An astonishing 26 of the 35 recognized Olympic sports have seized the opportunity afforded by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Agenda 2020 and applied for the chance to be included in the Tokyo 2020 program. On Monday, the IOC Executuve Board approved Tokyo’s plans to add one or more sports to its schedule according to a defined process that asked interested recognized sport federations to submit applications by June 8.
As expected the World Baseball Softball Confederation lodged a bid and is expected to be the front runner due to the sports’ immense popularity across Japan. Baseball and softball were dropped from the Olympics after 2008.
Other sports expected to make the shortlist to be published June 22 are squash and karate, two sports that were in the running for the last program opening that was won by wrestling in 2013. Roller sports, surfing and wushu federations have also made their intentions known in the past and have added their names to the list.
Some surprise applications came from the chess, bridge, dancesport and American football federations.
According to Tokyo 2020, each application will be evaluated according to 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.
Applicants (sports alphabetical order)
- World Air Sports Federation – FAI
- International Federation of American Football – IFAF
- World Baseball Softball Confederation – WBSC
- World Confederation of Billiards Sports – WCBS
- Bowls Sports World Confederation – CMSB
- World Bowling – WB
- World Bridge Federation – WBF
- World Chess Federation – FIDE
- World DanceSport Federation – WDSF
- International Floorball Federation – IFF
- World Flying Disc Federation – WFDF
- World Karate Federation – WKF
- International Korfball Federation – IKF
- International Netball Federation – INF
- International Orienteering Federation – IOF
- Federation of International Polo – FIP
- International Racquetball Federation – IRF
- International Roller Sports Federation – FIRS
- International Federation of Sport Climbing – IFSC
- World Squash Federation – WSF
- International Sumo Federation – IFS
- International Surfing Association – ISA
- Tug of War International Federation – TWIF
- World Underwater Federation – CMAS
- International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation – IWWF
- International Wushu Federation – IWUF
Shortlisted sports will have until July 22 to supply additional details to the selection committee then presentations will be scheduled in August. Tokyo 2020 will then make its final proposal to the IOC before September 30. A vote by the IOC membership, to be held at the Rio Olympics next year, will be required to officially approve one or more new sports to the single Olympic program.
IOC President Thomas Bach said on Monday in Lausanne that Youth appeal should be the focus for new sports in Tokyo.
Bach said “we would like to see in the proposals also an event or events which are attractive to youth in particular.”
“We think that this would be a win-win situation. It would give Japan the great opportunity to present itself to the world as a youthful nation looking to the future embracing youth and other cultures.”
WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said in a statement, “adding baseball and softball – a major global team sport and highly popular in Japan – can help further position the Olympic Games as the centre of the sporting and cultural universe”.
Fernando Aguerre, International Surfing Association [ISA] President said “I firmly believe that Surfing’s incredible youth appeal, its unique core values and the sports willingness to innovate and embrace new technology would add huge value to Tokyo 2020 and to the Olympic Movement.”
Antonio Espinós, WKF President said “the inclusion of Karate to the Olympics gives hopes and dreams to everybody in the karate world and also to the next generation.”