See also: Olympic sports
The official programme for the 2020 Summer Olympics was approved by the IOC executive board on 9 June 2017. The president of the IOC, Thomas Bach, stated that the goal for the Tokyo Games was to make them "more youthful, more urban" and to "include more women".
The games will feature 339 events in 33 different sports, encompassing 50 disciplines. Alongside the five new sports that will be introduced in Tokyo, there will be fifteen new events within existing sports, including 3-on-3 basketball, freestyle BMX and Madison cycling, and new mixed events in several sports.
In the list below, the number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses.
As part of a goal to control costs and ensure that the Olympics remain "relevant to sports fans of all generations", the IOC assessed the 26 sports contested at the 2012 Olympics, with the remit of dropping one sport and thus retaining 25 "core" sports to join new entrants golf and rugby sevens at the 2020 Games. This move would bring the total number of sports to 27, one less than the requirement of 28 for the 2020 Olympics programme, thus leaving a single vacancy which the IOC would seek to fill from a shortlist containing seven unrepresented sports as well as the sport that had been dropped from the 2012 Olympics programme.
On 12 February 2013, IOC leaders voted to drop wrestling from the "core" programme for the 2020 Games; this was a surprising decision considering that wrestling is one of the oldest Olympic sports, having been included since the ancient Olympic Games and included in the original programme for the modern Games. The New York Times felt that the decision was based on the shortage of well-known talent and the absence of women's events in the sport. Wrestling was duly added to the shortlist of applicants for inclusion in the 2020 Games, alongside the seven new sports that were put forward for consideration.
On 29 May 2013, it was announced that three sports had made the final shortlist: baseball/softball, squash and wrestling.The other five sports were excluded from consideration at this point: karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, and wushu. On 8 September 2013, at the 125th IOC Session, the IOC selected wrestling to be included in the Olympic programme for 2020 and 2024. Wrestling secured 49 votes, while baseball/softball and squash received 24 votes and 22 votes respectively.
Under new IOC policies that shift the Games to an "event-based" programme rather than sport-based, the host organizing committee can now also propose the addition of sports to the programme. This rule is designed so that sports popular in the host country can be added to the programme to improve local interest.As a result of these changes, a new shortlist of eight sports was unveiled on 22 June 2015, consisting of baseball/softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing, and wushu. On 28 September 2015, organisers submitted their shortlist of five proposed sports to the IOC: baseball/softball, karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding.The five proposed sports were approved on 3 August 2016 by the IOC during the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and will be included in the sports programme for 2020 only, bringing the total number of sports at the 2020 Olympics to 33.