Everything you need to know about Sport Climbing’s debut at the Tokyo Olympics

In just a few hours, Sport Climbing will make its historic Olympic debut. But for those new to the sport at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, what exactly is Sport Climbing and the combined format?

Sport Climbing is comprised of three different disciplines: speed, bouldering, and lead. Each discipline has its own set of rules and requires different sets of skills to excel and ultimately reach the top of the walls.

  • Speed Climbing: Climbers race up parallel standardized walls in a series of one-on-one heats. The fastest climber in each race advances to the next round until the winner is determined.
  • Bouldering: Using their power and agility, climbers have four minutes to try to reach the top of each four-meter wall in the lowest number of attempts.
  • Lead Climbing: Climbers have one six-minute attempt to reach the top of the 15-meter wall. The highest climber wins. If two or more climbers reach the top, time determines the winner.


For the Olympic Games, Sport Climbing is stepping away from the usual individual competitions for each discipline to the new Olympic combined format. This format does exactly as the name suggests and combines speed, bouldering, and lead.

The competition will begin with speed climbing before advancing to bouldering and ending with lead climbing. To determine each athletes’ final score, their placements from each event will be multiplied together. For example, if an athlete places 5th in speed climbing, 3rd in bouldering, and 1st in lead climbing, their score would be 15 (5x3x1). The athlete with the lowest score at the end of the competition will be crowned the winner.

More information about the combined format can be found here, presented by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC), the international governing body of sport climbing.  


For newcomers to the sport who want to try to follow along with the commentators at home, here are a few key terms to know:  

  • Route and/or Problem: The sequence of climbing holds on a wall that climbers use to reach the top. No route/problem is repeated in any competition.
  • Routesetter: Someone who designs, tests, and places holds on a climbing wall.
  • Pad: Used only in speed climbing at the start and the finish. At the start, climbers put their feet on it before the race to avoid false starts. At the end, climbers slap the pad at the top of the wall to record their time. 
  • False Start: Used exclusively in speed climbing when a climber’s foot leaves the starting pad within 0.1 seconds of the starting beep.
  • Top: Not just used to refer to the end of a climbing route, it is also the term used to signify a successful attempt in bouldering or lead.
  • Zone: The middle point on a bouldering route that can be used to distinguish the final ranking of the athletes.
  • Attempt: The official word used to announce the number of ‘tries’ a climber has made on a boulder wall.
  • Flash: When a climber successfully completes the route or problem on their first attempt.
  • Crux: The most difficult section of a climbing route. The section can be considered a crux if it is very steep or the movements are hard to complete.
  • Match or Matching: When a climber puts both their hands or feet on the same hold at the same time.
  • Dyno: A powerful climbing move when the climber jumps or moves ‘dynamically’ from one hold to the next.
  • Quickdraw: A piece of climbing equipment that freely connects the climbing rope to the anchor bolts on the wall in lead climbing to prevent the climber from falling.
  • Volume: Large structures attached to the climbing wall that can be used by routesetters to change the shape of the wall or as holds.


To further make the Olympic games as accessible as possible to new audiences, our team at LUXOV® has worked tirelessly to develop innovative products to display the routes and track the climbers on the walls. We proudly introduce the LUXOV® Touch Speed holds, Speed Tracking software, and 3D Climbing Event Manager:

  • The LUXOV® Touch Speed holds are touch-sensitive and compliant with the IFSC’s speed climbing hold standards. The addition of these innovative black holds to each speed wall makes it possible to measure how fast climbers move up the wall to easily follow their progress by detecting their touch and collecting grip data.
  • The LUXOV® Speed Tracking software uses a simple camera and computer to focuses on each climber’s center of gravity and follows them up the route. Then, the ultra-fast video capture technology produces visually understandable graphics and results almost instantaneously to provide in-depth and comprehensive explanations of speed climbing to the audience.
  • The 3D Climbing Event Manager software: This virtual reality software enables the creation of virtual competition environments with access to an integrated library of more than 1,500 holds and volumes approved by the IFSC. Within the 3D Climbing Event Manager, users can also position up to 10 cameras and record video sequences to share with audiences before, during, and after the event. 

The LUXOV® team is looking forward to the start of Sport Climbing’s first Olympic competition and can’t wait to share it with you! See you in Tokyo to enjoy the most unique visualization ever used in a Sport Climbing competition!

Check out our video featuring French speed climber Guillaume Moro explaining how the Olympic competition will play out:

Check out the complete schedule of events so you don’t miss a second of this historic moment: 

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