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Tokyo Olympics organisers call for five more sports for 2020 Games
Five additional sports, including skateboarding and surfing, have been recommended by the organisers of the Tokyo Olympics for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Games program.
Under a proposal that will see a total of 18 new medal events, nine each for men and women, contested by an extra 474 athletes at the Olympics, Games organisers are also seeking to include baseball/softball, karate and sport climbing in the program.
A statement from Tokyo organisers explains “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."
Under new rules similar to those that exist for the Commonwealth Games, Olympic host cities can hand-pick sports they want included at the Games, joining the existing 28 core sports.
The final decision rests with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which will vote on the 2020 recommendations next August.
Bowling, squash and wushu had also been short-listed for inclusion in Tokyo but were left off the final recommended list.
As part of sweeping reforms initiated by IOC president Thomas Bach last year, future Olympic hosts are now being offered the chance to bring in sports that are trendy in their countries, partly to boost ratings as well as attracting greater sponsorship.
Organisers wanted sports that are already well established in Japan, so new venues would not need to be built and add to ballooning costs, and popular with youth.
An IOC statement added “the IOC is very happy to receive the Tokyo 2020 proposal on the additional sports events to be considered for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
"This is another concrete step forward in the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020, showing a new, fresh and very exciting approach to the Olympic Programme."
Baseball and softball, united under the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), were widely expected to be on the list of recommended sports.
Both were previously on the Olympic programme but were dropped after Asia last hosted the Summer Games, in Beijing in 2008.
Under the recommendations each sport would be contested by six teams, with half the contestants assured of getting medals.
Karate has never been contested at the Olympics but was another strong favourite. Judo, another martial art founded in Japan, first joined in 1964, when Tokyo last hosted the Summer Games, and has been included on every programme since 1972.
Organisers recommended a total of eight medal events in karate, the most among the new recommended sports, with two in kata and six in kumite, evenly split along gender lines.
Officials also proposed four events for skateboarding, two each for park and street, and suggested two medals each for shortboard surfing and climbing, combining the three main disciplines of bouldering, lead and speed.
Welcoming the announcement, International Surfing Association (ISA) President Fernando Aguerre stated “(this) is an extraordinary moment for our sport and for the global surfing community.
"The ISA has been riding an amazing wave in this journey for Olympic inclusion and we are thrilled that Tokyo 2020 recognise the exceptional value and youthful lifestyle that Surfing can bring to the 2020 Games."
Sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing all have massive appeal among youth, and their inclusion in the Olympic program may help the Games attract interest from a younger demographic.
Images from top: Seven-time World Surfing Champion Layne Beachley Layne Beachley (courtesy: Nikon) and the bid logo for the Tokyo 2020 Games (below).
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