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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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Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

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Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

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FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

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For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

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