The International Olympic Committee has dropped three men’s shooting events from the Tokyo 2020 lineup in an effort to make the games “more youthful, more urban” and more inclusive of women.
The Committee announced last Friday that men’s double trap, 50m rifle prone, and 50m pistol will be replaced by events in air rifle, trap, and air shooting, which will be open to competitors of any gender.
IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement, “I am delighted that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be more youthful, more urban and will include more women.”
The announcement answered an enduring question as to how Olympic shooting events would contribute to gender equality and introduce a more urban focus. Last year, USA Shooting recommended changes that would have supported a Mixed Sport Pistol event, a Mixed Prone Team event, and changes in Double Trap, but not the cancellation of any events.
David Johnson, Interim CEO of USA Shooting, added that “all Olympic sports need to review, change and adapt their event program to fulfill the changing needs of sport participation, television viewership and spectator influence.”
The subsequent decision to nix the three men’s events has angered former Olympians. Slovenian Olympic medalist Rajmond Debevec who told ESPN that he would have accepted the changes more readily had the IOC approved them democratically.
“It should be voted and adopted in the general assembly, but this decision was kept secret,” Debevec said.
Marco Innocenti, a silver medalist in Double Trap at the 2016 Olympics, also opposed the move. “In Italy we have been protesting this decision ever since we heard last year that double trap was likely to be removed from the Olympics,” Innocenti told ESPN.
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“Unlike in pistol or rifle you can’t change between shotgun events. It takes many years to develop an expertise in shotgun shooting. Perhaps the younger players could adapt to the change because they are still young. But I have been shooting double trap for more than twenty years. It’s not something I can do.”
These may not be the only changes for competitive shooters in years to come. In February, 2016, the IOC proposed scrapping bullets, and replacing them with lasers. The reasoning was credited to the fact that lasers are more easily visible and television-friendly.
The axing of the three men’s events is part of an effort that will double the number of mixed gender competitions. Of the participants in the Tokyo 2020 games, 48.8% are set to be women. Canoe, rowing, and weightlifting events are also being altered to facilitate gender balance.
Efforts to update the Olympics have also included more urban events, adding 3×3 Basketball to Tokyo 2020, and Breakdance and Roller Sports to the Summer Youth Olympics in 2018.