Rock climbing is on its way to becoming a part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Despite a bid failing in 2013, the sport secured a second chance after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced reforms in 2014 that allow the host city to add sports that are popular in its country.

Japan has about 500,000 climbers and is a word leader in the sport. Japanese competitors dominated the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Cup in India last month, with Kokoro Fujii winning the men’s title, and Miho Nonaka the women’s gold.

Japan also boasts the world’s top-ranked female boulderer, Aiko Noguchi, who, along with Nonaka, sparked the global female rock climbing movement after placing first and second respectively at 2014 IFSC World Cup when they were only 17-years-old.

Akiyo Noguchi (Japan) wins the 2014 World Cup in bouldering

Sydney Climb Fit rock climbing gym founder Carissa Dewitt has climbed for over 30 years and has witnessed the large shift from a majority of male climbers to female climbers.

“The rock climbing community was tiny when I started out. There was about 250 climbers nationally…with only a handful of female climbers. We now have tens of thousands of climbers across Australia,” Dewitt said.

“The sport has exploded over the last few years, [and] now it seems the number of female climbers in Australia are set to surpass the number of males.”

Illawarra rock climber Cale Stephens has also noticed this shift.

“Majority of the people I climb with are women. As the men move or travel overseas to climb, it leaves more room in the Australian climbing community for women to gain prominence…especially in the competitions,” Stephens said.

Climbing has become attractive to women on the competition circuit because it is among the handful of sports that offer equal pay and award money for men and women.

Danyl Boldyrev (Ukraine) breaks the World Record for speed climbing

The IOC will decide if rock climbing will be an event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in August.