From Chess to American Football, Tokyo 2020 Receives 26 Applications For Olympic Program Inclusion

The Tokyo Dome could host Olympic Baseball in 2020 (WBSC Photo)

The Tokyo Dome could host Olympic Baseball in 2020 (WBSC Photo)

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.

The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) one of 26 sports applying for Tokyo 2020 inclusion (IFAF Photo)

The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) one of 26 sports applying for Tokyo 2020 inclusion (IFAF Photo)

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)

  1. World Air Sports Federation – FAI
  2. International Federation of American Football – IFAF
  3. World Baseball Softball Confederation – WBSC
  4. World Confederation of Billiards Sports – WCBS
  5. Bowls Sports World Confederation – CMSB
  6. World Bowling – WB
  7. World Bridge Federation – WBF
  8. World Chess Federation – FIDE
  9. World DanceSport Federation – WDSF
  10. International Floorball Federation – IFF
  11. World Flying Disc Federation – WFDF
  12. World Karate Federation – WKF
  13. International Korfball Federation – IKF
  14. International Netball Federation – INF
  15. International Orienteering Federation – IOF
  16. Federation of International Polo – FIP
  17. International Racquetball Federation – IRF
  18. International Roller Sports Federation – FIRS
  19. International Federation of Sport Climbing – IFSC
  20. World Squash Federation – WSF
  21. International Sumo Federation – IFS
  22. International Surfing Association – ISA
  23. Tug of War International Federation – TWIF
  24. World Underwater Federation – CMAS
  25. International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation – IWWF
  26. 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.

Cue Sports (WPBSA) is bidding for a spot on the Tokyo 2020 Sport Program

World Confederation of Billiard Sports is bidding for a spot on the Tokyo 2020 Sport 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.”

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