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How the Olympics expanded in the 2010s

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The Summer and Winter Olympics each continued to grow through the decade, with a host of new events and sports added to the programs.

In 2018, PyeongChang had 102 events, up from 86 eight years earlier in Vancouver.

The IOC had put the brakes on growth of the Summer Games, dropping sports from the program as new ones came in. The 2012 Olympics in London had 302 events, the same as the 2008 Games. In Rio, the program grew only slightly to 306. Next year in Tokyo, though, the Games will expand to 339 events.

READ: All the new sports and events in 2020

Most of the new events fall into a few categories.

MIXED TEAMS 

Figure skating’s team event and mixed relays in both biathlon and luge joined the Olympics in Sochi.

Four years later, Alpine skiing also got a mixed team event, and curling added a mixed doubles competition.

The Summer Games have added mixed swimming relays.

WOMEN’S EVENTS

Women’s boxing joined the Olympics in 2012. After years of wrangling with the IOC, women’s ski jumping made its Olympic debut in 2014.

MODERN SPORTS

The snowboarding revolution that started in 1998 continued with slopestyle making its debut in 2014. The same year, freestyle skiing rapidly expanded, adding its own slopestyle events while finally getting into the Olympic halfpipe. Add parallel slaloms in snowboarding, and the splashy snow sports accounted for all of the new 2014 events except for women’s ski jumping and the new mixed events.

Snowboarding expanded yet again in 2018 with big air, though the parallel slaloms were dropped. Another modern event of sorts was added to the program that year with the long-track speedskating mass start, resembling the chaos of short-track races.

The Summer Olympics will finally catch the modern wave with surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing making their debuts in 2020. BMX will also add a freestyle event.

Another sport bidding for the 2024 Games is breakdancing, which peaked as a U.S. craze a few decades ago but has seen a rise in global competition, including the 2018 Youth Olympics.

TEAM SPORTS 

Rugby sevens debuted in 2016. Baseball and softball will return from Olympic exile in 2020, when 3×3 basketball will be played for the first time.

The other sports added to the Olympics since 2008 are golf (2016) and karate (2020).

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Eddy Alvarez, Olympic short track medalist, to play for Miami Marlins

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Eddy Alvarez realized his MLB dream, six years after earning a Winter Olympic medal, and during a global pandemic that affected his club more than any other U.S. professional sports franchise.

Alvarez, a 2014 U.S. Olympic short track speed skating medalist, is being added to the Miami Marlins roster for Tuesday’s restart of their abbreviated season, president of baseball operations Mike Hill said Monday, according to Marlins beat reporters.

The 30-year-old was among a group added after as many as 18 Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus last week, forcing the club to cancel seven games.

Alvarez is believed to be the first U.S. Winter Olympian to become a Major League Baseball player.

He may be the second Olympic medalist in a sport other than baseball to make it to the majors, joining Jim Thorpe. (Michael Jordan tried to do so with the Chicago White Sox, playing Double-A in 1994, but returned to the Chicago Bulls in 1995.)

Alvarez, a Miami native, played baseball in high school and at Salt Lake Community College before focusing on short track in 2012 for a 2014 Olympic run.

He came back from missing the 2010 Olympic team and surgeries on both knees, reportedly leaving him immobile and bedpan dependent for four to six weeks, to make the Sochi Winter Games. Eddy the Jet earned a silver medal in the 5000m relay.

Then Alvarez returned to baseball after three years away. He signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago White Sox in June 2014. He worked his way through the minors between that franchise and the Marlins system.

Alvarez was a Kannapolis Intimidator, a New Orleans Baby Cake and a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Now, he’s a big leaguer.

“It definitely was a chance, picking up a kid who hasn’t played in three years who is starting at the age of 24,” Alvarez said in 2014. “It’s not your typical story, but I play like a 17-year-old kid. I’m running around everywhere. I’m diving around everywhere. I’m full of life. I definitely see my progression moving at a rapid pace.”

MORE: What Olympic baseball, softball return looks like in 2021

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Katie Ledecky balances glass of chocolate milk on her head while swimming

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Katie Ledecky will always remember Aug. 3 as the date she won her first Olympic gold medal, at age 15 in 2012.

Now, she can also associate it with the time she created another kind of buzz on social media.

The five-time Olympic champion posted video of her swimming the length of a pool while balancing a glass of chocolate milk on her head. Barely any, if any, milk spilled into the pool.

Ledecky swam as part of a new got milk? ad campaign.

“Hoooowww nervous were you when you did this?!” fellow Olympic champion and training partner Simone Manuel asked Ledecky on Instagram.

“I have never braced my core so hard,” Ledecky wrote. “It’s a great drill!”

“Try doing it breaststroke,” British Olympic 100m breaststroke champion and world-record holder Adam Peaty wrote.

“Is it wrong of me to think this is even more impressive than a few of your WR’s?!!!” wrote 1992 Olympic champion Summer Sanders.

MORE: The meet where Kathleen Ledecky became Katie Ledecky

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