Five New Sports Recommended For Tokyo 2020

Baseball and softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing and surfing have been recommended by the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee for inclusion in their sports program in five years.  The sports represent 18 events and a total of 474 additional athletes.

Five new sports were recommended for inclusion by Tokyo 2020

Five new sports were recommended for inclusion by Tokyo 2020

Bowling, Squash and Wushu – three other sports that were part of a shortlist put together last month – were left out of the running.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will now consider the new proposed sports and members will vote for any number of them to be officially added to the 2020 program when they meet ahead of the Games in Rio next August.

Tokyo 2020 is the first Olympic host city to be able to propose new sports under new Agenda 2020 reforms approved by the IOC last year.

Karate has been recommended for inclusion in 2020 Olympic Games

Karate has been recommended for inclusion in 2020 Olympic Games

“This package of events represents both traditional and emerging, youth-focused events, all of which are popular both in Japan and internationally. They will serve as a driving force to further promote the Olympic Movement and its values, with a focus on youth appeal, and will add value to the Games by engaging the Japanese population and new audiences worldwide, reflecting the Tokyo 2020 Games vision,” the organizing committee said in a statement released Monday.

“Each of the eight shortlisted international federations amply demonstrated their potential to add to the value of the Games,”  said Fujio Mitarai, Chair of the Additional Event Programme Panel.

“We firmly believe that by connecting with youth, bringing to life Olympic Agenda 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 vision, our proposal constitutes the best possible package that will add the most value to the Games.”

In a clear move to appeal to a new generation, roller sports would include four skateboarding competitions, men’s and women’s street and park events.

“Tokyo 2020’s decision to propose our sport is a ‘home run’ and giant leap forward for baseball and softball,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.

“Tokyo 2020’s announcement today is an extraordinary moment for our sport and for the global Surfing Community,”  International Surfing Association (ISA) President Fernando Aguerre said of the news.

“Young, aspiring Surfers around the world are rejoicing today. This is a truly epic decision that will inspire and motivate all my fellow athletes to dream big and go for Gold in 2020. I am extremely stoked for my sport, but also for how Surfing will bring new excitement to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games if it is admitted by the IOC next year,” ISA Vice President Casper Steinfath said.

Sport Climbing has proposed bouldering and lead and speed combined events for the Games.

Karate has been recommended for inclusion in 2020 Olympic Games

Climbing has been recommended for inclusion in 2020 Olympic Games

“It is a great honor to have been chosen,” said Marco Scolaris, IFSC President.

“We thank the Tokyo 2020 Additional Event Programme Panel for this fantastic opportunity and the recognition within the Olympic Movement. Of course, there is still a long way to go, and all of us at the IFSC are deeply committed to meeting the challenges ahead.”

For Karate men’s and women’s Kata and Kumite, split across three weight classes, are the proposed events that could add 80 athletes to the Games.

Meanwhile, the President of the World Squash Federation N Ramachandran was “devastated” and the news that his sport was left off the list.

“After our 12-year journey to join the Olympic Games programme, and the opportunity of a ‘second chance’ after the heart-break of missing out in our first 2020 bid in Buenos Aires two years ago, I am utterly devastated on behalf of our great sport that our dream of taking part in the Tokyo Games cannot now be realised,” said Ramachandran.

“I don’t believe we could have done more to get our message across to both the Tokyo 2020 Games hosts and the IOC of how Squash could bring something special as an addition to the Programme.”

In June, 26 international sports federations sent letters to the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee seeking to be included in the sports program for the Summer Games.  From American Football to Chess, the sports made their cases in writing to the organizers.

Later, eight sports were named to the short list of sports that were to receive further consideration.

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)

The eight sports made 15-minute presentations to the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee in August, and fielded questions during a 30-minute follow-up session.

On Monday, Tokyo Games organizers were able to choose any number of sports to recommend to the IOC for consideration and to be included in a general membership vote that is scheduled for the session in Rio ahead of the 2016 Olympics.  Sports added to the 2020 program will not be included as a core Olympic sport and would have to reapply for inclusion in any future Games.

The bid by the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) is considered a lock to enter the Games as the sports are wildly popular across host country Japan.  Both sports were dropped from the Olympic program after the 2008 Beijing Games primarily because it was determined they lack universality.  After trying separate bids and failing to be reinstated, the confederation was formed.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil