Five sports inched closer to becoming part of the Tokyo 2020 program on Wednesday.
A package that includes baseball/softball, surfing, karate, skateboarding and sports climbing was supported by the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board in Lausanne, Switzerland on Wednesday. The full membership of IOC must still give final approval of the additions at its Session in Rio in August.
Last September it was announced that the five sports were proposed for Tokyo 2020. Bowling, squash and wushu missed the cut.
Baseball-softball is the only sport of the five that has been in the Olympic Games previously. Men’s baseball was officially introduced at Barcelona 1992 and was featured in five Games, ending its run at Beijing 2008. Women’s softball began at Atlanta 1996 and also came to an end at Beijing 2008.
Japan has performed well in both baseball and softball in past Olympics. The 2020 Games host has won a silver and two bronze medals in men’s baseball to go along with a gold, silver and bronze in women’s softball.
Surfing, karate, skateboarding and sports climbing would make their Olympic debuts in Tokyo. The Organizing Committee for the Games proposed these sports as part of Olympic Agenda 2020 which gives host cities the option of suggesting new inclusions for their edition of the Games, without binding future Olympic hosts.
The five sports would add 18 events and 474 athletes to the Olympic program in Tokyo, but not take places away from athletes in existing Olympic sports. Discussions on the event program in existing sports for the 2020 Games are ongoing and will be finalized by the IOC Executive Board in mid-2017.
Reuters reports that the surfing competition would take place in the sea rather than artificial waves. Skateboarding would feature street and park events while karate would include kata and kumite. Bouldering, lead and speed combined would be included in sports climbing.
An IOC press release said that the five sports “offer a key focus on youth, which is at the heart of the Games vision for Tokyo 2020.” All five sports would have an equal number of teams for men and women.