grip is not complete, the score will be worse.If the last grip is good, the "+" symbol will be added to the final score.