IOC Recommends Package of Five Sports for Tokyo Olympics

(ATR) An all or nothing vote on the five new sports for Tokyo 2020 is coming at the IOC Session in August.

(ATR) An all or nothing vote on the five new sports for Tokyo 2020 is coming at the IOC Session in August.

As expected, the IOC Executive Board on Wednesday recommended the package of five sports – karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, surfing and baseball/softball — for inclusion in the Games.

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori, speaking to reporters in Lausanne, described it as a "very good result". The new sports will result in 474 athletes competing in 18 extra events at the Games.

Mori struck a note of caution about baseball/softball’s inclusion, saying issues remained to be resolved about how to bring the best players from Major League Baseball to the Olympics.

IOC vice president John Coates tells Around the Rings there was unanimous support for the package of sports at today’s meeting.

"It is exciting. I think everyone understood the merit of it. There is a mixture of sports that are important to Japan… baseball, softball and karate… and sports that are new and give a chance to engage with young people," he said.

The sports were presented as a package by Tokyo 2020 and the IOC program commission following a two-year process designed to add sports targeted at growing youth engagement with the Olympics.

"It was one of the most important Agenda 2020 Olympic Charter changes to give an organizing committee the opportunity to select sports and events for their program," Coates said.

"It was always going to be an opportunity for the IOC to better engage with youth with the new sports and to show we are flexible."

Coates said the issue regarding skateboarding’s international governance, a possible stumbling block to the sport’s Olympic inclusion, had been "resolved".

The International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS), recognized by the IOC, has struck a deal with the International Skateboarding Federation.

"Because they don’t have as much experience in this there is an agreement between them [FIRS] and the International Skateboarding Federation that the ISF will run the event itself," Coates said.

"It had to be that way because the FIRS has responsibility for skateboarding as one of their nine disciplines a resolution had to happen or wasn’t going to happen," he added.

IOC sports director Kit McConnell described Wednesday’s decision to push through the new sports for ratification at the IOC Session in August as "exciting and historic".

"We think it is a fantastic package that has been put forward by Tokyo. There is a real focus on youth sports and youth engagement," he told a press conference.

He said it represented "a balanced package", offering a combination of well-established and emerging sports with significant popularity in Japan and beyond. The mix includes team sports and individual sports; indoor sports and outdoor sports; and ‘urban’ sports with a strong appeal to youth.

McConnell emphasized that the five sports were in addition to the athlete and event quota recommendations for Olympic sports outlined in Agenda 2020, and would not take places away from athletes in existing Olympic sports.He said the package promotes gender equality. Each of the five sports will equal numbers of teams for men and women.

Ongoing discussions about the Tokyo 2020 event program involving the 28 Olympic sports which would be finalised by the IOC Executive Board in mid-2017, he added.

Separate discussions will take place about the potential for new sports and new events with the 2024 Olympic host city once the IOC had chosen between Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome in September 2017.

On baseball/softball – the most popular sport in Japan – McConnell said the Olympics would provide a "wonderful opportunity for the sport and the sport’s engagement".

He confirmed that surfing would be located at a "natural not artificial" venue in or close to Tokyo. "Japan has a number of strong surfing areas so we are confident we will find a beach that really has technical standards for surfers and provides an Olympic festival and wider engagement," he said.

McConnell dismissed concerns about skateboarding’s anti-doping regime, insisting the IOC was "very confident in the programs around each of the five sports".

Reported by Mark Bisson

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