Campusing announced as 2024 Olympic climbing category

This article originally appeared on Climbing

Everyone got up when the speed was announced as part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games combined climbing format. Lynn Hill likened the decision to “asking a middle-distance runner to compete in the sprint”.

However, as the athletes prepared for the Combined Olympics, many tempered their disdain. Australian Olympian Tom O’Halloran, who originally opposed the decision, called it a “stroke of genius” that could “level the playing field” when I spoke to him in early 2021.

When I interviewed Adam Ondra during quarantine in early 2020, he told me he had accepted speed as an unfortunate but worthy obstacle that stood in the way of his Olympic aspirations. (Ondra set a personal best on the speed wall in the final, but failed on the rocks, costing her the podium.)

Now, speed climbing will have to play second fiddle to what is likely to be one of the most controversial decisions in Olympic history…

The inclusion of a “Campus” category at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

While the campus was only announced as an Olympic sport climbing event this week, and specific guidelines have yet to be set, International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials said. Escalation that competitors will be required to complete a variety of campus routes in the V0 to V2 range. The routes will be no more than three meters (10 feet) from the bridge and their length will vary from 10 to 15 meters (33 to 50 feet). Vertical and overhanging rails, as well as full roof lines, will be included.

“Climbers in gyms around the world have developed a vibrant and unique ‘campus’ culture,” an IOC spokesperson said, “and by including a ‘campus’ event in Olympic sport climbing, we hope to put this culture in the spotlight.”

“Campus is a practice that brings climbers together and demonstrates muscular prowess,” she said. “Whether you’re groaning loudly while performing bicep curls in front of the mirror in the gym, climbing while wearing a knit cap with no shirt on, or splattering loose chalk on the gym mats every time than you reach into your bag to chalk, there are many ways to show you’re a campus climber beyond climbing easy routes using only your hands.”

The IOC spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, noted that “in keeping with the classic style of campus culture, all competitors must be either shirtless or wear a tank top. In addition, climbing shoes and a harness must be worn at all times during the comp, the first preferably with socks”, although the climber has no use for them.

“Climbers will not only be graded on how quickly they manage to complete a campus route and how many on-campus routes they manage to complete,” she added, “but on the attention they draw to themselves during campus.”

Competitors will be encouraged to make obnoxious grunts of effort while climbing, to ensure passers-by look up to them, just like in traditional campus culture in the modern climbing gym. These growls will result in bonus points based on pitch, volume and frequency, according to the IOC.

“The IOC recognizes that, like Speed, most climbers will not be happy with the new Campus category at first,” the spokesperson said. “I just hope they realize soon that the campus community, like any other subset of climbing, is a unique contributor to the sport, and deserves to be represented on the Olympic stage. We are delighted to make this happen at Paris 2024.”

Happy April 1st! — Ed.

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