Mixed shooting and archery events make their debut in 2021

This summer’s Olympics in Tokyo will turn the clocks forward in two distinct ways. One forward jump was due to the pandemic pushing the 2020 Olympics one calendar year later to 2021. The other was a cultural step forward in the evolution of Olympic gender parity. This year marks the debut of three mixed-gender Olympic shooting events among a total of 15. 10m Air Rifle mixed team, 10m Air Pistol mixed team, and Shotgun Trap mixed team have been added to the schedule for the first time in Tokyo. These gender-neutral shooting competitions will be added to the six events for women and six for men. 

Women shooters facing off against men is nothing new in international competitions, where women have won regularly. However, the Olympics have lagged stubbornly behind in the acceptance of mixed competition. The IOC’s recent shift towards more balanced representation reflects cultural progress as a whole, plus a realization it needs to attract more female athletes and generate more interest among a younger viewer demographic. 

This summer’s games also introduce nine new competitions featuring mixed male and female teams, doubling the number of mixed events to 18, compared with nine in the 2016 games in Rio. This summer debuts the first-ever archery mixed-team competition, as well as introducing new mixed events in track, table tennis, judo and swimming.

Mixed-gender events have come a long way in the Olympics since being introduced in the summer games of 1900. Back then, men and women teams were reserved for gentler sports like equestrian events and croquet. A single woman participated in Olympic sailing as part of the Swiss team. It took a century for gender parity to gain momentum and be welcomed into a wider range of sports, with the additions of mixed biathlon relay, team figure skating, and luge mixed team relay in 2014, followed by mixed doubles curling and mixed team alpine skiing in 2018.

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