IOC approves five sports for Tokyo, including baseball/softball – USA TODAY
RIO DE JANEIRO âÂ The International Olympic Committee approved five new sports for the Tokyo Games in 2020, bringing back baseball and softball for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Games.
The IOC also approved karate, skateboarding, rock climbing and surfing as new sports as part of its IOC Session in advance of the Rio Olympics. Baseball for men and softball for women count as one sport.
The decision comes as a first under Agenda 2020, a set of recommendations meant to make bidding for and hosting the Games more affordable and sustainable. It allows host cities to propose new sports for their Olympics.
The decision will add 18 events and 474 athletes across the five sports. All but baseball and softball will have equal numbers of men and women. Those sports will have the same number of teams but fewer female athletes as softball teams have 15 players and baseball teams have 24.
IOC members raised concerns about being able to get the best baseball players as the Games â which run from July 24 to Aug. 9 Â¡ would interrupt the Major League Baseball season.
The decision Wednesday drew praise from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred:Â âWe are excited about the IOCâs announcement restoring Baseball and Softball to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Baseball and softball are global sports that belong in the Olympics. We are grateful to the IOC Executive Board, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the World Baseball Softball Confederation for their collective efforts, which will allow fans throughout the world to again enjoy Baseball and Softball on the Olympic stage.â
MLB owners and the playersâ association would need to cut games from their 162-game schedule to accommodate players competing in the Olympics.
âWe have some time before the actual games and we would work very hard so that the best athletes can participate in the sport of baseball so the people are satisfied with the arrangement,â said Yoshiro Mori, president of Tokyo 2020.
The IOC has focused on events meant to draw younger viewers, adding BMX riding in Beijing. It has seen snowboarding become one of its most popular winter sports since adding that in 1998.
âWe want to take sport to the youth,â said IOC President Thomas Bach. âWith 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 2020âs 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.â
Surfing certainly fits the model.
âIâm just excited for the opportunity to represent my country on the global stage in Japan at such a historic event,â John John Florence, one of the world’s top surfers, said in a statement.
âWe spend a lot of time traveling the globe and competing against the very best surfers from around the world on the World Surf Leagueâs Championship Tour,â said Carissa Moore, the a three-time world surfing champion, âso I donât think it will change the competition format too much. Itâs a great way to elevate the sport I love and share it with people from all around the world.â
The addition of the sports will not affect athlete or quota spots. It also wonât necessarily apply to future Olympics, meaning some or all of the sports could be a one-off event of sorts if the city chosen for the 2024 Olympics does not select them.
The IOC will choose between Los Angeles, Paris, Budapest and Rome in September 2017.
Contributing: Gabe Lacques
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