The International Olympic Committee has announced the program for the 2022 Youth Olympic Games that includes a pair of aquatic disciplines: swimming and diving. The 2022 Youth Olympics will be hosted by Dakar, Senegal, which will make them the first-ever Olympic event on the continent of Africa. Dates of the event have not yet been confirmed.
The most significant change for swimming in 2022 is the elimination of the mixed 400 free and 400 medley relays in favor of a boys-only and girls-only set of 400 free and 400 medley relays.
The Youth Olympic Games have been treated by the IOC as a breeding-ground for new ideas being tested for eventual Olympic inclusion, and among those ideas historically has been the inclusion of mixed-gender sporting events. Specifically, the 400 medley relay from the Youth Olympics has made its way into the full Olympic program for the first time in Tokyo in 2020.
The mixed relays have also contributed to the overall theme of keeping national rosters small. Other examples of this are 3-vs-3 basketball instead of the full 5 team version, and 5-a-side futsal versus the traditional 11-a-side football (soccer).
Now, with boys-only and girls-only relays, countries will have to send 4 athletes from each gender to participate in relays at all.
While full qualification procedures have not yet been announced for the swimming portion of the Youth Olympics, historically, the top 16 nations (plus the hosts) from the prior year’s FINA World Aquatics Championships, based on FINA Trophy (points) standings and not medal standings, were eligible to send 4 male and 4 female swimmers to the Youth Olympics. All other nations were eligible to send 2 of each gender. Only 14 of the 17 eligible countries sent full 8-swimmer rosters to the 2018 Youth Olympics, with the exceptions being Sweden, the Netherlands, and Great Britain.
Diving has also eliminated the mixed team event, which previously included pairings that crossed national boundaries. The 2022 diving program will include individual boys-only and girls-only versions of the 3 meter and 10 meter diving events.
Other Big Changes to Sport Offerings in 2022:
- Roller Speedskating has been dropped from 2022 after 28 participated in the 2018 Youth Olympics.
- Skateboarding, and specifically a park event, have been added to the 2022 Youth Olympics. This is an event that has been proposed for new inclusion in the 2024 Olympic Games.
- Beach wrestling has been added to the 2022 Youth Olympics schedule, with 4 weight categories each for boys and girls. This correlated with a reduction from 15 to 10 weight categories in indoor wrestling.
- The schedule will also include the youth-focused sports that have been proposed by organizers of the 2024 Olympic Games: breakdancing, surfing, sport climbing, and skateboarding. Surfing, sport climbing, and skateboarding will all be included in the 2020 Olympic program, and all 4 of those sports have been approved by IOC membership for inclusion in 2024 as well, with the final approval vote by the IOC executive set for December 2020.