New sports boost Aussie Olympic numbers

Adrian Warren
Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons could benefit from the introduction of new Olympic sports

The introduction of sports Australia is traditionally strong in will ensure the country will once again punch above its weight at next year's rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games.

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) officials are predicting the nation could have one of the biggest teams at the Games, despite being way down the population rankings compared with other countries.

Australia has already qualified teams for 13 sports and plenty of individuals still have the chance to book a berth for Tokyo.

Karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding will each make their Olympic debut next year.

Baseball and softball are back on the roster for the first time since Beijing 2008 and there are new events in established sports, including 3x3 basketball and freestyle BMX.

Madison cycling, formerly just an event for men at Olympic level, will return after missing the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games. In Tokyo there will be madison events for men and for women.

Having been represented at every modern summer Olympics, Australia has had one of the five largest teams at every Games since hosting the event in 2000.

The country has finished in the top 10 of the medal count for the last seven Olympics, starting from 1992 in Barcelona.

But AOC chief executive officer Matt Carroll stressed it is not all about chasing podium placings when it comes to the size of the team.

He nominated two reasons Australia consistently sends bigger teams than many more heavily populated nations.

"One, Australians love their sport and we are a very multicultural nation and the diversity of sport in the Olympics is huge," Carroll told AAP.

"So we are starting to excel in not just our traditional strengths - swimming and things of that nature. We are starting to excel in other sports.

"They brought in skateboarding, surfing, added two sports which Australians are quite good at as well. Rugby sevens which came in before (in 2016), golf.

"They are the sort of sports we qualify for.

"The other thing, (with) the AOC, our policy is if athletes qualify for the Games and they are nominated by sports, they go.

"It's not just about medals, (although) of course we want to celebrate gold silver and bronze.

"But if an Australian made the final of the men's or women's 100 metres (track athletics) that in itself is (like winning) gold in other sports, so that in itself is an achievement."