As the world is only hours away from the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics, 2020 Tokyo Olympics is already setting the stage to mark the return of baseball and softball and to introduce new youth-centric sporting events.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), on Wednesday, unanimously approved Tokyo organisers' proposal to include five new sports to the list of 28 sports already on the Tokyo schedule. This means 18 more events and 474 more athletes. Usually, the programme features 10,500 athletes.
As per Olympic Agenda 2020—a new set of recommendations to make bidding for and hosting the Games sustainable—host cities are allowed to propose new sports for their Games, which would not be binding for future Olympic Games. The IOC's decision, made on Wednesday, is for the Tokyo Games only.
The IOC hopes to gain new audiences by approving the following sports as “a dynamic and exciting package” at the Tokyo Olympics.
Baseball was recognised as an Olympic sport the first time in 1992. Four years later, a different version of the game—softball—with seven innings instead of nine and underarm bowling, was introduced for women at the Games. However, in 2012, both baseball and softball were removed from the list of Olympic sports. Hugely popular in Japan, the sport will make a comeback as men's baseball and women's softball at the Tokyo Olympics.
While Japan's wrestling-style martial art form, judo, entered the list of Olympic sports in 1964, its homegrown combat martial art form, karate, has never been part of the Games. However, this year, on Tokyo's proposal, karate will debut at the 2020 Olympics. On the occasion, World Karate Federation took to Twitter to express its joy.
For long, skateboarding has been just another recreational activity-turned-serious hobby. Even now, when the IOC has approved of skateboarding at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, many are wondering how the sport cracked it much ahead of other roller sports such as roller hockey and speed skating. Interestingly, it doesn't even have a world championship event. However, the International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) refused to let any criticism or concern hamper its spirit and announced the news on the official website quoting Gary Ream, Tokyo 2020 Skateboarding Commission chairman and ISF president. “I’ve always believed that if skateboarding was properly protected and supported, its appearance on the Olympic stage could change the world,” Ream said.
The surfers will ride the wave at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Surfing is one of the most fast growing sport globally and its inclusion in the next edition of the Games is expected to appeal to a large number of young people. Speaking at the IOC press conference, the International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre said, “I speak on behalf of 35 million surfers worldwide... we are excited to catch this amazing wave."
5: Sport climbing
Sport climbing is not an unfamiliar sport for the Olympic arena since it made an appearance as a demonstration sport at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. The sport involves participants climbing permanent anchors fixed to a rock. “It is a great honour to have been chosen. 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. Together with our athletes and the National Federations, we are reaching new heights,” said Marco Scolaris, president of the International Federation of Sport Climbing, on the official website.