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The rapid rise of rock climbing

Akiyo Noguchi of Japan competes during a climbing competition in Wroclaw, Poland in 2017. Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images

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Rock climbing, popularized on social media and the subject of many documentaries, is set to debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games — a sign that the sport has arrived, athletically and economically.

Andrew Bisharat, who’s covered climbing for National Geographic, told Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal that it’s come a long way in a short time.

“Competing on plastic holds, in an Olympic setting, has been quite a transition that’s really rapidly taken place in the last few years,” he said.

The sport can now be streamed on ESPN. Bisharat said companies “will be jockeying for that spot on the climber’s chalk bag in the Olympics, I’m sure.”

Click the audio player above to hear the conversation.

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