Baseball, Bowling and Surfing Among 8 Tokyo 2020 Shortlisted Sports

Eight International Sport Federations (IF) have been shortlisted to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the organizing committee announced Monday.  Baseball and softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, climbing, squash, surfing and wushu will now vie for one or more possible spots on the Olympic program in 2020.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation is bidding for a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (WBSC Photo)
The World Baseball Softball Confederation is bidding for a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (WBSC Photo)

Baseball first became an official Olympic sport in 1992 and softball in 1996, but both sports were voted off the program after the Beijing 2008 Games and were subsequently replaced with rugby sevens and golf to begin at the Rio 2016 Games.

Both sports continued to campaign for re-inclusion, starting first with failed bids for the 2016 Games and then as a combined bid as the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) for the 2020 Games, that also failed.

But with the passing of Agenda 2020 reforms by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) late last year, Tokyo and other future host cities will have the opportunity to add sports to their individual programs that adhere to Olympic principals and may have a special regional appeal.  For that reason, baseball and softball – both very popular across Japan – have been considered the most likely contenders to be added to the Tokyo Games program.

Squash has also been actively, but unsuccessfully pursuing a spot on the Olympic program – missing chances for the 2016 and 2020 Games.  With its small and inexpensive venue footprint, it is considered a simple and sustainable addition to the program.

Surfing and roller sports, if the latter includes the skateboarding discipline as expected, are sports that will have wide appeal to youth.  IOC leadership have been aiming to increase the interest and involvement of young people in Olympism and the Olympic Games making these sports strong contenders in the race.

What sports do you want to see added to Tokyo 2020 program (pick 2)?

  • Squash (29%)
  • Baseball / Softball (24%)
  • Karate (13%)
  • Roller Sports (9%)
  • Surfing (9%)
  • Bowling (7%)
  • Climbing (6%)
  • Wushu (4%)

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Karate, climbing and wushu have also recently bid for spots on the program; bowling is in the race for the first time.

Earlier this month 26 of the 35 recognized Olympic sport federations that are not currently on the program submitted applications to be included in the 2020 Games after receiving invitations from the Tokyo organizing committee.

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Eight shortlisted International Federations

1. World Baseball Softball Confederation – WBSC
2. World Bowling – WB
3. World Karate Federation – WKF
4. International Roller Sports Federation – FIRS
5. International Federation of Sport Climbing – IFSC
6. World Squash Federation – WSF
7. International Surfing Association – ISA
8. International Wushu Federation – IWUF


Shortlisted candidates were selected after being evaluated for the following key principles:  1) The additional event(s) will serve as a driving force to promote the Olympic Movement and its values, with a focus on youth appeal; 2) The additional event(s) will add value to the Games by engaging the Japanese population and new audiences worldwide, reflecting the Tokyo 2020 Games vision; and 3) The selection procedure will be open and fair.

The candidates now have until July 22 to provide additional information to the selection committee then prepare presentations to be made August 7-8.  The committee will bring its findings to the IOC by September 30 then its membership will vote to approve one or more sports at the IOC Session at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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