Tokyo 2020 Leaves Door Open For New Sports

Though it is almost certain that baseball and softball, sports wildly popular in Japan, will be added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic program – Tokyo 2020 organizers are giving every eligible sport an opportunity make its case before finalizing any decisions.

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

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

“We could have picked the IFs [international sport federations] for the hearing by ourselves, but the bottom line is that we would like it to be crystal clear and fair to every IF,” said Toshiro Muto, CEO of Tokyo 2020, according to the Japan Times

“We decided to give the chance to apply to the IFs.”

About 30 Olympic recognized IF’s are eligible to apply to participate in the hearings from which Tokyo 2020 will derive a shortlist to be handed over to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) they say by September.  But the organizing committee will first seek guidance from the IOC at its Executive Board Meeting in Lausanne in June.

The IOC could choose to add any number of suggested sports at its session in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Olympics next year.

Previously, the IOC required that new sports be named at least seven years ahead of any Games but Agenda 2020, approved last year, allows for elected host cities to choose additional locally popular sports that fit Olympic criteria.

Baseball and Softball, sports that were last staged at the Beijing Games in 2008, lost their spot on the program due to the lack of universality and the need for a specific venue that often challenged legacy plans.  The baseball stadium in Beijing has since been dismantled if favor of parking facilities in an entertainment area.

But these issues won’t pose a problem in Tokyo where facilities, fans and athletes already exist.  Any sports chosen for the program by this process may only be involved for the one Games.

Baseball and softball, along with squash and other sports lost their previous chance to join the Olympic program when the IOC instead chose wrestling to fill the single vacant spot.  Baseball/softball, squash, wushu and snooker have already announced their intentions to bid for Tokyo 2020 inclusion.

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