The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing will be added to the programme for the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympic Games.
The IOC voted unanimously to endorse the decision taken by its executive board in June, wrapping up a two-year process that began with the approval of IOC president Thomas Bach’s Agenda 2020 reform package. The organising committee for the Tokyo 2020 Games submitted its proposal to include five additional sports to the IOC in September of last year.
“We want to take sport to the youth,” Bach said. “With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them. Tokyo 2020’s balanced proposal fulfils all of the goals of the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendation that allowed it. Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games.”
Baseball/softball will each have a competition featuring six teams. The sports last featured at the Olympics in 2008 before being removed from the programme. Since then they have teamed up to form a joint international federation.
“Nations competing for the Olympic gold medal in baseball and softball, in Japan, will best showcase the nature and spirit of our global sport – and it will be the most covered and most exciting international baseball/softball tournaments in history,” World Baseball Softball Confederation president Riccardo Fraccari said.
International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre described the decision by the IOC as a “game-changing moment for surfing,” with 20 men and 20 women set to compete in the sport in Tokyo. “We are already seeing increased popularity of the sport across the world and the Olympic Games will provide an incredible platform to further showcase surfing,” he added.
World Karate Federation president Antonio Espinós acknowledged that his sport owes a debt of gratitude to Bach and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, with the federation set to stage events for men and women. “We will work as much as we can since we have the vocation to be (an) Olympic sport,” he said. “We are convinced that we will give added value to the Olympic Games.”
Sabatino Aracu, the president of the International Roller Sports Federation, said that the addition of skateboarding to the Games would help the Games to engage with young people.
“Our movement has a lot to offer: our disciplines are born in the streets, and it is in the streets that young people experience them,” he said. “We are sure that we are going to be able to inject new life into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”
Sports climbing will feature men's and women's competitions for bouldering, lead and speed disciplines. International Federation of Sport Climbing president Marco Scolaris said: “The Olympics have been our dream for quite some time, and now the hard work has finally paid off. We would like to thank the IOC for extending a truly unique opportunity to our sport.”